MoneyTalk With Financial Adviser, Entrepreneur and Tech Enthusiast Lottie
Please tell us a bit about yourself
I am a stamp collecting, pylon-hunting futurist and am the founder of The Dura Society. I also hold the Diploma in Financial Planning. As a graduate of the Chelsea College of Arts, with a degree in Interdisciplinary Design my background in design has unexpectedly lent itself well to the transition into finance. Coming from a traditional patriarchal family where head of the house controls the finances I always saw the world of finance as a male-dominated realm and language which women need not worry themselves with. I found this bizarre.
What inspired you to launch The Dura Society: a network focusing on personal wellbeing, as well as acting as a catalyst for conversation on personal finance, literacy and investment knowledge for women?
During a health scare in 2016, whereby I was hospitalised for 2 weeks, I had time to really reflect on what I considered to be important values in my life. I was very conscious of the fragility of life and felt that I had not ‘made an impact’ or shared my passion with any sort of purpose. I recalled my girlfriends always asking questions of me about pensions or investments and it hadn’t really ‘clicked’ that I was privy to a world that they needed help deciphering: the thought that I could really help my girlfriends and others in a non-judgemental or critical way. So, I set about creating a ‘goal-setting’ supper club to provide a safe space for the girls to share stories and tips for a happier life. I created content on themes and ran through exercises to get them to think and educate themselves on various aspects of personal finance, well-being and goal setting. This has now grown to a residency at the House of St Barnabas members club in Soho, where I run female financial well-being workshops.
Women make up 49.6% of the global population and control 30% of the world’s investable assets, according to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and UBS calculates that the global wealth of women is expected to grow from $13 trillion to $18 trillion by 2021.
Harnessing the power of compound interest to help you reach your goals seems like the most logical thing there is. Yet some people are still wary of the stock markets and keep vast sums of money in cash, at the mercy of infamous inflation. I hope to be able to help these people build confidence and reassure them to trust in the industry.
In our capitalist culture we see money as a reward for work, and work as a reason to exist. This can influence how we perceive ourselves. If we do not have ‘enough’ money then we can see ourselves as less worthy. This is a mindset shift that I try to help people alleviate by talking about their passions, goals and sense of belonging. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others but it’s more healthy to compare yourself to your past self, see how you as an individual are growing and developing and learn to be proud of yourself. Be mindful of the stories you tell yourself about yourself.
Growing debt for millennials seems like a burden and a great source of anxiety. ‘Stack Method’, or the ‘Debt Snowball’? There are lots of different financial diets that are out there, but like everything, if you don’t find something that works for you then you are likely to become disillusioned and disheartened.
The Dura Society is inspired by ‘financial therapy’, defined by the Financial Therapy Association as “the integration of cognitive, emotional, behavioural, and economic aspects that influence financial well-being, and ultimately, quality of life.” This is a growing sector in America and I can see its influence creeping in on us over the pond. I’m excited to see the changes that might happen within the financial industry as a consequence. The well-being industry focuses on our mental and physical spaces. The value of nutrition, yoga and mediation is becoming increasingly prominent for people from all walks of life yet I feel there is a gap for financial well-being. This is where I feel the Dura Society stands out, by providing a catalyst of taking into account our relationship with money as a driver for other aspects in our lives.
You are a qualified financial advisor. Can you tell us more about it and how do you work with your clients?
Wealth planning revolves around ‘soft skills’, trust and building long term relationships. It covers every aspect of someone’s financial life.
I see the role of a planner as being a trusted confidant, someone who you work with to make the right decisions for your well-being over the duration of your life and for generations to come. There is a family dynamic linked to personal finance: inheritances, divorce and marriage - these life events have huge impacts on your financial position and it can be difficult to know what decisions need to be made.
We look at a client in a holistic way, taking into account financial investments, tax and estate planning to understand their needs. We go into detail about how they view certain stages in their life, such as retirement. We then build a financial structure that will enable them to take control of their goal, be it wealth preservation, capital growth or IHT mitigation, for example. There is a lot of pension work. When we hear words like ‘pensions’ and ‘retirement’ we tend to switch off - I don’t blame people for this, they aren’t sexy - but they are a necessary evil to enable you to live the life you want. Some clients require or enjoy having a more ‘hand-held’ approach whilst others have a more ‘hands off’ experience. It really is bespoke to the individual. We review a client’s arrangements at least once a year to ensure our advice is correct.
It’s great to see that more women are entering the industry but it’s still a hugely male-dominated environment, with a sprinkle of ‘old boys club’ mentality. If you can see past this then it is a wonderfully privileged position to be in and the drive to benefit clients by looking after their assets, and in turn their family, is incredibly rewarding.
What’s your relationship like with money and personal finance?
Money is an incredibly personal experience. I am fascinated by behavioural finance and the more I learn the more I identify with habits and train myself to not react in the same way. The correlation between self-worth and net-worth and the mind-sets in which we can inhibit ourselves can affect our relationship with money. Learn to be kind with yourself. Not to stress about things out of your control. Happiness is measured in different ways for different people and for some the concept of money is linked with spirituality, creativity and other emotional ‘human’ facets of life.
What does financial independence mean to you?
Choice. The ability to do what you would like to do and when you would like to do it. Being able to provide yourself and those who you care about with the best care, lifestyle and opportunities. Each person has their own definition for what ‘rules’ they live by. Some have a strict budgeting approach and others are more carefree. I think it’s important to identify your own comfort zone or ‘money identity’ and work with what enhances your life, not restricts it.
What’s the one thing you indulge in?
Travel – taking time out to recharge your energy is so important. I recently returned from an incredible yoga retreat in Bali. It gave me additional perspectives on life and I still feel the benefits within myself, feeling lighter and more receptive to interactions with people. Balance and listening to your body when it needs rest is so important. Your body is your vehicle for life and you only get one, so look after it as best as you can. This goes for mental health too. Look out for your friends and don’t overlook warning signs. Some people are afraid to ask for help, and they can be the most vulnerable.
What is the best financial decision you have ever made?
Converting my cash ISA into a Stocks & Shares ISA. This really was a turning point in taking responsibility over what my money was doing. Having an awareness of the underlying investments is very empowering and I would encourage anyone to dip their toe into the stock market sooner rather than later. It seems daunting for some who have the view that ‘they are not investors’ but really if you’re not invested then you fall prey to the power of inflation. You have to be able to tolerate losses and be responsible for your own money – we all know it doesn’t grow on trees but you can learn to plant them.
Have you ever experienced a financial epiphany? A sort of wake-up call, where you suddenly think - “I must start doing things differently”?
Any health scare puts your life into perspective. The time spent in hospital allowed me time to stop and reflect on my priorities. The mindset shift that occurred from this time of self reflection enabled me to see things more clearly, take responsibility for my actions and put provisions in place to look after my future self. Sorting out my pensions (which I have only recently done!) was a real pivotal point. I would strongly encourage setting aside an hour a month to have a financial ‘check-in’ with yourself. Track your habits, try to analyse any triggers for excessive spending - birthdays, boredom, binges - but don’t beat yourself up about it. We are only human and we are able to learn and change.
What is Vestpod to you?
Vestpod to me is an incredible resource for women to learn about investment in a manageable and relevant environment. It is energised and on the pulse, not preachy or patronising.
Favourite book and podcast?
- Podcast: Emma Gannon - CTRL, ALT, DELETE - a great friend and millennial role model. She is relatable, funny; like the big sister to a generation of women in need of a little bit of direction.
- Role Model: Sallie Krawcheck – Ellevest is a ‘financial feminist’. Her drive, determination and no bull stance on closing the investment gap for women is refreshingly radical.
- Book: Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations – Stoicism, an Ancient Greek philosophy for life, is a beautiful insight into the Roman Emperor’s musings on the meaning of life. “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
Where can we find you ?
- Racing around the city
- In the bath
- at The House of St Barnabas
- @thedurasociety on Instagram (new branding and website coming soon…watch this space)