We're always curious to hear how our members and contributors tackle the challenges that the ever-changing world of HR throws at them. We've got a wealth of experience and knowledge across the site, and what better way to showcase the diversity of our community than to get them to walk us through an average day?
Want to tell us about your way of working? Email us at[email protected], or let us know in the comments below.
So, Jo, tell us about your average day...
When I am not with clients I work wherever is convenient. I have an office at a fantastic location in the Bristol and Bath Science park which is just two miles from my home. I live close to the M4/M5 junction so after dropping children at school or the gym I start my day.
This could be seeing new clients, preparing new workshops, researching changing legislation, writing blogs or reviewing feedback. I am in London at least once a week with clients and then anywhere else I need to go. The business was built with the aim of helping people be “better” not perfect and I try to use that ethos in all we do.
5.30 - Up and off to the gym three times a work. Really trying to be healthy financially, physically and emotionally! Back, showered and on way to school or office by 7:45.
8:30 - Planning the week and answering enquiries including some very interesting requests from a large business on avoiding high/payday lending.
9:30 - Coffee with a housing association client to review the feedback reports my team prepared from recent sessions and hopefully planning the rest of this year. Understanding logistics, culture and what resonates with a company’s teams means we need to be flexible.
This client is also looking to provide financial education to their new intake of apprentices and graduates. A good meeting as one of my favourite workshops “Boosting your futures” has gone down well and the team are happy.
11:00 - Back to the laptop, ensuring I am up to speed with the new Tax Free Childcare and what it means for Childcare Voucher users for a WebEx next week. Plus updating a joint project I am working on, coming up with an online solution. It took a long time to find the right partner and it’s so much more than I had hoped.
Money is such an emotive topic and it makes me very sad when someone says they are “rubbish with money."
It's my mission to change this: you wouldn’t say you were a rubbish employee or spouse or sibling so why would you say you are rubbish with money? Getting employees to feel better off and organise money more effectively is a win-win: the employer, the employee and the family benefit.
12:00 - I am off to BBC Radio Bristol for a chat about my new book “What’s your excuse for not being better with money?” The host is really well researched and funny and I get lots of congratulatory tweets and website views. Also, I saw presenters from local news and Countryfile which was exciting!
13:00 - Back to the office and meet my mentor for a quick lunch. He is a great listener, funny and challenging – just what I need. The business is growing quickly and I think it’s important to have a different experienced pair of eyes on what I am doing!
14:00 - WebEx on “Getting back to black” - around 120 people online. Lots of questions on credit checks and getting out of debt. I really hope one day we don’t need this subject but I cannot see it being any time soon. The time flies on WebEx and I need coffee afterwards.
15:00 - Authorising invoices and trainer expenses. We use the XERO accounting system, great for on the go accounting. In my previous role I used to find the numbers part of the board meeting very dull and boring: that’s changed now it’s my business and my decisions!
I love their dashboard feature which tells me where we stand daily and I can scan all my receipts. Whilst I talk money all day and was good at maths at school this is the first time in my life I have been interested in actual accounting.
15:30 - Call with prospective client around what financial subjects to cover. I tend to find clients fall into two categories – those who have definite ideas of what they want e.g. pension changes or Help to Buy vs Lifetime ISAss or those who know they want to do something but are not sure what’s needed.
Money is such a personal issue and people are very different even if they are paid the same salary. I like running a few pilots to see what works. This client has eight locations so the added logistics means my assistant will have fun with routes, trains and hotels. We do “walk the walk” and always use split-ticketing to get cheaper trains and negotiate on hotels etc.
16:00 - Quick catch up with one of my trainers in the south east who is running some great workshops for women on money, nutrition and goals this week. I am excited to see feedback. The trainers in our team are in semi-retirement by any other name. They have all had a background in financial services, some senior in large insurers, some run their own advisory business and all want to give back. I find them all so inspiring.
They let me know what can work and what they can’t – they have rich lives and use these experiences with their delegates – I take a lot of notice of what they say about our sessions, what works, what doesn’t and what else we could do. They are I guess the gig economy at the other end of their career and it suits them and me. I think we would all like to rename “retirement” though as it's completely different for this generation.
16:45 - Off to pick up my children and find some of the other parents have heard me on radio. Fifteen minutes of fame is great but back to earth as my daughter needs new kit for the weekend and son needs feeding before tennis. I do a lot of mobile emails in parked cars waiting for my children! I agree to some more speaking slots via email, sometimes I am amazed that I don’t worry very much at all about public speaking much anymore, whereas once upon a time I would be terrified.
I keep telling the children to just keep doing it and doing it but then their schools seem to start them practicing presenting much younger. My trick has always been to understand why I care about the subject and why it’s so important that others care and understand about it also. I worked part-time when my children were small but upped my hours as they got bigger.
I have always had guilt but was talking to some non-working mums once who also had guilt and realised what a waste of emotion it is.
My husband and I do our best and plan a military operation around school, sports, activities, work and home. Without work I wouldn’t be the parent I am and vice-versa. My whole family is so proud of the book which was a surprising bonus to the whole experience.
19:00 - Once the children and dinner chores are done I plan tomorrow and ensure I have handouts and tickets for a day’s workshops in London. I check on our other two boys at University: one is studying politics in Southampton so he is having a fascinating time at the moment and the other is studying journalism in Cardiff. I can’t wait until he’s ready to write my press releases and some articles!
It’s lovely having a big family and best when they are all here together. My parents also live in an annexe next door so we truly are the sandwich generation that I talk so much about. Later my husband and I continue planning a summer road tour of Italy, which is exciting – let’s hope the teenagers think so! I aim to be in bed for 10 so I can read: currently it’s the 100 Year Life by Lynda Gratton and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert….I always have at least two on the go but often fall asleep reading.
Now, tell us…
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Being with clients. Either discussing with HR how to solve problems or make employees life’s better. Running workshops is brilliant and tiring so I do one or two a week and have five trainers nationwide who do the rest. I also love getting to still be in London (I am originally from East London) once a week, which makes me happy…never be tired of London.
I get to see all different industries and locations every week. I feel very privileged and have seen lots of amazing snapshots of workplaces in my life – from the fun side of insurance, to a car rolling off a production line, a diamond workshop, radiator factories used in Dr Who film set, sandwich factories, hedge fund managers and even behind the scenes in museums! I love being given a hard-hat and luminous safety vest!
One tip you’d pass on to your peers?
Planning has become vital for me so I mix my week up so I don’t go stir crazy disappearing into my laptop. I schedule every 30 minutes to be more productive. I outsource what I can but also have a “tribe” of fantastic contacts in a WhatsApp group where we help each other with whatever life or work problem we are facing. I also love the app RUNGWAY.
What you're currently working on or going to work on to make your day more productive or enjoyable?
Looking after my health and getting fit became more important in my own business. Plus, a big focus currently is expanding the team to enable a more balanced working week for me.
I am also constantly on the look for new apps and systems which will streamline our business. XERO and TRELLO are proving useful to my team.
One thing you wish you'd learnt years ago?
If not you who? Plus, it's ok to be creative and fun in the financial world.
About Jo Thresher
After nearly 30 years in financial services including time at AXA and laterly as head of education at Jelf Group plc Jo decided to set up her own financial education business. BETTER WITH MONEY LTD is aimed at any employer who wants their employees to be happier with money!
Combining consultancy, workshops and tools Jo and her team of trainers are looking to reduce money problems and help employers reduce stress absence. Jo is a regular contributor to the press. She also has a book scheduled for publication in the ‘What’s your Excuse’ series due for publication in February 2017. ‘What’s your excuse for not being better with money?’ aims to help overcome the common excuses people have for not dealing with their finances. Jo is married with 4 children and lives in Bristol.