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Shannon Simmons: From Bay Streeter To Barter Babe To Financial Superhero

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If you read my last article, you will know I am on a one-woman mission to change the perception of the word "millennial." I've heard it associated with negative words like "selfish," "privileged" and "under educated" too many times. 

So for my next trick, over the next few weeks, I will present you with six absolutely amazing millennial-aged professionals changing the game and breaking barriers in their professions. 

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Meet Shannon Simmons
Financial Planner & Founder of The New School of Finance
Instagram: @shanleesimmons
Twitter: @shanleesimmons

Shannon is a CFP, a CIM and the founder of the New School of Finance. What does that all mean? She's a total trailblazer in the Canadian financial planning industry; winner of Flare's 30 Under 30 and Notable's 2014 Best In Finance. She is taking the stuffiness and jargon out of finance. Her focus is helping fellow millennials understand and manage their money and prepare for the future.   

Caitie Drewery: So what is the New School of Finance all about?

Shannon Simmons: We offer awesome, accessible and affordable financial planning for personal finances and businesses! We do this through fee-only financial planning and online financial courses. Basically, we make financial planning rad.

CD: What's your business origin story? How on earth did you end up starting your own company?

SS: Well, I started on Bay Street working with high net worth clients at a private investment management shop. I liked my job, but something was definitely missing. After the 2008/2009 crash, my peers were wondering where they could go to get financial advice since they didn't meet a lot of investment management minimums. Sadly, there wasn't anywhere they could get custom financial advice that was unbiased for an affordable price.

So, I quit my high-rolling Bay street job and decided to do a one-year projected called The Barter Babes Project. For this one year, I gave financial planning consults to over 300 women in exchange for a bartered good or service. Absolutely no money was allowed to switch hands. This was an attempt to make financial planning fun, affordable and accessible to young women. After that year I was broke, but hooked. I loved working with this demographic and being an entrepreneur. So, with that New School of Finance was born in 2011 and the rest is history!

CD: And your Barter Babes project got some serious media attention too. A huge part of the reason the media loved your story was because you were bringing a different perspective to the financial world. Do you think being a millennial, with a millennial perception, was valuable to your business?

SS: The financial landscape is changing and conventional financial advice is becoming dated. A lot of the rules that applied for older generations don't apply to us anymore on the whole. The fact that I am a Millennial and my peers are Millennial, I hear and experience the true economic realities for this generation. This gives me an edge because I get to make a financial plan that takes the new normal into account.

CD: What has been your biggest success moment?

SS: The launch of the New School of Finance online school was the biggest thing ever. It was months and months of blood sweat and tears and my team worked so hard. Our first student enrolled within 10 minutes of launch and it was the most exciting thing ever. There was a lot of dancing and jumping and hugging.

CD: Any advice for a budding business grad looking to jumpstart their own career?

SS: Say yes to every opportunity until you find your path, you never know where you may end up.

Being a young female can be tough in the financial industry. Finding female mentors who are in leadership positions is key to success. These women can help you navigate the landscape and offer support for your career path. Also, be prepared to work your butt off.

CD: What does the word "millennial" mean to you?

SS: I proudly identify as Millennial but I do think the word is being a bit overused now. To me, Millennials are a group who face totally new economic realities and have experienced an unprecedented shift in technology at a young age. We have very unique advantages and challenges. It's exciting and terrifying to be a Millennial.

CD: Bonus question - what show are you binge watching right now?

SS: Jessica Jones. It's fantastic. Netflix is killing it.

The Shannon Simmons Crib Sheet - My Top Takeaways

Shannon is so inspiring. And like so many millennials, she wasn't satisfied with the opportunities and direction of her industry. So she picked up her machete and starting cutting her own path. She's a great role model for those of you finding themselves at a loss in their industry. Here's the 4 quotes that stuck out most to me:

"A lot of the rules that applied for older generations don't apply to us anymore on the whole. The fact that I am a Millennial and my peers are Millennial, I hear and experience the true economic realities for this generation."

"Finding female mentors who are in leadership positions is key to success. These women can help you navigate the landscape and offer support for your career path. Also, be prepared to work your butt off."

"We have very unique advantages and challenges. It's exciting and terrifying to be a Millennial."

"Say yes to every opportunity until you find your path, you never know where you may end up."

Next, meet a real "fairy beer mother." Introducing the lovely and whip-smart Community Manager Kendra Nicholson, the woman behind Steam Whistle's online content to their ever-growing community of fans.

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