Behind the Business: Helen Howcroft
What do you do for work?
I help people take control of their money and plan for their future. Most people don’t know how much and where they should be saving. I empower people to know what they should be saving for, how much they need and how much they need to put away.
The other aspect of my job is that I help clients going through a divorce understand what their finances will look like once they have agreed a split on the money.
When did you find the work you love?
It’s the only industry that I’ve ever worked in. I funded myself through uni working for an insurance brokers and haven’t looked back.
How did you get to where you are now? What was your journey?
I was brought up by a grandfather who was phenomenal at managing his money and planning for the future. He refused to help me go through university so I paid for it myself by taking on several jobs. My industry is very male dominated and it used to be very commission driven. I hated the focus on sales and commission therefore having worked for a few companies back in the 90s, I set up my own business in 2004 to advise clients in the way that I wanted to, rather than the way that would generate me the most income.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you were starting out?
I had no idea how long it would take to develop a client bank. Starting from scratch was pretty hard. I wish that I had a mentor when I first started; I know that it would have a made a big difference.
How do you stay feeling creative and inspired?
I am very lucky because my clients are mainly entrepreneurs and strong minded business women. Therefore they empower me to become the best person I can be.
What does a good work-life balance look like for you? And how do you maintain it?
I take my boys to school. I take half the school holidays off. I go and watch the boys attend all their sporting events. I prioritise seeing my children/partner/friends over earning more money. That said, I work long hours but I compensate that by having lots of quality time off. I’ve also now started to exercise more regularly and found that the only way I could fit 3 hours of exercise in each week was to reduce my social media presence. It’s really important to sit down and identify what is important to you and then to plan your diary around that.
How does being a woman affect your work?
Massively. I work in an incredibly male dominated industry. I hate walking into a conference and being one of the very few women in there. You really have to have a thick skin to work in my industry. In a recent article comments were made regarding my looks by male advisers. I am very vocal about the need to increase the number of female advisers in our industry. We make great financial planners and the job is absolutely flexible. It’s just a shame that there aren’t more of us out there.
How do you stay motivated when work and life get tough?
I have a life plan. I have great friends. I have a supportive partner. I have wonderful children. I have an amazing team in my office. I love a glass of wine. There really is no need to worry about things that you cannot control. I recently went through a very acrimonious divorce and had I not had the support of these people I really don’t know how I would have coped.
How do you ensure you practise self care?
I exercise regularly. I take lots of holiday. I ensure that there is plenty of me time to give me a mental break from work.
What does money mean to you?
Money is control. Had I not had my own money I wouldn’t have had the strength to leave my ex-husband. Money enables you to have security and enjoy some of the finer things in life, but it’s so important to plan in the future.
What one piece of money advice would you give to your younger self?
Ensure that you always keep a running away fund. You never know when you will need it.
What’s next for you?
Ignoring holidays and enjoying myself, in relation to work, the next step is to grow the business. I would like to take on another 2 advisers over the next few years and to really focus on our service proposition for our clients. My clients are pretty special and we want them to feel that way