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Deborah Kent is not only the director of Integra Financial Services, but she is also the chair of AFA Inspire, advocating to get more women working in, and seeking, financial advice.

What is your main driving force/what motivates you?

I actually enjoy helping people achieve the best they can, whether that be my clients, my staff or people that surround me in the community. I have a passion to inspire people and for them to achieve what they want to achieve in life…I try to really engage and inspire people, that’s what gets me up in the morning.

How would you sum up female financial planners in three words?

I would say they’re engaging, empathetic and authentic – I think that resonates a lot with clients, when they can sit down in front of you and know you’re real, you’re authentic, you’re not there for another reason other than to look after them. I think that’s really important for any adviser, whether male or female.

What is the best bit of advice you’ve ever given?

I’ve got a really interesting moment. This one resonates with me because it was a client whose son died at an early age, was single, and they realised he had life insurance left to his mother. My moment in my financial career was when they didn’t want that life insurance because they felt it was somehow wrong to take money on the back of their son’s death. I had to encourage them that that money was left there by their son, deliberately and he wanted them to have it if something happened to him.

I wanted them to think about what they could spend that money on, that he would’ve really loved them to do. It was not about me taking it and investing it, it was about me encouraging them to do something that they could think about and remember him by because that’s what he wanted. Something they always wanted to do with him was to get a decent sized campervan and do a trip across Australia, so that’s what they did… This story will always stick in my head. They were long term clients, they still are, they do everything I tell them to do, and this particular moment was really interesting – the dynamics of having them say ‘I don’t want that money’.

What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever heard?

I guess the worst part for me is hearing somebody tell me they had borrowed against their house, we’re talking half a million dollars, to put into an overseas investment scheme that was sold to them over the phone. That was actually instigated by client rather than adviser.  That is lack of advice. That is going and doing something because you’re coerced into it over the telephone.

If you had $50 left, what would you do with it?

I’d probably invest it in a facial. I figure if it’s the last $50 I’ve got I may as well pamper myself.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

Go and live for 12 months in New York. I just love the place and would love to experience it over a long period of time, actually live there and experience the atmosphere of it.

What would you like to have the final word on?

My final word would be, having created Inspire for the AFA, I would love to see our licensees and small boutique businesses embrace the concept of increasing the awareness of getting females into our industry. I think it’s really important that we try to get that gender balance right. I’d love to encourage all licensees and businesses out there to embrace the Inspire concept.

You’ve got large licensees like Westpac coming out and saying they’re putting a whole lot of resources into increasing females, I think ANZ have said the same thing. The salaried adviser network seem to get it but we need to push it down the line as well, into the other smaller businesses, even if they are aligned to another licensee.

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