“To me, emotional and financial wellbeing are connected.”

Multi-award-winning financial protection specialist Kathryn Knowles is the co-founder of Cura Insurance, host of The Practical Protection Podcast, and a passionate supporter of numerous charities. Kathryn runs Protection Insurance in Practice training that’s CPD-accredited by the IFW.

Kathryn was recommended for the IFW Showcase by member Charlie Goodman, who says: “Kathryn is doing some wonderful things to support people finding it hard to get protection and she’s also helping support other advisers understand more about protection.”

We love her holistic and empathetic approach. Here, Kathryn shares with us the strengths of having a mind that works differently, and how personal experiences motivate her to strive for a world based on fairness.

What’s your happiest memory?

I can’t pick just one! My most recent happiest memory was having a little weekend away in York with Alan and our boys. It was the first time in a while that I have properly switched off from work and it felt amazing. There’s currently an immersive Van Gogh experiences in the centre and I loved it, it was so beautiful and calming.

What one thing do you wish you’d been told about finance when you were 15?

I come from a family where paying off your mortgage is the ultimate goal and to do it as quickly as possible. I now know that this isn’t necessarily the best use of spare money that you have. I focused on paying off our mortgage as soon as possible, as a heart and brain decision, but mainly as my emotional wellbeing. I wish I had known about the many different aspects of financial planning when I was younger, so that I could have started a holistic plan from the start.

What attracted you to financial protection as a career?

It was when I found it difficult to get my own insurance due to my health. It sucked. I tend to look at the world based upon fairness and if something isn’t fair I want to correct it. My situation made me want to help others that are facing are hard time to get insurance, and to be a middle person that can soften the messages that the insurance world can put out about a person’s risk.

We noticed that you have a PhD in Sustainable Business Management. What do you feel this brings to your work in finance?

A couple of months ago I was diagnosed with autism and it confirmed to me that my mind works in different ways to others. I see patterns in management practices and communications, that other people don’t always see. A big part of my research was focused on the power of bottom-up change and informal networking. These approaches have helped me to build relationships across our industry that are helping to develop real change for consumers, not just in my own businesses but for all who are advising in the protection insurance space.

What prompted you to join the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing?

I like the idea of communities that get together to share best practice, with real examples that can be shared and the ability to bounce ideas off each other. Being in the North you can sometimes feel isolated from a lot of the finance world and the regional meet ups are a great way to know that we are not alone.

What drew you to financial wellbeing in the first place?

During my PhD a key area was cybernetics – not robots, but the interconnections of systems. It led me to do some reading on Eastern philosophies, especially taoism. I’m definitely not an expert and it was a while ago that I did the reading, but the concept that everything is connected fits perfectly with how I see and feel things around me. To me, your emotional, financial, mental, physical and I’m sure many other forms of wellbeing are connected.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt about financial wellbeing since joining?

I’m not an IFA and I think you can sometimes get the impression that maximising investments and pensions is the be all and end all; making money is the goal. What I have loved about this community is seeing so many financial advisers saying, no, money is obviously nice but there is much more to life than that.

How has the way you work with clients changed since you joined?

As a company we are becoming more focused upon the importance of income protection. Without it all financial plans can crumble. We have always been advocates of this cover but we have a real focus to promote it even more and have changed our compliance processes to encourage more discussions of this vital insurance.

Who or what is your favourite (general) wellbeing guru, podcast or book? 

A friend of mine sent me Vek King’s Good Vibes Good Life book during lockdown and something about it really hit home. The main theme is accepting that people ‘vibrate’ on different levels and that sometimes your frequency will and won’t work well with others. It’s a different way of saying you’re not going to be everyone’s best buddy, but the way that it was worded really helped me to almost forgive myself for not finding social interactions the easiest of things.

What are you doing to secure your own financial wellbeing?

We are really focused upon putting as much into our pensions as possible, whilst also keeping a nice balance of enjoying life now. “Even my kids have pensions now. I think my youngest was one when we set his up.”