Do you know what financial fitness looks like? Well, join the club! Luckily, Shannon McLay is on a mission to educate women about their finances and feel empowered to reach their financial goals. Recognizing the intense connection this generation has to the importance and effects of a regular physical fitness routine, Shannon brilliantly founded The Financial Gym, where members pay a small monthly membership fee to work with a personal financial trainer, or “BFF” (Best Financial Friend), who helps them set goals, create a plan for accomplishing them, and support them along the way.
Who inspires you?
I am constantly inspired by all types of women. As a divorced, single, working mom of a teenage boy, every day is filled with stresses and challenges. When I see women accomplishing what I feel is impossible, it inspires my work as a mother and a boss.
What do you hope to inspire in other women?
I hope that through the services my company provides, I inspire other women to dream big and have the courage to pursue and achieve their goals.
Is there an example you can share of how another woman has lifted you up?
Sadly, for most of my career, I didn’t have a strong female mentor or support person; however, I desperately wanted one. Because of that, I decided to be the change I wanted to see. I have strived to mentor and motivate women in all stages of my career, specifically the women who work with me at The Financial Gym. When I started the company, I implemented a formal mentorship program early so women had an outlet to turn to when they needed help or advice. I currently employ over 30 women and it’s important for me to ensure they feel supported, encouraged and uplifted every single day.
How has confidence played a role in your life?
I started my professional career when I was 22 working on a trading floor with mostly men. I then became a financial advisor where 85% of my colleagues were men and when I finally raised venture capital funds for The Financial Gym, I had to approach mostly male investors, so yes, confidence has played an integral role in my professional life. However, there have been many times over the past 19 years where I’ve questioned myself and my “place at the table.” At the end of the day, I’ve had to rely on my confidence in myself to get through moments when my expertise was in question or times of self-doubt.
What's the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is being able to dictate the type of company I run and our office culture, which is one filled with compassion and empathy for both our clients and employees. I feel proud that I’ve been able to create a space in the personal financial services industry where women feel truly valued and where they learn to “know their worth.” In financial services, this is typically unheard of.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of our client’s success stories. To date, we’ve worked with over 3,000 clients and seeing people achieve the financial goals they never thought possible makes me feel overwhelming gratitude towards my employees and the work we do. Knowing that our team gave those clients the financial plan to pave the way to their financial freedom makes me so proud of what I’ve built.
What has been the most useful advice you've received?
Every situation is a learning opportunity. Even if you’re in a job or a relationship that’s not right for you, you’re learning something in that moment from that experience. No matter how painful - these situations have the opportunity to bring tremendous personal growth. Nothing is unfixable. So many clients come to us with negative bank balances and time and time again I see them dig themselves out of debt and create strong, sustainable financial futures. My advice is to always make sure you are learning and growing from every experience.
What is your motto or mantra?
She believed she could, so she did.
What are you most excited for next?
I raised over $5MM in venture capital money to expand The Financial Gym. We recently hired 22 new employees - we went from 23 employees to 45! We also expanded to additional floors in our NYC headquarters.
We’re on track for early 2020 to expand The Financial Gym’s physical locations into markets outside of New York (hello LA and DC!), providing access to more people across the country to help them on their financial journeys.
[Photo by Yumi Matsuo]