“It’s what money enables us to feel and do that’s important.”

Ruth Sturkey is vice-chair of the IFW Board. She co-founded boutique financial planning firm The Red House, which subsequently merged with Paradigm Norton in 2017. She launched a podcast in 2021, ‘Money Espresso; no froth conversations exploring money and life’. Her aim is to get people talking about money and explore how money and business can be a force for good. Ruth can be seen regularly presenting at industry events and holds considerable influence within the financial planning profession.

Ruth will be the compère at the IFW ‘Invest in Wellbeing’ Conference 2022 on 25th May.

Have you got your ticket yet?

IFW members can buy tickets here.

Non-members can buy tickets here.

What’s your happiest memory?

What a tricky question! To be honest I have no idea, however I’m at my most happy when I’m with friends talking, laughing, eating and drinking. If that can be combined with some sunshine, a good stomp, the sea and some dancing then you will see a very happy Ruth!

What one thing do you wish you’d been told about finance when you were 15?

It is possible to become financially independent and not worry about money. For me that happened by taking a risk and backing myself by setting up a business which turned into an asset of value, albeit the money was never my motivation for setting up a business.

So the advice to my 15-year-old self would be, start a pension as soon as you start to work and ‘pay yourself’ first (not leave it to see what is left at the end of the month). Start small and nudge it up once a year or every time you get a salary increase, ideally link it as a % to what you earn.

And back yourself, whether it’s for a promotion, a new job or starting you own side hustle or business. It’s the one thing you can control.

What made you want to become a financial planner?

I morphed into being a financial planner from perhaps more murky beginnings however, once I discovered proper financial planning I recognised the power we have as financial planners to help people achieve clarity, peace of mind and achieve a life that’s right for them. That’s an addictive privilege.

How did you come to launch the ‘Money Espresso; no froth conversations exploring money and life’ podcast in 2021?

The thing that has always intrigued me when working with clients is how ‘we’ (we as a collective of people) are about money and life. Our beliefs, assumptions, stories, habits, attitudes, experiences, our sense of personal responsibility and how these determine how we make money and life decisions. It felt like a good idea to launch a podcast to explore this further.

What drew you to financial wellbeing in the first place and prompted you to join the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing?

I have long believed that money is not an end in itself rather, it’s what money enables us to feel and do that’s important. The business I co-founded, The Red House, was built on these principles. Understanding the five principles of Wellbeing, as defined by Rath and Harter about how money and financial wellbeing fits in to that framework rounded my views on what a life well lived looks like. I joined the IFW as I want to build on the fantastic work many in our profession are doing, challenging more to go further in their quest. I would also like to challenge the wider profession to ‘do better’ in this space to build a better society for all.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt about financial wellbeing since joining?

That I am always learning! In particular I am fascinated by behavioural finance and the impact understanding this has on what we all do and the decisions we make.

Who or what is your favourite wellbeing guru, podcast or book?

I love listening to podcasts and I guess many of them are on a wellbeing theme. These include How To Fail by Elizabeth Day, Happy Place by Fearne Cotton, Slow Mo by Mo Gawdat, The Diary of a CEO by Steven Bartlett, Carl Richards’ daily Behavior Gap Radio (by subscription) which has a daily thought proving piece, and I have recently found ‘I am’ with Jonny Wilkinson, which is a fascinating journey into self-discovery and Buddhism – he asks the question ‘who would you be without your history?’ I love that question, but I’m not sure I’ve yet found my answer!

What are you doing to advance your own financial wellbeing?

Working on my (constantly evolving) identifiable goals! By this I mean I am lucky enough to have clarity on 4 out of the 5 Financial Wellbeing elements as described by Chris Budd in The Financial Wellbeing Book. However, life does not stand still, so for me I’d researching and redefining my purpose at this stage of my life and career to continue to grow, learn and expand myself and the impact I can have.