‘If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you’


Saffron Abbot YBFA WIF

In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Saffron Abbot, Commercial Finance Broker at YB Financial Advisory.

Saffron embarked on her journey in the property sector back in 2012, beginning as a Property Administrator and climbing the ranks to become a Senior Executive Property Manager.

Saffron transitioned into the dynamic world of finance, adding the titles of Business Development Manager with a specialist lender and is currently a Commercial Finance Broker at YB Financial Advisory Ltd specialising in Bridging Finance, BTL Mortgages, Invoice and Asset Finance making her a versatile professional with a unique blend of expertise in both industries.

What brought you into financial services?

I’ve always had a passion for property, and even though I wanted a change and a new challenge, I still wanted to put my hard-earned skills from years in the property industry to good use.

It was a natural move for me, and I quickly realised that these skills transferred seamlessly into the world of financial services.

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

Success requires drive, resilience, self-belief, hard work, and adaptability.

A great leader also possesses a clear vision, effective communication skills, and leads by example with integrity.

Empowering team members and being open to diversity makes our industry even better.

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

Personally, the biggest challenge was not having a background in financial services, especially compared to the other team members, where most of them all had long-standing experience in the industry.

It was a steep learning curve but I’m lucky that I am very adaptable.

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

The importance of adaptability and a growth mindset.

The industry is constantly evolving, and the ability to adapt to change, learn from failures, and embrace new opportunities is invaluable.

Stay open to continuous learning because it can lead to long-term success in the world of business

What’s your own personal mantra?

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

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

Prioritise your well-being, maintain boundaries, and continuously strive for the perfect balance between your work and personal life.

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

Effective leadership is not about having all the answers, it’s about empowering your team to find solutions together this leads to more innovative and sustainable solutions while creating a positive and productive work environment.

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

  • Define your career goals and where you see yourself in the future
  • Stay up-to-date with industry trends and seek opportunities for professional development.
  • Have confidence and believe in your potential, abilities and value.
  • Build a strong professional network
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up and promote your achievements.
  • Don’t shy away from challenging tasks they can be opportunities for growth and learning.
  • Support other women in your field.
  • Don’t be afraid to assert authority when necessary.

What do you think is holding women back?

In the world of finance, deeply ingrained stereotypes and biases concerning gender roles and capabilities wield significant power, affecting decisions about hiring, promotions, and the very expectations that shape our workplaces.

The lack of visible female role models or leaders who can relate to similar backgrounds can be disheartening, ultimately constraining the ambitions of women.

Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?

Certainly, certain individuals may encounter obstacles when striving to reach high-ranking leadership roles, primarily stemming from systemic barriers.

Despite notable advancements in numerous regions aimed at shattering this proverbial glass ceiling, enduring challenges persist.

What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter? 

The Women in Finance Charter is a valuable tool in the ongoing journey toward greater gender diversity and equality in the financial services sector.

However, its success ultimately depends on the commitment and actions of the firms that sign up for it.

How do we encourage more women into financial services? 

There are many ways we can encourage more women into financial services by starting to promote financial education and awareness among young girls and women by encouraging them to explore opportunities in finance from an early age.

Highlighting successful women in financial services as role models will allow visibility of women in leadership positions that can inspire others to follow suit.

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

To achieve pay equality, organizations should enforce equal pay policies and maintain transparency in pay practices, including sharing salary information.

Regular pay audits should be conducted to correct any gender-based pay disparities promptly.

Encouraging women to pursue leadership roles and providing bias recognition training for decision-makers are essential steps.

Closing the gender pay gap requires commitment at all organizational levels, offering fairness and the attraction of top talent while promoting inclusivity and productivity.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

Well, I’d say it’s the bold decision to depart from a decade-long career in property and venture into the finance industry.

It’s been an incredible journey, and I feel truly fortunate to have achieved success as both a Business Development Manager and a Commercial Finance Broker.