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Why this broker began a women’s financial literacy program

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Malavika Santhebennur 8 minute read

WOMEN IN FINANCE MONTH: Armed with a basketful of qualifications and a passion for education, this Sova Financial broker narrates how her personal life and her professional life colluded to form a financial literacy program for women.

Mortgage broker and finance coach Natasha Janssens fled the Yugoslav Wars in the late 1990s and arrived alone in Australia as a refugee, where she began rebuilding her life.

After choosing accountancy as a career to help her migrate to Australia, Ms Janssens started re-evaluating her career choices when she realised that she wanted to embark on a path that would allow her to be more “proactive” and contribute more to people’s lives.

After becoming a licensed mortgage broker and a licensed financial planner, Ms Janssens established her own financial services business, Sova Financial in Canberra.

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As fate would have it, soon after establishing the business, she discovered that she was expecting her first child, and joined a local mothers’ group. Meeting with other women in her community planted the seeds for the formation of a financial literacy program targeted at women: Women with Cents. 

The program has been such a success that she has since seen around 8,000 members subscribe to the program for free through the program’s Facebook group and through newsletters, and has won the Women’s Community Program of the Year at the Women in Finance Awards for four years in a row.

Speaking to The Adviser’s Elite Broker podcast, she explained: “It wasn’t always my plan to niche with women as such, but Murphy’s law and luck would have it, as soon as I started Sova Financial, I fell pregnant and that got me networking with my local mothers’ group and meeting with the community.

“It was from there that the whole idea of Women with Cents developed because I found that there really was an absence of trusted sources for women to turn to for financial advice.

“Because the finance space is so heavily male-dominated, the [mothers] are asking [questions] in these women’s groups, but there’s no one there to vet the information and say: ‘That’s actually a rumour, that’s not really true’.”

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As such, Ms Janssens realised that there was a need to provide trusted sources of financial advice for these women. Ms Janssens started off by creating a group called Money Matters and met with women at local cafes in Canberra on a Sunday afternoon to discuss various topics across finance, including mortgages and superannuation.

When she met with women in the community at cafes, she noticed that despite the abundance of available resources, including blogs, women were asking her questions about managing their cash flow, curtailing their spending, and tips for saving and budgeting.

This led Ms Janssens to research more about behavioural economics, and use this knowledge to guide women around how they can become more aware of the psychology of money, and motivate them to take action.

Her program sparked interest in women across the country, with Ms Janssens receiving calls from interstate, with women asking her how they can participate in her program.

“That really spurred me on to create the Women with Cents platform as it is today, and to go national and make the content available to everyone Australia-wide and take it online,” she said.

She ran the programs in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Wagga Wagga before the coronavirus pandemic hit Australia this year.

Attendees from across the country now have the option of either attending free online webinars, attend the courses, or book a one-on-one session with Ms Janssens.

The courses include topics such as superannuation, life insurance and estate planning, as well as standard topics such as managing cash flow and debts, and hunting for bargains.

“I’ve made it drip-fed… so that you can consume the content in little bite-sized chunks,” Ms Janssens said.

“If all you have is two minutes, you can just spend two minutes, listen to the section on offset accounts, and then back you go to your usual day.”

Expanding horizons

In addition to her current business and financial literacy program, Ms Janssens said she is in the process of building and launching a third business called Advice with Cents, which would provide the educational program for men and women across all demographics.

Ms Janssens is also aiming to target mortgage brokers through her program, by arming them with the ability to provide community engagement programs to their own clients.

“Instead of giving a client a settlement gift, for example, we instead give them something that’s actually going to support them to manage their money day-to-day for the next 12 months,” she said.

Ms Janssens is aiming for a soft launch over the next month, followed by a larger scale launch in the new year.

To listen to the full Elite Broker podcast with Natasha Janssens, click here.

The month of November marks The Adviser’s Women in Finance month, as we profile some of the leading women in this industry. As well as the Women in Finance themed magazine, we’ll also be having female-centric podcasts and running profiles and content in the daily bulletin, too.

Make sure you’re subscribed to The Adviser’s bulletin to ensure you never miss a beat and never miss a podcast episode by subscribing to us now on your preferred podcast provider!

[Related: How this single operator runs two successful businesses]

Why this broker began a women’s financial literacy program
woman career leap ta
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Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.

Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.

 

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