Three Minute Squiz with… Cathryn Gross

Cathryn Gross was the person we turned to when we were first starting out. How do you register a business? Do you know an accountant we can talk to? Can we actually afford to do this? So many questions… And she had the answers. Not only did she get us started, Cathryn is a financial adviser who’s helped plenty of people whose lives are in a state of change. Empowering women is her speciality, and we’re all about that. Please welcome Cathryn to the Three Minute Squiz.

How and where do you Squiz?
Over breakfast before I make the school lunches. It’s the only quiet time of the day.

You ditched investment banking to start your own business. What was behind that?
I can really only join the dots looking back on this. When I quit investment banking, the two things I knew was I wanted to help people and I wanted flexibility around how I did that. Before starting Twelve Wealth, I worked as an executive coach and ran women’s leadership programs. I loved working with smart and motivated women to help them achieve their goals and work through professional issues… but I missed finance (who would have guessed!) I realised I could use my finance and coaching skills to start a financial advice practice for women. I had to start my own business because I had a very clear idea of what our service offering needed to be, and none of the financial advice businesses in the market at that time were offering that service, so I built a business I knew women would engage with.

What is the most common thing the people who come to you are worried about?
Their future! Most of my clients are women who are going through divorcees or massive change. They’ve usually had a whole future mapped out for themselves… then the sands shifted and nothing looks the same anymore. They want help to map out what a new future might look like and how the decisions they make now might impact that future.

If there was one thing people could do to be more financially fit, what would it be?
That’s easy. Save first not last!! Get payroll to put a portion of your pay into an account you can’t see then start investing it once you have three months of living expenses in cash.

It must feel good when you’ve helped someone reach their financial goals…
It does! But honestly, it’s about achieving their life goals – the finances are just the tools to get them there. I find financial goals are not so exciting, but what we can do with the finances is the feel-good bit.

You have three kids. What’s your top tip for other parents looking to take the plunge to start their own business?
Be prepared to be poor for three years minimum, but know your life will be far richer for it! Before taking the leap, you really have to think about how you are going to fund your life for three years and what your true cost of living is. You don’t want the money to run out before your business has had a chance to hit its straps, which typically takes three to five years. And, of course, know your ‘why’ and be sure you know what audience you are speaking to…

Name four people – living or dead – you’d kill to sit down to dinner with.
First cab off the rank is my mum. She died at just 62yo and took a secret to her grave that we’ve since uncovered. I’d love to be able to hear her story. Lydia Lassila – the Australian freestyle skier who competed in five (yes five!) Olympics. I’d love to unpack how she has developed such incredible mental strength… something I did not appreciate until seeing her in Australian Survivor. She was by FAR the strongest competitor! Tanya Plibersek because I’m desperate to convince her to be head of the Labor Party and our country in a more collaborative and compassionate way. And finally, Warren Buffet to try and get a few more gems on how to consistently generate returns for our clients at Twelve Wealth.

Your favourite book/writer?
I just loved Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey. And although I read it at least 20 years ago, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

First album?
INXS Kick. Still love it.

What skill or talent do you not have but wish you did?
Skiing moguls. I have skiied all my life having grown up in the Victorian Alps… but I have never mastered moguls. I also wish I was better at financial modelling in excel, but now I get to employ other people to do that for me! I can’t employ anyone to ski the moguls for me…

The best piece of advice your mother/father gave you?
My mum and dad were both incredibly reliable people. They always did what they said they would do. So it’s not the best piece of advice, but it’s the best demonstrated behaviour! I think I’m pretty reliable as a result.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Perfectionism. Near enough is most of the time good enough.

What’s your worst and best habit?
My worst is definitely my impatience. My best…hmmm… I’m incredibly organised, but really just try and be organised one day at a time.

What would you say is the most currently overlooked news story Australians should know about but don’t?
The number of women over 60yo who are living in poverty or without housing security. Many have spent their lives providing love and security for others, then face their golden years with no security of their own. It’s not right.

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