Sarah Steel, is the Director of a financial well-being company called Better with Money. Their mission is to provide accessible and engaging education in the workplace to help people make better financial decisions to reduce money stress. They do this by providing webinars, face-to-face sessions and money coaching 1-2-1s, paid for by the employer.
How did you end up doing this?
I worked in financial services and large companies for 22 years in a variety of roles. I have done everything from administering pension schemes to heading up sales teams for large insurance companies. And in that time, I had navigated the ups and downs of family life, had 2 children of my own, got divorced, remarried and became a step mum to 2 more children. So I guess it’s hardly surprising that after two decades of working for corporates, I wanted to make a change to have more flexibility around working hours and more autonomy when it came to decision-making, and so I toyed with the idea of running my own business.
In 2018, I was approached by a good friend of mine who knew the owner of a business, Better with Money, that was up for sale. Tragically the founder who had set up the business 3 years previously had received a terminal diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and wanted to find someone who shared her vision for unbiased financial education to take the company forward to achieve its future potential. I was introduced to her and we immediately hit it off! I realized I could transfer all the networks and skills, training and experience that I had gained throughout my corporate career into running this business.
How did you manage the transition from corporate life?
I had no idea what the first few days in my new business would look like but a couple of days after I took the reins, covid hit. We had to quickly move our services online and get up to speed on all of the Government help and support so that we could help people navigate the financial impact of the pandemic. Unfortunately, at the same time, I started to realise that I was entering menopause and dealing with the anxiety, sweats and tremors that come with that, along with having to wrangle with my doctor for treatment. I knew for the sake of my family, with all 6 of us under the same roof during lockdown, I had to get the right treatment quickly!
How have your life experiences strengthened your work?
I have used every bit of experience that I have gained from big life moments like parenting, divorce, and bereavement to everyday experiences such as budgeting, managing debt and applying for student finance to help others navigate the financial impact of these events. I have realized you should never have preconceived ideas about what help and support people need. Sometimes it’s the people managers who need understanding payslips and higher earners who struggle with debt. Money problems are not determined by age, gender or career. We all need help sometimes.
What one piece of advice would you give anyone considering a career change?
I know that finances, basically affordability, is a big consideration for people thinking of making a change to their job or career. Yet I think that probably 9 out of 10 of my friends can’t answer the question “how much is life costing you?”. Therefore, the one piece of advice I would give people is to understand their starting position. How much do you spend month to month? What benefits do you get now that are important to you?
So that whether you are thinking about a new job on a different salary, or reducing your hours, or taking time out to retrain, you have the right information to make an informed decision about what’s right for you.
Don’t miss Managing your money in Midlife – an audience with Sarah Steel in the Careers Lounge on Friday 19th May.