MEET MAKALA GREENS, BRITAIN'S FIRST BLACK AND FEMALE CHARTERED FINANCIAL PLANNER

April 22, 2022
The financial professional and author of The Money Edit spoke to Get-Optimal about what it feels like to be a black woman in finance as well as sharing her tips on how to make better financial choices.

Money guru, Makala Green, is known for her positive, no-frills approach to money management.

She started her career in finance as a 16-year-old cashier at Nationwide and went on to found the first Associate Practice of the world-renowned St James’ Place, Green Wealth Planning.

Earlier this month, Makala released her first book, The Money Edit, aimed at demystifying money management, in turn encouraging us all to achieve financial control and freedom.

The financial expert took time out to talk to Optimal about how to tackle money and why the world of finance is an attractive career for everyone.

How did you end up pursuing a career in finance, Makala?
To be honest, I fell into the profession. I have always been fascinated by money and numbers and was good at maths at school but never thought about embarking on a career in finance.

I was actually studying to become a doctor but needed a part-time job and a friend said “Oh, do you know you can get a job in a bank at your age (16)?”

So I typed up my CV and handed it out to all these high street banks – this was around the time when you could actually hand in a CV – and the following week I was flooded with all calls and interviews and was spoilt for choice.

The moment I first stepped through the door at Nationwide, I was hooked and it all stemmed from there really.

You have been very open about wanting to inspire more women and women of colour to enter the financial world. Why do you think financial planning is a fantastic career for women and ethnic minorities?
Financial services and planning is definitely a male-dominated industry but I would love to see more women in finance – for one thing, females are often better financial planners than males!

The role of a financial planner is built on relationships and is about getting clients to build trust. It’s about really understanding their current situation and future plans and how you can help them achieve those goals. Women are great at communication and getting to grips with what makes people tick so it’s a natural fit.

It’s also one of those roles in which you can have a great deal of control in terms of time management. You can manage your own time and work around your schedule which is advantageous for women who want to create a work-life balance.

Lastly, it’s a rewarding career. Nothing beats helping someone achieve a goal – be it buying a property for the first time or retiring at an age they never thought they would be able to. As a financial planner, you are helping someone literally every day.


Any tips for women wanting to follow in your footsteps?
I made it against all the odds – I was the wrong age, gender, colour etc. So if I can do it, you can too. Have confidence in yourself, and that confidence largely comes from planning and being prepared for situations and making sure you are knowledgeable.

Secondly, never underestimate the importance of networking. Find a mentor who works in finance and can give you both a stepping stone and an insight into the industry. Networking with the right people certainly helped me progress.

Thirdly, be committed. If I had given up every time I came across a challenge, I would not be here talking to you today and telling this story. Be committed to what you want and work as hard as possible.

Lastly, on a practical note, understand the right exams to take. This depends on which role you want to take within finance. Finance is broken down into hundreds of different roles and each requires different qualifications.

Also, make sure you gain experience in the industry, be it in admin or paraplanning – these roles often lead to further opportunities – or with a financial planner. There are plenty of financial planners who are willing to take people on.

And any advice for us all regarding managing our money in these tough economic times?
Absolutely. Review your current situation and see what is going out. Take a snapshot and then compare it in a month’s time – fuel, food and energy price rises are all going to affect people so may need to make adjustments/potential cutbacks.

And also continue to review your financial goals and see how they align with your current circumstances – people have changed professions/lost jobs etc during the pandemic.

Anything else that you would like to share with Optimal readers?
Yes: be open about money. We still shy away from discussing money but it is something we need to talk about. The more we share tips, the more we will be able to take better control of our money. Challenge yourself to be more open about money even if that is just to one person – a parent, a spouse, a friend, a financial planner or a coach. Make that promise to yourself: I am going to be open about money to one person in my life.

My message? Keep talking about money!Makala’s book, The Money Edit, is out now. Follow her on Instagram at @TheWealthCheck and visit her website at www.makalagreen.com