Kim Uzzell is a Norwich-based financial wellbeing consultant. Here, the former stockbroker explains why she left a traditional career behind in 2021 – and why we could all do with understanding our money mindset better, in the cost-of-living crisis and beyond
I originally wanted to be a lawyer but didn’t want to go to university (I was impatient and wanted to be earning!) so I took a training position with Norwich firm Mills and Reeve in their Trust and Tax team straight from A Levels. Within a few years I was lucky enough to move into financial advice and qualified as a stockbroker. It was a challenge, being a very male dominated arena, and as a working mum I can’t pretend that there weren’t times when I felt everything was against me as I tried to juggle a stressful and all-consuming career, with being a mum.
When the children were teenagers, my marriage ended and life threw me new challenges. Happily, I am pleased to report that I met my new husband, Phil, in the least likely of places – the Costa Coffee opposite my office, and we have been together for the last 10 years.
After a 30 year “traditional” career, at the end of 2021 I took the big decision to leave the safety and security of my job behind and establish myself as a Financial Coach. The last year has been both terrifying and empowering and I am very grateful for the support and encouragement that I have from Phil and I’m looking forward to building this business and helping more people understand and get confident around their money, where previously I was only able to work with a relative few.
My own coaching career began over 15 years ago when I suddenly lost my father to a blood clot. I knew I needed something else in my life and I stumbled across coaching and training. I trained in such specialties as clinical hypnotherapy, NLP, EFT (tapping) as well as (randomly) reflexology and for a few years stepped away from my stockbroking career to focus on this, working with a wide range of issues, before being drawn back into the excitement of the stock market…just before the 2008/09 crash – perfect timing (not!).
As the years went by, the coaching, teaching and mentoring was formally a lesser part of my career but often integrated within my “day job” in some way or other.
When I turned 50, I started to think that I was wasting my passion for wanting to help a wider number of people get comfortable about their money, particularly women where we are seeing a huge gender investment and pension gap. It became obvious to me that I needed to re-visit my coaching practices in a bigger way, and so a new plan was born!
My role as a Wealth Manager pre-pandemic was great – lots of client interaction, in person appointments and although we all worked incredibly hard, we had a lot of fun along the way, with a lot of laughter and teamwork.
When the pandemic hit, of course, life changed. We were sent home and all connection with clients on a face-to-face basis was gone. Although we all knew we had to manage it, I found the isolation hard, and I really missed that more personal connection. As the restrictions continued, my job role changed within the bank I worked for and I knew that I would never be returning to my office environment. This was tough for me to deal with, and I became ill, developing chest pains and breathing issues and in August 2021 I knew that I had to put myself first and do something different.
It was obvious to me that this would be the perfect time to break ties with my 9-5 and focus on building up the new bigger version of the coaching business. Instead of the very general focus I had first time round, I knew that I wanted to take all my 30 years of investment career experience and combine it with the coaching, to provide specialist financial coaching. Most life coaches, even business coaches, don’t have a huge depth of money-related knowledge so there are still huge numbers of people who don’t have access to the support that they need to understand and deal with their money journey. So, the time was right for me to step into that role fully!
Although the current cost-of-crisis is highlighting the need for my work, our attitude to money, our behaviours, and the need for greater education and understanding of it is NOT specific to 2022/23…it’s been this way for many years.
So, whether good times or bad, we need to be understanding our money mindset more and managing our money better. So that whenever these curveballs come along, we are better placed to navigate them.
Financial stress is an issue for many people, year in year out. Life throws us challenges – divorce, illness, bereavement, forced job changes – whether the economy is doing well or not. My message is that financial wellbeing is something we need to improve every year.
The financial conversations we need to have with our family and especially our children need to become more positive and easier, so that the stresses aren’t just passed down the road a bit.
But, bringing it right into the present: 70% of under 55s are going to work with money worries, and this doesn’t improve much for over 55s with over half still worried about money.
So, workplaces should take note and offer financial wellbeing support, because there’s a very good chance that their employees are either actually struggling financially or are worried about money in some other way. The work is ongoing. It’s never too early to do something with your finances for your future. And it’s never too late to make a start or a difference!
The stats are shocking…most women don’t feel financially secure. Most employees have money worries of some sort and over half of us don’t feel confident about our money in general.
My hope is to see those numbers change significantly for the better so our children and grandchildren have a better financial understanding and ability to make good choices.