Vestpod Wants to Change the Way Women Think About Money
Emilie Bellet played hockey for the French national team for 10 years while going to college, and working in finance. So what does a star athlete is to do after that? Well, in this case, move to London, get married, have two children and launch a startup that seeks to educate and empower women about money: Vestpod. We chatted with her to learn more about their mission and the relationship women have with money across the globe.
How did you come up with the idea of Vestpod?
My background is in finance. I worked in private equity for seven years and also set up another tech startup in the recruitment space. I realized over the years that while I was earning money, I was not necessarily saving or investing enough. So I decided it was time to start taking care of my finances.
The idea came to me after a meeting I had with my financial advisor years ago. We sat down in a stark-white meeting room and the very first thing he said to me was, “Where is your husband?” I walked away from that meeting feeling angry and annoyed, but at the same time, inspired. I knew that I could create something that would help empower women and their financial future.
I launched Vestpod as a free weekly newsletter (you can get it here) giving women tips and guidance on personal finances. We now also organize events and workshops and are developing our education offering. In the future, I hope Vestpod will be instrumental in improving women’s wealth globally and will also inspire a generation of financially independent women.
Has your finance background given you an edge for launching a startup?
Yes. Working in private equity and finance is a very demanding job and I learned so many things there. So it has definitely given me the discipline and drive, the hard work and analytical thinking. It was amazing to have the opportunity to work with very experienced professionals, investors and management teams. Previously, I also studied management, economics, and finance so I have a corporate-finance knowledge base, too.
I then learned everything I could about personal finances from saving, to investing and pensions taking online classes, meeting finance professionals and browsing money websites. I read a lot of finance and business books (we even have a book club with Vestpod) and publications. I also invest some money and to be honest, that was the best way to learn. I am not an expert, but I am definitely passionate about it.
is the conversation around women and money different from country to country?
I think the conversation is different depending on where you live. In the U.S. or Australia, people are more open to talk about money than in France or the U.K., for example. But there is clearly a common thread: We - women - have been living on the legacy of men taking care of the household finances.
Talking about money can expose our weaknesses; that is why it is a difficult subject. There is also a psychological aspect to it, especially for women, about worth and responsibility. Women have been earning less than men historically and have been excluded from financial decision making. However, this is changing fast, as more women are becoming the primary breadwinners and wealthier.
We need the education to talk about money and manage our finances but we never received this type of education at school and are influenced by how money was perceived/managed at home from a young age. Money should not be a taboo or intimidating, which is why I created Vestpod — to change and normalize the conversation about money.
any myths you want to dispel about women and investing?
We tend to think we need large sums of money to invest, but even $50 a month can be enough to start seeing returns. As long as you follow the golden Vestpoders’ rule of not investing more than you can afford – because what’s the point getting into debt to fund your investment habit? – you can make even the smallest sums work harder. There are lots of investing platforms and robo-advisors for individual investors.
We keep on hearing the message that women don’t invest. But actually, it is good to remember why women make great and even better investors in the first place: We are less likely to engage in risky trading, are far more diligent with our research, make more diversified investments and are humble enough to admit mistakes, which leads to seeking professional advice.
What does a normal workday look like for youy and how do you prioritize?
I start at 6 a.m. when my kids wake up. I can leave home at 8 a.m. when my nanny arrives or I drop the kids at their nursery and head straight to the office for a well-deserved coffee! I work from a co-working space, but I also have an office with my startup accelerator. My day is a mix of: writing content, updating the website, catching up with my writer Melissa and my ambassador Sarah, posting on social media, catching up with my accelerator and startup founders network. Plus lots of meetings running around London.
One simple task that helps me prioritize is making a list. I have started preparing my to-do list the day before and it has been super helpful for getting the most important things done first.
What has been the best financial advice you’ve ever received?
Start saving and investing early. It does not matter if you only have small amounts of money to save, but it is important to get into the habit and put this money aside for the long-term. Interest compounding is a very simple but amazingly powerful concept. Wealthy people understand it and benefit from it. Even Einstein has talked about it. He said: “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… he who doesn't… pays it.” The beauty of it is that it is “interest on interest,” and makes your dollars grow at a faster rate than simple interest. The key is to start early.