Fiona’s passion for finance started early. While studying an economics degree at university she worked part time for a bank. It was there as she was nearing the end of her time at university, she saw an advertisement for a ‘paraplanner’ job.
“I’d never heard of this type of job before, so I did some research about what they do, and spoke to my parents – who’d just happened to recently visit a financial planner - and I felt such an interest I decided I’d like to pursue this type of opportunity, which set the course of my career!” says Fiona.
More than 19 years later, Fiona is still as passionate about member education and financial advice as she was at the beginning of her career. Starting out as a Client Services Officer in a large financial institution, Fiona was schooled in the ‘back of house’ functioning of advice before quickly transitioning to a face-to-face financial planner role. “I feel so lucky, because here I am in 2020 still doing something I love.”
For her first nine years as a financial planner, Fiona worked with small to medium business owners in the areas of corporate super and insurance. After having children and returning to the workforce part time, she moved into a retail financial planning role helping investors who are much like the members she helps today at HESTA. Helping individuals and families change their financial future quickly became Fiona’s new passion.
“I realised that many people really need the help and guidance - and they’re so very appreciative of any assistance you can give them. The fact that I can make a significant and tangible difference to someone’s life is what I love about my job,” says Fiona.
Fiona enjoys the way she’s able to develop real connections and relationships with her clients. “They welcome me into their life and share their most personal details with me. Sometimes it’s more than what they share with their own family. I feel honoured that they trust me with their financial future, and it makes me always want to achieve the best outcomes possible for them.”
“I believe that knowledge is power, which is why member education is so important,” says Fiona. She believes it’s her role to empower members to make good financial decisions by explaining their options in simple to understand terms. She also tries to alleviate some of the fears a member may have that are blocking them from taking the steps they need towards financial freedom.
“The first step is always the hardest, and if I can make it that bit easier to take, by giving sound financial information and guidance, to me this is an important role.”
Fiona tells the story of a client that sought advice who was suffering poor mental health as a result of a difficult workplace situation. “She was in tears telling me that she couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. She was in debt and needed her income as she had expenses, which meant she had to keep working in this really unhealthy employment situation.”
Through the planning process Fiona was able to educate her that she actually could afford to pay off her debt. The woman was able to stop working and focus on the things that were important to her. “She was crying this time too, but for an entirely different reason. Next time she came to see me 12 months later, she was like a completely different person - so much happier and healthier!”