Hannah Forbes of ‘The Funding Crowd’: “Feel less guilty”

Feel less guilty. It takes time to learn and I find what often causes people to give up is a feeling of “I should have done this sooner” that’s rooted in guilt over money and finances. Learning to feel less guilty about your current situation and focusing on learning and progressing is a good mindset […]

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Feel less guilty. It takes time to learn and I find what often causes people to give up is a feeling of “I should have done this sooner” that’s rooted in guilt over money and finances. Learning to feel less guilty about your current situation and focusing on learning and progressing is a good mindset shift I encourage.

As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hannah Forbes

Hannah is the Founder of The Funding Crowd, supporting businesses in raising investment on crowdfunding sites such as Crowdcube, Seedrs and Kickstarter. She has raised over £5 million for early-stage businesses in the last 6 months with a 100% success rate.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance field?

I’ve moved into finance, purely through my work on crowdfunding. I did my degree and worked as a Mechanical Engineer before conducting a research project on crowdfunding that completely altered my career! I started running crowdfunding campaigns with businesses alongside my job (an unusual hobby!) before leaving to start my crowdfunding consultancy. My knowledge in this space has purely developed through working on crowdfunding campaigns and working with FinTech startups. At the start of this year I also started working at the Cambridge Centre of Alternative Finance which has been an amazing experience and helped me learn more about the industry.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

It’s not the nicest story but I had the awkward scenario where I entered a meeting once (It was in one of my first jobs and I was quite young) and someone assumed that I was providing the tea and coffee. My manager and team members very quickly corrected the person and (despite the awkwardness) we quickly moved past it, but it did make an impact. I ultimately learned that it’s easy to be underestimated because of things you can’t control (age/gender) and as frustrating as that is, I also found some peace in accepting that and learning not to let it impact what I was doing and working towards.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’m lucky to get to work with some of the most exciting early-stage businesses and founders through my work so it’s hard to choose one! I’m currently working on launching a blog to write more about crowdfunding and provide more accessible education to founders, which I’m really excited about — it will be on hannahforbes.co.uk when it’s live!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Having an academic background, and using this knowledge to track the industry and share the latest changes to crowdfunding, is unique in this space. We’re also focused on providing flexible support to businesses which means we work on multi-million pound campaigns from beginning to end but also provide one-off workshops and advice sessions for those that want easy access to expertise.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?

I think there have been multiple catalysts to cause the change but I think it’s been driven by a movement, that’s been led by an increasingly diverse group of influencers, around personal finance. Books like Money by Laura Whateley have offered a way for people to educate themselves and become more interested in money management and finance.

Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support this movement going forward?

Something I’m confident about is that there are so many women that either want to be in finance and haven’t had the opportunity or would bring huge value to the industry but don’t think it’s for them. Bringing those women into the industry comes down to two key things I think:

1) Expanding networks.

If you’re hiring and you’re looking in the same places and using the same tools you’re not going to find new and diverse applicants.

2) Open-mindedness.

I remember once looking at a job application to fill the position that I was about to leave and I didn’t have half of the requirements (!) — but I’d had the ability to learn what I needed. There are others that can do exactly the same — if we can be open minded with what we expect from a role in finance and educate on what’s needed to work in finance, we can open up the industry further.

Let’s now turn to a slightly new topic. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers? If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?

I don’t recall ever really talking about money at school and I think this is where the problem starts. Furthermore, there is still a taboo around talking about money so seeking advice often feels uncomfortable. I think on an individual basis, being more open to talk about money with friends and family helps educate, and on a larger scale, if there was a way to provide more education on finance at school, this could really help change these numbers.

You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.

  1. Build learning into your existing schedule. For example, follow some personal finance influencers on Instagram or listen to some finance Ted Talks while you’re on YouTube.
  2. Try the 1p savings challenge. I first heard about this from Monzo — you start by saving 1p a day and increase by 1p each day and by the end of the year you would have saved over £650. For those that are worried about saving — this is a good way to start and ease into setting aside money.
  3. Talk with those close to you about money. I really learned the most through talking to my friends and learning what they do with their finances. I’ve found that everyone tends to have one trick or tool that can help another.
  4. Set an achievable financial goal. This will be different for everyone and it definitely doesn’t need to be big to start your learning process. One that helped me manage my money better was working towards setting aside 10% of my income.
  5. Feel less guilty. It takes time to learn and I find what often causes people to give up is a feeling of “I should have done this sooner” that’s rooted in guilt over money and finances. Learning to feel less guilty about your current situation and focusing on learning and progressing is a good mindset shift I encourage.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

This is hard! I’ve received so much help from lots of people along the way that were willing to answer questions and share their knowledge, and it’s so difficult to highlight one person. The person who has been the biggest influence has probably been my Mum (a bit cliche!) — I always remember her dedicating weekends to sorting through her finances and she used to show me what she was doing and why it was important. That definitely sparked an interest in finance and she’s of course been an incredible support along the way.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind”

I wholeheartedly believe that anyone can do anything if they’re truly committed and open to learn and I think part of the learning process means trying lots of things and seeing what fits. This is definitely reflective of how I’ve navigated my career so far going from a Mechanical Engineer, to doing a graduate scheme in Tech, to starting a crowdfunding consultancy while studying for a PhD. I could never decide what to do but I learnt a huge amount from all those experiences and it helped me figure out what I wanted in the long-term.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m really passionate about community-led initiatives and involvement (which is why I love crowdfunding!) If there’s something I would like to encourage it’s active involvement in your local community and enacting change from the ground up.

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