By Faye Watts
I’m currently running a campaign to encourage women into financial careers. I firmly believe that not only are these good careers for women, but a thorough understanding of money and how it works in the world empowers anyone, not just women, and that’s potentially life-changing knowledge.
People’s reactions are interesting, however, as money seems to be an emotive subject, with some people being downright hostile to someone showing financial ambition. I’ve always had this ambition myself, and am proud of leaving my social housing roots behind and building myself a comfortable life and thriving tax and accountancy firm in London. I have to acknowledge that a large driver in my being able to do that is my Mum. I’ve worked hard so that I can financially support my mother now she’s on her own. I personally have future plans that may include fostering children, and am currently spending a lot of time and money building onto my London home so that it is ready to do so but I don’t always share my plans and I could easily be dis-judged.
Along the way I have constantly had to deal with other people’s judgments on my working too hard or being too money orientated, but the reality is they rarely look beyond their own preconceptions of why I am doing this. All they see is a woman working and spending hard.
The truth is we never know what someone is doing with their money, and judging someone on the fact that they have money alone is often only half the story.
Many of my clients are building businesses because they want to fulfil not only their own career ambitions, but altruistic ambitions too. One of my clients is manoeuvring himself into a position where he can set up a charity which will hopefully have huge social impact; another high flier with an autistic child is working hard to set up a charitable trust for other autistic children. And yet on the outside people see quite a different story.
I’d like to say society has to change but that’s a big call. Perhaps those of us who are doing some good with our money need to be more self-confident and proud of it, myself included, and others would follow suit. This could mean not being afraid to ask for a pay rise and say why (“I am supporting my mother/my ill daughter”), enquiring if our organisations would consider giving us paid time off to do some volunteering and being upfront and clear about our long term business and philanthropic plans. Who knows, perhaps by telling the world they are more likely to happen…we’re certainly more likely to get support if people are aware of what we are doing, after all.
We also need to feel less guilty about spending our money. Let’s show the world that you can still have a nice handbag/watch/holidays and have an altruistic side. Perhaps then we’ll inspire others. In that vein, let’s share our goals, our benchmarks, and the steps we’re taking to make it happen, whether that’s an entrepreneur donating a % of profits to charity and including that in our pricing upfront, or setting up a social enterprise arm to a commercial business. At the same time, let’s be brave enough to share our mistakes, failures and frustrations. Earning, enjoying and using money is a complicated businesses and the more people understand it, the more we may be inspired to earn more to be able to do more.
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About Faye Watts
Working 3 nights a week plus weekends by the age of 13, and running a hair salon at the age of 16, Faye Watts believes in absolute graft. It’s this quality that got her started her on her career as a tax advisor and business consultant, and it has stood her well in her early years with The London College of Fashion, the fitness industry and now as one of the founding partners at Fuse Accountants. As well as her work in tax consultancy and business planning, Faye sites on the boards of a number of companies, including Funny Women, and is keen to further this side of her work.