Melissa Browne - CEO & Financial Wellness Expert
Money management might be a man’s world. Gender stereotypes may inform ideas that men are good at managing their money, while women are frivolous ‘shopoholics’, with credit card debts fuelled by shoes & cosmos.
To question this tired stereotype and celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re sharing the economic journeys and lessons learnt from five inspiring women.
Today, we spoke with the incredible Melissa Browne - check out her incredible journey and tips below.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m a CEO, entrepreneur, accountant, strategist, financial advisor, author and speaker. At least that’s how my business card would describe me. If I had to choose a few more words to describe myself they would be socially awkward, introvert, accidental entrepreneur, disruptive, frequently irritating, writer, child-free, shoe-tragic, chocolate-addict, passionate advocate for women’s issues and always over-dressed.
I have founded three businesses which may seem disparate but are connected in philosophy and strategy. I’m the founder & CEO of an award winning accounting & advisory firm A&TA (previously Accounting and Taxation Advantage), co-founder of the financial planning business for Gen X and Gen Y ‘The Money Barre’ and co-founder and Director of Business at the long-day preschool that is based on play with purpose, ‘Thinkers.inq.’
I’ve also written three books (I clearly have an obsession with threes). My first book, More Money for Shoes compares building a business to building a wardrobe. My second book, Fabulous but Broke contains thirteen financial fairy tales designed to challenge your money mindset. My latest book Unf*ck your Finances will show you how to move from despair to resilience to financial wellness.
My job is to help switch on the light and help remove some of the ick factor so we can start to talk about and deal with subjects often seen as beige, boring or even taboo. And I don’t always stop at talking money, business and tax. Perhaps because I’m used to talking about difficult subjects, I’ll also happily wade into talking about relationships, being child-free, equality, women’s issues, choice and whether crocs are really shoes.
Finally, my why, or personal mission is to create courageous communities by inspiring, empowering and educating women and girls to find their voice and become both business and financially savvy.
How did you get to where you are now, and did you face any challenges on this journey?
Oh god absolutely. It was very much an unintended path, which is why I call myself an accidental entrepreneur with a ridiculous number of setbacks along the way. The biggest challenges I faced were my own limiting beliefs, my lack of talent in managing people and my unwillingness to ask for help. However, what I am good at is recognizing when I’ve stuffed up, being prepared to do something about it, being ready to take up an opportunity and a desire and willingness to constantly work on myself.
A&TA was my first business, and only started to make some money while I studied something completely unrelated. It was only when I split with my first husband that I took the time to figure out what I really wanted to do and after reading Good to Great by Jim Collins I realized that was helping people build businesses. This meant radically changing what I was doing in my accounting firm – thank god! Thinkers.inq was the second business and started from conversations with a good friend who is an incredible educator. We ended up doing something together. We both believe the ability to be curious and adapt is an essential life skill today and we needed to put our money where our mouths were and prove it.
The Money Barre is the latest business and is not about product flogging but instead it’s about strategy and education when it comes to Gen X/Y and money.
Where did you learn what you know about finance and managing money? Are there resources you use for support?
I am a voracious reader, so have read a ton of finance books from the practical to the niche to the psychological aspects of money. Being an accountant and financial advisor I also undergo a lot of professional training. In our changing environment this is more necessary than ever before. I also look around to what other successful people are doing to discover why they are successful and what I can implement from them.
If you could give your younger self some financial advice, what would be your top 3 tips?
-Step away from the credit card and never accept a store card.
-Don’t make emotional decisions when it comes to your finances (easier said than done!)
-Start early and stick with a regular investment plan (the power of compound interest and starting early is so real!)
Love Melissa's work? Check out her new book 'Unf*ck Your Finances' available at all good bookstores, and her online courses (30 Day Detox and the Financial Cleanse) which are available at www.unfckyourfinances.com
This series does not provide personal financial product advice. The advice present in these articles has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situations or needs.
Before acting on any of these recommendations, you should consider their appropriateness to your specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs. If you are uncertain as to what your objectives and needs are, you should contact a financial adviser who is licensed to provide you with personal financial product advice.