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Interview with Jessamy Walker

Tracey -  Today we are joined by the fabulous Jessamy Walker of Brown Dog Financial. Jess has been a BBB member for three and a half years. She's an Independent Financial Advisor with a twist. She does things slightly differently to your traditional financial advisor. 

Today, we're going to ask Jess four things. Firstly, to tell us a little bit about who she is and what she does. Secondly, we're going to ask Jess what her biggest success has been over the last 12 months. Then we’ll find out what her biggest challenge has been over the last 12 months. And finally, we’ll ask Jess for one piece of advice to share with you as a business owner. 

So, Jess, tell us. 

Jessamy - I run Brown Dog Financial Planning, which is a financial planning service based on your life and your lifestyle rather than just buying investments. It's creating a proper plan. Money has to underpin your story, not the other way around. 

But money is the tool that does it. 

Tracey - I love that. And I love your approach. 

We have an image of what a financial advisor looks like, and you really don’t fit that image. You’re so approachable. And it's a really intimate subject, isn't it, talking about your finances? 

Jessamy - It is, and people don't come to us, because they feel embarrassed or think they haven't done it right, or don’t know what they’re doing? 

What's everyone else doing? 

If you're approached by a grey suit and get that whole lecture that you've done it all wrong - oh, that's awful. 

Tracey - It's intimidating. Exactly. 

So, Jess, what’s the biggest success that you've had over the last 12 months? 

Jessamy - At the beginning of the year, we took on some social media and started posting once or twice a week. Something I've been meaning to do for ages – I set it as a goal. Suddenly it has to happen, doesn't it, when you do that? 

We did that and it was gathering momentum and doing quite well. And then I wrote a couple of articles about furlough and redundancy and the impact on life. And it's just taken off. 

We've had lots of leads - lots of enquiries. It's great. 

Tracey - That's fascinating. Because I talk to lots of business owners who really struggle to make social media work. So, the fact that that's your success… I'm very excited about that - well done. 

Jessamy - It's taken probably 12 months to get my head around it and get it organised. Your stuff that you do with Sarah Sangster is brilliant. That continual nudge - go and do it, go and do it, go and do it. 

Yeah, we did it. 

That's the only thing we've done differently that I can attribute it to. 

Tracey - So, it's a combination, isn't it? Of really hitting the mark, and it was actually Sarah's phrase, she said, "You need to meet your clients where they are today." 

And obviously, where they are today, given what's going on in the market right now, is not necessarily where they were yesterday. 

Meeting them where they are today, and then consistency. And if you get that perfect blend, you hit that sweet spot, then it works. 

Tracey - Finding them where they are and talking to them about what keeps them awake at night - what scares the living daylights out of them. And money scares the living daylights out of all of us in some form or another. 

However you behave around it, you're always a little bit like, oh, am I doing that right? 

There isn't a right or a wrong, but there's just your way. 

Tracey - You're absolutely right about people's relationship with money, though. It's a very interesting subject. It's incredibly emotive for most people, either one way or another, either love it or hate it, but a very emotive subject. 

What's the biggest challenge you’ve faced then? 

Jessamy - The biggest challenge this year? Moving a team from office space to working from home - the tech. 

Having done the social media that then meant the clients were coming in, suddenly the team had to go elsewhere. I furloughed one. I sent one home - the technology didn't work. Complete change of IT systems and everything we’ve had to do. All of that - new software, new everything, new setup - while working flat out. 

Tracey - It's hard, it's really hard. 

- Just need 30 hours in every day really. 

Jessamy - But it's not like you can take time off this part, to do this part. You literally have to mush it all together and carry on. So, it's been really challenging, but you're in a good place? 

- Yeah, definitely. We took a bit of time to sort it out, and it's much better. 

Tracey - So, what is the one piece of advice that you would give business owners? 

Jessamy - Know your numbers. 

Doing what I do, I'm going to say that. But know your numbers in a very broad picture - what comes in, what goes out, what your tax bill is going to be. 

Set up a separate account for your tax bill, and pay yourself properly. Don't just draw money from the business because that's what you’re worth. Pay yourself as if you're working for someone else. Or aim to get to that stage because it doesn't happen immediately, but yes, know your numbers. 

Tracey - I love that. And we were talking just before we came on here about tax bills and a couple of times I got hit by that tax bill. I didn't see it coming, which obviously is ludicrous. But then I did it again the following year! 

And eventually, you learn that you really need to start planning for this tax bill. But for me, I do not sleep well at night if I don't know where my money is and I know that things like the tax bill are covered. I set up a separate tax bill and a separate profit account as well, to help me understand the numbers. 

Jessamyv- You're not unusual, Tracey. 

The number of people that just try and muddle along and have it in one. And then, particularly in the first year when you pay, you don't think you've made any money. Because you're only setting up. And then suddenly you get a tax bill and on your own earnings you pay this year's and the year on account. And everybody's telling us not only have I got to pay tax, I've got to pay next year’s ahead. Where does it come from? 

Set up an account somewhere. 20%. 

And then, with what's left after the end of the year, go party with it. 

Say that it's a reward at the end for paying your tax bill! 

Tracey - Be rewarded for paying my tax! That's not generally how I view it, if I'm honest, but I like the idea of that. 

Jessamy - No, but if you've put money to one side… 

You put in 20%, but you're not going to pay that much in tax then, because tax is what? It's 19% of corporation tax and 7.5% if you pay directors, or 20% if you're self-employed. But you get an allowance, so there's always a little bit spare. 

Go out for a decent meal on the taxman. 

Tracey - Just before we finish, I just wanted to mention goals, because you mentioned, “I set my goal and so it has to be done.” 

We take goals seriously at BBB, but there are a very small handful of people that have set goals throughout this year and are on it to achieve 100% of absolutely every single goal they've set so far throughout the whole of 2020, and Jess is one of those people. 

I just wanted to acknowledge that because it is no mean feat. It's no mean feat in a normal year, but to keep showing up to these goals in the year that we've had is pretty special. 

Jessamy - Thank you. So, I set this month's goals and thought, oh yeah, there are quite a few, but that's okay, those are achievable. And then you started the Sales Challenge and I added a few more. 

Tracey - Did you? A few people have gone back and added a few. 

- So much to answer for! And they're happening. 

And then, you get this far through the year, and I'm naturally a bit stubborn and pigheaded, whatever you want to call it. And so then, when it says you're at 100%, I'm not not doing it for the next three or four months! 

Tracey - I think you need a bit of belligerence as a business owner. You’ve just got to keep going no matter what. Well done. 

Jess, thank you. That's been absolutely amazing and valuable to talk to you. Really inspiring, actually, to listen to your stories, and I absolutely loved your one piece of advice. 

Thanks for your time today, I really appreciate it. 

 

 

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