Money & Me: ‘My mother wanted me to be strong, independent and have my own money’

Carol Glynn, founder of Conscious Finance Coaching, sees money as an enabler and adopts a slow and steady approach to investing

Carol Glynn - finance coach and founder of Conscious Finance Coaching.
(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

Powered by automated translation

Following a successful career as an accountant, Carol Glynn pursued an ambition to launch her own business.

Conscious Finance Coaching went live in July, primarily with a vision to empower women to take better control of and enjoy their money.

Ms Glynn, 39, was born in Ireland and moved to the UAE 11 years ago with a job in Abu Dhabi and then Dubai.

She lives in The Meadows with her husband, who works in golf tournaments management, their daughter, aged eight, and seven-year-old twin boys.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

I have four brothers and we grew up in a small Irish town. My dad has a courier business, has always worked for himself, and my mother was a dressmaker. All my relations were entrepreneurs, so I was surrounded by that growing up. Mum managed the money mostly. We weren’t poor, but we never had a lot. There would be no luxuries, we didn’t go on fancy holidays. We always had what we needed, especially when it came to activities and sports. She prioritised how she spent … on what she felt was important in life.

Were you influenced by others creating their own wealth?

It was just what people did. I wanted to work for myself, but my mother would say things like, ‘Work for somebody else because you know you’re going to get paid’. I was very much encouraged to follow the traditional route, which is what I did; got a degree in accounting, went to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Looking back, she wanted me to be strong, independent and have my own money. But, I’ve always wanted to work for myself and recently have given into it.

Did you work as a teenager?

My first proper paid job was in the local chip shop, weekends mostly and summer. It was a small town, so there were limited options where you could get a part-time job. I’d have been maybe 16, paid the equivalent of €19 a day (Dh81) for a seven-hour shift.

I had other jobs while at university. I joined PwC at 20, the training contract to get qualified, starting on €12,500 per year.

What prompted your career choices?

I always enjoyed numbers, maths was my favourite subject. Accounting was always the winner for me. In the latter years of my finance career, I’ve had huge opportunities, surrounded by great people.

But I found I wasn’t fulfilled. I finished with a company in the Dubai International Financial Centre in December and said, ‘This is the time for me to make a change’. I love working with people, problem solving and am passionate about female empowerment. There was a really good training course in financial coaching, even though I had all the skills needed to get myself qualified.

I took a huge risk, but my safety net was my experience and my credentials. I believe my skillset will be of huge benefit to women. And men as well.

My number one thing is an emergency fund that I have in cash in an accessible bank account

Is there demand for finance coaching amid the pandemic?

Absolutely. People are becoming more conscious of the uncertainty, of their money, what they're spending, where they're spending and often have more time now to think about it. So many people have had pay cuts.

What is your approach to spending and saving?

I tend to be risk-averse and security is a massive thing; saving enough that I have security. That gave me the ability to do this (coaching), that I could be able to not have an income for a period of time.

I save to the point that I have security and then my next step is investing, but also spending on experiences, travel or a nice dress I want and know it’s a reasonable amount and I can afford. It’s a conscious balance.

How do you save?

My number one thing is an emergency fund that I have in cash in an accessible bank account. I’ve got property in Ireland and we own our house in Dubai. I have exchange-traded funds, bonds and some individual stocks. The plan is to diversify as much as possible.

What has been your best investment?

It’s not going to make me millions, but the first home I bought at 24 in my hometown. It’s holding its value and is constantly rented at a good rate. I never did anything too risky that gave me a great return. Slow and steady is what I do.

What is your most cherished purchase?

Our home that we live in. It’s probably not going to be the best financial decision, but we realised we love it here, the kids are happy, so we set down roots and bought the house. It’s grounding for them and us, and gives that security that you don’t have to move.

Carol Glynn - finance coach and founder of Conscious Finance Coaching.
(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

Ms Glynn says having kids drastically changes one's philosophy on personal finance. Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National

Do you have a philosophy about personal finance?

I do and this evolves as you get older and circumstances and priorities change. Having kids really changes how you look at this kind of thing. For years, I thought I needed to make lots of money because I’ll be able to ‘do all these things’. What it really meant was I worked a lot harder, longer, travelled too much and was miserable. So for me, money brings security.

I have my emergency fund, enough that I can pay the mortgage, school fees and am able to give the kids the life and activities they enjoy. After that, it’s about freedom to do things you want to do.

So, do you have a healthier relationship with money?

Money would have been a stress point in my life. For a long time, I had that scarcity mindset of, ‘I always need to be making money’, and not because I want to be spending it on major things. That’s how I operated and kept going in my job and career. I was successful, which was great, but it didn’t bring me happiness.

I never did anything too risky that gave me a great return

Now, I have a much healthier relationship with money in that I see it like an enabler. It’s not the most significant thing, it doesn’t overshadow my life, whereas before it would have been a driver.

Do you pass such wisdom to your children?

I try to subtly do it, just have them thinking about it, the right approach to it. They’re a good age to be introduced to money. We’ve had a ‘have fun with sensible spending October’. There’s so much you can do here that doesn’t have to cost a lot. I like getting the kids thinking of ideas.

How well prepared are you for the future?

Setting up my own business is a risk. Going from a stable income is a change in our plans to what they would have been three years ago. But I’m confident and comfortable in what we have done. We’ve got a diversified portfolio. Where next and what does that look like … that’s the biggest unknown.

If you won Dh1 million, what would you spend it on?

I always had a dream, the five of us taking a year out to travel. I would put money towards that, invest the rest.