Breaking the Mould – Interview with Forward Ladies

This article has been published by Forward Ladies following an interview Rebecca Aldridge had with them.

When Rebecca Aldridge, Founder and Managing Director of Balance: Wealth Planning, couldn’t find a financial planning firm that aligned with her values and career aspirations, she set out to establish her own with a difference and break the mould.

Instead of following established trends within the sector, Rebecca chose to break new ground, offering a service that looked at her clients’ wealth holistically – rather than simply crunching the numbers. We ask her myth-busting questions about financial planning and the advice she would share with others aspiring to do things differently.

Tell us about yourself and your business (how did you get started?)

I am the founder and Managing Director of Balance: Wealth Planning. I’m a financial planner, which means I work with people to help them understand what they want from today and the future, then I structure their wealth to give them the greatest chance of succeeding.

Much of what I do is to establish the shape of my clients’ wealth over their lifetimes and whether their lifestyles are sustainable. Sometimes I’m in a great position, where I can highlight they have more than enough wealth already to last for their whole lifetime, which then means we can start discussing changes in lifestyle; including stopping work sooner than planned, spending more on travel or a holiday home, or helping family. And of course, sometimes I have a very different conversation about managing expectations, working a little longer, managing a tighter budget and making investments work harder.

What inspired you to start your own business?

Starting my own business was motivated by the realisation that I didn’t want to work for anyone else! I couldn’t find a company that aligned with my values and would give the opportunity to be a joint owner or partner, which was what I was looking for at that stage in my career.

What challenges did you face when setting up your own business?

Where one person sees challenges, the other sees opportunities! I was determined to think positively and to find a creative solution to each challenge.

Initially, that was around how to have what I wanted, with almost no budget. So, I built the website, I designed my own business cards, configured a CRM system, wrote the compliance documents and presentation documents.

From there my challenges were around promoting the business and what we do. I exchanged skills with a couple of firms, so I gave them my services for free and in return I had some valuable marketing exposure.

What is your advice for those looking to set up their own businesses?

My advice is to have a clear business plan for the next year and a picture of where you’d like to be in three years’ time. I know it’s difficult to create a precise business plan before you’ve even started trading, but you have to be sure about the potential for the business to actually make money. If it can’t do that, it’s not a viable business. If it might make money but you’re not sure, the question is whether you can afford to take the chance.

What is your motto/favourite quote in life?

We have a few family mottos that I really like. ‘Have fun, be kind’ is what I tell my children most mornings, and it’s a good reminder for me too. It’s so important to love what I do and have fun. It’s great for me and it rubs off on others too. Being kind sounds simple but it’s representative of a much deeper sense of thinking of others and showing empathy, whether that’s giving someone a smile, going out of my way to help someone who needs it, or being aware of the impact we can make in our community or profession.

My other favourite family motto is, ‘Plan ahead and make a big effort’. I don’t always achieve that! But the principle is that if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. And when you’re making a big effort, there’s pleasure in the planning as well as in seeing the final result.

What is the biggest myth about your industry/sector?

When people think about financial planning they assume I deal with numbers all day long, and follow investment markets all the time, perhaps even shouting ‘Buy, buy, buy!’ into my phone. Not at all. Financial planning is about people, their lives and dreams. Yes, they need their money in the right place to enable them to do everything they hope for, but my role is much more than that. Most of the time with my clients, I’m actually listening. From there, I’m gently challenging, questioning and offering reassurance. The goal for me is to help my clients be really clear about what they want from today and the future, and show them how to have the best chance of achieving it all.

What is the best lesson you have learned in business?

These two words have served me well professionally and personally too: ‘Say yes.’ Whenever there’s been an opportunity to volunteer for a project, to put myself forward for a promotion, to fill in for someone, I’ve tried to say ‘Yes’. It meant I quickly accumulated a breadth of knowledge and experience, becoming better known professionally. Every time I said ‘Yes’ and tried my hand at something slightly different, the more confident I became.

Join us in Congratulating Rebecca for being shortlisted for the Female Entrepreneur of the year award at the Midlands Regional Final #FLNationalAwards

The mother of all awards #FLNationalAwards & Summit 2018 is coming to your region with events in Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, London and Leeds! It’s an inspirational programme showcasing diversity in business, recognising the doers, trailblazers & inclusive leaders across the UK. Join the conversation and don’t miss out – HERE