Hannah is the founder and director of London-based The Women’s Wealth Expert. She's a popular and inspiring figure within the advice profession described as an 'amazing person' with a 'powerful personality'.
She set up The Women’s Wealth Expert, a financial planning business for divorced women, in 2012 after successfully completing her treatment for cancer for the second time.
She became an ambassador for charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer and takes part in challenges such as Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life to raise money.
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17 Dec 2012
Your business sounds quite niche, tell us about it.
My business is The Women’s Wealth Expert and I give financial advice to women, with a focus on women facing divorce.
Women do not generally like to speak to men about their finances as they don’t feel very confident about it.
The problem is that 95% of the financial services industry is male dominated and so women tend to bury their heads in the sand and hope that everything will be OK.
I have 10 years experience as a financial planner and am both Chartered and a Fellow of The Personal Finance Society
I am using this experience to bring a down to earth and friendly approach to financial planning for women to help them to take their heads out of the sand and start to plan properly for the future.
We use a step-by-step strategy to avoid the feeling of overwhelm; starting by making sure that financial security is protected and then building wealth for the future.
In a divorce situation, I take away the fear and worry around the money by helping women to understand the importance of assets and having a realistic pension to live on in the future.
What was the catalyst that made you decide to go into business?
In July 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33. It rocked my world and turned it upside down.
I had been foolish and not protected myself financially because I thought it would never happen to me. Therefore had to work throughout my treatment, which was incredibly stressful.
Just before I was due to finish chemo, the cancer returned and I really thought that was the beginning of the end for me.
It was also my wake up call and made me look at my life. I decided that I didn’t want to have my destiny in someone else’s hands and I also wondered how many other women were in the same financial position that I was or could be, because of a lack of preparation when they fell ill.
After doing my research, I found that there was a market for this type of service, so I quit my job 10 days after finishing cancer treatment and set up my business!
It was incredibly scary, but exhilarating at the same time.
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What was holding you back from being an entrepreneur at the time?
I didn’t think that I would be able to set up a financial services firm on my own.
I was terrified that I wouldn’t get clients and I would fail. I had always been employed and the thought of losing that security was terrifying.
What was the best business advice you were given?
Keep a really close eye on the numbers.
Know exactly what is coming in and out of your business.
What is the most exciting thing happening in your sector right now?
As of the first of January 2013, the retail distribution review will take effect, which means that all advisers need to be diploma qualified to give advice, which will increase professionalism in the industry.
This is a good thing for clients and I have had this qualification since 2006.
Advisers must also charge clients a fee for everything except insurance and so it creates more transparency. I have worked in this way for the past 4 years, so it’s not going to be much of a change for me.
The great thing about setting up a business at this time is that I have been able to immediately operate in the way that the regulator wants us to going forward.
This makes my work more authentic and means I am working with my clients in a manner that is true to my vales.
What are your customers demanding more from you at the moment?
I have found that I am in demand more than I thought I would be in the early days and that is fantastic.
I have had to learn how to manage my time effectively so that I can look after my clients.
I have outsourced the admin type work straight away so that I can free up as much time as possible.
What social media tool are you using at the moment?
I have found Twitter to be an incredibly powerful tool and I have quickly built a strong following.
It’s a great way to engage in a friendly way with followers and a great source of information.
What is your take on personal business failures?
Every failure is a learning opportunity and if you never fail, it’s because you never took a risk and tried something new, which is more tragic.
What is the difference that is making the difference for success in business at the moment?
This is a great time for the entrepreneur. We are able to move quickly and react to markets, which a big company can not do.
Because of the wonder of social media, it is possible to build a global small business with very little capital input.
The smart entrepreneur takes advantage of all of these wonderful tools to build a business.
Recession creates opportunity for business as people start to think outside of the box.
Who are you following on Twitter and why?
I follow all sorts of people from other women entrepreneurs, to industry peers, as well as other friends businesses.
I like to support other people and help promote them.
What is your favourite quote and how are you applying this in your business?
“Pain is temporary but quitting lasts forever” - Lance Armstrong.
Not every day will be a bed of roses and I have been flying by the seat of my pants but I just keep pushing through the pain and keeping my eye on the future goal.
What next for your business?
It’s a very new business so it’s about finding my feet initially and getting the cash flow stabilised.
Once this has been achieved, I can look at growing the business.