‘I took a confidence knock for a while in my own capabilities’


Sally Precious- Ward Together wif

In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Sally Precious Ward, Intermediary Sales Manager at Together.

Sally has over 25 years experience across a range of roles in financial services including as a financial adviser, debt restructuring manager and business development manager, where she feels she has found her home in the industry.

Whilst the majority of the roles Sally has worked in are considered sales positions, she believes they are relationship management roles, with the sales coming as a by-product of successful relationships with people.

What brought you into financial services?

I left school without a clue of what industry I wanted to work in. After studying a business management course at University, I got straight distinctions in all the mathematical subjects so working with numbers seemed a practical choice.

A position at a local independent financial advice firm as a pensions administrator was advertised and off I went into the world of financial services.

What do you think makes a successful leader? And in particular women leaders?

Leadership is a continuation of great relationship management. Leaders make their team feel valued and put their needs first. In turn, this makes you want to do the best for them.

The ability to see someone’s strengths, encourage their qualities to be shared to the wider team and coach rather than criticise, is definitely a skill not all leaders hold.

I guess that’s the difference between a leader and a successful leader.

What are the biggest barriers you have faced in your career in financial services?

For a while I worked in a very toxic team environment where none of the above took place.

I had colleagues that would trample on you to make themselves look good, taking credit for themselves for work you had done.

I took a confidence knock for a while in my own capabilities.

Fortunately, as with most things in the world, there is goodness to be found in every situation and mine came in shape of a colleague who I now consider a dear friend.

We were a great support network for each other.

Hopefully she will feature soon in your Women in Finance interviews!

If you could tell your younger self one thing you know about business now, what would it be? 

Don’t judge yourself and compare against others.  Everyone is on their own journey so just concentrate on your own progression.

What’s your own personal mantra?

Be kind. Simple as that.

When anyone ever refers to me as kind, I feel a total sense of achievement.

What do you think is key for finding a successful work-life balance?

Remember what is most important to you in life and make time for it.

Whilst I will always have the work ethos and want to be thought of highly at work, it is more important that friends and family think highly of me.

It has taken me a long time to really believe that I am allowed to do things for myself and prioritise these.

I love exercise but it was always the first thing to be dropped when life got busy. Now I ensure I have time for maintaining a healthy body and healthy mind.

What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?

Every person plays a part in the process.

Whilst there will always be a classification of roles, some deemed more important or worth more money than others, every single role plays a vital part in the overall process and I therefore have total respect for each and every one of them.

What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?

Continue to surround yourself with people that will inspire you and people you can learn from.

You are also lucky as a female to have a natural quality – to nurture. This will make you a good leader rather than a manager!

What do you think is holding women back?

Self-belief.  Females are still the minority in financial services and there are plenty of voices that shout loud out there.

However, just because someone is shouting about their achievements, doesn’t mean they are better than you.

So many of my female colleagues are just quietly bossing it every day but just don’t vocalise it in the same way. Theybelieve they’re less successful as a result.

Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?

Absolutely, you only have to look at the number of females in executive positions to see that this is the case.

I’m fortunate to work for a company that is making great progress in promoting females into senior roles.

We now have 30% of women in senior positions and have clear ambitions to build on that

What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter? 

I’m certainly proud to work for a company that is working towards gender balance.

It is one of our five strands of the Together Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy and we have made great progress in the year Sept 2021 to Sept 2022 so I’m expecting some further progression when the latest update comes out.

How do we encourage more women into financial services? 

I am part of the working generation that is making the change.

Demonstrating and sharing the achievements of females in the industry will make younger women feel empowered to do the same.

It is amazing how many female empowerment networks there are available with newevents being created all the time.

These are just as vital for retaining women already working – and excelling – in the industry.

The gender pay gap is only second worst to the construction industry. What can organisations do to address this?

I think organisations starting to do their part on this.

They have a responsibility to report now so this highlights the reprehensible data on the pay gap.

I would also hope that companies will not want to continue to pay over inflated salaries for mediocre performances.

It is also now up to us to take some responsibility and ask for the salary we deserve and know our own worth. 

What is your biggest achievement to date?

I have a few. I once consumed a whole cup of tea by purely dunking biscuits alone.

That was a proud day.

On a serious note, when my kids do something kind, I feel like I achieved something great in my parenting in educating them.

For their birthday’s this year, they asked their friends to bring donations to the food bank instead of presents to their party.

What a gorgeous thought process for a child.