Lesley Mackintosh

It is easy to think that in the current economic environment that every company is struggling. Even if you are reluctant to accept the constant stream of bad news on TV, radio and in the newspapers without question you could still be forgiven for thinking that the situation must be adversely affecting all companies in the financial sector. Not so.

Independent Women was Scotland’s first IFA firm dedicated to offering friendly, professional financial advice for women. At the heart of the business is the assertion that men and women have widely differing financial needs.

“This doesn’t mean ‘pink and fluffy’, it means that we set a premium on values and work with companies who have friendly, responsive staff and that we offer advice to women that will make a difference to their lives.


I met with Lesley at the offices in Edinburgh to find out more about her success and that of Independent Women.

“I started in the financial services industry in Glasgow in 1989 and found that I really enjoyed figures and financial planning. In 1990 I joined Education Institute Scotland, the largest teaching union in Scotland, who had decided to set up their own financial services division. After a while the work there became restrictive as they were tied to specific service providers so I decided to leave and set up my own business.”

“This was in 1993, not a great time to be starting out on my own – and I was a single Mum. I called the business Teachers Independant Financial Services and the clients were mainly women and mainly primary school teachers. The business grew steadily and became Edinburgh Investment Consultants (EIC), to reflect the fact that by that time we were advising a broader clientele than just teachers.”

“In around 1995-1996 there were a lot of discussions about women breaking through the glass ceiling and it became clear that women had different needs from men when it came to planning their finances. Independent Women was born specifically to address these needs.”

“The Six Stages of Women is a programme that we have developed to support women throughout their lives as their situation changes. We all start off young and get older, but what we choose to do in between is ever more flexible; we may move in and out of education or employment, even marriages, childrearing and geographies. Each change impacts psychologically, emotionally and, crucially, economically. The more flexibility and control women have over their finances, the more readily they can make the necessary adjustments to suit.”

“At Independent Women, we build our female focused service proposition on a deep understanding of what it means to be a woman, irrespective of relationship status or degree of wealth. Our aim is simple and consistent – to help our clients make the best decisions they can about how and where to deploy their cash – whether for spending, saving, investing or donating. Our unique ‘Six Stages of Women’,

  • Education
  • Business, Careers & Development
  • Bricks & Mortar
  • Managing Relationships
  • Supporting Dependants
  • Retirement Planning,

acknowledges every woman’s journey – its twists and turns, ebbs and flows are natural (if not predictable), but they all need to be managed financially as well as emotionally and that’s where our expert advice becomes an essential part of the ride.”

“EIC and Independent Women are now run in parallel, serving over 4,000 clients, and demand is still growing. While the client base is predominantly Scottish we work with clients from across the UK and from overseas drawn from all sectors, inmdustries, age ranges and personal circumstances. In order to meet this growing demand for our services we have opened offices in Glasgow and will open offices in London within the next 24 months.”

EIC achieved the accolade of runner up in The Scotsman’s IFA of the Year Competition 2010/2011 and Lesley has been appointed as one of just 50 Femal Entrepreneur Ambassadors.

It was a delight to meet with Lesley and here at the3rdimagazine we are able to bring you advice from Independent Women every month, from Strategic Director, Clare Logie.

2 Comments on Lesley Mackintosh

  1. Fantastic to hear of a successful business led by a woman, being women-focussed. Based on my own experieience, I cannot help but wonder if at least part of the success is down to the fact that this is such a male-orientated sector which does not feel very women-friendly.

    • Anne – we think you’re exactly right. The reason for setting up IW in 1997 was that Lesley felt there was a gap in the market for FS delivered in a way that women would want to buy and experience them. In my HBOS days, we tried constantly to influence the choice of language in advertising and marketing, corporate hospitality – even after dinner speakers (please not Alex Ferguson or Clive Woodward again etc etc!) It’s often these less overtly sexist, traditional choices that covertly create the un-women-friendly nature of so many of our comemrcial services. At IW, we have male clients too, but the style is aimed towards what women would want – if men want it too, that’s great, but we’re starting from a different place…

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