- Who is Irit Harris?
I am an infinite learner. I am a qualified biomedical engineer, I have over 10 years’ experience in the banking sector, an MBA, accreditation to give general advice on banking & insurance products, and a diploma of finance.
I am also mum to two beautiful kids and wife to an incredibly supportive husband.
I love to travel off the beaten track and do yoga – sometimes both at the same time!
- Tell us about F-Empowered and how that journey began?
My daughter Jasmine is the motivation behind F-Empowered. It was with her birth, 15 months ago, that I felt I could no longer be a passive bystander, and needed to take action to support her growing up in a society where she feels empowered to make decisions with her money.
Whilst on parental leave from NAB, with their full support, I began a journey of understanding this problem of women not feeling in control of their finances in great depth.
I spoke with hundreds of women and uncovered that over 70 per cent of females do not feel financially empowered for three main reasons. They told me: “… I feel overwhelmed and do not know where to start …”, “… I do not know who to trust …”, and “… I feel alone, because women just do not talk about money…”
F-Empowered’s mission is to empower women to achieve their money goals and it does so through giving access to empowering tools, best practice information (without the jargon) and connecting like-minded individuals.
- Why do you think it is important for women to have access to a service like F-Empowered?
It has been well documented through external research and interviews of my own that when it comes to big money decisions, women are under-represented. To me, this imbalance does not make sense and can actually have negative consequences, with 80 per cent of women at some point in their lives solely responsible for their financial wellbeing.
I believe it is important to change the dialogue and bring women into the conversation about money in a non-threatening manner.
When it comes to being in control of one’s financial situation, there are three concepts here:
- Financial literacy – education & information;
- Financial empowerment (my term) – empowering you, through tools & general advice, to make your own money decisions;
- Financial advice – advice by an accredited financial expert (e.g. financial planner) which takes into account all your personal information and gives you advice tailored & specific to your circumstances.
The analogy would be, if you wanted to learn how to fish, (1) read a book on it (2) go out and do it yourself, with support (3) get someone else to do it for you.
There are definitely great resources available in the financial literacy and financial advice space.
There are few providers, however, providing solutions to women in financial empowerment. This is where F-Empowered plays.
- Why do you think women are afraid to talk about money?
I think there are three possible reasons:
- Unconscious biases that start at a young age (same as other gender imbalances, e.g. why there are less girls doing maths and science at school).
- Women typically have difficulty talking about subjects they are not confident in.
- Individuals find thinking about money stressful. It has been documented that money issues are the leading contributor to stress.
Despite this, I have witnessed first-hand the power that exists when women do open up to each other and start talking about money.
- What do you find most rewarding about your job?
Seeing women take control of their money, drive their goals and actively participate in planning for their future.
Irit Harris is the founder of F-Empowered.
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