Author: WIFN Editor

Making life transitions meaningful

After 25 years as a highly successful Certified Financial Planner, Mariette Tappan found herself grieving the passing of five of her clients in one year. This experience led to a shift in her thinking about her role as clients face significant transitions. The result has been a monumental transition of her own, with a fresh identity and purpose as a Planner.

As one of the longest standing members of Women In Finance Network, Mariette Tappan has always appreciated the unique role that female financial planners play, particularly in their ability to tune into clients’ needs and fears.

Now that some of her clients are ageing, the need to be equipped to guide them both strongly and sensitively through life changes has impressed itself on her; she wanted to improve her empathetic and communication skills, the better to serve them.

This new goal saw Mariette embarking on her own journey to qualify as a Certified Financial Transitionist® – the first in Africa! The CeFT® designation is available only to those who hold a CFP®, CIMA®, CFA®, or CPA/PFS designation, and the aim of this qualification is to bring together the two skill sets that a Financial Planner needs successfully to help clients navigate a life change: the technical financial planning expertise to reassure the client that their financial affairs are in good hands; and, the personal side of money, involving relationships, emotions, trust, hopes and dreams, self-esteem and a sense of well-being.

Mariette considers the considerable time and financial commitment to gaining her certification from the Financial Transitionist Institute well invested. She increasingly finds herself advising those in personal transitions, particularly widows who are either unfamiliar with managing their financial affairs, or who would like a sounding board to increase their confidence in managing their money. Whatever the need, partnering with a Financial Transitionist® such as Mariette is the answer!

Most of us experience at least one difficult life event that impacts us financially and emotionally. Challenges may include how to invest in a new circumstance; managing family’s expectations; ensuring that money lasts; changing lifestyle when the regular pay-cheque ceases.

Mariette looks forward to hosting workshops where she can inspire women and guide them through a life shift so that they emerge better for it. A subsequent transition is inevitable, so learning from this one is important to prepare for the success of the next one.

Mariette is excited about what she can bring to the financial planning industry. The tools and skills that she has acquired will enhance all financial planners offering to their clients, and she hopes that her story will encourage other Planners to level up their expertise.

We at WIFN wish Mariette all the best in this new chapter.

You can connect with Mariette via her website:

Kim Forbes is the Writer and a Life Planner at Chartered Wealth Solutions

Walking the tightrope – the balance between family and career

Nothing can prepare you to become a parent.

This is especially true for career-driven women like me. While we may know that returning to work after maternity leave is going to be tough, many of us find ourselves overwhelmed, unprepared, and often at a crossroads.

Between having children and handling work, with only 24 hours in the day, how do we make it work?

Women everywhere still manage to hold significant positions across different industries; we simultaneously grow businesses and families. Whether you’re a married or single mother, whether you go into the office or take care of your kids for the day, we are all working moms who make daily compromises, walking the proverbial tightrope in the quest for balance.

Defining success differently

My two incredible daughters, Natalie and Christina, are my biggest achievements. They give me constant perspective and are my biggest teachers.

Through them, I have learnt to adapt to change and the importance of managing how present I am at work and at home.

I encourage my daughters to believe in themselves, to dream big and to know that they have unlimited career opportunities and the freedom to create the life they desire. They both love to play dress-up. Some days they wear my stilettos and handbags and other days they are very busy playing with doctor sets.

When I was their age, I would play dress up, too. I would picture my future self in high heels, walking into a boardroom and presenting to crowds, making my impact. I’ve always envisioned myself as a leader and mentor. This is the role I have worked towards as an Associate Director at Accounting and Financial Advisory (AFA).

When I started my career at Deloitte, I was sure I wanted to be a CEO. During my years there, I considered what I could do to create opportunities for myself and invest in my future. I took my career in my hands and took charge of my own development, which has worked in my favour. I had the opportunity to work with brilliant mentors who stood up to recommend me for positions I hadn’t thought about.

Becoming a Senior Manager at Deloitte was a milestone for me. It was a moment where I felt the recognition of the commitment I had made to my dream.

When Natalie was born and I became a new mom, my ambition didn’t change, but my driver as a measure for success changed from working towards a title and earning power, to prioritising flexibility, exposure and impact.

Be deliberate, intentional and present

Flexibility is the key enabler that has helped me to thrive as a working mom. It doesn’t amount to less commitment, but instead is a gateway to establishing trust for women in business.

The balance I have created for myself has been hugely satisfying.

I have defined what being a mother means to me. I’ll hold client and team meetings, arrange flowers around our home, make it to play dates, spend an afternoon at activities with my daughters and whip up dinner for my family. I am a scheduling fiend. There are days where I’m running between client meetings and moms and babies’ classes, pausing between breaks to check and update my calendar or sitting down for a blow dry with my laptop open working on a proposal.

I am intentional and give myself permission not to experience guilt.

It has taken time and has been a deliberate process to allow myself to be present as a mom and in my career – there is room for both. It helps, too, that my clients have “dress your day” policies, so I have the choice to do all this in my trainers. I also give myself permission to entrust my children to their amazing teachers and focus on my clients and teams while they are in their care. It can certainly be a challenge on some days, but I’m not ashamed to ask for help.

I am led by the purpose to make an impact that matters.

This has been deeply entrenched in my core, both personally and professionally. I weigh the time I have in a day against tasks I must get through. I have learnt to use my time meaningfully and consider the purpose in everything I am involved in. Another of my mottos is, “You can have it all, but you can’t do it all.”

Trying to do it all is an impossible scenario; so, step back, take time to understand what’s important for your own happiness, and be brave enough to ask for what you want – all a good first step toward setting goals and objectively formulating the right aspirations for your future.

In the perpetual rush to tick off our never-ending to-do lists and be all things to all people, it’s easy to lose sight of what we might need to get by. For Julia’s list of practical pointers to create balance, click here.

The Gift of a Year

For Alvira Fisher, a Women In Finance Network member, and year-long MBA student, a landmark event inspired her to sign up to study full-time. The greatest lesson of this journey surprised and transformed her. Here is her account of this life-changing experience.

Last year, I turned 40. This birthday is right up there with the major life milestones, and the gift required serious upfront consultation and financial planning; it took unconditional and unwavering support from my husband, children and the wider family; it was also the first time in my life that I studied full time.

It was my gift of a year.

For as long as I can recall, I have been studying while working, completing every course I thought was required for career progression. Relentlessly, and even on occasion unquestioningly, I followed manager after manager’s advice on the next short course to tick off the list.

Then I signed up for my MBA … My sabbatical was courteously embraced by my employer despite today’s tough economic climate, and my family willingly weathered a year with no income contribution from me into our household.

So, filled with gratitude, I set off to learn about business. There is much to say about the value of an MBA programme, and for me, the greatest is the change you experience when afforded the time to focus on yourself.

The journey starts with you

Armed with my many colour pens and blank notebooks, I set out to gather and record in numerous notes the best practice business techniques that successful companies have mastered. On reflection, the lessons were far more significant; it was about me and my role in the business arena: whether it was considering my worldviews or my responsibility in this world, my past skills, company exposures or experiences or how I managed others or influenced peers. The focus was on me!

Interrogating your past actions and planning for future actions as intensely as I did transforms you and, in some ways, finds you!

Over this year, I grew, learned and was tested. I could also collect my kids from school when the schedule allowed and give some dedicated time to my retired mom. Conversations with my life partner deepened into mind-shifting and often controversial topics about life, love and our marriage.

With my new neuropathways that formed, this sabbatical became more than year of study: it turned into life learning, business and economic epiphanies and deep-deep personal reflection, even measurable maturity.

Rewards reaped from the sacrifice

The privilege of being in a full-time classroom means that everyone in the room has made a similar sacrifice: economically extracting yourself from your societal contribution and leaning on your support structures for this time. True to what is said about the MBA, your classmates become “your people” in life through this testing and sharing. These bonds, formed through classroom debate and collaborations, gave me the chance to observe, and then note that, in our busyness, we often fail to hear each other … even worse, we forget to listen and process and appreciate other’s contributions. Our daily bustle somehow hampers our ability to welcome lessons offered by maturity and diversity; when we truly receive from others, the racial diversity in our country becomes a powerful opportunity and an exciting avenue to rebuild the broken parts in society.

One resounding message was that we all want a better future for our children and their children. Humans don’t wake up resisting change – they long for things to improve!

Being blessed to intensely evaluate our purpose rewards us both in the workplace and in our personal space. Emotional and social intelligence tools allow us to test those “value words” we associate ourselves with daily. The year is well spent on finding the answer to “who am I” and if you’re unsure when you start this journey, at the end, you will absolutely have a decided view on “who I will be when I show up” and how people will begin to see what matters to you.

Some say I sound different; others have expressed that I have become more economically and societally aware … almost connected to all humans.

Perhaps this year had such a resounding effect on me because of my age; or maybe it was a time-gift to me, a mom, eldest daughter, big sister and career-focused colleague. Whatever it was, I found that the role I play and my contribution as a female in South Africa acquired new words and intentions. It was a chance to dream about the business world I want to be a part of. The year in a full-time classroom gave me a voice; it allowed me time to breathe even when months felt like minutes.

It was a profound year, one that boosted my confidence and humbled me at the same time. It taught me how to identify with my inner compass and equipped me with techniques to connect with those around me.

I am deeply grateful for the guidance of Professors and masters who filled our classroom time with, yes, academic knowledge, but far more importantly, a wide window on reality.

It’s a gift that all should experience.

8 ways to create balance as a working mother

Julia Christelis, Associate Director at Accounting and Financial Advisory, has been learning to balance a busy career and being mom to her two daughters. Here is her advice, if you’re looking to find a better balance:

  1. Become a scheduling guru and be intentional with your time. If you want to work flexibly, you need to work smart.
  2. Single task. Do one task well and move onto the next.
  3. Act now for what you want in the future. You don’t need permission to step up and live the life you envisioned.
  4. Find mentors and mould the best you from a combination of different characteristics learnt from a host of mentors. There is immense value in having someone who believes in you in your corner professionally.
  5. Do not strive for perfection. Be comfortable with having days where you’ll feel like you’re drowning and days where you’ll be leading synchronised swimming. The quest for perfection is misplaced in the fragile attempt to balance a career and motherhood – it leads to an unfulfilled and disappointed woman with burnout and a lack of balance.
  6. Use every opportunity to meet new people and build your network. “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is not a popular saying for no reason.
  7. Allow yourself to be vulnerable in relationships, whether it is your boss, fellow moms, or juniors. It is only in being vulnerable that we can be authentic, and we can grow a strong connection to others. The most important relationship I have is with my husband. We work as a team to determine what process works for us so that we are on the same page in life, and I benefit greatly from his support as a partner.
  8. Learn to be intentional in the management of the guilt emotion so that you can be present both in your career and as a mom.

Don’t miss out on Julia’s article on how she learned these lessons and how she is able to be present, both at work and at home, click here.

A fun way for children to learn financial literacy

Fond childhood memories of fairy tales may recall the three little pigs’ narrow escape from the wolf with tremendous lungs! Their strategy was to run to their brother who had built the strongest house. A new generation of three piggies has emerged, created by Director and Wealth Manager at Wealth Creed, Gugu Sidaki, whose purpose is to teach children the principles of personal financial management in a fun and effective way.

In a series of three books, featuring five-year old Nala (Gugu’s daughter), concepts such as budgeting, saving, spending and investing are introduced and discussed – these are the building blocks of financial literacy.

The Save and Share books can be enjoyed by children from age 4 to 10, and the Invest book is suitable for children from age 7 to 10.

The idea for My 3 Piggies grew out of the financial literacy programmes that Gugu Sidaki hosts for adults. Many participants said they wished they’d had this information when they were younger and expressed a desire to equip their children with the same information. Through these programmes, Gugu realised that she enjoys teaching and expanded it by creating material for children.

“My ultimate aim,” says Gugu, “is to create a My 3 Piggies Academy where children are taught everything about personal financial management through play. I have a very big and ambitious dream to reach at least 5 million (that’s only 10% of our country’s population) children with this business. It would be my contribution to the creation of financially responsible adults of the future.”

The book publishing and printing is self-funded and the books are available at Gugu adds, “I’m semi self-published; my publisher is helping me reach as many children as possible.” The books are available as single purchases, but it is recommended that you buy the set since it’s a story that follows one character in all three books.

Why not add your support to The 3 Piggies mission on social media:

  • @my3piggies on Facebook
  • @my3piggies_za on Twitter and Instagram

Gugu Sidaki is a Director and Wealth Manager at Wealth Creed, and a Certified Financial Planner®. You can see her WIFN profile by clicking here.

The story of how Gugu established her company was featured in an earlier The Buzz – click here to access it.

Women in financial planning careers and equity in the workplace

The country has been reeling in recent weeks with reports of senseless femicides across the nation. Protests and promises have been the result, with calls for action to protect and empower women in South Africa.  One facet not highlighted strongly enough is that power comes with economic independence.  Financial planning for women has unique requirements, and that is the subject of PSG Konsult’s Monthly Interview in its most recent publication. Zodwa Matsau, independent non-exec Director, PSG Konsult board, and Kim Potgieter, founder of Women In Finance Network, comment on women in financial planning careers, and equity in the workplace and leadership in general.

Access the full interview here – PSG-wealth-monthly-investment-insight-aAugust-2019

WIFN Cape Town founder shares on how to establish a women’s network

Esmé Davies, co-founder of WIFN Cape Town, was invited by the City of Cape Town to participate on a panel: Women In Leadership in August last year.

The 400 delegates represented leadership from various sectors in government and business in Cape Town.

The main speaker was the Chairperson of Businesswomen’s Association, the largest businesswomen’s organisation in South Africa, Lerato Mgidlana, who spoke on Identifying, acknowledging and rewarding excellence.

“The panel comprised a number of amazing women,” says Esmé : Madelein Mkunu, CEO, Leading Women of Africa; Irene Ochem, CEO (AWIEF), African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum; Moira Krige, Chairperson, (South African Network for Women in Transport) SANWIT, Western Cape; Anine Pheiffer, General Manager, Chevron; and Baxolile Zwane, Cube Energy Solutions and former vice president of PetroSA.

“It was a privilege to have been invited to represent Women In Finance Network, since the aim of the organisers was to establish such a network for the whole of the City of Cape Town,” Esmé adds

Left to right: Esmé Davies, co-founder of WIFN Cape Town, Lerato Mgidlana, Chairperson of BWA, and Nicky Sterley, WIFN member and Practice Consultant at Old Mutual Wealth.

Suddenly, I’m an entrepreneur!

Gugu Sidaki started her own wealth management business last year.  For a young black woman in a traditionally white male-dominated industry, she is facing challenges she had not anticipated …. The good news is that she is learning how to conquer them, and she is sharing her lessons. You will enjoy her honest take on what is required to be an entrepreneur.  

I quit my job as a wealth manager in September 2017. It was not an impulsive decision, but one born of much work in self-discovery.

So, what had I discovered about myself?

I wanted to craft a life and career on my terms.  I knew that I would not be able to do either while working for a large bank.  I also knew that I wanted to stay in the industry; it was where and how that I had to figure out.

The result is that, for a year now, I have been running my own wealth management business – and what a journey it has been!

The Yucks

Many things I’m discovering along the way are things I never would’ve imagined having to deal with, either as an employee and as a self-employed individual; for example, running this business in the past 12 months has been more about business management than it has been about wealth management. I’m not sure why, but that is something I definitely did not anticipate. The most tedious (and dare I say, soul-destroying) part about this journey has to be the admin that I have had to do, and keep doing. The amount of paperwork! The completion of forms is a job on its own and it’s a lot! My personality just doesn’t lend itself to these kinds of tasks, but it’s something I’ve had to deal with, regardless.

The Yays

The best part of my job is writing weekly articles for the business blog: Wealth Creed Journal. I’ve always enjoyed writing and have contributed articles to a few publications in the past. This process has reaffirmed my love of writing and has given me the creative licence to write what I like. I’ve also been busy with a children’s financial literacy booklet which has been such a joy to create. Would you believe that I’ve also been creating the images in the booklet? My daughter is especially proud of my stick figures and colouring-in skills!

In between all of this, I’m trying to figure out how I can get my life back to normal as quickly as possible without having to get into debt. So far, I’ve managed to get by on my savings and the charity of my very generous roommate (hubby!). For 16 months I’ve had to forgo a salary, my beloved company fuel card and all the amazing perks of employment. I’d be lying if I said I’m not panicking about money. That is why the idea of getting a part-time job or contract work is not completely off the table.

These have been some of the peaks and the troughs of the path that I have chosen. I haven’t yet achieved the balance that I so desperately craved. But I know that it is possible to find the balance you seek, even in the chaos and uncertainty. It’s also ok to take the occasional detour along the way … because that’s life.

Women Onlys – you can be the change!

Ebeth van Heerden of Allan Gray opened the final WIFN event of 2018 in Cape Town with the theme of Oneness.  Her message was a powerful one:  what does it feel like to be the only woman in a room? On a committee? Voicing an alternate view? Alone. Ebeth has shared her message with us in this article – be inspired and encouraged!

At the recent WIFN event in Johannesburg, speaker Graeme Codrington caused the room to fall silent.

His presentation covered Tech trends in Financial Services, but he introduced it by recounting his discussion with his 19-year old daughter, Amy, who is doing gender studies at UCT:  he told her how much he was looking forward to addressing a 100-strong audience of women.  “Dad, I’m excited for you,” she responded.  “Consider for a moment, though, how you would be feeling if you were a woman anticipating speaking to a room full of men.” Her question gave him pause.  Many women would experience emotions of nervousness, anxiety, and even, fear, depending on the context and quality of audience.

Too few women equals too many ‘onlys’

“One in five women is an only” says the largest comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America.  Women in the Workplace report is the result of a collaboration between LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, and is produced annually. The 2018 report states: “Women are doing their part.   Now companies need to do their part, too.”

What has resulted from companies not doing their part is Oneness is this, according to the report: “Women who are onlys are having a significantly worse experience than women who work with more women. They are more likely to deal with macroaggressions and are almost twice as likely to have been sexually harassed during their career. They often feel on guard, pressure to perform, and left out.”

And we all know that feeling of being left out … it brings its own baggage, leading to self-doubt, questioning your value and whether you truly deserve a seat at this table.  It’s never feeling like this is your space, this is where you belong. We also know from the stories shared here in the past that being the only woman in a boardroom feels like it comes with the added pressure of representing all the female gender!  All women, you feel, will be judged by your every action, competence, triumphs and disappointments.

Not surprisingly, “these negative experiences take a toll on women Onlys.  Despite having higher ambitions to be promoted and become a top executive, the are 1.5 times more likely to think about leaving their job.”

And you can imagine that this experience is simply amplified for women of colour.

But, you all know this, and you live this.

Yet, here we are, showing up to make a difference.

Building a better world

When we talk about this at Allan Gray, it is abundantly clear that there is work to be done.  If we want to build a financial services industry that succeeds in building greater financial security and wealth for all our clients – for all members of our communities and our families – we need to keep leaning in, and then, lean in closer.

This is why WIFN is close to our hearts.

The principles behind the beehive – taking responsibility for our shared prosperity, mentoring and networking, very much resonates with our own to build a more, not only diverse, but inclusive environment.

Ebeth at the WIFN Cape Town, November 2018 with Sarette van den Heever, Maya Fisher-French, Anet Ahern and Esmé Davies.

Making a meaningful difference requires each of us to ‘lean in’. While we often joke about the different social dynamics of the WIFN chapters in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, it is clear to all of us that women everywhere face similar challenges – and therefore benefit from our supporting each other.

So, I want to challenge you tonight.

Something in Anet’s journey and Chris and Ash’s incredible My Kitchen Rules adventure will touch your heart, and make you reflect on your own life, and inspire you to look at the world around you in a different way.  Turn that moment of reflection into real action: think of just one other ‘only’ – in your office, your family, your community, the school bodies you participate in – that one often-misunderstood, spoken-over or never-heard voice. Invite her in!  Make yours a half-circle, with room for someone to join in and maybe find a place where they can belong.

Hold onto these ordinary stories of extraordinary bravery you will hear tonight. It is in sharing and walking together that we can all find the courage to speak up for ourselves, or quiet the voices that drown ours. Thank you for coming tonight – we look forward to welcoming you again.

Our speakers for our upcoming event in Cape Town | 14 November

Anet Ahern, CEO of PSG Asset Management, will be sharing her story of growth, change, challenges, ongoing learning, and so much more …

Having started as an admin assistant in Allan Gray’s trading office, Anet became CEO of Sanlam Multimanager International. Now, a mother, author, and CEO, she will be sharing how we can tap into our personal potential.

Join us in getting to know this wonderful woman better.

Chris & Ash – from My Kitchen Rules SA

Both Chris & Ash have full-time jobs that are not related to cooking at all, but decided to enter this competition “to showcase the positive aspects of Manenberg, a community with very limited resources, but an abundance of potential.”

They did exactly that, with so much passion and style – so much so that David Higgs was in tears!

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