When you think of financial planners it’s easy to envision a middle-aged man donned in a suit and tie. But thanks to growing gender representation, the financial space is quickly being dominated by young women.
Azaria Bell is one of them. Citing Griffith University’s Bachelor of Business as the catalyst for her career, Azaria is now a financial planner at Skye Wealth and the host of Gen Z Money, a podcast that’s empowering young people to take control of their money, without the threat of taking away your avocado toast.
“The core of everything I do is to empower young people to be financially independent,” Azaria says.
“The job of a financial planner is to guide people in the right direction, and empower them to forge their own path. I want all young people to be able to make educated decisions on how they invest their money, what personal insurance they should have in place, and what steps they need to take to reach their goals.”
The Griffith Business School graduate turned her studies into a career opportunity when she won a scholarship to the prestigious financial advice firm, Stonehouse Group.
To pick the financial gurus brains, we asked Azaria the biggest takeaways from her degree and what we get wrong about money.
Learn about the tax system
According to Azaria, one of the most eye-opening learnings from her degree was understanding the Australian taxation system.
“It feeds into everything – superannuation, investing, insurance. There is so much to it and once you get a good understanding of how it works, all other aspects of money management become much more intuitive.”
While many schools don’t teach students about the intricacies of the tax system, by educating yourself (or going to university) you’re more financially empowered to understand the systems and reap the benefits of that education.
“Having that knowledge can not only put you ahead, but prevent you getting into trouble,” Azaria says.
Don’t buy things to impress
Lifestyle creep is real. In a world of social media flexing and one-dimensional highlight reels, it can be easy to think that everyone is able to afford designer bags and lavish holidays. In reality? Don’t buy something just to impress others.
“As soon as we start letting the approval of our peers guide our financial decisions, it is very easy to get stuck in an endless loop of spending, relying on Buy Now Pay Later services, and debt,” Azaria says.
“It’s impossible to ever be satisfied with what we have when we are living by other peoples ideals.”
In fact, Azaria notes that this is the biggest “money mistake” she sees as a financial planner. So don’t worry about what the influencers are buying. Stay in your lane (and in your budget) and reap the financial benefits.
Don’t get into debt for non-essentials
In similar energy to the point above, Azaria also recommends not going into debt for non-essentials. This is the age old adage of living within your means.
“Getting into debt at a young age for non-essentials is a really slippery slope into a cycle of debt-dependency,” says Azaria.
“When credit cards, BNPL services and taking out loans are normalised at a young age, it’s really hard to break those habits and build financial autonomy. It’s the freedom of being financially independent that puts you ahead of the curve and sets you up with good financial habits to carry you through your career.”
So perhaps think twice about putting that third pair of shoes on credit and remember to differentiate between “good” and “bad” debt.
Education is everything
While financial education is a privilege, knowledge really is our oyster.
“We spend a lot of time online, so why not make our online space one that is educational and welcoming when it comes to money?”
“There are some excellent podcasts, YouTube channels, and Facebook groups full of people who are eager to learn and share their experiences about money. Having those constant affirmations and safe spaces to learn about money makes the process of becoming financially literate a lot less daunting.”
While the internet is a great place to start, higher education will seriously up-level your financial skills. Griffith University has a number of majors and commerce subjects such as accounting, economics and finance to help you on your way.
“The Bachelor of Business is what opened the door to my career. With so many options to choose from, I was able to not only take a major in financial planning, but try a variety of different subjects according to my interests such as real estate and taxation.”
“A financial planning course in the business school is well worth doing, and is highly applicable to sorting out your own financial situation,” says Azaria.
Financial planning isn’t about numbers
Well, of course numbers are important but financial planning is also about confidence, habits, and education.
If you’re looking to start a career in the field, Azaria notes that the financial industry is a welcoming community.
“We love to see motivated graduates with new ideas continue to push the profession forward, and challenge the norms of what a financial planning career is perceived to look like,” the podcast host says.
“It really is a meaningful career that you can design on your own terms, and I think that’s really something the young people of my generation are looking for.”
Overall, Azaria notes that it’s important to figure out what you want your life to look like in 10 to 20 years and set defined goals to get there.
“There is a lot of pressure from our parents, friends, and society, to do certain things, but everyone’s journey is unique and it’s okay to set your own path,” she says.
“Money is a tool and we need to choose how we use it.”
If you’re feeling inspired by Azaria’s story then make your career matter with Griffith University. If you need a little more inspo, try taking this custom quiz to see what study paths would suit you.