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Exclusive Interview: Gretchen Betts, Managing Director of Magenta Financial Planning

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This article  has been submitted by Lynchpin Media 

Tanya Lynch interviews Gretchen Betts, Managing Director of Magenta Financial Planning. Gretchen gives an insight into working within the financial industry. She also talks about motivation, exciting new projects and why she loves working in Wales.

Gretchen Betts

Who are you and which business do you own/work for?

My name is Gretchen Betts. I’m 38 and I live in Bridgend, with my cat, Basil. I have lived in Wales for 20 years, since starting University in Cardiff. I love art and craft, travel to explore new places and tweeting.

I’m Managing Director at Magenta Financial Planning, based in Bridgend.

What is your role within the business?

Everything to do with running the business. From the accounts, marketing and staff management, dealing with our regulatory requirements and compliance. I’m also a Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Wealth Manager, providing financial planning advice to clients to help them make plans for their future security and happiness.

Why did you decide to work in finance?

I didn’t consciously. I was a graduate just looking for a job to pay the bills. I got a job in Cardiff as an administrator for a financial planner, I worked hard, enjoyed it and I’ve never looked back.

How has the finance industry changed over the past decade?

It’s totally different and the same in many ways too.

The advice and planning required is still the same, questions like, ‘do I have enough?’ ‘when can I retire?’ and ‘what can I pass on to my children?’. However, the regulation and rules are constantly shifting and you have to keep abreast of the changes.

I think the major shift of change has been the same as it is across any industry – technology and social media.

New tech means we can communicate and meet clients or business contacts in a variety of different ways, skype, facetime, podcasts, webinars etc… Also, our online presence has to be excellent, in order to provide enough information about the business and make us stand out from other financial planners. Potential new clients will research our business online and make decisions based on this information, this will include using social media sites too, so we need our message to be consistent and clear.

What challenges have you over come as a woman working within the finance industry?

Women still are the minority in the profession and that’s clear when you go to any event or training seminar. I’m also in the minority age wise (less than 25% are under 40), so when I first started, I found that quite intimidating and I struggled to find my place.

Through hard work and determination – I’ve risen from starting as administrator, to financial planner and MD at Magenta. Along the way I’ve had some great female role models to show me that you should be brave and set your goals high, as they are achievable. You have to be prepared to take criticism, be a problem solver (rather than a problem causer) and even when you feel hard done by, sometimes bite your lip and decide privately how you will deal with the issue in the long-term.

What has been the most exciting time in your business to date?

It has to be when Magenta got FCA approval and started trading last September. My business partner and I had been planning it for so long, it really was special to see our name and branding starting to be used.

What advice would you give anyone wishing to start their career in the finance industry?

The profession can offer a great deal of flexibility and you can decide what level you want to achieve and work in, from administration, to report writing and technical research to being a financial planner. It’s rewarding, challenging and can be great fun! If you have excellent social skills and are organised, dedicated and have a good eye for detail, you can quickly progress in the profession. It does take commitment and hard work to get the qualifications, usually on top of working full time, but it’s worth it.

How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

I love a challenge and to see things through. I’m most certainly a finisher, motivated by seeing a project through to its completion. I also rely on my business partner, colleagues, my family, and friends to help keep me motivated, focused and happy.I find it very important to carve out time for communicating with that support network.

How do you manage a work/life balance? 

Work / life balance is something we are passionate about achieving at Magenta, for everyone who works there. We manage to generally keep our hours Monday-Friday (although I’m writing this on a Saturday!) – but of course, sometimes work comes home with you, even if it’s just your mind doing overtime!

I try and relax by listening to music, walking, yoga, meeting friends for dinner and spending time with Basil my cat.

What exciting projects are you involved in this year? 

I’m really excited to be part of NextGen Planners (www.nextgenplanners.co.uk ) and to be involved with the work they are doing to raise the profile of the Financial Planning profession as a wonderful career and also shape the profession to be the best it can be. Being a good Financial Planner takes determination, grit and deliberate skills. This group want to share best practice and promote how good we can be.

Magenta is shortlisted for several awards this year, including Start-Up Business of the Year at Bridgend Business Forum awards 2017. I am really excited to attend and be involved in that and we are doing some filming this week for it.

Outside of work, I’ve committed to revisit my Ceramic skills (I have a BA Hons in Ceramics) and create a large mosaic in my parent’s garden, so I plan to start that in September.

Who is your inspiration in the finance industry?

My inspiration is pretty close to home – My Father. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am without his support and encouragement at each step of my career. A working-class lad, he worked hard for his family and was with the Nationwide Building Society for over 30 years. He progressed from an IT business analyst to being a Senior Executive and Head of Program Design and Management for the business. Whilst he never worked directly with clients giving advice like I am, he understands the challenges in managing staff, your career development, self-motivation, business connections etc and is always an amazing sounding board for me.

I’m also inspired by my business partner, Julie Lord, one of the first Certified Financial Planners in the UK with a wealth of experience of running a business and being a successful financial planner for over 30 years. I learn new things from her every day and we make a great team.

In the bigger scheme of things, there’s some wonderful stuff out there to really get women engaged with their money and what this means to their future, like Brittney Castro and Sarah Pennells – I love what they are doing online and for the industry.

What do you like most about working in Wales? 

There really is a supportive community spirit, which I feel especially now as a business owner manager. I enjoy that you can be in the city one moment and on the beach 20 minutes later and that it’s got excellent train links to Bristol, London, Birmingham and beyond.

What’s one of the biggest advances in your industry over the past five years?

I’m not sure it’s an ‘advance’ but the biggest change and impact on our profession has been the overhaul of the pension rules – known as Pension Reform. The freedoms that this now allow individuals to have with their pension planning and retirement is wonderful, but at the same time bring complexities – meaning people need proper financial planning now more than ever, to manage their choices and to make educated and knowledgeable decisions – over what could be a period of 30 years, owing to increased life expectancy.  As a profession, our knowledge and quality of advice needs to keep pace with a constantly changing retirement landscape.

If you didn’t work within the finance industry which industry would love to work in?

I’d spend half my time working with animals – maybe have an adoption shelter – and half my time doing Ceramics. Some of that’s in my long-term plan!