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AJ Bell announces new partnership with Smart Works to support women gain financial independence

Investment platform AJ Bell has joined forces with Smart Works – a UK registered charity that gives women the confidence they need to secure employment and change the trajectory of their lives. The partnership is part of AJ Bell Money Matters, a campaign to close the gender investment gap of £1.65 trillion in the UK.

In the last 8 years, Smart Works has opened 8 centres nationwide and helped over 20,000 women. At the heart of Smart Works sits a dressing and coaching service designed to help women gain confidence and interview skills.

Referrals for Smart Works are made from job centres, mental health charities, women’s refuges, homeless shelters, the prison service, care services and youth organisations. Smart Works help referred women to get back on their feet by providing all the tools they need to successfully find a job, and in turn, gain financial security.

69% of women helped by Smart Works go on to get a job within one month of their first coaching session. See below for more details on the Smart Works process.

The partnership between AJ Bell and Smart Works has one goal – to help more women achieve financial independence. The programme will include in-person financial education, podcasts, webinars and volunteering by AJ Bell staff at Smart Works events.

An independent study conducted by AJ Bell found that women in the UK have less than half the levels of savings and investments as men. AJ Bell Money Matters is a programme hoping to put this right, through a range of educational materials to help women get to grips with investing. This includes a regular email newsletter, a podcast, a dedicated Instagram account and webinars all designed with female investors in mind.

Baroness Helena Morrissey, AJ Bell’s chair and the woman spearheading the Money Matters campaign, says:

“The AJ Bell Money Matters and Smart Works collaboration is going to be a dynamic partnership and we’re already planning big things. To tackle the gender investing gap, we have to support women when starting their careers, which is where Smart Works make such a difference.”

Kate Stephens, CEO at Smart Works, says:

“Smart Works was born out of a desire to help women find financial independence through job success. It’s fantastic to see the difference the service has made since launching in 2013 and over the next three years we have ambitious plans to double the number of women we’re supporting. This wouldn’t be possible without the support of partners like AJ Bell who are so kindly donating their time and money to make a difference. Through this partnership we’ll be able to reach more women with our service and help them transform their lives.”

The Smart Works process

Each client receives a bespoke dressing consultation with trained volunteers to find a high-quality outfit to wear for her interview. The consultation is free of charge and the clothes are hers to keep.

This is followed by a one-to-one session with an expert coach, where each client receives valuable preparation to help her succeed at interviews.

The majority of women helped by Smart Works get a job within a month and once a client is successful in securing a job, they are welcomed back for a second dressing consultation to receive a capsule wardrobe to last until her first pay cheque. Once they re-enter the workplace, clients are invited to join the Smart Works network, which meets monthly for tailored sessions focused on professional success.

95% of Smart Works’ clients said they left feeling more confident that they would succeed at their next interview.

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