Suzanne Alexander a certified Financial Coach, ex-Financial Adviser and Founder of Mindful finances. She has been involved in the finance industry for over 15 years and now supports women in business to build confidence in managing their money through Financial Coaching, Consulting and Speaking.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/ venture/ initiative.
Growing up I was surrounded by farm animals and apple orchards and feel very fortunate to have experienced farm life and the ups and downs that can come with maintaining a farm and family apple and cool storage business. There was constant activity and jobs to be done and this instilled a very strong work ethic from a young age. When I finished school I initially worked in medical administration before transitioning into the finance industry. In the early years of working in finance I recall being told to see a Financial Adviser and due to trust issues that came from a childhood trauma I instead decided to study to be a Financial Adviser…as you do! My goals at that time were to help women with their finances so they would never need to rely on someone else, create enough money to purchase a home and set myself up financially for life. 15 years ago there were very few female role models and so I modelled most of what I learnt off my male colleagues, Warren Buffett and Robert Kiyosaki.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it?
In 2021 we experienced health challenges within our family and so I stepped away from Financial Advising. I had previously come across Financial Coaching the year before and whilst I was caring for a family member I studied to be Financial Coach. The profound transformation I had resulted in me establishing Mindful Finances and where I am today.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business/ initiative? What motivated you within to say “YES, go for it!”
I had for a long time felt something was missing in the Finance Advice world and was exploring more around financial decisions being made more so with Emotional Intelligence than the more logical IQ approach. In 2021, due to family health challenges, I stepped away from advising and delved into the world of financial coaching. Out of the transformation I personally experienced with my own money story (one of scarcity), Mindful finances evolved. When I initially looked into doing Financial Coaching, I thought that Financial Coaching would be a great value add to my advising clients and I quickly realised just how powerful the coaching experience was as a standalone offer.
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
Very quickly you learn that life has its ups and down on your way to the pinnacle. I’ve invested quite a bit in personal development over the years including studying transformational coaching and this has gone a long way to helping me to learn more about how I respond to situations and I use this actively when I coach clients. On a daily basis, I incorporate meditation and exercise – they are my non-negotiables. When we prioritize our own health and wellbeing we can be stronger leaders. Setting boundaries is also really important in maintaining respectful relationships both with yourself and with others. It’s your way of being able to manage what is and isn’t acceptable.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in start-ups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
Covid-19 was a wake-up call both personally and professionally for me. I’m based in Melbourne, Australia who unfortunately had the longest amount of days in lockdown in the world. Not really the title you want to be known for. This period forced me to prioritize my own health, especially as I experienced a significant ankle injury as COVID-19 was breaking and then my husband fell ill and so strong boundaries were put in place. It also afforded me the opportunity to explore Financial Coaching which resulted in my own business being created. Owning my own business has not previously been on my agenda and yet it’s been one of the most rewarding and challenging opportunities I’ve had.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
Observing a client transform their relationship with money is one of the greatest achievements of doing what I do whether face to face or in a group setting. Our mindset determines so much of how we live our lives and if our money story is one of challenge and scarcity we block ourselves off unknowingly to a wealth of opportunities in life. Our relationship with money can determine the friends we keep, the careers we have, the lives we live, the relationships we have. Helping a client transform that relationship has a flow on effect to all parts of their life and the community.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
My current role entails supporting women, particularly women in business, to transform their relationship with money and build strong financial foundations so they can create more money, more confidence and more choice. The impact I’m trying to achieve is to encourage and empower women to be able to manage their finances and be confident in making financial decisions so they can create financial wellbeing. A lot of women I work with underprice themselves and this quite often comes from limited financial literacy, low confidence with money and a challenging money story they’ve borrowed from childhood. I have always managed my money and understanding how to do this has provided me with a level of confidence and ability to make choices that may otherwise have felt out of my control. Money plays a significant role in our lives and yet we pay it little attention and that’s been highlighted with the lack of financial education in our school systems.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I’d love to see women be more engaged and take more responsibility for their finances. We all have the ability to build wealth and the more informed you are on how to make, manage and multiply money the more opportunity this provides you. Our money story is often passed down generationally – you are often taught money skills from your parents or family and they were taught money skills from their family and so on. This in turn results in you living a life of a borrowed money belief. Understanding your own money story and upgrading this can potentially change the trajectory of your life.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
I am capable of anything I set my mind to. If you can see it you can achieve it.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
We need more women supporting women. It’s amazing to see how far we have come in this area and yet we still have a long way to go. Because we have come from an environment where these types of roles have been ‘lacking’, unfortunately we still see women trying to pull other women down, rather than supporting each other. Often this is based on fear. I do believe we could learn more from how men often support each other to enhance the pace in which we see more women in Leadership roles. We also need to engage more men to lift and advocate for women in leadership roles.
This also needs to be encouraged from a very young age and can also be tied back to money beliefs. When children are young, often it is the males in the family who are given roles to build skills (including that of financial) to become ‘the breadwinner’. If we could share more of these roles between females and males this would empower females to feel more responsible and in turn want to step up into more senior positions. I also love the approach of Sara Blakely who founded Spanx shares, which is of her father encouraging her to fail and being disappointed when she didn’t because it was a lost opportunity.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Don’t underestimate the power of knowing your money story and how to create, manage and multiply money. Having these skills will always provide you with choice. It will also provide you with the toolkit to be able to value your worth and seek out roles that appropriately remunerate and acknowledge the value you bring. Money is a tool, nothing more and nothing less. With this tool you can create financial freedom for yourself and others including charities, communities, and families. You are worthy of wealth.