About Time You Met: Emilie Bellet, Founder of VestpodBy Angelica Malin
Emilie Bellet is the Founder and CEO of Vestpod, the award-winning organisation with a mission to empower women financially and change the conversation about money. She started her career at Lehman Brothers in private equity, before launching Vestpod as a way to provide education and a community for women to start breaking the taboo around money. We sat down with Emilie to talk business, finance and vision:
What is the concept behind Vestpod?
Vestpod is a digital platform with a popular weekly newsletter as well as personal finance workshops and networking events. And…. we also now have a book: You’re Not Broke, You’re Pre-Rich published by Cassell. It’s a practical financial guide full of tips and guidance to make the most of your own finances from understanding your money story, dealing with debt, establishing financial goals, working with an adviser, saving, investing etc.
Financial advice has historically been difficult to access, hard to comprehend, and even harder to understand how it applies to your own situation. Our newsletter and social channels aim to offer relatable, clear, concise information to help women understand their financial situation through fun and engaging content.
Vestpod provides women with a space where they can talk to like-minded individuals, learn from the experts and share their progress and challenges with money. Through the workshops, events and social channels we are creating a community of empowered women engaged with their finances.
What’s your aim with Vestpod?
My aim is to inspire women to just get started when it comes to money! There is a misconception that investing is complicated and only for the ‘wealthy’. To dispel this myth, we need to change the conversation around money to make it more inclusive and inspiring.Money is never the goal, but it’s an important tool that will allow you to live your life on your own terms.Click To Tweet
What inspired you to start the organisation?
I started my career working for Lehman Brothers in private equity merchant banking and also worked for and built a startup previously. Reflecting on my years working in finance, I realized I was not saving or investing enough and could not find the support to do so. And I realise this was the case for most of my friends too! None of us had received any financial education and it’s definitely not the case that because you studied corporate finance that you know the difference between a pension and an ISA.
I then decided to launch Vestpod as a weekly newsletter for women about 2.5 years ago – as a way to provide education and a community for women to start breaking the taboo around money.
There was a clear need for this sort of content too. Women are becoming wealthier. By 2028, women will control close to 75% of discretionary spending worldwide (EY report) and a growing proportion of women are becoming the primary breadwinners.
In our careers and personal lives we have more opportunities than ever before. However, when it comes to money, women are not saving enough money for retirement or to achieve our goals. Vestpod wants to put an end to this and is encouraging women to engage and make choices with their money that work for them – changing our relationship with money for the better.
What areas should women focus on and prioritise?
Women have 1/5 pension savings vs men (according to the CII). However, closing this gap can be difficult. Planning ahead for the future can be tricky when we are more likely to take time off for childcare, look after relatives, or work part-time, but this means that it is doubly important that we are doing so as earlier as possible.
Investing your money early on, means money to buy houses, go on holiday and retire comfortably as well as less need to rely on partner’s or parent’s incomes and savings.
My advice is to start small with investment, but always start soon. Try it out with some savings that you don’t need right away and see what happens. The more you do it, the more confident you will grow. Taking that first step is the key. Even investing a little extra into your workplace pension will help you build a more secure retirement for yourself.
What are the differences in the approaches of men and women to finance?
From what I observe at Vestpod, women often like to feel very confident before really engaging with their finances. In addition, women want to invest to achieve their goals. Framing investment as a route to home ownership or being able to afford childcare is often a much more effective way to encourage women to invest, rather than simply making it about growing your money.
It’s thought that when women invest, they actually invest better. Research shows women achieve equal or better returns on their investments because they trade less often, are sometimes more diligent and invest for the long-term. Women are also more likely to be interested in making an impact with their money.
How big an issue is confidence?
Whilst, most of us never received any financial education, and therefore might not know how to get started- confidence still tends to be much more of a barrier than knowledge.
The financial world has made it difficult for anyone to understand everything and the jargon used can make investment seem more complicated than it really is. Women need education but we also need a good confidence boost. Research has shown that women scored as high as men in financial literacy tests, when the option of answering “I don’t know” was removed.When we think about getting more women engaged with finances, it forces all of us to rethink the way we talk about money. Making finances accessible is beneficial for all and would be very positive for the whole of financial services.Click To Tweet
What is your message to young female professionals and entrepreneurs making their way in the world?
It will be a lot of hard work but it will be worth it! Show up, build a voice, make decisions – they will not always be the right ones but you will always learn. Try and build new things, fail often, meet people, have fun and travel as much as you possibly can.
One of the challenges our readers have encountered is that fundraising for female-led businesses seems to be more difficult. What advice to you have for female founders looking to raise equity?
My friend Bonnie the founder of Seen On Screen just raised her female only round, and I agree with what she says: “Ladies, it’s time to invest like a woman! Our time is now.” And I do believe it is.
At the moment women are only getting a fraction of venture capital funding but this is slowly starting to change as women get wealthier and realise the power their wealth gives them.
Women are also creating companies at a historic rate and female founders increasingly look beyond traditional ways of working. At the same time, they see market opportunities for products and services that don’t yet exist or where today’s solutions don’t suit their needs – some ready examples are seen in air conditioning in offices or seat belts designed for the ‘average’ male. And investing in female-led companies does pay off: Boston Consulting Group found that female-led businesses often deliver higher revenues, making them sought-after investments. Some great, growing examples are Beautystack, Away, Glossier, The Wing.
What would success look like for Vestpod?
Empower 1 million women financially! And help reshape a financial services sector that can appeal to everyone. By encouraging more women to engage in this area of their lives, more could be encouraged to join the sector boosting diversity and creating a sector that works for everyone.