Investec Wealth & Investment champions female change makers and business owners. We recently held a panel discussion on financial wellbeing with leading female entrepreneurs and The Women’s Chapter, to discuss life’s challenges.
Chaired by Michelle de Klerk, founder and director of The Women’s Chapter and accompanied by Alice Wright, an investment director at Investec, we were also joined by entrepreneur and investor Lara Morgan and beauty guru Tracey Woodward.
Here’s what our panellists had to say.
Tools and strategies to build resilience
For Lara Morgan, the starting point for resilience is acknowledging the fact that not everything will go to plan.
“Not everything always works the way you want it to,” she says. “You might have a career plan but that doesn’t include ‘life’. Resilience comes when you have a plan but you give yourself grace. Because things go wrong.”
Tracey has a list of goals she wants to achieve in both her life and career, but finds it much easier to reach them after discussing them with other people.
“It’s almost like you’re talking yourself into this place of resilience,” she explains.
The panellists also discussed the importance of giving yourself achievable goals — and celebrating when you reach them.
“It’s important for us to be a bit kinder to ourselves when building or assessing our plans,” says Alice. “We can really be our harshest critics.”
Taking control of financial wellbeing
Tracey notes that financial wellbeing can help you weather unexpected changes.
“We have to remind ourselves that anything could happen,” she says. “When I found myself divorced at 29, having to give a chunk of the property I’d owned before marriage to my ex-husband, I decided to plan ahead. I took out a life insurance policy to ensure my son would be okay if anything ever happened to me.”
Alice also advocates for having a financial contingency plan – adding that it can be a good idea to get the help of an expert when assessing your circumstances and deciding the best option for you.
“It’s easy to get bogged down in all the information and options out there,” she says. “If you can, seek out some professional advice, and talk openly and honestly about what your circumstances are. Finance professionals aren’t here to judge you; you can find a like-minded advisor who understands your experience.”
“I also wish women would start asking for more [in working life],” Lara adds. “I have men asking for raises on their second day on the job! It’s old-fashioned to not talk about money and the freedom that it gives you.”
For Lara, good financial wellbeing brings with it a sense of pride, but it’s important to get your priorities straight.
“Think about what your motivators are,” she advises. “I never wanted to be a millionaire.” Lara adds, explaining that she prioritises freedom of choice, and being able to put her children through a good school.
Dealing with a crisis
Tracey, who has worked through career issues and two divorces, is no stranger to challenging moments. At these times, she asks herself a number of questions.
“Did anybody die? Am I fit and well? Do I have food in the cupboard? Do I have a roof over my head? Do I have money in the bank? Resilience comes from gratitude.”
Reflecting on some of her most difficult professional moments, Lara looks back to the beginning of the pandemic.
“I went into Covid with a spa supply company, a luggage company and a hotel company,” she recalls. “So, you get the picture. I look back at those years and can’t describe how challenging it was. For every hour of every day during that time, things kept getting worse.”
Lara’s advice to other business owners when facing a similarly challenging situation is simple: “Dismiss yourself from the desk, leave your phone and get some fresh air. It’s a simple thing, but it gives a fresh perspective.”
Making connections and asking for help
Tracey recommends that anyone who is in a position to do so considers becoming a mentor.
“It doesn’t necessarily require your money, just your knowledge, your wisdom and your commitment. And maybe your address book.”
Michelle encourages women to be more forward in asking for help, whether that’s requesting funding, general advice or action. “If you don’t ask, you don’t get!” she says.
What other resilience hacks are there?
Finally, the panel agreed that building joy into your life will make you more resilient. Tracey explains: “Joy is when you wake up in the morning and you have this innate feeling that everything will be okay. And, if it's not, you have the ability to deal with it.”