This October at The Fintech Times we are championing the fantastic females in the fintech industry. Around 30% of the fintech workforce are women, and we want to spotlight those who have not only made it to the top, but those who have overcome hurdles, bulldozing a path for the women to follow.
Here we hear from Aditi Shekar, Helena Murphy, Laura Lin, Juhie Kapoor, Kate Morgenstern and Siri Borsum as they share their advice on managing financial goals and personal expectations.
Aditi Shekar, CEO and Founder of Zeta
“One of my earliest memories during my personal financial journey is when I first started making my own money. I was extremely proud of myself, and wanted to take the next step: investing. But because I hadn’t really learned about personal finance in school or while growing up, I needed support. I remember emailing my family and asking, “How do you even start thinking about investing?” And while I got some answers, they weren’t substantial and didn’t teach me much or give me the confidence I needed to start investing.
“Since then, I’ve spent years focused on educating myself and my loved ones, and building Zeta—a financial institution for families, starting with a budgeting app and a modern-day joint account for couples. During this time, I’ve learned that financial savviness comes down to a few key concepts:
“Be informed and in control. Especially women, POC, and LGBTQIA+ folx. Don’t outsource your money or let someone else control it. Own your money; have opinions about it. Start by getting the education you might be missing through sites like Nerdwallet or Investopedia.
“Set intention by creating concrete, realistic goals and holding yourself accountable to them. I 100% believe in self-fulfilling prophecies — if you dream it, you’re more likely to get there. This also means understanding what your lifestyle allows and enables, and how your goals can realistically operate within those bounds. Not being realistic about your financial situation can keep you from progress!
“Create attainable milestones and build momentum. You might want to pay off $100k of debt, but that’s a big goal that can quickly get overwhelming. Breaking it into smaller goals that can be more easily attained (like paying off $1000 in two months and then snowballing) will make the goal much more likely to stick. And frankly, it gives you more to celebrate along the way.
“Establish a support system. Money isn’t talked about nearly enough at school or home. As a result, most of us aren’t armed with the knowledge we need growing up, so we have to actively seek it out. For many of the couples I talk to, there’s shame attached to money and/or lack of financial know how, but it’s important to fight through that to get help. Turn towards knowledgeable friends and family, content creators, tools like Zeta, and/or financial advisors. Then make sure your support system holds you accountable, because that means you’ll be much more likely to achieve your goals.”
Helena Murphy, Founder and Directing Manager at Raising Partners
“Straight out of university and keen to become an entrepreneur, I turned my side hustle into a full-time business, launching my own sustainable fashion e-commerce site. Early venture capital came easily, and I had a lot of initial success: strong sales, great press coverage, and my own team to match. While on the surface things appeared to be going well, I was depleting cash quickly and becoming enthralled by vanity metrics rather than the fundamental measures by which to gauge my company’s success.
“As I discussed the next round of funding with my investors, it became apparent that raising the financing would be challenging this time around, and I’d need £1m in order to compete online and build out my product. To my dismay, my go-to angel investor declined to invest after reviewing the numbers and feeling unsatisfied. It was then that I realised the financial targets I needed to meet did not conform to my own expectations, having sailed through the first round of investment so easily.
“As a new graduate, I took the advice I was given (which was incorrect) and incurred almost £100k in personal debt to pay off suppliers and close the business. This was a painful time for me and I began to lose my hair due to stress-related alopecia. I couldn’t believe that it had come to this, that no one had warned me, that I hadn’t seen it coming. In retrospect, it seems clear to me that so much could have been avoided if I had been prepared for the challenges ahead. The founder’s journey is often depicted in a polished, romanticised manner, but there is a lack of discussion surrounding the mental toll of founding and scaling a startup, leading others to follow down the same difficult path of false expectations.
“Reflecting on my own experiences, and now having founded a company that guides startups through the fundraising process, I have learned that we need to alter this depiction of a founder. Every entrepreneur is different, meaning different aspects of the fundraising process may be easier for some and more challenging for others. It is important to be upfront about this and how hard it can be, but we must also acknowledge that there are ways to overcome this. If budding entrepreneurs are prepared for these pitfalls and temptations they should be able to better manage their financial goals and personal expectations.”
Laura Lin, Chief Executive Officer, Capital.com Australia
“Don’t let motherhood slow you down
“The new technology and a good platform can empower women to juggle care issues and manage financial goals at the same time.
“In 1997, I was fortunate to be selected to join a program run by my primary school and its buddy school in Tokyo, where I got to stay a fortnight with my pen friend. Her family was a typical Japanese one. 3 kids, nice food and a clean home with a stay-at-home mother. I still distinctly remember how she was checking the screen on her computer while preparing the dinner, and saying to herself “Yen is going down”.
“She was one of the “Mrs Watanabe” – the Japanese Housewives who have had a big impact on the currency markets. After a decade, I became a trader myself and a mother of 2 young girls, except that I can do a lot more on my phone anytime anywhere, and have a lot more new assets classes (e.g. cryptos) to consider.
“The first thing I do is always to “sharpen the saw”. That is to find a good and easy-to-learn platform, and to understand the markets. Every trader is different, just like every child is different. I’d want a platform that can be tailored to my needs and be supportive when needed.
“The second thing is to have a system in place. Clean homes don’t just miraculously clean themselves. There’s a protocol in place to keep things maintained and orderly – by having a schedule and routines you may only need to do something small every day. What exactly is your goal? Which markets excite you? Then I’d find out the more volatile hours of the markets, and plan my routine based on those.
“The last one is to stay curious. We all know how young children seek to explore the world and the curiosity is as organic as breathing. The pandemic has completely changed the game. More and more people are interested in investing in various financial markets and crypto trading is gaining a lot more flows in the past 18 months.
“It is a shame to see that there is still a male bias in the financial services and investments. But we don’t have to let motherhood or care issues slow us down.”
Juhie Kapoor, Director – Global Content and Communications, Taulia
“Most of the expectations we have are those that we inflict upon ourselves, whether that be professional or personal. While managing these can at times seem challenging, there’s always a feasible solution and a way forward.
“Empathy is the biggest thing I advocate for both in my professional and personal life. Understanding and empathy are the most powerful tools we have at our disposal, but yet we don’t value either of them enough. You never know when someone is having a bad day, week or month, and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can help you understand their point of view. This was highlighted by the pandemic, with each and every one of us affected in one way or another, whether that be emotionally, financially or physically.
“I unfortunately lost a family member to Covid-19 in June last year, and this naturally had an impact on my work and productivity. I was lucky that I had a great support system around me. My colleagues at Taulia were very open and empathetic towards me and understood I was going through a tough time. I was given the opportunity to take a step back to recover and come back stronger, and it is this understanding that is crucial in the workplace.
“My advice to anyone who is struggling to manage personal expectations is to be honest with your team within your comfort boundaries. While you don’t need to tell them exactly what’s going on, it’s important to admit if you’re having a tough time and need a break. Set clear outcomes in your mind, and think about what it is that you want to achieve. Is that flexible working? Is that more support? Or, is it a reshuffle of your priorities? Going forward, we must encourage a more open narrative around behaviour. Not only will this allow people to put less pressure on themselves, but will enable them to ask for support when and where needed.”
Kate Morgenstern, Head of Sales for Nasdaq Risk Platform
“Working in banking and financial technology can give you an understanding of how to manage your finances. But the process of how to get there can often be as important as the end goal. Outside of my job at Nasdaq in risk technology, I focus on helping individuals improve their financial literacy through a social enterprise I founded with the mission to educate people who are going through emotional stress with their financial situation. We partner with non-profits, schools and individuals to improve financial literacy while guiding people through their own financial goals. No matter your age or what stage in life you are in, I always start by asking people to identify and set their financial goals, as the goals in themselves are equally as important as drivers and motivators in the path to financial success. Setting a goal early on will guide you in setting expectations and a plan for your finances.
“I approach financial goals by first taking a step back to look at the context, answering the question ‘what do I want to achieve’? Rationalising what we truly want to achieve with our financial planning is not easy. Thinking about our goals and drivers is the place to start in order to map out your own process to follow. Start by posing a few questions to yourself:
- How do I envision my life in the coming years? What lifestyle am I aiming for?
- What is important to me? Is it family, friends, academic achievement, career progression?
- What drives me, is it purely money or am I driven by helping others, gaining freedom, learning and or any other personal motivators?
“Our financial goals and career ambitions can often be inextricably linked, since our jobs are usually our main source of income and road to future financial wealth. Taking on new responsibilities, widening your horizons and gaining experience can allow you to open new paths, whether leading directly to short-term financial gain or not.
“It may not be a straight path to financial stability, but it may lay the foundation for your long-term life goals. There is no harm in setting expectations for yourself and your career. Sometimes your career and progress to financial stability can take a detour – but plan out your steps to learn and take on new responsibilities and you will find yourself progressing on your financial, career and life goals.”
Siri Børsum Global VP, Finance Vertical Eco-development & Partnerships, Huawei Consumer Business Group
“Growing up as a young girl, I faced some challenges like most children do. I found it really hard to read and write. Due to my dyslexia, my teachers told my parents early on that they shouldn’t have high expectations of me and my learning capabilities. Things that may have come naturally to others, such as reading and writing, did not for me.
“After hearing my teachers doubt my abilities, my dad and I became a team. He told me that anything I can put my mind to, I can achieve − I just have to accept that it might be difficult. He told me that there are solutions to every problem, even if that means finding an alternative route. This is something I’ve built my entire approach to personal development around.
“When we face problems, whether that’s in how we work, how we learn, or even how we develop as a person, we’re faced with an opportunity to find a creative way through. Ever since needing to explore alternative ways to learn to read and write, I’ve practised working around struggles to find creative solutions. What could’ve been a major setback for me has actually turned into a gift.
“Something that’s also helped me over the years is learning to start small. Setting yourself small goals and taking those on one at a time is crucial – you can achieve more than you think when you tackle each issue this way. Once you start to grow, you can let your goals step up too.
“Because of the difficulties I faced, I’m no longer afraid to rise to a new challenge. Those early challenges gave me the mental tools I needed to fear less and push myself more, often having to find a different approach to make something work.
“And look at where that approach has taken me. Fearing less, throwing my hand up, saying yes – that’s led to some amazing opportunities, both in work and elsewhere.
“As women, we might face struggles in the workplace that others don’t. But the more we push against what others may think are limiting factors, the better prepared we are to rise to new opportunities.
“What could’ve been a limitation to me growing up is now my strength. I dared to leave my role at Google after 12 stable years to start a new, more exciting challenge with Huawei, where once again I’m able to use creativity to find exciting solutions for AppGallery.
“As I look back at my career, it’s become clear to me that as long as you believe in the end goal, it doesn’t matter the route you took to get there. You just have to find the solution that works for you.”