The swells of anger & anguish that threaten to swallow us all

Over the last few weeks, we have seen a swell of rage about the government’s lockdown regulations. Open letters have been penned. Petitions have been endorsed. Urgent court applications have been unveiled. People are increasingly outraged. Some have rightfully labelled this a middle class, privileged disgruntlement. It has also been drawn down racial lines. Whatever the motivation, people’s opinions are rock-solid.

But perhaps we should consider that this anger and indignation that is manifesting as bitterness and animosity towards one another, is mistaken for anguish and fear. Such anxiety has led to resentment and resentment to loathing. We find ourselves in an uncertain world, trying to decipher emotions that we are unable to quite comprehend. As part of this process, we are battling to label this heaviness we are feeling. All of this is also spilling out in hysterical and dangerous ways. So much pain out there in the world just beyond our walls of privilege. What many of us may be battling to label is that sense of apprehension and angst.

Where we once felt the fear of having to make decisions, we are now succumbing to the fear of being disempowered from making those decisions. We are increasingly told about random regulations without an explanation. We are petrified that government has removed our civil rights from us and our freedom to make choices that impact on the lives of those we love.

We are reluctant to acknowledge that we are concerned about how this will all play out and how this will impact on our lives. It is the easier path to be enraged and to turn on one another, completely dismissing any conflicting alternatives.

If we do not learn to manage our fear and our apprehension, we will end up drifting into the darkness.

Whilst we cannot control what happens around us, we have a choice as to how we react. We are all navigating this storm together; we are just in different boats. We have all lost something. We are all scared. That said, we can still be our own heroes, becoming better than we were yesterday. We need to look within and find our courageous heart. Let us dare to lean into our vulnerability. Let us tap into our creativity and find some solace in the knowledge that we will conquer the darkness and let the light seep through.

Ok! Ladies now let’s get in formation

When the first positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed in South Africa on the 5th of March 2020, things were looking good for many of us, financially. We were expecting bonuses, and returns on our investments were great. I was certainly on track with savings for my traditional wedding and paying a bit extra towards my vehicle finances after the first interest rate cut.

Fast forward three weeks and there were 200 confirmed positive cases, global markets were taking a massive hit, there was talk of the country going into a massive lockdown, a generally held sentiment that we might never see toilet paper or canned foods, ever again! It was madness. The knock-on effect became more personal when the lockdown was announced – some of us could not work anymore, many of our salaries were cut, and our side-hustles could not be classified as essential services. Our income streams were drying up!

This was the time to unleash those savings, to avoid using credit, redirecting money that is meant to pay off debt or borrowing from our investments to fund the purchase of essentials.

Those of us who have emergency savings accounts undoubtedly have been doing much better than those who don’t. An emergency savings account is an assurance tool that you can use to stir up some lemonade when life hands you lemons. It will help you maintain control of your finances in times of income/job loss, salary reductions and other transitional periods.

With the lockdown effects of COVID-19, we have been forced to save. No more Starbucks coffee every other day, impulsive buys of a sequence top that caught your eye which you only wore once, and certainly less fuel and other travelling expenses. So why not make the best of this situation? Spend the next few months maintaining the habit of cutting back and building an emergency savings account, get into formation!

Here are some tips I have been sharing with my girlfriends on how to trim that budget:

  1. Only subscribe to one streaming service or share subscription with a friend, if she has Netflix, you get Showmax and share passwords. (Speaking of Netflix, how beautiful is the “Becoming” documentary by Michelle Obama?)
  2. Mix up your shopping basket – I know we all tend to shop exclusively at Woolies, but why not buy non-perishables at a wholesaler which is much cheaper.
  3. Jump onto Pinterest for articles on how to make homemade remedies and cleaning solutions.
  4. Sign up for free online courses – As soon as I was asked to write this article, I enrolled online for a free Writing Course – Shakespeare was left quivering!

Our finances have been hard hit, and we are not sure what the long-term effects of this pandemic are going to be, we feel out of control. I think has been nature’s way of telling us to pause and re-strategise, look at habits we have formed along the years and see what we can and cannot live without, to go back to basics, and have an emergency savings plan before looking into making any other further changes to our general financial planning.

Control is a Myth

Adapting to the new norm feels like a more loaded question than first considered. What does normal look like when the whole world seems to have come to a halt and hung a CLOSED for business sign on the door for many? The sudden quiet in everyday life has, for most of us, meant that we spend more time reflecting rather than acting. It’s week three, so I thought to share three key themes that have been recurring for me over the last while:

Gratitude has become a daily, sustaining practice. I am grateful to be working for a business that has realised, some time ago already, that the only way to do business sustainably is to enable everyone, as far as possible, to do their best remotely. That the value of contribution is qualitative output – not quantitative, confined production. When we all started working from home, I was especially grateful that I had the basics of good work-family separation practices in place, and of course, the technological support to enable this. Grateful for space. Grateful for the safety of the people I share it with. Grateful that I can count on a weekly check-in call with the best girlfriends, and grateful that I am in a position to support those around me that have far greater needs than my own. And especially grateful for my husband’s cooking skills!

Empathy is the most crucial currency we can deal in. This sounded very ‘airy-fairy’ to some before this crisis hit, but if you were ever in doubt, we are reminded again how incredibly interconnected our world is. Acting with our clients’ best interest at heart has been the status quo for many of the financial planners I work with, but this extends to suppliers too. ‘Corporate karma’ matters, and will be even more defining for business’ in the future. We really are all neighbours. The human condition all suffers in the same way – despite gender, race, religion or social status. That doesn’t mean that some of us aren’t more vulnerable than others; it means that we truly cannot thrive without looking after each other. And that extends to ourselves too! One of the best pieces of advice I had over the last three weeks was a reminder that ‘we are not working from home, we are home during a global crisis trying to do some work’. It is so important now to keep looking after yourself to be able to look after others. Extend that kindness to yourself – keep doing the breathing, home yoga, or time-out; you need it too!

Control is a myth! Anyone familiar with the Enneagram 8 will know what a complete panic attack this can cause on a daily basis. Working from home is mostly an oxymoron with a four-year-old at home that seems to operate on a schedule entirely spontaneously developing from whatever I had planned! Importantly though, it’s best not to imagine the future when you’re feeling anxious. Humbly, I’m learning to focus on one day at a time – and in that way build the habits and foundations I’m certain will still be valuable in the future, regardless of what that normal looks like from the outside.

Lockdown diaries

Lucille Sikosana

We’re in the third week of the lock down, I must say it hasn’t been easy but we’ve made it this far. I say hats off to all of us!

It goes without saying that most of us had to make a couple of adjustments with having to work from home. A couple of actions have involved, downloading the right software that keeps us connected with our colleagues and clients. I find that I am getting more work done since rush hour traffic is no longer a concern. I try to maintain a routine to lessen the impact of the lockdown on my work and client relationships.

I am also using this time to work on my IKIGAI which is a Japanese concept that means a reason for being, or simply put -my reason to get out of bed in the morning. I am hoping to have it complete by the time life returns to ‘normal’.

My house mates’ culinary skills have significantly improved and it looks like there’s an enjoyment and new found passion for cooking and even baking. I am certainly not complaining.

These weeks have also given me a new-found appreciation for life while I miss being outdoors simply to enjoy nature. I must confess though that I do miss playing golf and connecting in a physical way with other people over a cup of coffee or lunch. But as the good old saying goes “this too shall pass”. So, make the most of this time by tuning out of the habit of following the news 24-7 and making time to also tune into connecting with yourself and those you love.

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: www.mariettetappan.co.za

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 www.my3piggies.com. 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

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