The psychology of money
As a psychological science student, Victoria Devine never dreamed she’d one day own and run a financial services firm and be the voice of Australia’s number one money podcast.
When Victoria was looking for university degrees she was focused on a career in health or psychology. Finance wasn’t on her radar.
“I really enjoy working with people and understanding how they think and what that meant,” she said.
She chose to study psychological science at ACU, going on to do an honours year.
“Psychological science gave me the breadth of experience I wanted to have. It was really important for me to have a degree that was recognised by the Australian Psychological Society so I could go on to become a registered psychologist if I chose.
“When I graduated, I started working in organisational psychology as a cultural engagement consultant.”
What she soon discovered was that money appeared to be the root cause of many cultural issues.
“I was going into organisations and asking staff why they weren’t engaged and nine times out of 10 they’d be like, ‘Pay us! Pay us more!’” she said.
Even then, she knew having more money wasn’t necessarily the answer.
“In reality, money management is more valuable than having more money.
“More money doesn’t actually mean better finances and it doesn’t actually mean a better living outcome. You need to know how to manage money properly.
“I needed to have those conversations with my clients, but I wanted to have educated responses, so I ended up doing some study in finance.”
It was a lightbulb moment for Victoria, “I realised pretty quickly that financial advice was where I could have more of an impact but still use my psych degree.
“Money is behavioural and if you can really tap into what people feel and how they make decisions you can have a long-lasting impact.”
The birth of Zella
Victoria’s first step was to establish Zella, a financial services company for high net-worth individuals. She started the company in 2015 and named it after her grandmother.
“I started it not thinking it would be massive. I thought it would just be me, as a sole trader.” She now has a team of financial planners and paraplanners and is growing faster than her office space will allow.
She’s on the money
Victoria’s other business, She’s on the Money, was a gradual evolution from a series of workshops she began running for Zella.
“I was going into businesses to teach women about why they needed to care about super and investment or what their insurance should look like. From there it became a Facebook community, and then a podcast. When the podcast blew up, She’s on the Money became a business in its own right,” she said.
And blow up it did. It’s consistently the top ranked
business podcast in Australia and in the top 10 most popular podcasts in
She’s on the Money is now its own distinct business from
Zella, giving millennial women the financial literacy, advice, tools, and
confidence to take control of their money and determine their financial future.
Millennials and money
And it’s easy to see why there has been such demand for
advice, assistance, and education.
While women aged 25 to 40 are the fastest
growing wealth demographic, money remains their number one cause of their
stress (Australian wellbeing survey Australian Psychology Society 2014). This
generation is saddled with greater university debt than previous generations,
they will live longer and require greater
retirement funds, and they are still paid on average 13.4
per cent less than men. Then there is the cost of housing (both renting and
buying) which is rising much faster than wages.
“Housing property prices are pretty crazy, a lot of millennials
I’m seeing are paying half of their income away to rent. It really stunts them
when saving for a home or saving for investment.”
But there are positives, says Victoria. “We also have so
many other opportunities. Fifty years ago you’d go to work, come home at 5pm
and that was it. Now we can find side hustles to generate additional income. We
can start a candle making business or put our copywriting skills on Airtasker.
I think the opportunities for millennials are endless.”
Millennials are also far more financially savvy than
previous generations. They are 37 per cent less likely to own a credit card,
they are more likely to save and to budget than their parents and they are far
more likely to use online tools to track their spending and compare prices when
Saying ‘no’ to the pigeonhole
One thing Victoria has learnt on her journey from psychology
to finance is that we should follow the things that interest us, not the things
we think we are trained for.
argue that today, by working as a financial advisor, I use more of my psych
degree than when I was working in organisational psychology.”
“I wish I could go back to Year 12 Victoria and say, ‘It
does not matter what you study at uni, it matters what you’re interested in and
how you apply that’. Any degree has really good transferrable skills into a job.
“When I hire people, I don’t hire them for their skills. I
don’t hire them for the degree they have. These jobs that I’m giving people
didn’t exist five years ago. If you look at my team, none of them have the
degrees that other people in this industry have, except for my financial
“I hire people for their work ethic, their tenacity, and their ability to be
creative and kind. And then I will train them with the skills we need.
“At the end of the day it comes down to creating future
financial success for an entire generation and I need them to be on the same
page as me.”
Interested in a career that can take you anywhere, like
Victoria? Explore our psychological