THE COALFACE: A man is not a plan

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Adrienne Rush, financial planner and representative of Bendigo Financial Planning, talks about the importance of women standing on their own two feet financially.

Tell us about the Wealthy Wise Women movement

Through a networking forum I belong to I work very closely with one of my referral partners – a business coach. This is all outside of Bendigo Bank. And we both shared the same passion to look at increasing awareness and security amongst women. So we agreed that we’d run an event called Wealthy Wise Businesswomen – I play around with the title now.

We ran an event back in July, focusing on small businesswomen initially. She talked to them about how to increase your bottom line, and talked about the business coaching side. And I talked about financial security, the importance of ‘a man is not a plan’ and making sure you can stand on your own two feet.

It’s all about increasing financial literacy, education, etc. amongst women. It was very intimate, it was women only and we shared a great night. And from there it’s amazing how this network increased.

To give you an example, two women from that event who didn’t know each other ran another event together. They invited me to that, and then I met somebody else. And that somebody else is going to be a speaker at my next event.

So my next event, I decided ‘that’s it, I’m focusing on this, and I’ve decided to drive this thing’. So I’ve decided to run this three times a year.

The next event’s called Wealthy Wise Stylish Women. I’ve got the same business coach who’s going to talk about goals and the importance of having some direction in your life; I’ll be talking about how to be a ‘superwoman’ – super as in superannuation – how to build your nest egg and your financial security; and then I’ve got an image consultant coming in to talk to women about how to dress for success.

The registration fee is split and goes to two charities. One of the charities is Fitted for Work, so I’m also doing a drive to collect business attire on the night as well – so encouraging women to spring clean their wardrobes.

The other one is Women’s Health West. I started speaking to them over a year ago and told them I’d be interested in helping them out with a bit of pro bono work. So we raise money for that, and I’ve specifically said that I wanted it to go to a financial literacy program. That’s partially government funded, and there are tough times at the moment.

To give you an example, I ran a workshop for women from the Congo. And the workshop was around buying a home in Australia. I took them through the process, and used a case study and told stories about why we do it, and how we can do it.

At the end of the event, the interpreter made a beautiful African lunch for us. That was a great event, and they got a lot out of it.

Are there business or reputation benefits from running these events?

What I’m doing is using the entry fee we charge for attending this workshop and putting it towards increasing financial literacy amongst women who can’t afford to pay to come to a workshop. But at the end of the day, my business is important, and I can’t spend all my time running these charity events.

My area of expertise is in financial planning and advice, and educating people – not just women – to help them to build confidence, align their finances to their dreams, helping them to discover what their dreams are, and putting goals towards their dreams.

Knowledge is very powerful, so what I’m trying to do is empower people. And I do that through my business, and it’s helping my business grow and become more successful – because you’ve got your name out there. By running events you become looked upon as the expert. But you’ve got to earn that right.

How can advisers to get more women on their books?

Running these events is one way of doing it. Getting yourself out there, that’s one thing. It’s all about taking a risk. Stepping outside your comfort zone, being confident, getting out there and showing people what you can do. It’s a matter of spreading the word, and this is one way of doing it.

I’ve got a fairly large client base that is female, and if you provide fantastic advice – and it’s not just the advice, it’s going the extra mile over and beyond for your clients – nothing is ever too much trouble. If there’s ever an obstacle you help your clients to get over them.

Your clients then tell their family and friends, so what you’re doing is you’re creating fans. So they promote you and that’s what happens. My female clients – and my male clients – will promote me to their family and friends, and say they’ve got to come and see me.

I also belong to a couple of networking groups. One of those is a structured networking group. Every week I’m up there in front of them, I’ve built trusting relationships with them. So if they’ve got somebody with a problem, they send them to me.

And if one of my clients says to me ‘I’ve got a problem with a door, and I can’t open it’, I say ‘I’ve got somebody who can help you’ because of my networking group. So I become the adviser of advisers – a central point where people can contact me.

So what I’d say to other planners if you want to increase your business, you can do it through those sorts of forums as well.

Do you think the profession needs more female advisers?

I do. We should be able to work together. For example, I’ve got a male colleague that I work with in a neighbouring suburb, and we complement each other. Some women are more comfortable with going to women, and maybe some men are too. So yes, absolutely I believe in that, and I think what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to get out there and promote female advisers in a male dominated industry – that we have just as much to provide.

It’s just about being confident in yourself and promoting ourselves by inspiring others, and influencing others. And we can do that in our workplace; we can do that by running these seminars; we can do that through networks that we belong to; through social media. However we can get ourselves out there it’s absolutely important that we do it and use those forums to do it.

Is it intimidating being a woman in this profession?

It depends on the individual I guess. I believe gender diversity is extremely important. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in.

I’ve been reading a book called Jobs for the Girls. It’s about women starting up their own businesses, and all the issues that they’ve come across. And one of them I was reading about that I found quite interesting was a lady who was in the building profession as a carpenter. It talked about all the issues she’s faced in that industry.

But I believe that if you feel intimidated then you’re not going to succeed. I believe that we’ve got just as much to offer. Also we’re different advisers. We tend to probably go deeper in conversations. As a female adviser we’re very good listeners.

Some people would just want to go to a bloke, but some might not want to, and might not feel comfortable – and that’s where we can step in. And this to me is crucial, because the more female advisers we have, maybe there’s more opportunity for women who aren’t comfortable with male advisers to find someone they can work with.

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