How to make informed retirement decisions & secure your financial future

On a mission to educate, support and guide Kiwis into better retirement schemes, Ailsa Taylor, is using her background in finance to creating the best possible outcomes for her clients. As a mum of 3 daughters herself, it became apparent when talking to other parents that there were gaps in their knowledge when it came to saving for retirement and the benefits of Kiwisaver. At Retirement Taylor Made, she offers honest, informed advice to help you plan for your financial future.

The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
Coffee and my kids!

In my pre-kids’ career I was working alongside Advisers at Booster in their Research Team, which was a dream job as I had always had an affinity for finance.

It wasn’t until I started my family that my priorities shifted. With three children in total, after the arrival of the twins, my family and immediate community came first. For several of the early years, I gave time freely to our community groups, be it the multiples, Montessori or Playcentre, because they were my support system and lifeline during that time. More so lately my time, energy and efforts have been to the girls’ schools, sporting clubs and Scouts.

I returned to my pre-kids’ career but found I was totally out of alignment with life’s demands and I struggled to make the transition back to corporate. I simply wanted different things. It became increasingly more important to be on the sidelines of a school netball tournament than in a meeting!

I kept recalling the random conversations that I had over coffee within my community, which showed consistent gaps in parent’s knowledge on saving for retirement, particularly the special benefits offered by KiwiSaver. I became a vocal contributor in my community to the discussion on educating mums and dads because I believe they shouldn’t be penalised on maternity leave and risk having no money for retirement. All because the pre-baby conversations had been focused on funding that fabulous pushchair, not ensuring the parent taking paternity leave is educated on the benefits of topping up their KiwiSaver to make sure they receive the full Government Contribution that year! Or not understanding what contributing to your KiwiSaver might mean when trying to buy that all important first home for your family.

These days, the regulations mean that you can’t just dole out friendly reminders about Government Contributions and other financial advice type suggestions, so realising there was a significant gap in the market, I decided to fill it. Never underestimate a busy mumma, her coffee conversations and her passion for a fair education on financial futures!

I started my business there and then.

My parents ran their own business and flexed fully around us kids in amazing ways, which I can truly appreciate now, and I wanted to give our girls a similar experience.

Working for myself, I certainly clock more than the 20-25 hours that I used to work in my corporate career, but I can be more flexible working around our family timetable. Don’t expect a client meeting before 9.30am! School holidays become a chance to meet clients out of Wellington, but expect to see my three assistants enjoying a hot-chocolate and reading quietly at a table away from us. Or off having an adventure with Dad whilst we chat.

The desire within me to help educate and empower families to take ownership of their ‘retirement’ is of the utmost importance to me, and I intend to change the way Kiwis choose to retire. Most have KiwiSaver but they don’t understand how to get what they deserve or desire out of these savings. It is my goal to bridge the gap in understanding your Government Contributions and your scheme, and to help you have a retirement that is tailor-made for you and the future you deserve!

It’s amazing what our children observe because right in the moment when I could have just frozen, I found a note, next to a pile of coins from my daughter Jennifer simply written, “Can I be your first client Mum?”

The faith she put in me that day and the smile that went with it, changed me and my business forever. With the entire contents of her money box emptied, she became my first client, and I vowed to make her and every other Kiwi proud and empowered upon retirement.

Retirement Taylor Made was born, and is a play on my maiden name and a name I’d had in mind for years when I was merely dreaming of the day it might become a reality. Thanks to Jennifer that day was claimed, and I set about my first task to secure the all-important 0800 number. Well I just about fell off my phone when I was told I could have 0800-RETIRE! It was exactly the sign I needed to keep going and build Retirement Taylor Made.

The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
I think that very first referral to me was another defining breakthrough moment.

It’s all well and good believing in myself and my business but having people championing me, like Jennifer had, still feels monumental. So, it was a real milestone for me to be able to help that first referral with their KiwiSaver investments and build a plan that excited them, so much so that the referrals just kept coming.

Joining several woman’s business and networking groups, along with getting a business coach, really helped me get the word out on my passion of building Kiwis education on retirement. Sharing stories of success over and over again with other passionate and savvy business women and seeing them then believe in me enough to join me as a client whilst referring me to people they know makes me so grateful.

All of this support helps me to build Retirement Taylor Made, whilst supporting the organisations and charities I am so passionate about and I have been able to do all this within my first year of business.

I feel like that original investment from Jennifer was such a long time ago now, but it has only been 11 months, and to top it all off, a mere 11 months into this journey and I was named the top Advisor within in my region for Booster for my 11th month in business. Another sign and another achievement!

Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?

I’ve come across a new phrase in lockdown that I really resonate with and it’s called ‘integrated’.

Balance was what I was trying to achieve working for someone else and I never really felt ‘balanced’.

Integrated feels a more achievable approach to have when running my own business and wearing all the hats as a mum, business owner, wife, friend etc. Nothing is ever in equal portions, and there’s never a perfect or balanced combination; what works one week or day won’t the next.

So, I no longer balance, I integrate, and that reminds me every day that I am blessed with the choices I have made and all of those led me right here.

Plus, I do like the fact I can be present when the girls need me to be, and I can legitimately call it networking, because when you love what you do and believe in it, the opportunities to converse come wherever I may be, from networking events to gymnastics!

The drive: What challenges have you overcome?

Three of the biggest challenges I have faced are:

  1. Mindset
  2. Judgement
  3. Being underestimated!
    These three aspects are so intertwined, but I have learnt so much about myself in the process.

There is always the internal struggle, the niggle of having the faith that I can ‘do it all’, be a good mum/wife, be present with kids, build a business, and be satisfied that I have ticked every burning desire off of the list every night. To manage my state and make sure I mitigate burnout every single day I adjust my expectations with where my priorities are today and remember to integrate. It’s not a short-term win, it’s a long game so pacing myself is everything.

I have often faced blatant judgement from people in positions of power when I have been seeking advice and establishing my business, mission and vision. At first it was a shock and I couldn’t help but take it personally until I realised the judgement wasn’t a reflection of me. Rather a misunderstanding of my business model and as a result, an even greater sign of the need for me to be speaking up to educate, support and guide Kiwis into better retirement schemes.

Being underestimated.
Thanks to the experiences of judgement and the lessons I have learnt through adapting my mindset, I am ok with being underestimated in my pursuits. Because not a day goes by where I don’t have that post-it reminding me of my vow and promise to my first client to take care of her retirement.

Like most parents, I want my daughters to be independent, to be able to buy their first home and to have a fantastic retirement. Every New Zealander, regardless of their age and stage, deserves to access quality advice. We all should be in the driving seat of our own retirement. We all deserve a Retirement Taylor made!

For better or worse: What are the pros and cons of running your own business?

Time – there is still only 24 hours in a day!

On the plus side, I have ownership of my time; it’s a choice of allocation and I have freedom over how I choose to spend my day. Conversely, when you work for yourself, there are no perks like the KiwiSaver contributions, sick leave, holiday pay or the regular office drinks and social wind down on a Friday afternoon.

So sometimes, I choose to go for a swim. To take a moment to remind myself this is a long-term business I am building that is bigger than me. I take a breath and remind myself of the legacy I am creating and of the role model I want to be for my daughters.

It’s a gradual process to build a business, and despite the challenges and learning curves, it has been a joy. Mostly because of the support circles and networks I have found, and my continued love of swimming!

Hopes and dreams: What next?

My mission continues, that I will be the well-known voice in NZ for KiwiSaver. To provide education and advice from a mum’s perspective for a Retirement that’s ‘Taylor Made’ for you and your kids, and provides you with a financially-secure future.

To smash every glass ceiling that has been put on me by ‘judgers’, and show my girls how creating a career with purpose, passion and effort provides rewards in an abundance of joy and a wonderfully comfortable quality of life.

To cultivate a business based on referrals from happy clients, as well as keep those seeds of belief from those first clients and keep those first investments growing.

Book a no obligation review with me today.

This article was first posted in the Natural Parent Magazine