Bare Naked Money's Jessamy Walker is aiming to help people get a better understanding of their finances
A West Berkshire businesswoman is using her love of maths to help people get a better understanding of their financial wellbeing.
Jessamy Walker runs Bare Naked Money, a course to help you learn everything you need to know about money and finances.
She enjoyed a childhood of travels and adventure, growing up in Kenya, where her father was a tea farmer.
Her childhood was “outdoorsy and adventurous” and included “living in Sudan in a tent for four years while he set up a new tea project”.
Her plan wasn’t always about finances though, despite enjoying “science and numbers” and having “a very logical mind”.
Jessamy spent her school years in England, before going on to study for a degree in marine biology.
After completing her degree she returned to Africa, working in Kenya and Tanzania on nature projects.
“It was a very easy climate to live in,” she says. “But you hit a ceiling as a woman in Africa, so I came back to London and began temping because my dad had insisted I did a secretarial course out of college.”
That was in 1997 and Jessamy says the “main, good, temping job” she had was at stockbrokers Killik. She soon joined the company full time.
“I did all of their admin to start with,” she recalls. “Then I qualified as a stockbroker, which was a natural progression. I was there for five years and I loved it but I was made redundant after the tech boom of 2000-2001.”
Having lived in London when she initially returned to England, Jessamy soon moved to a cottage just outside of Newbury, where she still lives today.
After her time at Killik, she worked for a few different firms in financial services in London and Woodley, before she met Paul Armson, who “turned my thinking around”.
“I had always struggled with the selling for selling’s sake,” she admits. “It didn’t feel ethical to me.
“But Paul said the insurance company isn’t your client, the client is your client. It was turning it around.
“I then really struggled in the firm I was in, with a completely different ethos in my head, so as soon as I was allowed, I jumped ship.”
In 2015 she set up Brown Dog Financial Planning, named after her beloved pet and offering regulated financial advice “from a small storage unit with a desk and a phone and an awful lot of spiders”.
At Brown Dog money is a means to an end, a way to get the most out of life.
“To be able do that, you need to have enough money, which is where we come in,” explains Jessamy. “We work out what ‘enough’ is for you, and then how to get that – which is your financial plan.
“With a financial plan in place, you’re free to stop worrying about money and the future and have the peace of mind, security and freedom to get on with living today.
“It’s about what’s important to you. What’s your story that money has to underpin?
“The money makes it happen and it has to make it happen from now.”
Within a few months of setting up Jessamy had her first employee. Now she has team of staff working across Brown Dog and her newer project, Bare Naked Money.
“We launched Bare Naked Money at the beginning of last year and offer online financial education,” she says. “It is purely education and taking the advice out means the cost is also cut.
“We started to get clients coming to us at a younger age and wanting to get themselves sorted.
“Because of the regulations and costs, full blown financial planning is too expensive. It all comes down to ‘will I be okay?’; ‘will my family be okay?’”
Bare Naked Money offers an eight-week course which is called ‘Get Financially Fearless’ and, Jessamy says, it will teach you the answers to nagging questions that small business owners have – how does tax work? How does my pension work? What can I do to make the most of all the allowances available? How can I set myself up right?
“It is aimed at those who have been in business for around three to five years,” she explains. “It is about how to set yourself up correctly and manage finances in your business and for yourself.
“It is group training and then you leave with a one-to-one session at the end to pull it all together for you.”
The launch price of the eight-week course – which takes place at the end of April – is £697 and there is currently a waiting list to join.
“It is purely financial education,” adds Jessamy, who says her aim is to “educate one more person every day”.
“It is helping people be more confident about finances and understanding the jargon.
“People come to me because they either don’t understand it or they are ashamed about it. Money is just something we don’t talk about, but money is just something that enables us to do all the emotional things.”
She said that it would be so much better for everyone if we were taught more about finances at school.
“If you start young with a little it gives an immense piece of mind and confidence to people,” she adds. “I have worked with jockeys and they actually started riding better once they had the piece of mind that their finances were sorted. It takes away that waking up in the middle of the night feeling.
“There’s also a preconception that you can’t start [planning] until you have wealth, but you can start any time, with any amount. There are a lot of really cool apps out there now to help people too.
“If people came to me at 30 or 40 and asked what to do, the amount you would need to do something with is so much smaller.”
And as well as launching the new educational side of her business, Jessamy has been busy writing a book to accompany it.
“It has been quite a challenge to make it not dry, as it’s all about financial planning,” she admits.
“There’s a lot of mindset and behavioural information in it as your personality really governs how you do things.
“It covers simple mechanics – how do mortgages work? What’s a pension? How do I start investing? – then there’s some behavioural aspects, then simple steps to get out and build yourself a financial plan.”
And when Jessamy isn’t helping others plan for their future, she’s enjoying what means the most to her – her family, her four dogs, three horses and the outdoors.
Bare Naked Money is sponsoring the Best Online Business category of this year’s Newbury Weekly News Best in Business Awards at Newbury Racecourse on March 31.