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Ceri Griffiths, Chartered Financial Planner, Willow Brook Lifestyle Financial Planning

After building a successful career in Financial Services, Ceri Griffiths realised that many women going through a divorce didn't have access to financial planning advice that was designed for them. Having built a thriving consultancy to help women in this situation, Ceri reflects on her journey by talking to the Industry Leaders.

How did you end up sitting where you are today?

A sexist teacher when I was 14 resulted in me spending the next 2 decades proving I was as good as the men in the room. I became a great public speaker, had a thriving Financial Services career, and always was heard at the table. Then I heard the concept of equality is not sameness, and I realised how much I was suppressing.

I was a coach to other financial advisers, and when observing them with their clients, I could see their female clients were disengaged. It became an itch I had to scratch, so I set up Willow Brook Lifestyle Financial Planning with a mission to remove financial vulnerability and disadvantage for women divorcing. I have a vision of the future where it's easy and attractive for women to be money savvy.

What kind of work does your role involve?

Guiding divorcing women so they can understand the finances in their divorce. Using software to illustrate how potential settlements play out and stress testing what is offered to them. Giving them ongoing financial advice with their settlements so they can move into post-divorce futures with a financial plan and strategy for the rest of their lives.

What gets you excited about your industry?

Lifestyle Financial Planning gives people the insight to make life-changing decisions. It allows them to understand how much money they need for the rest of their lives, so they don't die with too much, having not lived a full life.

What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Start your pension on day one and invest as much as you can into it from the start. The discipline and compound growth on this has secured my financial future. I have started my son's pension already and, if each generation can do this for the next, we will end retirement poverty.

What are the best ways to support aspiring leaders in your field?

Arm them with business skills, so they can see a broader picture than just financial planning. This will help them to reach more clients and have a bigger impact.

How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?

With monthly subscriptions to my professional body's literature and reading Resolution Laws literature. I also follow other advisers and am part of online financial planning groups, and like to take part in annual conferences, usually with inspiring advisers.

What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?

It was with a client who suffered financial abuse so severely that she didn't even have access to her NI number. She didn't have a bank account and had never seen a penny of her wages. She was vulnerable and had to make big money decisions quickly without the background, experience or knowledge needed.

You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?

I would explore missionary work. I run my business along with the UN sustainable development goals, primarily gender equality and quality education. I use a charity B1G1 specifically to sponsor projects that align with this, and I envisage I would become hands own with these projects.

How do you switch off after a day at work?

Meditation, long dog walks and rubbish TV.

If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?

That it managed to inspire and engage women of all ages to become money savvy.

What book or podcast should everyone know about?

Brene Brown - The Gifts of Imperfection. This was simply life-changing for me. I feel like Brene is in my soul, and this book gave me the freedom and permission to live a life on my terms, authentically me.

How should people connect with you?

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