There is more to Financial Wellness than salary!

Interview with PaceUP Invest founder Rukayyat Kolawole

After over 15 years of experience in the financial industry - in Investment banking, Investment Management, and Capital Markets at Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, Reuters, and BMCE International London, Rukayyat Kolawole set out on her own mission: To empower women financially and help with wealth building towards attaining a responsible and sustainable future for themselves. With her Fintech Startup PaceUP Invest she follows that purpose with learning methods, advisory and investment strategies.

But that is not all! In addtition Rukayyat is currently on the board of Kassavex, a social impact agricultural company in Nigeria, founding committee member of 100 Women in Finance, and a mentor at &ahead, Germany.

So she is definitely one to keep an eye on! More reason we are happy she told us more about what she does and why she is so passionate about her company's purporse in this interview.

What is financial wellness? And why does it matter?

Rukayyat: "Financial wellness or financial well-being refers to how close an individual is to financial security. A person with adequate savings that can cover emergencies, temporary unemployment, and comfortable retirement is said to be financially well.

Contrary to what many people think, this has little to do with income. We see this in the slew of highly paid athletes that have gone broke soon after their careers were over. Similar trends have been identified with other celebrities and lottery winners. Conversely, we find people with low-paying jobs able to become millionaires at retirement due to savvy investments. The reason is that there is more to financial independence than salary.

According to Investopedia, financial health is a term used to describe the state of one’s personal monetary affairs. Finance can be a force for good in people’s lives and advance business goals at the same time. They both matter because a lot of people are not financially independent."

42% of all EU households, approximately 215 million people, are not financially empowered and have difficulty making ends meet.
According to Eurostat

Rukayyat: "The level of income is not the only reason why people might feel squeezed each month. Equally important are the small decisions that people make in their daily lives about how they spend their money. Although small, these decisions have a big impact on their financial well-being. This impact is even more significant when these decisions are not properly thought through and this can adversely affect a person’s financial well-being in the longer term."

How are you contributing to it?

Rukayyat: "PaceUP Invest contributes to good financial wellness by providing hybrid, holistic, jargon-free learning and investing tools to improve financial literacy and knowledge.  It provides an investment platform to gain control and improve confidence to invest according to your values and needs whilst developing a healthy relationship with money. We also help corporates develop financial wellness programs as part of their social sustainability program for ESG by providing useful tools to the employees to take action and effect real change in their financial situation."

Why are finances such an important topic especially for women and what do you wish more women knew about finances?

Rukayyat: "According to a study by Merrill Lynch, 61% of women say they’d rather discuss details about their death than talk about their money. 41% said their biggest financial regret was not investing more. When asked why they didn’t invest more, 60% said it was because they lacked the knowledge, while 34% said they lacked the confidence.

A study from BlackRock found that 68% of non-investing women thought their future would look better if they did invest. This feels all the more contradicting, given that although women invest less, they are actually better at it. Furthermore women wished they didn’t have as much credit card debt and lastly they wish they had lived within their means. This means that three out of the four regrets women have regarding their financial situation are not about wages, but about financial education."

Although women invest less, they are actually better at it!
Rukayyat Kolawole

Rukayyat: "Lacking financial wellness leads to financial strain that will likely lead to difficulty in meeting household expenses in time, no slack for sudden expenses, no room to put money aside for retirement, and so on. In other words, there will be a lack of financial resilience. As women it is important for us to take lead on our finances, because we are living longer, on average we earn less than men, and at retirement have fewer assets. Studies show that in Germany, the average pension of women is 46% less than that of men - and the gap is growing.

At PaceUP Invest, we have already impacted over 2500 members. 75% developed financial habits while 50% started investing. Many of our members are women. My wish is that more women become more financially independent and build sustainable and generational wealth on their terms. This is what we are helping our clients to do every day!"

Rukayyat on a panel surrounding diversity in fintech at ESG Hackathon London
Rukayyat on a panel surrounding diversity in fintech at ESG Hackathon London

How did your background lead you to founding your own company?

Rukayyat: "I am Nigerian by birth with a lineage of strong entrepreneurial women who controlled and invested their money. My passion and reason for going into investment banking were a result of learning how my grandmother empowered women in her community. She was a gold trader who travelled to Ghana to buy gold and sold it in Nigeria. She taught me the basics of empowering women via money to build wealth in addition to the power of communities. I watched her do this seamlessly when I was growing up in Nigeria. Real wealth to her was about freedom. 

My culture is Yoruba culture. A study by the University of California looked into the female power in Yorubaland. Yorùbá culture of present-day Southwest Nigeria and the Southeast Republic of Benin has received much attention from academics over time. In part, this is due to the culturally ingrained female power that has existed and persisted over time in Yorùbáland. The goddess Ajé, as a deity of the marketplace, provides an example of the importance of womanhood in Yorùbá culture. The expressions of culturally grounded female power within Yorùbáland are exemplary of the dynamic gender structure in Yorùbá culture. Yorùbá women have been able to harness female power to their advantage throughout Yorùbáland over time.

Seeing the gender pay gap, gender pension gap, racial pay gap, and racial wealth gap I decided to found my company to be more inclusive in tackling issues that can be controlled - unfortunately most female-focused companies in that sector are not inclusive when it comes to race. PaceUP invest is a hybrid jargon-free financial literacy and investment platform."

We focus on guiding women and underrepresented communities, gaining control of their finances, and becoming financially independent.
Rukayyat Kolawole

Rukayyat: "With my experience in the financial industry not only as a woman but also from an underrepresented community, I am well equipped to help women and underrepresented groups live self-determined lives and manage their finances independently. This empowers women who educate further generations to deal with their financial issues in a self-reliant manner. I support women and the underrepresented in gaining more financial knowledge, building confidence in themselves, and, above all, in achieving a mindset that leads to financial well-being. With PaceUP Invest, I promote the natural approach to money as I learned it from my grandmother. And this is exactly what I transfer into everyday business life in line with today's Zeitgeist."