Claire, a research finance manager for a leading London university, has recently begun training to become a financial coach with Octopus Money. With a genuine passion for personal finances, a desire to make positive change and the most amazing dream childhood job ever, we found out more about Claire one sunny afternoon in London.
So Claire, let’s start with the important stuff. One thing you can’t live without.
That’s hard! I’m not a very physical object person… I love exploring. I love learning. So probably Google. It comes from my dad, wanting to always find things out.
What would your superpower be?
Speaking every language. I love travelling. But because English is everywhere, I always feel quite embarrassed when relying on other people to accommodate me in their own country.
And what did you want to be when you were older?
Do you want the honest answer?
A horse. I thought you could grow up to be whatever you loved! At some point, my mum had to break it to me.
Amazing. From horses to personal finance – why did you want to get accredited as a financial coach?
I’m currently a research finance manager. I sort of fell into it several years ago, but people always make fun of me because I’m also personally obsessed with finances. I just think it’s really important to be in control of your own money, so you can afford to do the things you want to do. I really want to help people and that’s not something that’s always easy to get from a job – that sense of impact.
How have you found the Octopus Money training?
I like that you can just jump right in. It’s not all theories and tests – from the get go they encouraged me to start talking to people. And the beauty of being a trainee is that it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers – there’s always an expert on hand to support you. The group size is also great. It’s just four of us, so you feel like you’re getting attention and can form your own little support group. I think if it was 30 people you wouldn’t feel part of something in the same way.
And how is coaching going so far?
My first client just signed up. Her email came through 30 seconds after Italy scored in the Euros, so it softened the blow a bit! So far, I’m really enjoying the conversations. It’s nice when people start opening up. The initial stuff isn’t really about their finances, it’s about their lives. You know – what they want to do, their dreams.
Why are we so awkward when it comes to talking money?!
I think we struggle in this country more so. I grew up in the States and the UK is more reserved. Which is unfortunate, because it’s part of all of our lives, so it’s interesting that we pretend it’s not. I think a lot of it is because people don’t understand certain aspects of money and it’s natural to feel conscious of what you do and don’t know. When you don’t know something, it’s easy to be afraid of it and not talk about it. Which is a shame because we can all benefit from being open.
So what makes a good financial chat?
Not talking about money at the beginning! Talking about what the people want to do, that’s what makes it really interesting. I’m quite nosy by nature, I like to ask lots of questions and I think people respond well to that, because nobody normally asks those things. I can’t remember the last time someone said to me “what are your goals?”.
Are there any conversations that stand out?
I spoke to a woman with a long term partner. They had a property together, but no will. She’d recently read an article about an unmarried couple who landed in difficulty when something happened to one of them. She didn’t want to end up like that, but still hadn’t done anything about it. By the end of our conversation she was telling me how excited she was to get a will! Another woman told me she was going to pay off her credit card bill. It’s amazing how those simple things can make such a big difference.
Are you coaching part time?
Yes! It’s great because it can be done in tandem with my current job. I’d love to do even more coaching in the future. It’s been really refreshing to see how Octopus operates. It’s so different from other jobs I’ve had. You can make quick decisions and have a lot more ownership over what you’re doing.
What are you most passionate about?
I do a lot of volunteering for disability charities. I work with a variety of people whose lives are impacted by disability and I’d love to help set up financial futures for their disabled loved ones one day.
And last but not least… What financial advice would you give your younger self?
Probably the opposite of what everyone else would say! I’ve been through quite controlled periods with money in my life and not let myself enjoy it. I’ve been so terrified that I’ll not have any. I think it’s all about finding that balance between working hard and also letting yourself enjoy it.
At Octopus Money, our friendly financial coaches help people all over the country make the most of their money. Every month, another group of future coaches joins our training programme.
Curious about whether becoming a money coach could be right for you? Take our quiz and find out!