Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When first learning about finance, it is going to likely feel like a foreign subject and you’re not going to absorb everything. Start small and keep building upon your knowledge bit by bit. Remember, Rome was not built in a day.
As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Seery.
Lisa Seery is a former Fintech wealth management VP turned money and investing coach for entrepreneurs and high-powered corporate women. She leverages her 15-year career in investment management and her education as a health coach to educate and empower women to become confident investors, own their money story and heal their relationship with money. You can learn more about Lisa here.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance field?
I sort of stumbled into working in financial services shortly after graduating from undergrad as a business marketing major. Upon starting that job as an operations specialist, my employer handed me a little 35-page book on investment foundations. That book really changed my life. I became fascinated with how to make my money work for me. That was really how it all began.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
I left a job that I loved in my early 30’s. I was working in trading at the time for an international asset management firm and the firm was going through layoffs. I decided that I would volunteer to be laid off. It was a difficult decision, but ultimately a decision that allowed me to take 19 months off from working so I could pursue a health coaching certification, travel to a handful of countries, spend more time with family, and relocate to a new city. It made me realize that being risk averse will only hold you back from living a life you love. Investing in the years following the 2008 financial crisis allowed me to have the opportunity to leave a job I had outgrown and live life on my terms.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes! Last year I left my corporate role in FinTech wealth management to help women in a more impactful way. Earlier this year I started my business and launched a group program to empower women to become confident managing their money and investing. I am also working on a couple of other projects that will allow busy women to learn the basics of investing in a simple and accessible way. It is essential for women to leverage the power of compound interest and the stock market to overcome the gender wealth gap and the disparities that currently exist. I’ve already seen such amazing results in my clients and know this is only the beginning.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My company shows women how to heal their relationship with money and become empowered investors. I want to make learning about money and investing as stress-free, fun and relatable as possible. I will never forget one of my former clients’ words, “it doesn’t seem real!”, as we talked about how far she had come during the 4 months we worked together. With the plan we put in place she couldn’t believe what her future looked like, it was incredible. It’s not all about the dollar signs either, to me, the realization that you can take action and change your money story is always the most powerful transformation I see in my clients.
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?
Due to the wealth gap, growing lifespans, rising health care costs and unreliable government programs, it is necessary for women to invest if they want to retire someday. As a result, there are a lot more women talking loudly about financial literacy and investing being ‘for women’ and not just for rich white men. Luckily, financial literacy is a hot topic on social media. Money experts are breaking down the barrier that investing is ‘complicated’ and getting creative to make it a more relatable and interesting topic. I think when women begin using their voices to advocate for change, particularly racial and gender equality, others see the significance and want to make an impact as well.
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?
In February 2021, Jane Fraser will become the first female CEO of a global investment bank which is exciting, but it is long overdue in the industry. I think 1) companies need to outsource or create less traditional C-Suite positions within the company specifically for diversity and inclusion to make progress toward parity a top. 2) companies need to regularly survey their employees to get valuable feedback on company culture to effect beneficial change. 3) companies need to have mentorship programs for women to support them on their career path so that they feel encouraged to pursue top level positions in their company.
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?
Most people are not taught financial literacy in school and did not have adults in their life that could educate them on the topic.This leaves many adults in the unfortunate situation of having to educate themselves.The reality is that economic disparities exist due to discriminatory systems that were designed to favor the white man and not afford the same opportunities to Black and Latino people as well as women. To improve these numbers I would recommend 1) policymakers dismantle the systems that have created wealth inequality and deliver universal solutions for closing the racial and gender wealth gaps 2) make financial literacy part of every high school’s curriculum 3) policymakers make funding available to have free financial literacy programs for adults.
(Choose) 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.
- Explore existing roadblocks. Take time to think about how money makes you feel, write down those feelings as well as any existing beliefs you have about money. As a child did you hear certain things about money from the adults in your life, i.e., “we can afford that”, “money doesn’t grow on trees”, etc. Often our beliefs about money are not our own, we learned them as children. Healing your relationship with money, and releasing beliefs that are not YOURS, are just as important as the tactical steps to become financially literate.
- Talk to your friends about money. The more we make money less of a taboo subject, specifically for women, the easier it will be to change the narrative and make ‘money talk’ an empowering discussion.
- Think about what you value. Do you spend money on experiences and things that truly make you happy, or, do you spend money on various things that don’t really matter to you? The more you become aligned in spending money in ways that add value to your life, the easier it will be to create sustainable spending habits.
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When first learning about finance, it is going to likely feel like a foreign subject and you’re not going to absorb everything. Start small and keep building upon your knowledge bit by bit. Remember, Rome was not built in a day.
- Release the idea that you must be an MBA grad to be an effective investor. Women often feel intimidated by the stock market and fear of making the wrong investment decisions can hold us back. If you just start by learning about investment account types and broad market index funds that’s a solid knowledge base that will allow you to get started with investing.
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?
A former boss of mine had a big impact on my life. He is an incredibly inspiring person who encouraged and challenged me to think and do things differently. He really shifted my perspective on life in general. Whenever a former colleague and I would chat about our latest investments he would say “you two should start your own firm”, I always laughed but I think it also planted the seeds.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of my favorites is “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” — Jack Canfield. Every time I’ve pushed through fear the reward of the outcome was much sweeter than playing it “safe”. When I am faced with a big decision, I give it the ‘rocking chair test’. If I am an 85-year-old woman sitting in my rocking chair thinking about this choice, am I going to regret not doing it? If the answer is yes, then there is my answer.
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. 🙂
For more little girls to have powerful women role models and mentors who encourage them to dream big and take risks. Our beliefs about ourselves are formed during childhood so it is important during the most impressionable years for girls to develop a strong sense of self-worth. 50 years from now, we do not want to be having the same conversations about gender parity. We have the power to effect great change and it starts with each one of us.