About 25 years ago, Christina Cabrera’s father died, leaving her and her sister to tie up his affairs.
It wasn’t a large estate by any means, but she was nevertheless overwhelmed by the responsibility she had been given.
Cue her first encounter with a financial planner.
“I went and saw a planner and this was 25 years ago so it was all commission based and about selling products, but I was there to work out what the best course of action was,” Cabrera says. “I left the planning office and later I realised I was paying these ongoing fees and I still needed answers.
“So I thought, ‘Well, I will have to do my own research.’ ”
Cabrera became her own adviser and came up with a plan for her father’s estate.
But she didn’t stop there.
“Once I had gained all this knowledge I thought I could try to help others.”
Which is exactly what she did, setting up Blue Edge Financial Planning 12 years ago.
“When I first started in planning, I didn’t want to offer commissions, I wanted a fee-based service, which no one was doing back then,” Cabrera says. “But that was really important to me. I didn’t want a little old lady coming to me and me having to sell her products in order to get paid, even though the best thing for her may have been to keep her money in the bank.
“And the fee-based model has served me well. When the GFC hit, I wasn’t worried about rising or falling portfolios.”
Cabrera established her coaching and seminar firm, Wisdom of Wealth for Women, leading to her being shortlisted as a semi-finalist in the Female Excellence in Advice (FEIA) Awards.
Cabrera says educating women about money is a calling.
“When I was heavily involved in my financial planning business, I noticed a big difference in the way men and women handled money,” Cabrera says. “Women tend to assume they don’t know what they’re doing, that’s their default position, whereas men assume that they do. Even when you show women the financial strategies, they’re less likely to follow them through.
“It made me think that I could do something to make it better for women because money is one of the foundations of empowerment.”
Cabrera’s Wisdom of Wealth for Women seminars involve more than just spread sheets and slides about super.
She spends a good 15 to 20 minutes talking about planning advice and how to prepare for a planning appointment.
“I’ve realised that a lot of people are scared of financial planners. They see it as a bit like going to the dentist,” Cabrera says. “They don’t like talking about money and they’re worried about not understanding something the planner says.”
Cabrera holds seminars across Perth, and when time and funding allows for it, she transports them into the rural areas of Western Australia, which she loves.
“I tell women that they are naturally wired to be good with money,” she says. “They’re a lot like Warren Buffet in that respect. He doesn’t trade a lot, he stays in what he calls his ‘circle of competence’, and he didn’t invest in tech stocks during the boom because he didn’t understand them.
“I point out that wealth creation is actually disappointingly simple, it’s not rocket science.”
Cabrera then shows the women how manipulating financial variables – we’re not even talking investments here – can make a big difference to the hip pocket.
“The fees, for example, on your super fund can make a big difference and by researching the best fund, you can save thousands, hundreds of thousands, over a lifetime,” Cabrera says. “I start with a balance of $30,000 and show how you can bring that, over a 25-year period with compounding interest, to $700,000 just by manipulating fees and variables, and introducing a degree of risk.
“I show what happens if you can set aside $100 a month and that’s not hard if you’re serious about it.
“When women see the effect of this over many years, they are absolutely gobsmacked.”
Name of firm: Wisdom of Wealth for Women (education and coaching firm); Blue Edge Financial Planning, which Cabrera founded 12 years ago
Name of licensee (if not self-licensed): Securitor
Time in the industry (previous jobs?): 26 years
Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Commerce (UWA), diploma of financial planning
Accreditations: Certified Financial Planner, neuro linguistic programming master practitioner
Professional association memberships: Financial Planning Association