Financial Empowerment

Q&A Session with Kristine Beese: transforming financial wellness for women

Olive's interview with Kristine Beese, Founder and CEO of Untangle Money, sheds light on women's ongoing obstacles in financial wellness.

Untangle Money is a platform dedicated to bringing an effective financial plan into the hands of 1 million Canadian everyday women over the next 4 years.

Kristine Beese, the founder and CEO of Untangle Money, has international experience working in the engineering, capital markets, and wealth management industries with organizations like RBC and Scotiabank, and she has taught at Ivey Business School at Western University.

In this Q&A session, Kristine Beese discusses her journey and experiences through the financial wellness industry and how she saw an opportunity to empower women when it comes to their finances.

Q1: What inspired you to start a company focused on helping women with financial planning and investing?


When I started as an engineer in the workforce for the first time, I didn’t know what to do with my money. I went to a bank and met with an advisor, embarking upon a decidedly uncomfortable and unsatisfying conversation. So much so that after I left the bank, I decided right then and there to learn everything I could about money.

Fast-forward a decade. At my first hackathon, I met a brilliant woman named Ria Savla. She was a talented consultant with Accenture, and while we were talking, she described feeling exactly the same way at the bank when she had gone there to try and figure out what to do with her money.

By this point, I had received my MBA, worked on Canada’s largest trading floor, worked as a stock analyst in London, UK, and invested money for wealthy Canadians.

Nothing in the way that banks approached women and their money had changed. I decided to change that.

Through Untangle Money, I help women and couples to see the path in front of them. I guide women through a process that helps them learn what they can afford and how they’ll be okay in the future. I help them get the confidence they need to understand what to put in their financial bouquets.

Q2: Although women have made great strides in recent years with their financial well-being, what barriers do you still see hindering women in the financial wellness space?


Women are truly incredible when it comes to money. Research shows that women save more money and have better investment performance than our male counterparts, yet nothing we hear in the media would lead us to think this is the case.

The areas that women could improve in are:

  1. Starting earlier: Invest your money as soon as you start earning it.
  2. Putting more cash to work: As women, we keep much of our money in cash, and cash loses buying power yearly because of inflation.
  3. Investing in different bouquets: We invest in “conservative” financial bouquets, and because we earn a lot less money over our careers, we would be better served by putting our investments in “growth” financial bouquets.

Another barrier to women’s financial wellness is the language that is used to describe money and investing. We know that men and women respond to language differently, and the finance industry uses jargon and sales tactics that resonate with men, yet this same jargon and these same sales tactics have a repulsive effect on women.

Of course, there is more: the Pink Tax, the Credit Gap, the Grooming Gap, and, of course, our societal norms. As a society, we also need to stop shaming women for spending their money. On an absolute basis, men actually spend more money on discretionary items than women (because they earn more money). On a percentile basis, men and women spend a similar amount of our money on non-essential items. Yet society calls women’s spending frivolous and men’s spending discerning.

Additionally, we coach women to donate their time and money to charities and their communities while coaching men to build an empire and generational wealth. We label women who ask for more as greedy and men who ask for more as negotiators.

These deeply embedded beliefs are reinforced by the financial service industry, and that keeps our progress glacial. At Untangle Money, we are welcoming and use a trauma-informed approach to money. We don’t shame or judge you for spending your money, and we use a research-based approach which shows that we need to find joy in our spending. By attracting women instead of putting up barriers to their success, we are accelerating women’s ability to achieve financial wellness.

Q3: What are some common misconceptions or barriers women encounter when it comes to financial planning and investing, and how does your company address them?


There are so many misconceptions and barriers that everyday women face regarding financial planning and investing. The first one that we address is the need that the finance industry has in setting financial goals. Not only do women generally not describe their financial needs in goal-oriented language, but when we dive deeper, goal-setting is a tool that works well when you have an abundance of income. If you have ten dollars and need to buy 3, one-dollar items, then that is a prioritization exercise. But if you’re a middle-income individual, then it’s likely that you have one dollar, and you still want to buy 3 one-dollar items, and that is a trade-off exercise.

Another misconception is that women are conservative investors. Women are risk-aware, and in the absence of professionals willing or able to take the time to describe the risks women are taking today, they often make the wise decision to invest conservatively. But if you zoom out, perhaps it’s worth taking a bit more risk with your money today to mitigate the risk of outliving your money in the future. It’s a conversation we have with all of our clients.

Q4: How does Untangle Money help women with their financial planning?


Think of the Untangle Money MINI as your financial compass. It shows you the direction your current financial situation is heading towards, and we show you some of the main things you can change if you find you’re not heading North. We also show you the ways to set expectations for your future if you decide that Northwest is the right path for you, and you’re willing to make future tradeoffs to make today more affordable.

We start by asking you for the minimum amount of information we need to run our calculations (it’s around 8-20 numbers for most people). We want to reduce the barrier to entry as much as possible. We also include mini wellness moments during our intake because we know that money can bring up stress and anxiety.

We focus you on the two-money metrics that matter most so that you know what you can afford day-to-day while still staying on the best path for you regarding your future needs. These heuristics create an executive summary of your money so that you can keep the rest of your brain space available for all the other aspects of your life that you also need to pay attention to.

Olive and financial wellness

Our mission is to help millions of people worldwide achieve positive financial outcomes with our card-linking platform, especially women who are underrepresented. Our tools allow managers to provide easy, turnkey customer solutions that simplify investing for women. With card-linking, women can enjoy micro-investing through rounding.

Rounding powered by card-linking is a tool that can reduce the barriers women face in their investment journey, allowing them to contribute to their investments after every purchase. These small amounts can help kickstart their investment journey and accumulate into something meaningful over time.

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