By Cindy Batchelor, Business Executive General Manager, NAB
I’ve been at nab for 12 years now and we’ve done a lot but there is always more to do. Supporting women to realise their potential energises me enormously.
As Australia’s largest business bank, we see the contribution that business makes to our economy and the impact business owners are having at a grass roots level. We have thousands of female customers who are running their own businesses and so many more mothers, sisters, partners, daughters and grandmothers who are integral to the successful operation of the business. They often manage the books and the cash! And have a significant influence over investment decisions and growth. They also play a vital role in creating jobs for many Australians. Women play a critical in our society but we also want to ensure that they are looking after themselves and developing their financial literacy and security.
I stand before you today as a proud product of a single mum who raised four children on her own. When my parents divorced, my mum was 27 years old with four children under nine years and no work experience or professional qualifications. My father walked away and we didn’t see him again for 16 years. My mum had to develop survival skills pretty quickly – she worked as a waitress at night while completing her Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws degrees. She learned to manage money as she had to look after our family on her own. This was in the US in the 1970s and I distinctly remember helping my mum count her waitressing tips every day after school so we could do the grocery shopping. Maybe this is where my career in banking first started!
I know this had a profound effect on me as getting an education and developing financial independence was a ticket out of poverty for my mum. I now find myself over 40 years later running a big business but also as a sole parent to two beautiful teenage boys – my husband was tragically killed two years ago in a paragliding accident.
You just never know what curve ball life is going to throw at you. I am thankful that I have built a level of financial independence and awareness that now enables me to care for myself and my boys not only emotionally but financially.
In retirement, my mum rings me about once a fortnight from Queensland to let me know what’s happening on the share market and what Bloomberg is saying. It is no longer a survival skill for her but a labour of love.
This is why I am passionate about empowering women to build their financial skills and confidence so they can be the best they can be.
And this passion is why I’m proud to be involved in NAB’s new program for women, Start Counting. Start Counting is designed to help empower Australian women to build strong money and life habits, benefiting their overall well being.
The program was born from an understanding of the increasingly important role women play in economic decision making and the financial inequality many women still face today. Young women of 25 today are likely to earn almost 50% less during their lifetime than their male counterparts unless something changes – leaving her at risk of poverty in retirement. Making financial and life advice affordable and accessible is one step in the change journey. Start Counting can give them tools to design the life they really want.
At NAB, we believe in the power of women and we’re very proud of our partnership with Good Shepherd Microfinance. Together we are creating real change in our community.