Anna Sofat: The future of ‘Fat Cat Friday’​ is in our hands

Another day, another headline that causes outrage but still the facts don’t change – the 6 female CEOs of FTSE 100 companies earn half as much as their male counterparts. So what, I ask myself for the umpteenth time, can we do to combat the gender pay gap?

The first thing I will say is that creating more tick boxes with obvious loop holes is not the answer. Fat cat Friday leaves a bad taste in my mouth for many reasons, most notably the fact that the average CEO earns a shocking 133 times more than the average worker. The gap has more than doubled over the past 30 years whilst the average salary has barely kept pace with inflation.

Whilst this brings about questions of ethics and social responsibility what we all forget, is that it also impacts the bottom line. This kind of unprecedented growth in salary is often not reflected in growing profits, and at time defies any logical reason.

Having worked in the business and financial landscape for some 30 years now, it is unsurprising to me that issues of lack of good governance and egotistical politics get in the way of even the savviest businesses making responsible decisions. We have allowed the culture of wealth and business to become ugly and increasingly unfair.

Whilst I don’t have all the answers, or a quick fix to overcome this widespread crisis, I have always believed change can come from the majority, and we don’t have to wait for the leaders to act. When the little decisions made by thousands of people on a daily basis alter, the world changes. This gives me hope that despite the endless stream of cash and influence that the c-suite possesses, it is in the hands of us, the majority, to rectify.

The good news is that there is a growing number of women at the top and younger entrepreneurs, and I am confident that their impact will be a positive one for the future of business. With diversity comes success and I hope that my vision for a more equal and sustainable future isn’t too far away.

A Christmas note from Anna Sofat

As 2018 draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back over what has been a year of ups and downs.

The year seemed to begin with a flourish – the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote was upon us and there seemed to be a real desire for change and progress for women. As the year went on, some of this momentum slipped, and as the results of gender pay gap reporting starting to unfold and the latest Women on Boards statistics were revealed, it became apparent that not as much progress has been made as we would like. The government has set out its agenda for the Hampton-Alexander review and it will be interesting to see how this progresses into 2019.
So far as the economy is concerned, the first few months of the year largely continued in the same vein as the past couple of years, with sustained growth in the markets translating into some great gains for client portfolios. As political uncertainty around Brexit began to unfold, along with concerns over international trade, we’ve returned to a period of volatility. During such times, it’s important to take a long-term view; we’ve been through periods of instability before and come out better for it – you only need to look back a few years to the Global Financial Crisis!

2018 has also been a special year for Addidi as we marked our ten year anniversary. We were able to celebrate the milestone with many of our clients in October, alongside launching our new website and ‘Voice of Women’s Wealth’ campaign.

Amongst the madness of the festive season, it’s always important to try and take the time to reflect. As a financial adviser, I come across the good and the bad of money and the effect it has on people. Money doesn’t always bring happiness, despite what people think, and using wealth to try and bring happiness, either to yourself or to others, is a message we are keen to impart on our clients. It’s no coincidence that we use the words ‘create’, ‘invest’ and ‘enjoy’ when communicating with clients. We help clients to create wealth, by giving them a plan and helping them to implement it. We then provide the tools for clients to invest, ideally to give them a sustainable income for the longer term. Thereafter it’s time to enjoy what you have worked hard to achieve.

This festive season, Addidi has taken the step of making our annual charitable donation. When we set up the business, we decided that we would donate 1% of our annual turnover to charitable causes. This is a promise we have been able to stick to, picking a number of charities to split the donations across at the end of our financial year at the beginning of April. In this, our tenth year, this percentage has grown to a not-insignificant sum. Having seen the homeless crisis on our streets worsening over the past 12 months in particular, we have taken the decision to donate 25% of our annual charity fund to Crisis; giving them a boost as the winter starts to kick in.

So as we head towards the festive season and the start of a New Year, maybe we should all take some time out to think what wealth is really about. Having wealth isn’t about being wealthy. It isn’t about extravagant gifts or grand gestures. Sometimes, true wealth is simply about using what you have in the most meaningful way.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2019.

– Anna

Voice’s of Addidi: Sarah Matthew

As part of the 100 year celebrations of women gaining the right to vote in the UK for the first time, Addidi is proud to be featured in UK Parliament’s official commemorative album, Voice & Vote.

To help celebrate this milestone in our history, we’ve decided to put together a series called ‘Voices of Addidi’. Featuring conversations with members of the Addidi team, clients, friends and associates, each piece will look at what gaining the right to vote means and the experiences of the individual in relation to women and equality.

Our first Voice of Addidi is Sarah Matthew. With a long and successful career in pharmaceutical marketing and healthcare communications, Sarah co-founded leading international healthcare communications and medical education consultancy, Virgo Health. She is now Chair of Hanover Health and also founder of The Vibrant Company.

We’re celebrating 100 years of women gaining the vote this year. What are your thoughts on the landmark?
It’s obviously right that we are marking this incredibly important milestone and my main feeling is one of gratitude to those brave and visionary people, women and men, who fought so hard to gain the vote for women 100 years ago. Thanks to them, I grew up with the belief that I could achieve anything I set my mind to. I therefore consider myself extremely fortunate to have created the career and the life that I have.
At the same time, it’s a natural reflection point for assessing how far we have come. We have much to be proud of but in my opinion there is still a long way to go before we have true equality – not just for women, but for equal and diverse inclusion and representation across the board.

Women have made much progress over the last 100 years but what are your views on where we still have to go?
As someone who advises, coaches and mentors business leaders, examples of where we still need improvement are all too numerous and one I encounter on a regular basis is funding for start-ups, where it is apparent that access to finance is far more limited for women entrepreneurs than their male counterparts. This is the main reason I decided to become an angel investor via the Addidi Angels programme, established as the first all-women angel investment club in the UK – it’s important to pay it forward and give other women the same access to opportunities I had earlier on in my own career. Although a great deal of progress has indeed been made, the rate of continuing improvement can make for rather depressing reading.
Of the FTSE 100 companies, only 6 have a female CEO – a stark statistic in anyone’s eyes. This correlates with the continuing struggles that women have in gaining senior positions in business. The contributing factors are complex, but for all the women I speak to, for all the businesses I work with and for all the events I attend on this topic, the fact that in the twenty-first century women still constitute the majority of primary care-givers and primary managers of their respective households, remains the greatest challenge to navigate. The impact can be felt across the whole of a woman’s working life, as intimately illustrated by the findings of this year’s Gender Pay Gap report, and ultimately results in a huge loss to industry of female talent. It’s simply too high a price to pay.

When it’s an established fact that having women on company boards leads to better financial success, we must address the whole pipeline. We can do better and we can go faster.

What advice would you give to a women starting out in her career today?
My key piece of advice is to have the confidence to follow your own path and don’t accept the status quo. We need women to invent, to innovate and to be front and centre in creating a better future. Seek mentors, men and women, who are forging new paths in the direction you’re interested in.
I’m a fierce champion for women in business and I’m involved with a number of women’s forums. Often what I see is that conformity with the ‘now’ results in a completely innocent and unconscious, self-imposed ‘glass ceiling’. We are used to hearing about how women in the workplace can lack confidence, but as I have already alluded to, often the bigger stumbling block and perhaps even the cause, misconstrued as a confidence issue, is women actively choosing not to progress to more senior positions due to the conflict they fear will be created between their career and family life. There is no need for this to be the case in my eyes and as well as businesses, society itself needs to look at and question this.
All the time that women accept and are expected to accept the default position of primary caregiver and/or household manager, we will continue to struggle to reach the top in the business world. Men and women can function equally as well in roles at work and at home and yet that’s not what we’re seeing. As an example, all the data suggest that women are still responsible for the vast majority of domestic chores, including cooking meals in the home, but contrast that with the lists of the most celebrated chefs in the world, which are consistently almost all men.
My husband took a break in his career to become the primary carer for our family when my business took off and in fact a significant number of the senior women I know are supported by their partners assuming the role of CHO (Chief Household Officer2)! It’s something we need to talk about more as it’s still not widely seen as a desirable option in society. Witness the pitifully low take-up by fathers of shared parental leave. I’m certainly not saying that it’s impossible for both partners to have simultaneously successful careers as that’s clearly not the case, or that women shouldn’t choose looking after their families over their career. If that’s genuinely their choice, they should be fully supported in making it. But if there is a choice to be made, does it have to be the female partner, or given all the obstacles and inertia, does it just seem like the easier option?

Is there a woman, living or deceased, that has inspired you?
There is someone who was a real inspiration to me earlier on in my career – Margot James, who is now a conservative MP. She was co-owner of Shire Hall, the first specialist healthcare communications company in the UK and the first agency I worked for after leaving the ‘client side’. She set a powerful example as a female entrepreneur and in the way behaved as a leader. She was admired by and inspiring to all who worked with her and one of the best bosses I ever had.

What are your thoughts as we look ahead?
I truly believe that if the concept of ‘work’ was invented today, practices and attitudes would be very different and not dictated by the often outmoded habits of our past. As one of the two female co-founders of Virgo Health back in 2003, our company proved that even fifteen years ago it was possible to be highly flexible, family-friendly and super-successful.
Yes, flexible working arrangements are becoming increasingly commonplace for a lot of us and there are stand-out examples of completely new models being created, especially by innovative start-ups. We have the technology, we just need the will and determination that our forebears had 100 years ago!
With more people seeking a healthier work/life balance, not to mention a burgeoning ageing population to care for, juggling a career and family life will become more rather than less of a challenge for everyone and those businesses who fully recognise and adapt for this will undoubtedly gain competitive advantage.
In the years to come I believe equality will only be reached when it really works both ways – when we tell girls and boys that the options and even obligations ahead of them in life are the same, at work, at home and in general, regardless of gender. The body of evidence suggests that despite some of our best efforts, this is still not happening.
I have two sons and I’m very aware of the messages and morals they absorb from the world around them. Attitudes towards equality are harboured from a young age and even if not overt or intentionally harmful, social norms leave their mark. For us to re-gain the momentum of change, we need to challenge the social norm. This applies to all of us; men, women, children, businesses and society.

1. According to the latest figures from the Hampton-Alexander review, which date from November 2017
2. Credit to Brenda Trenowden, Global Chair of the 30% Club and Head of FIG Europe, ANZ Bank, from whom I first heard this title.

Deborah Fitzgerald: Choosing to live differently

Making the move to Amsterdam reconnected me with my values and changed my life.

Human beings are spectacularly bad at predicting outcomes; the evidence is all around us, positive and negative. Sometimes the benefits and costs, the risks and rewards seem obvious, but often it can take years for the impacts of one or other decision to fully unfurl.

When we’re making choices we tend to identify with the benefits and rewards of a particular option (convenience, for example), but are not so good at predicting the downside (climate change).

While we can conceptually grasp that change – in us and in our universe – is constant and inevitable, and that what works today won’t necessarily be fit for purpose tomorrow, our first-line response to change is often resistance.

Getting comfortable with the idea of uncertain outcomes is at the heart of disruption and innovation – it can be liberating, and help us make radical choices and better decisions, just when we need them most.

In 2008 I chose to leave a successful, high-profile career, and my life in London, to move to Amsterdam with my husband.

It has been a life-affirming and liberating choice and just what I needed. A good outcome, so far. It’s a revelation to live somewhere else; even if you think you know the place, you learn a huge amount about yourself.

We’d been living in London for almost twenty years. My husband worked in social services for local government; I was marketing director of a global branding consultancy.

I’d had a rewarding career working with exceptional people, brands and organisations. I’d worked hard and was at the top of my game, well paid with a six-figure salary and the rest. With a small loving family, an active private and professional social life, and a lovely flat in town – what’s not to like?

I’m miserable. I feel guilty, ungrateful and weirdly angry. I’ve lost balance. It feels for the first time that I’m doing this job because I have to, not because I want to. I fear I have become a rat. A rat with a nice handbag, but a rat nonetheless, in a race I no longer care about winning. I feel seriously disconnected from my values and I’m anxious and disoriented.

March 2008 – We go to Amsterdam for a weekend break to help us recalibrate. It is our third visit to the lowlands this year. My Dad lived here for a few years and we stop at a bar that he used to frequent. We’ve been talking about how much we like the culture and rhythm of life here, it feels more in sync with our values. There’s a domestic, friendly scale to the architecture of the city. It’s a very creative and livable environment. We both feel relaxed and free and are sad to leave.

I start planning change. We need to work. Initially we think about decamping to the UK countryside, maybe Yorkshire or Dorset. I briefly flirt with an idea that focuses on distributing regional produce.

Just this simple act of imaginative thinking starts to shift my mind into a positive place and reconnect me with what I value. I begin to feel excited about the possibilities ahead.

I start exploring opportunities to live and work in Europe. I find a lovely flat on the river Amstel and interesting work through my network. A beloved friend calls and tells me he is moving to Amsterdam with his partner and it feels like a deal clincher for me. We take the plunge and by June, we’re living there.

I was shocked by how difficult I found the first year of living somewhere else, particularly as I’d lived abroad and travelled a lot as a child, and in my work. I missed my friends and family profoundly and it took me time to adjust.

As for life in The Netherlands: well, the Dutch are famously ‘direct’, and they say what they think. This can be difficult if you’re English or having a sensitive day. In business it can be frustrating – everyone has something to say and consensus can be hard to reach – but generally, I’ve come to prefer the straight line to going around the houses. You know where you stand.

The work culture is surprisingly different, considering the country is only 100 kilometres or so from the UK. On meeting you, the Dutch tend not to ask you what you do for a living as a first or even second question. They don’t define themselves or others by their work or profession. It’s an innovative and entrepreneurial environment. It’s refreshing and liberating and has allowed me to be more fully who I am in all parts of my life. Biking everywhere and being able to make it to yoga classes every evening if I choose are simple daily pleasures.

Of course research, reconnaissance and planning are important when you are making big, life changing decisions. But truth is you can’t know everything that lies ahead. I’ve found that making a positive choice, taking a big leap becomes possible when you are able to let go of certainty, are open to different outcomes and trust yourself and your innate adaptability.

• Trust your instinct
• Practice a bit of imaginative thinking
• Let your values lead your big life decisions
• Embrace uncertainty
• Be prepared to be surprised
• Listen to your feelings and emotions
• Draw practical support from trusted advisers and people who have your best interests at heart

I’m mindful that the right and freedom to choose the life we want to live has been hard won and is still denied to many women by their circumstances. If you have the opportunity to live a life you can truly choose – I say why not grab it!

Sarah Matthew: Why women should make ‘Radical’ choices

As we celebrate the centenary of women gaining the right to vote in the UK – to express their political choice – it’s a natural time for us to reflect on the available choices for women today.

A lot has changed in the last one hundred years, but we still have a long way to go to achieve true equality. The gender pay gap, the number of women on boards and the level of disparity in pension provision between men and women are all testament to this.

However, my experience is that a lack of choice is not always the issue. It’s often more a case of being able to see the full range of choices that do or could exist and finding the courage to pursue them. In my coaching and mentoring work, with both men and women, I see people who are frustrated and stressed by how their lives are playing out…until they realise that have inadvertently ‘slept-walked’ into the expectations of their society, their families or their broader communities.

When we feel obliged to do what’s expected of us rather than follow our hearts and do what gives us the greatest joy; when we allow our lives to be governed by the shoulds and should nots we inherit and absorb from others, then we innocently collude in enabling the habits and limitations of our collective past to steal from our own possibilities for the future. We all do this, at least to some extent, but as women, the effects can be felt even more profoundly. We tend to experience more conditioning around needing to conform and fit in.

By some happy accident, I seem to have been born with a rebellious streak and perhaps this is what enables me to spot when my clients are victims of their unconscious choices – when they are playing the game of life according to other people’s rules. I have done my best to invent my own rules and as a result, I have been told throughout my career that my choices are ‘radical’, but the truth is that they have only ever seemed utterly intuitive to me.

When the most obvious choice should have been for me to go to university, I really didn’t want to go, so I chose a different path and went on to build a successful career in pharmaceutical marketing.

When, as the youngest person in my company to hold a senior marketing position, the natural choice should have been the next rung up the corporate ladder, I chose to leave. I had always known that I wanted to run my own business and when I was offered a job by an ambitious PR agency, I joined them, became MD just a year later, learned tons, worked harder than I’d ever worked in my life and had an absolute ball.

It certainly wasn’t a standard choice to then decide to start a new business only 24 hours after giving birth to my eldest son. However, it was only when he was placed in my arms that I realised there was no way I could go back to my crazy job! I was the major earner in our house and so not working wasn’t an option, but it was going to be on my terms.

Together with my arch competitor, who also happened to be my friend, we created Virgo Health and I became Joint CEO whilst my husband became CHO (Chief Household officer) of our family. It worked brilliantly for us, even though our choice of Dad as the primary carer wasn’t (and still isn’t) the norm.

When we later sold our business to secure the global scale necessary for further growth, I was given a prestigious global role, but I chose instead to start a new chapter with a completely new venture, The Vibrant Company*.

I know there are still many rules that have governed my unconscious choices and the more I look, the more I see, but when I see them, I can choose to change them. In terms of giving other women the confidence to make their own choices, there are still many practical things that need to happen and especially:
– Supporting them to build financial independence and security
– Providing more funding and practical support for female entrepreneurs and women-owned start-ups
– Continuing to demand greater flexibility and family-friendly design in the practices, processes and infrastructure within our workplaces to accommodate our caring responsibilities – for men as well as women.
– This speaks to my firm belief is that true equality will only happen when it genuinely works both ways, so let’s continue to challenge stereotypes for both genders.

However, beyond these considerations is something even more powerful and critical: the need to help people, and especially women, see that they don’t have to choose options from a menu someone else has written for them. We can choose to be true to ourselves. We can create our own options and even our own menus. This is how we will become limitless.

*The Vibrant Company is a first-of-its-kind blend of consulting, mentoring and transformative coaching for leaders and their teams.

Sarah Matthew – Founder of The Vibrant Company
Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahJMatthew

Ten years of Addidi – where next?

In October, we celebrated 10 years of Addidi, along with the launch of our ‘Voice of Women’s Wealth’ campaign, at a special event held in The Ladies Smoking Room at St Pancras Hotel, London. The evening was a glorious celebration of everything and everyone that has led us to the point we’re at today. We were lucky enough to have many friends and supporters of Addidi in attendance, as well as the people that are the driving force behind all that we strive to do and achieve – our clients. A couple of our clients were even kind enough to participate in the event, with Sarah Matthew and Isobelle Gladstone speaking about what Choice and True Wealth means for women alongside our other speakers, David Ferguson, Rohit Chugg and Emma Sinclair, all hosted by journalist and broadcaster Harriet Minter.

To coincide with our ten year celebrations, those of you with a sharp eye might also have noticed some subtle changes at Addidi recently. We’ve got a new, slicker logo and a lovely new website that’s rich with content and inspiring imagery.

Reaching the ten year milestone has given me plenty of opportunity to reflect on where we have come from, where we are now and what the future holds.
I set up Addidi because I was finding that although women were beginning to earn their wealth in their own right, they weren’t any happier. The financial services industry did little to cater for ambitious high flyers or female entrepreneurs, and I wanted to help create balance and perspective for women as we started to take our rightful place at the top table. Creating wealth is one thing, but being able to invest in yourself and those around you to enjoy the fruits of your labour is another.

I have witnessed many changes in women’s wealth over the past decade – women are more confident and demanding in terms of what they want their money to do for them and they are vocalising this much more.

Unfortunately, the industry as a whole has largely stayed the same – although changing slowly around the edges, it is still largely male dominated and firms are only now just waking up to the fact that women are going to be a big part of the future.
So where next? At Addidi, we’ve been at the centre of some of the issues women have faced over the last decade – something that ideally places us as ‘The Voice of Women’s Wealth’. We’re proud of the journey we’ve been on and the progress we have witnessed, but we’re firm believers that there’s more to be done. So although we’ve enjoyed taking the time to pause, reflect and celebrate, we won’t be standing still for long!

If I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to take risk more willingly. If things go well, you’ll be forever thankful, and if they don’t, it’s simply a case of picking yourself up and trying again. So with this in mind, Addidi will be looking to be bolder in our pursuit of providing a beautifully different future for women and their wealth.

How do you bring real wealth into your life?

Wealth management is often seen as the preserve of the money-oriented, but a new psychology of wealth is emerging that suggests a rise in more human motivations for building businesses and portfolios. In our long history of advising on financial matters, many of our client conversations come down to this question – “what does real wealth mean to you?’. To some, real wealth means more time spent with their family and friends. To others, it’s the satisfaction of seeing their business interests thrive and leaving a legacy they can be proud of.

One of our main fascinations at Addidi is this link between happiness and wealth – we think that where these two areas intersect is where ‘real wealth’ lies. Wealth creation can bring incredible meaning to your life when it’s done to create real joy in your life and for people around you, as we see with our clients all the time.

The recent 2018 Gallup World Poll paints an interesting picture of the relationship between wealth and happiness around the world. Over 1.7 million participants in 164 countries were surveyed and asked to rate their emotional wellbeing and life satisfaction. Researchers reported a ‘satiation point’ in the link between increased wealth and happiness – at which an increased household income stops positively impacting life satisfaction. An increase in wealth stops increasing self-reported emotional wellbeing at an average annual income level of £46’000.

Perhaps it makes some sense that income can only generate so much joy – once you have a certain level of financial security and enjoy a reasonable amount of luxury in your life, a simple increase in your bank account is not a one way ticket to eternal bliss. However, in the lives of the well-rounded entrepreneurs and stakeholders we work with, we do see a great deal of happiness linked to the success and attainment in their lives.

As a wealth management company that helps our clients plan their way towards peak happiness, we are fascinated with what might lie beyond that satiation point of income vs. happiness, and how we can use our observations to help our clients reach for their best lives. If you are lucky enough to enjoy an aspirational level of material wealth, it makes sense to us that we should be able to guide you towards an aspirational level of happiness and emotional wellbeing as well.

Looking candidly at the wealth management picture – a strong portfolio needs an emotional reality around it for it to mean something. The generation of wealth and managing your assets involves a lot of hard work and planning – it’s good to remember from time to time what you’re doing it all for. It’s true when they say “you can’t take it with you”, and although we always help our clients to plan robustly for retirement, we also like to make sure we are advising our clients to fully enjoy the here and now.

We advise our clients to nurture the important relationships in their lives and invest in them just as much as any financial asset. The Gallup Poll researches suggest that high-earning individuals had their emotional wellbeing depleted by the pitfalls that come with success: higher demands on their time, heavier workloads, greater responsibility, higher stress levels.

The research suggests that finding that space of ‘real wealth’ is all about balance – finding harmony between generating wealth and taking the time to enjoy it. We have a practice of advising our clients to find a way to enjoy their here and now, whatever that means to them. As human beings we tend to delay our happiness to an ever-moving date in the future – when a certain job or income level or bank account figure has been achieved.

The evidence is there – so why wait. Make time for their family, reignite old friendships, take that holiday, value your employees, invest in enterprises that mean something to you. These are all actions we would advise to make sure you’re building real wealth into your portfolio.