Funmi Olufunwa

Fortnightly financial #36 Funmi Olufunwa

Nigel Yeates, Communications and Stakeholder Business Partner, speaks to Funmi Olufunwa, Founder at Hoops Finance and a qualified mortgage advisor and financial coach, about adressing the gaps in financial education.

Please can you tell us about your career background and your role in financial education?

I started my career as a lawyer over 20 years ago. My first job was in a global law firm in London called Simmons & Simmons where I trained, qualified, and spent 2 years working as a commercial lawyer. I then moved to another law firm, Addleshaw Goddard, and worked in their Financial Regulation team. I had the opportunity to do a couple of client secondments to 2 of the UK’s biggest banks and after 5 years there, I ended up going to work at one of them, HSBC.

When I left HSBC, I had a mixture of freelance and employed roles and worked at various companies. I enjoyed the variety of work and projects.

After a while, I realised that although I enjoyed the law, I wanted to do something that felt a bit more meaningful. I wanted to work more with people using the products and services rather than the finance companies creating them. I wanted to help to close the financial education gap that I knew existed and had encountered in my working life. So, I did 2 things, I trained to become a certified financial coach so I could help people understand the emotional and practical sides of money. I also qualified as a mortgage advisor so I could help people understand the housing market and with the mortgage application process.

At the end of last year, I stepped away from my mortgage work. Now, through my business, Hoops Finance, and using what I’ve learned in my career to date, I provide financial education workshops to help demystify the topic of money and make it simple and easy to understand.

What do you think are the current big gaps in financial education?

Where do I start? There are so many. On a broad level, I think we really do ourselves and our young people a disservice when it comes to our education system and the fact that financial education isn’t taught in a meaningful and consistent way to all children. So, a huge gap is that there just isn’t enough of it being provided.

In terms of actual topics though, the list is endless. We need to make sure that people understand that how they feel about money may impact their behaviour with money and also practical aspects of money management like how to read a payslip, what taxes we pay, why and what they fund, how to budget & save, the pros and cons of combining finances with a partner, what a pension is, the power of compound interest, what the gender pay gap is and of course, how your money is protected. The list is endless and while it is a lot, it’s all of the things that we need to know as adults. That’s why we need to start talking and learning at a young age (in an age-appropriate way) and building on that knowledge and positive money habits as we grow up.   

What are the top three things you would encourage individuals to think about as a starting point?

From a practical point of view, you need to know your numbers, so you need to be aware of your income and expenses. For example, if you’re employed, get into the habit of checking your payslip and know what to do or who to contact if you spot any errors. Regularly check your bank accounts so you know where your money is going and can spot any helpful or unhelpful patterns and make changes if you need to.

Make managing your money as easy as possible, so use automation where possible. For example, set up direct debits for regular payments so you’re not relying on yourself to remember to make them. Paying a few days late can hurt your credit rating and impact how you’re viewed by finance companies, even making some products and services more expensive for you.

Understand how credit works and how you can use it. Often, credit is seen as something negative and that isn’t helpful for 2 reasons. People who get into financial difficulty can be more reluctant to get help because of a sense of shame or fear of judgment and the sooner help is sought, the better. Also, it is possible to use credit in a healthy way and many people are likely to need to do this at some point in their lives e.g., buying a property with a mortgage so making them fearful of it isn’t helpful.

You are involved in a number of financial events, what are the most interesting things you have learned recently?

There are a few things, starting with how varied people’s understanding of various money topics are and how many money myths there are out there which is another reason why financial education is so important.

Also, how open people can be to sharing their feelings about money and how many questions people have and how much they want to learn. We’re often not great at raising the topic of money ourselves but once you give people the opportunity to talk about it and ask questions, they will. In fact, I spoke at an all-day finance event on Saturday 16th, people gave up part of their weekend and paid to attend. Financial education is needed and wanted.

And finally, on a more personal note, a question we ask most of our guests: if £10,000 landed in your lap tomorrow, what would you do with it?

I’d split it between my pension (I’m self-employed so with no employer top ups, making personal contributions is something that I need to focus on), things for my home and maybe a holiday.

Thanks so much for those thoughts, Funmi.

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The content of any discussions shouldn't be taken as an indication of future FSCS policy positions. The views expressed by guests are their own and don't reflect the views of FSCS.


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