Women In Finance


Abode2 sat down with Karen Blair discussing achieving diversity in business. Karen's professional career began in Clapham, London as a negotiator for Barnard Marcus. From there, her passion for property grew and her experience developed in sales, lettings, property investment and development - all of which were achieved whilst dealing with the sudden loss of her husband and raising two small children.

Wealth Manager - Karen Blair

My experience with solicitors, dealing with my late husband's estate and my subsequent property sales and development transactions, frustrated me with the time it took to resolve the matters.

This personal experience and knowledge inspired me to expand my knowledge further, as I believed I could learn to do this myself, better and quicker. So, I decided to attend Strathclyde University where I graduated as a Residential Conveyancing Paralegal in 2004, and became one of the first paralegals to be registered with the law society of Scotland.

I spent many years helping and advising my clients with major financial decisions including property investment, mortgages, inheritance, wills and trusts. My broad experience and knowledge have been invaluable to my clients, which led me to acquire my own holiday lettings business in Edinburgh. This enabled my career to progress from property investment and legal services, into a fulfilling and successful career in financial services, where I can continue to help guide my clients in all their major life decisions and financial needs.

For me, it means protecting my estate from huge inheritance tax liabilities, and insuring my two boys receive as much of my estate as tax efficiently as possible when I've gone.

Why did you decide to embark on this career path? And why Spain?

Having just read my bio, this should hopefully give you some idea of the type of character and woman I am, in a predominantly all-male industry. For me, my core beliefs in helping my clients drove me (to what I consider to be) the next logical step - which was the field of financial services. My experience has taught me that none of us knows what's next, but being prepared for such an eventuality helped me enormously, and being able to help others, in the same way, gives me a fantastic sense of fulfilment and value. believe it or not, there is a huge demand for female advisors, especially from female clients who feel more comfortable dealing with a female. The reason I chose to pursue this in Spain is simply that, it had always been a desire of mine to retire in Spain. And I still intend to. However, being able to help clients internationally fulfil their hopes and dreams, has enabled me to do easier than expected. Plus, it's a darn sight warmer than Scotland.

Why is financial planning so important?

It's not important, it's imperative. Because life changes. And every change that occurs has a potential impact on your finances, and your plans need to be adapted. In my role, I have encountered many people who because their loved ones didn't make a WIll or succession plan, were distraught at the eventual outcome and dispensing of, for example, their parent's estate.

Without a Will in place, there's no guarantee that assets will be distributed according to wishes. With no inheritance or succession plan, the government. and Authorities in Spain and the UK can, and have, seized a sizeable portion of those assets,

I was extremely thankful that when faced with dealing with the death of my husband at 30 years old, we had the foresight to have Wills written when we were 26 and more importantly - they were up to date.

I simply cannot imagine the upset and stress that not having a Will would have created for me when dealing with the devastation of losing my husband.

Financial planning covers many areas. Which of those areas is you asked about the most?

The areas I am asked the most questions about are as follows. These are predominantly UK ex-pats, who are worried about their income and tax liabilities. 

  • How will my assets in the UK be affected due to Brexit?
  • I am a UK national and now live in a different country. How does this affect my UK pensions asset and savings?
  • How can I protect my estate from Inheritance Tax in the UK and Spain?
  • Where am I liable for tax if my earnings are in the UK, but I live in the EU?

Do you think the demographics of those seeking financial planning have changed?

The demographics for people who see financial advice have changed over the last 12 months. Financial advice has historically been sought by people in the 40+ age bracket. With the growth of industries like technology - which is predominantly young professionals who are now earning large sums of money, most enquiries I have received recently are from young, successful professionals in their early 30s working in the Tech industry. They're conscious of the fact they have accumulated a lot of wealth, have a large surplus income, and want to ensure that they protect and grow this whilst mitigating as much tax as possible to allow them to retire early. I've found that young professionals appreciate the life experience of a mature adviser like myself, as I can highlight areas that have not yet been thought of, or experienced for themselves.

What would you say to someone who is considering seeking help with their finances?

Get it done. No one is ever too young to start. The more you understand about your finances, the better position you are in to make informed decisions. I help my clients consider the imponderables, and plan for their immediate and future needs within a clearly defined pathway that is beneficial to both the client, and their family.


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