Overcoming shyness was Cathy’s first hurdle as a planner: Cathy Wang

4 min read

Cathy Wang

By Julia Newbould

Mandarin speaking is an asset in many business roles in Australia today. Cathy Wang is a Mandarin-speaker and a woman in financial planning – both great assets to her business.

Cathy arrived in Australia 10 years ago from Shanghai, China. She studied education in China but arriving in Australia and seeing financial planning as a growing industry, and one not just focused on wealth accumulation and product driven, but an industry which works on making a life plan for people of all generations. Cathy thought it was an industry in which she’d like to work.

She began working in financial planning industry in 2007, as a paraplanner working in a small boutique practice. She was there 5 years and then had a baby. Upon returning from maternity leave, she moved into Westpac , still as a paraplanner.

“I wanted to move into a big planning group to get more varied work as a paraplanner,” Cathy says.

She applied to the inaugural intake of Stella Careers and was accepted into the programme. “I really wanted to be involved in the customer facing part of the process. As a paraplanner you only deal with planners and form strategy. You’re already working to an outcome – there is no opportunity to do more for the client when you receive the instructions, “ Cathy says.

Moving into financial planning was not easy, she says. “I had to change my whole mindset, significantly. As a paraplanner I was just able to write plans because I had the technical knowledge but as a planner I needed to hear the client talk and not just keep talking from my end.”

“I had heaps of difficulties for the first six months, lots of laughter about it, but I cherish that experience and have learned so much from that experience.

“In the beginning, clients found me too robotic when I talked strategy and structure but I’ve now learned a lot – how to respond to people’s facial expressions and not coming to conclusions too quickly.”

Why financial planning?

“I want to help people reach their goals and objectives. People are usually expert in their own industries but with planning their finances they don’t know what options would be beneficial to them. My role is as a bridge to help them understand what they can do to get a good outcome,” Cathy says.

“I really have a great sense of achievement if the conversation with clients is really successful being able to interest them in different strategies and I really feel good about myself if I’ve helped them.”

Cathy is most interested in retirement planning.  “For me, retirement is most exciting. Everyone ages, and every day people turn 60, 70, 80 and 90 and they all need support and help,” she says.

“Some of the retirees are lonely and don’t have the ability to generate an income and they need people who are genuine and caring to manage their cash flow.  I have a passion in that area – they remind me of my grandma and family overseas. They need help. “

How did Stella Careers help you?

“The whole programme was memorable for me. It taught me what a financial planner is like in real life. We had guest speaker talks, shadowed a planner,” says Cathy.

“Esther (course leader) put her faith in me because she gave me the confidence to back myself to the next level and become a planner.

“I think as a woman we need to face our fears and weaknesses and have confidence in ourselves. Everyone’s situation is different but generally we all need three things:

  1. Find out our gaps – where we are and where we want to be
  2. Establish how to bridge the gap
  3. Make a plan and set a timeframe to bridge the gap.”

Proudest moment in planning?

Moving from paraplanning to planning was Cathy’s proudest moment. “I used to be shy, anxious and reserved if talking to a group of people and I needed to fill that gap but because I was so determined to conquer my shyness and anxiety I joined Toastmasters to build my public speaking skills and within six months I had improved a lot,” she says.

“I deeply believe that success is small efforts day in and day out.”

What’s next for Cathy?

Cathy says, next for her is to develop her scope in advice and provide more comprehensive strategies to her clients.