Women + Finances Q&A: Taryn Williams

Taryn Williams is one of the country’s most prolific entrepreneurs. Taryn brings more than fifteen years experience to her roles as CEO and founder of both The Right Fit and WINK Models. The Right Fit is an online influencer and talent platform allowing brands and agencies find the right person for the job.

Not shy of jumping in the deep end, Taryn launched WINK Models in 2007 with $30,000 of her own savings. WINK was named in Anthill Online’s Top 100 coolest Australian Companies in 2016. Taryn has experience in the venture capital space, achieving a $750,000 seed-funding round for The Right Fit in August 2016.

Even having two businesses to her name doesn’t exclude her from making money mistakes, as Taryn reveals...

Q: Where do you get your financial advice from?

Growing up, I learnt about finances from my parents, who really ensured my sister and I understood savings, budgeting and had a sensible approach to money. In particular my father who helped me learn about shares and investing. In my early 20s, I had a business mentor who taught me a lot about cash flow management, and how to scale a company whilst ensuring it stayed financially viable. Then in my mid 20s, I got a financial advisor at Macquarie Bank who has been absolutely invaluable in working with me to ensure I hit my financial goals, best invest my money, and think strategically long term.

Q: What’s the biggest money mistake you’ve ever made?

Trusting an external bookkeeper in one of my companies who really did more damage than good! I trusted them, and they came highly recommended, with great credentials, from a top firm. Thankfully I picked up the mistakes after about 3 months and we were able to salvage the situation and find someone else. It taught me how important it is to ensure there is a system of checks and balances in place when bringing in a new finance person, and certainly isn’t a mistake I would make again!

Q: Do you have a strategy when it comes to finances? And if yes, how has this grown and evolved and how does it affect your day to day spending?

I didn’t have a credit card until I was 27. I was always scrupulous with what I spent, and never lived outside my means. As my companies grew and we expanded to new markets, and had access to more capital, my personal day to day spending probably changed a little bit (let’s be honest, I do love a good pair of designer heels!). In my companies - especially the tech start up - we absolutely watch every cent and ensure all spending is driving value to the business.

Q: Do you ever speak to your friends about money, investments, purchases?

Absolutely. My friends are all very open and honest about our finances, despite all having different occupations and levels of income/wealth. It’s great to be able to share advice, and help each other stay accountable with savings plans or help with investment decisions.

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Q: Looking back over your life, what are some of the most pivotal money moments that you remember?

Doing my first risk profile assessment with my financial planner was pretty pivotal – I remember being so anxious about it as it felt like such an adult life thing to do and I was probably about 24!

It felt good to be proactively taking control of my finances and future.

I also remember the first Chanel bag I purchased when one of my companies signed a big client. It was one of the more significant purchases I’d made and something I’d really aspired to, so it felt great to be able to purchase it outright with my own money, from hard work.

Q: Do you consider yourself clued up financially?

Having experts around me now for so many years has definitely helped and I really enjoy learning about finances, investments, tax law (yep, everyone finds that shocking!) and company structures. So I would say I am pretty clued up, but there are always things I would love to learn more about - in particular property investment and incorporating in international markets.

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Q: Do you remember any big financial lessons that you learnt at school / uni / in business?

I really don’t – I have learned so much more from real world experience.

Q: If you have a financial question - who or where do you go to get your information?

My financial advisor.

Q: Superannuation is notoriously dull. Do you feel like you’re on top of your future financial situation, or do you not consider it at all?

I do – it’s definitely something I have always wanted to be in control of and I started paying attention to it at a young age.

Q: FInancial literacy appears to be lacking amongst younger Australians. How do you think this can be improved and what do you see as the big issues?

I think having role models in this space who are approachable and removing the jargon from the industry, to make it less intimidating. Also making learning and engaging with your finances more fun - there’s a plethora of apps now targeting young Australians to gamify saving, investments and financial advice.

Q: Would you call yourself financially responsible or irresponsible?

Having two companies definitely means I have to be financially responsible!

Q: What’s the best piece of financial advice that you can impart on our readers?

Seek out experts if there are things you don’t know or understand and don’t be afraid to ask questions. And don’t be apathetic to your super or financial investments – it’s your future and your money, and you should be proactively involved in setting up the best situation for yourself as possible.

Q: Where are the gaps in your financial understanding?

Definitely around property investment (I’ve always invested in shares or private companies) and self-managed super funds.

Q: What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?

A $20k 3m long black leather designer sofa. It hasn’t fit in any house since, and has had to be craned into four apartments. Nightmare.

Q: What’s the smartest financial decision you’ve ever made?

Getting a financial planner in my mid 20s