Being a young entrepreneur is challenging in its own right, and being a female entrepreneur in a competitive space advocating financial sustainability–a topic many don’t consider as often as they should, is an uphill battle. We chat with Anna Haotanto, CEO of The New Savvy, a financial, investments & career platform for women on how she’s empowering one woman at a time to achieve style confidence, encourage new ventures, and find financial happiness through education, media & conferences in the region.
Watch Anna share about her entrepreneurial journey:
Style Theory: Anna, truth be told–financial topics are not the most exciting topics for most women. With a high avoidance of the topic, how did the inspiration come about for The New Savvy to thrive in this space?
Anna Haotanto: Over the years, my female friends have approached me to share with them on how to invest, how to open a securities account, which loan makes sense, the difference between a bond and a bond fund. Truth be told, even as someone trained in Finance, I don’t want to read yet another stock picks or technical analysis.
As a woman, I want to know how smart financial management can impact my life and how relevant it is to my needs. I want something I can relate to, something that can inspire and motivate me.
A good product is useless if there are no users. How do I get the word out? How do I market TheNewSavvy.com to ensure that more women are aware that my product exists?
Most importantly, this difficulty had been in my mind non-stop since I embarked on this journey – How do I make women more interested in financial literacy?
A clear focus and direction on what you want to achieve. A detailed plan on how you are going to achieve those goals. Focus on important objectives instead of glorified achievements. Don’t compare yourself with others. Only do it to improve your offering.
Be very tight on finances, spend lesser than you budgeted because you always need more money.
You started The New Savvy in 2015, creating a team of women for women. Looking back, what were the highlights of starting your own business?
I’ve met many strangers at different events who told me that they read and LOVE The New Savvy. Many women wrote to me, sharing with me their lives and financial situations. Most women I knew always tell me that they know financial knowledge is important and they have wanted to learn but kept procrastinating. So when they know about The New Savvy, they are more motivated to be in charge of their finances.
The other day I was giving a talk, and a lady said “The New Savvy is exactly what I am looking for. My dad is retrenched, my mom is sick, and my family is in a dire financial situation. I need to learn how to be better at my finances.” I literally teared up in front of her.
Every feedback and sharing is precious to me as they are my motivation when I am thinking of giving up. I hope to keep empowering women financially.
One of the core vision of The New Savvy is to achieve financial happiness. How does financial happiness look like for the modern woman?
She is happy and positive, mindful of business sustainability and knows how to approach challenges differently. She will be patient, humble to learn from others, eager and comfortable to venture into new environments. Women with financial happiness will advocate for innovation without references, possess the willingness to learn new skills and has the courage to do what she believes in.
What were your struggles of being a female entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur is not easy. I struggled a lot, right from the beginning My background was pure Finance and Banking. I was clueless about developing a website, producing content, employing digital marketing, and publishing. But I knew it was something I wanted to do and HAD to do. It was a desire that couldn’t be ignored any longer.
I did everything from scratch myself. I looked around for website developers and researched on websites. I learnt how websites are arranged and how they worked. I did a short market survey on what is lacking regarding women financial education and what women will like to learn more.
I took up a Digital Marketing course and learnt how to utilise tools like Google Analytics, Search console and understood the terms.
Was the market ready to accept The New Savvy from the get-go?
At The New Savvy team, we focused on having original content that is engaging, fun and relevant. I was very sure that we didn’t want to be another financial site which teaches you to make 20x in a week. I wanted The New Savvy to be relatable to women, so they won’t be intimidated by Finance.
We have also produced our own Retirement and Mortgage calculators that are fun and easy to use.
There were a few difficulties:
One, when I shared the idea with people, most of them dismissed me thinking that it’s just another blog. Or, they think that I am limiting myself by focusing only on women. Many told me not to make it as broad to ensure that we get more website hits.
Second, coming from a finance background with very decent earning power, it’s difficult to turn into an entrepreneur. I was giving up a good five-figure income and some people told me not to be naïve and “get a real job”. That affected my morale.
For a long time, I was wondering if I am just impetuous or silly. Should I just continue earning money and be in banking? There’s societal pressure, especially when you don’t know what’s going to happen and I am doing this mostly to help other women.
Third, I wasn’t trained for this. It was an uphill struggle for me. I ended up working till 4 am every day. Most of my close ones were concerned and told me not to overwork. I think I made every mistake that shouldn’t be made. But that’s life, isn’t it? You falter, but you pick yourself up.
What are the business expansions for The New Savvy in 2019?
The New Savvy is currently Asia’s leading financial, investments and career platform for women. Our bold vision is to empower 100 million women to achieve financial happiness. We deliver high-quality content through education, media and conferences. We just launched an e-learning platform, personal finance planning app and e-commerce store. We are currently in Singapore and Hong Kong and Philippines. We are focusing on these few verticals:
1. Conferences – Learning & Connections:
The New Savvy flagship conference, The Future is Female, is an experiential carnival for women to learn, make meaningful connections and enjoy themselves. Inspiring thought leaders, leading investment professionals, respected business leaders, and industry disruptors to share investment, financial and career insights. We will focus on being valuable resources, while at the same time pushing boundaries and igniting change.
2. Personal Finance app:
A personalized financial management tool to set financial goals, master budgets & expenditure and gain a better understanding of investment styles.
3. eLearning Platform:
Our proprietary courses are clear, engaging and practical. They are designed by leading financial experts who are unbiased in their advice. Courses include easy-to-follow exercises and worksheets. They are intentionally modular to ensure that you pay for only what you need, in line with our ethos of providing maximum value to our community.
A haven for our community to share The New Savvy’s ideals. Collectables include posters, caps, notebooks, cards & more.
What’s the one advice you’d like to share with the Women of Style Theory?
The idea is to start early, learn and get comfortable with investing.
Many people tend to overthink or procrastinate by saying that they will invest when they have a certain sum of money. That shouldn’t be the way. You should start as early, even if it’s a small sum. Do it consistently to enjoy the benefits of compounding and dollar cost averaging.
Empower yourself financially through education and knowledge. Don’t be afraid, don’t invest blindly and never put your future or finances in someone else’s hands.
Know your objectives – what are your financial goals? Most people don’t even know what they want, it’s hard to work for something when you have no idea what it is. Most of us have career goals – we want to get promoted or achieve certain milestones in life. But we don’t focus on what and where we want to be financially.
Know the difference between income, value and growth investing. Then, find out what your investing style is and what you are comfortable with. This makes it easier to pick investments that suit your needs.
Don’t invest in anything you do not understand.
You are an inspiring woman to our #WomenOfStyleTheory community. Who inspires you?
My mom is the kindest person I know, and love deeply! She has always taught me always to be humble and be willing to learn. Exercise often and take care of yourself. Be kind and have lots of fun!
She recently overcame breast cancer and is an advocate for all patients and survivors. She’s truly inspiring!
You’re a strong advocate of financial education and women to have their own wealth. How has this influence the life choices you’ve made to date?
I actually spend much lesser now! I am very careful with how I spend my money now. When I was in banking, I used to splurge on material items. Now that I am an entrepreneur, I have less disposable income. I plan my budget carefully and use my passive income as a supplement to my retirement nest egg.
I think I’ve been very lucky. I have a lot of mentors that have taught me. They teach me about life, work, finance and money. When I have a problem in business, I ask my advisors who will give me valuable advice. Whenever I need help, I approach them. If I have a question about investments, I ask my mentor in fund management.
I think it’s important to seek out people, experts and even friends and learn from them every day.
How do you see yourself making a positive impact in the world?
I’ve always wanted to help people and finance is the best way I know how to. Women and children are my pet causes. I’m passionate about financial literacy and how it can transform lives. This feeds my soul, and the rewards are probably intangible, so I will like to be remembered for that.
You seem to have it all–running a successful business and doing so stylishly! Which styles are you currently into?
My style is feminine, simple and fun! An easy go-to style is simple, easy to wear items, like currently, I am into shift dresses that can bring me through day and night.
But if I have to get into it, I’ve always been into dresses – I’ve about 600+ dresses. But I also like edgy pieces like leather jackets. Now, as I need something easy and practical while still dressing to how I am feeling. There are days where I want to dress up… and days where I just want to hide in comfortable, grab-and-go style.
What do you like about Style Theory subscription?
I like that I can have unlimited choices and enjoy the hassle-free service. It’s optimally efficient for someone as obsessed with efficiency as me!
Honestly, I am time-strapped and I hardly go to the malls anymore! I don’t want to browse and try on and waste time. Looking online helps me as I have unlimited choices.
Also, it’s good for events that I don’t need to keep spending $300-500 on a dress that I hardly wear… and saves closet space! 🙂
What’s one style you’ve always wanted to try but never got the chance to?
Poufy sleeves, androgynous styles! I’d like to rock a sexy blazer with a lacy bra to a formal event!
Join Anna and the #WomenofStyleTheory on the Fashion Rental Revolution! Rent from the Infinite Wardrobe and explore new styles for every phase in your life.