Shahirah Gardner Make Money Work Interview

Shahirah Gardner Make Money Work Interview

Invest In The Future with Gen$

Meet The New Investors approaching finance in a new way

Yahoo Finance launches The New Investors; the new generation of finance experts helping Aussies navigate their financial future in different and unexpected ways.

Meet Al Bentley, the self-taught investor and finance whizz, Shahirah Gardner, fintech start up specialist and Will Richardson, a warrior impact investor. This team of finance, fintech and investing experts are dedicated to 'make money work' in simple and surprising ways.

The New Investors will bring the latest trends in alternative investing, ethical investment and personal finance to young Australians interested in approaching their financial decisions in a new way.

The new vertical will sit as part of Yahoo Finance and bring news and trusted tips to Aussies at any stage of life, without losing focus of money and the markets. Sarah O'Carroll, Editor in Chief at Yahoo Finance says, "Working with The New Investors means we can speak to the next generation of budding investors and communicate news, trends and tips in easy to digest ways."

There are so many ways to invest and save, from fintech start ups to eco investments and money apps - ultimately The New Investors will show Aussies it's not about how much money you have, it's what you do with it.

Yahoo Finance New Investor Al Bentley says, "The finance landscape is at a turning point in Australia and new tech means there are so many interesting and alternative ways we can invest our money. I'm really excited to be part of this movement and help people realise their full financial potential."

"Technology is changing the way we invest, the individual investor is becoming more empowered by the day as different parts of the incumbent landscape are attacked by startups."

Check out The New Investors content series on Yahoo Finance and find out new ways to make money work.

Interview with Shahirah Gardner, Co-founder of Finch and part of The New Investors on Yahoo Finance – a group of new gen finance experts helping Aussies navigate their financial future.

Shahirah Gardner - Specialist in fintech and start-up investment. Shahirah is Co-founder and creative brain behind Finch, a venture-backed fintech startup that launched in Australia in July 2017.

Question: What is The New Investors?

Shahirah Gardner: The New Investors is a panel of three finance experts, myself included, who are looking to help Aussies navigate their financial future in different and unexpected ways. The other panellists include Al Bentley, a self-taught investor and finance whizz and Will Richardson, a warrior impact investor rounding up the team. It's a fast-moving world these days, so in an 8-week content series, we will be looking to bring the latest trends in alternative investing, ethical investment and personal finance to Australians interested in approaching their financial decisions in a new way.

Question: How does The New Investors help young Aussies navigate their finances?

Shahirah Gardner: It's a confusing world out there with so much information and it seems just when you get your finger on the pulse, it changes again. The New Investors will aim to simplify and explain the often confusing world of finance and investment so that you can make more informed finance decisions, perhaps get into a new world of investing you've been afraid to in the past, or explore your options for banking and super. Ultimately, it's not about how much money you have, it's what you do with it.

Women in particular face different financial challenges to men. With a 15% gender pay gap in Australia, women are still making less, retiring on less, and that doesn't take into account the years spent out of the workforce as carers. While we can't all negotiate pay rises instantly, we can build our financial education and confidence so that we're aware of our options. The New Investors is a great resource for a fresh perspective on finance, saving and investing.

Question: How can we take the leap and make our first investment? Where do we start?

Shahirah Gardner: Before investing, you want to make sure you do two things. Firstly, pay off bad debt - yes, that means those high interest credit cards! You don't want to be paying more in interest on the money you've borrowed than you're earning on your investments.

Secondly, putting money away in an emergency fund is critical for financial stability. Set yourself up with three to six months' worth of living expenses so you have access to cash for a rainy day. You don't want to end up in debt under unexpected and stressful circumstances.

To get started on your first investment, your best way to start off is by diversifying your investments. Look into exchange traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds. This is an easy way to disperse your money among the top 500 brands on the ASX. You'll have a little money invested in companies with a record of stock exchange success. That means, if one stock drops, another will pick up which will balance out your investment performance. There are several "robo advisors" on the market who can help with diversification and asset allocation based on your risk profile and financial goals.

Question: How did you learn to not be intimidated when talking bonds, stocks and numbers?

Shahirah Gardner: Money can make even the highest achievers feel inadequate. We're scared of what we don't know and we avoid the conversation altogether for fear of being exposed.

Google is your friend. YouTube is full of engaging, bite size videos that can give you the lay of the land. Ask your friends with finance degrees. Listen to podcasts. Chat to older colleagues at work. Talk to your parents. Pretend you have thousands of dollars to invest and pick their brain. Knowledge is power! You don't have to go to a financial advisor or crash course in investing to start building your foundation.

Question: What is eco investing and ethical investments?

Shahirah Gardner: While the ASX can make you wealthy, many ASX listed companies sell goods and services that might conflict with our social and environmental responsibilities. As consumers become more socially and environmentally conscious in their purchasing decisions, ethical investors similarly choose to support and invest in companies who want to minimise their negative impact on the environment. The criteria commonly focusses on the following aspects of a company's operations: energy, waste and pollution; natural resource conservation and treatment of animals.

Question: Why do you think it's so important to approach finance in new and different ways?

Shahirah Gardner: The Finance industry, as a result of a relatively high barrier to entry and the stranglehold the Big4 has in the Australian market, has fallen behind most other industries in meeting and exceeding our customer expectations. New approaches are therefore needed not only to meet customer demands but also for Australia to keep its seat among the world financial leaders.

At Finch, we focus on customer behaviours first and then decide which financial product best supports that behaviour. By taking a customer view first and understanding their priorities we're able to provide a better experience and a more personalised financial product.

Question: What apps do you suggest for bill splitting and frending (friend lending)?

Shahirah Gardner: Finch, of course! Finch is a social payments app that lets you pay friends, split bills, share group expenses and track your social spending in one place. Finch removes the hassle of paying friends with BSBs, whether its splitting a bill at brunch, chipping in for a birthday present, or covering footy tickets for your mate. Our groups feature is hugely popular with housemates, travel mates, sports clubs where group members can simply add to the tab and settle up later. For those travelling overseas, we also support FX so you can track your spending in local currency.

Besides Finch, Credi is a solid choice to keep your frending under control. Credi tracks the loan and sends friendly reminders when payments are due. That way you don't have to!

For those who want a personal loan, without having to actually know the person… platforms like Moneyplace has a large range of P2P personal loans to choose from that can be used to finance car loans, medical loans, holiday loans, debt consolidation and home improvement.

Question: What's a typical day like, for you?

Shahirah Gardner: I typically start my day at 6.30 with exercise, whether it's a gym workout or yoga at home, followed by meditation. Mornings are generally 'me time' so I try not to check my phone or email until I'm out the door for work.

I'm at the office by 9am, and at 9.15am we kick off the day with daily standups, a quick 15 minute run through priorities across our current sprint: product, dev and marketing - identifying any blockers that need to be addressed before the day starts.

In startup there's no such thing as a 'typical day', as co-founder and CMO you'll find me working on anything from HR to operations to marketing to analytics. Today for example, I've worked on a partnership agreement, created a new Adwords campaigns, designed Sketch mockups, reviewed activation and engagement metrics, and prepared for 1on1s with my team. And it's not even lunch time!

Days can get long in startup land but when you're passionate about what you do and building a product customers value, it's incredibly rewarding.

Question: How do you track your own spending?

Shahirah Gardner: Poorly! Have you seen your bank transactions recently? The banks don't make it easy to track your spending when you don't even recognise the merchants and half my expenses are categorised as "Other".

That's why we built our own spending tracker called Finsights. Using artificial intelligence, Finch has developed powerful algorithms to accurately identify your merchants (no gobbledigook!) and can even tell you whether you spend more or less at certain merchantscompared to other Finchers. By getting a sense of whether your spending behaviours are good or bad, you can then decide what you want to track (and curb!). We even have a feature called "Guilty Pleasures" coming out later this year too.

Interview by Brooke Hunter


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