It’s been a busy week already for Charlie, and today, rather than working from her home office (aka the kitchen table), she’s heading into the office for a strategy session with clients. It’s warm, and the summer sunshine is already streaming through the window.
As she gets ready for work, she’s making a mental tick list of the things she needs to accomplish today: rally the team for this new creative brief, interview the potential new hire, pick up some birthday cards, nip into the supermarket to grab some dinner, and check out the estate agent site for new listings.
After packing her laptop, notebook and cables into her bag, she picks up her reusable coffee cup from the draining board and her bike helmet, and leaves the house.
Cycling to work is meditative for her - sure, she has to concentrate on the busy London roads, but there is something soothing about the warm breeze on her face. Often on her 30-minute journey, her mind turns to money. It always seemed like a taboo subject growing up, money-management wasn't taught in school and everything she has learned has been self-propelled.
She’s proud of the way that she manages her money - this wasn’t always the case, though. She’d always been cautious, perhaps even risk-averse. She’s saved where possible, always transferring money out into a separate account when payday came around. She knew that passive investing was important, and so a few years ago had set herself up an account with a big, reputable firm and deposited regularly.
The process though, was convoluted, the language opaque, the energy... well, that was non-existent. It felt "safe", but it didn't feel like her money was actually doing anything. She couldn't see what she was investing in when she signed up to the Clean and Green fund, but it had a few company names she recognised.
In Charlie’s world, no one talked about money and definitely not managing their own investments. It always seemed risky - sharp graphs, jargon, flared tempers, Reddit forums and head-in-hands level loss. It was also a space exclusively for men who made a lot of money by doing complicated maths that Charlie wouldn’t understand, even if she cared to.
What she wanted from an investing app was a safe pair of hands that could give her more control and more transparency. So she did some searching in a bid to help her money do more for her, but the apps that came to mind didn’t seem to welcome her.
They were either too complex, too stuffy, too expensive, too male focussed, too opaque, or let you loose in a volatile and frankly overwhelming world.
In a flurry of Googling one weekend, Charlie came across Upside.
This app was welcoming, it provided balance and allowed her to invest in things she cared about - like companies that did good things for the environment or supported society - as well as complete transparency into the stocks in each of the funds.
At first, the thought of really investing was nerve-wracking but Upside guided her, made sure she was comfortable with her risk level and provided monthly updates on how her portfolio was doing, as well as insights into the stocks she owned and any emotional pitfalls she may fall in to.
The fact that she could balance a passive collection of stocks built and managed in-house, away from the big institutions, with single stocks she cared about gave her freedom. With the guardrails provided, she could flourish - learn at her own pace without worrying about catastrophic losses.
For the first time, she had confidence in her money management skills and even felt comfortable talking to her friends and family about her newfound skills. She was investing in things she cared about and building financial freedom and resilience at the same time. It made her feel powerful.
And the fact that she only had to 'properly' think about her money and make decisions once a month was even better. Every time she got paid, the direct debit to her Upside investing account went out a few days later and then she could head into the app, make a few quick, informed decisions on her portfolio and that was it.
As she came to the pedestrianised area, she slowed her bike. She found a spare space on the bike rack outside the coffee shop and parked. She liked this place because, even after the uncertainty of the pandemic, they still recognised her and remembered her order.
She handed her reusable cup over, watching the baristas work their magic, and thought happily to herself that her money was making a difference and adding value to her whilst she was just standing in line for her coffee.