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I’ve set up a financial coaching business to help women close the wealth gap

Victoria Shepherd set up financial coaching firm Fincoco in April 2024, and hopes to empower women to manage their money in a way that works for them.

By age 57, women will have on average 35% less in their pension than men (Royal London). And in terms of the gender wealth gap, the average man has £114,000 in savings and investments compared to the average woman who has £49,000 (AJ Bell). 

It’s these stark figures which spurred Victoria Shepherd to start her own financial coaching firm Fincoco, which launched in April this year and aims to help women close the gender wealth gap.

A sense of service

Starting out in the military, Victoria joined the Navy straight after university, and it was a sense of service which drew her to this career.

“I spent a lot of time on aircraft carriers, minehunters and destroyers, mostly at sea in a very male-dominated environment. 

“I sub-specialised into being a meteorologist, forecasting for helicopters and fast jets out of Yeovilton air base. That probably was the most relevant training in what I’ve ended up going to do in finance, in terms of taking a whole lot of data, putting it into a format and then presenting it as a story to end users – which is similar to talking to people about their money.

“I did that for seven years and then left when I had my oldest child. I had a choice to stay or leave the military, but if I had stayed I would have been deployable. I wanted to provide some consistency for my son, so I left.”

Moving into finance

Victoria had her two children and the family moved around a lot as her husband was still in the military. 

“And then nine years ago I found myself in financial services,” Victoria said. “I really liked it. I like the puzzle that everyone is. Everyone has different goals, everyone has different emotions attached to money. I was really drawn to being able to help people solve their money puzzle.”

Victoria Shepherd, founder of financial coaching firm Fincoco

Victoria juggled childcare and moving around the country with completing her financial exams, and got qualified, starting as a financial advisor in 2020.

“I did three years of being a traditional financial advisor, often looking after people who already retired, so they already had the money and investments and are in that bracket of being able to afford financial advice,” she said.

“This is one of the things I didn’t really gel with, the fact that in order to access proper financial guidance and planning, you need a minimum amount to invest, and often that’s a minimum of £100,000 to put at risk. That’s a really small percentage of the population.”

Setting up as a financial coach

Victoria found she was getting enquiries from people she could help, but they didn’t meet the minimum financial thresholds so she was unable to work with them.

“I think that sense of service from younger days came back and I thought maybe I could help those people who don’t have the money yet but have all the potential in the world to build what they want. So in January, I handed in my notice and in April, I launched Fincoco.”

Victoria’s main goal is to empower people to understand and control their own money – particularly women, who may have an earnings gap from childcare, may have confidence issues when it comes to money, or just need some advice and support in order to take the leap and start investing.

“My ideal client is women from 45 to 55 who know that the next phase of life is coming up quite quickly, whether that’s kids leaving home, or retirement, elderly parents needing care, menopause, divorce and all those issues. I think sometimes you just need someone on your side to take away all the noise and say ‘what are the things that matter to you and how can we get you there’, without being tied into expensive ongoing fees. 

“Most women are more than capable of running their own money, they just don’t have the confidence to do it. What I want to do is to help close that gender wealth gap, that gender pension gap, where women are sitting so far behind men.  We’re often the main carers for children so there’s going to be a gap. But I think a lot of it can be addressed through confidence, being willing to invest and making use of every little benefit your employer is offering. And it’s about having a plan.”

Maximise your pension

“In terms of quick wins of what people can do now, I’d say for women in their 30s, workplace pensions is the key one. Make sure you’re maximising what your company is offering. If they’re offering to match anything above the minimum, do it. That is free money from your employer that you’re letting go. 

“And look at what it’s invested in. In a workplace pension, it will always be invested in a default fund, which will be a medium-risk approach, for most people in their 30s that’s not where you want to be. You’ve got at least 30 years until you’re accessing that pension so you want growth. A two per cent difference in performance over 30 years can be a six-figure difference in what your pension fund is, and that is a different retirement.

“For women further along the path, late 40s to early 50s, one of the key things you can do is check where you are at in that journey of qualifying for the full state pension. You’ve got time to make sure you’ve hit that number. If you’ve had time out from looking after children, you need to make sure you’ve got the credits towards your national insurance record. So that’s an easy win if retirement is becoming more of the focus. 

“Although the state pension is not much and all of us want more to live on than just the state pension if we can, it is a really valuable foundation to that plan in retirement, and it’s a relatively easy one to plug the holes on if you need to.”

Invest and grow

Encouraging women to invest and grow their savings to make their money work for them is something Victoria is passionate about, and the investment gap when it comes to gender is one she’d like to help close.

“Women don’t tend to invest, but that’s where the growth is. I want to highlight to women that there are things you can do to control your finances. If you take charge of your finances you can make sure you’re set up, and that’s the key isn’t it, having your life running how you want it to.”

Make your money work for you

The key message Victoria wants to get across is this: “You need to understand what you want your money to do for you, not what anyone else’s money is doing for them. 

“It’s hard at times with social media and everything you see on TV and in the media in general, to not get caught up in thinking what you should be doing with your money or what money success looks like to other people. 

“But money is just a tool to live your life, so you need to understand how it will support you, not what anyone else is doing with it. Everyone has different goals. My top tip would be to focus on what you need your money to do for you.”

To find out more about Fincoco and to book a discovery call with Victoria, visit: fincoco.co.uk

Bex Bastable
Bex Bastablehttp://bexbastable.co.uk
Bex is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.
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