Anna Sofat founded Addidi in 2006 in partnership with her chartered accountant husband, Janardan. She did not wish to emulate the financial services industry, but instead she wanted to transform the management of wealth into something meaningful, rewarding and inspiring – a sustainable business with women at its heart. As a female led business, Addidi is comprised of Addidi Wealth, a wealth boutique for women, which helps them to plan and manage their wealth, and Addidi Enterprise, a women-only club which connects enterprising women with small business as angel investors and non-executives.
“…I don’t personally for example thrive in a hard sales orientated, target focused environment but I work really well where I am allowed to set my own targets. I think this is why some 40% of the women founded / led businesses have a social purpose – our motivations are so much more than just about the money…”
Anna, please can you tell us about your career to date and what made you decide to set up Addidi?
I began my career in marketing and came into the advisory business when I had my daughters; I wanted more flexible working and after failing to find something which met my need, I set up my own business and trained myself as a financial adviser.
I set up Addidi as I wanted to do business in a way which was not in conflict with my core values and which set high standards of ethics and service; I wanted a business which was so much more than just about the money!
There are several strands to the Addidi business. Please can you talk us through what makes you stand out from other companies helping women manage their wealth?
Addidi’s combination of services (financial planning, investment management and financial concierge) within a highly bespoke and responsive wealth boutique is pretty unique. There are financial planning businesses with and without an investment proposition and there are wealth managers with and without the financial planning but none provide the financial concierge services. We really are a one stop shop for all your needs financial.
In addition, we genuinely get to know our clients really well and care about them to know when they need us to be more of a friend that a financial planner or wealth manager!
Please can you tell us about Addidi Enterprise and how you help connect women with small businesses? What have been some of your success stories?
Addidi Enterprise was set to up to enable women to use their wealth and talent to connect with SMEs and social projects; it was about social and personal returns as much as financial returns. We have helped women become angel investors and non-executives for the first time and we have helped small, growth businesses with their capital and talent needs.
Angel investing is patient investing so we have not had an exit as yet but so far all our businesses, bar one, are still operating. Businesses which personally resonate and I deem successful include:
- Roti Chai, a modern Indian diner which has just opened its second restaurant in Canary Wharf!
- Bluebella, our very first investment and a very female business.
- Loco2, an online European train booking website which is growing well.
There’s much talk about encouraging more women onto the boards of the FTSE 350 companies as part of the work of the Davies Review, but you’re helping connect women to board roles for SMEs. Why is this such an important, and largely overlooked area and how can more women get involved with smaller companies?
Addidi is a small business and female focused and I feel that its really important as female wealth increases, we play our part in the SME eco-system by providing our share of risk capital. In addition, SMEs can provide a fantastic opportunity for female talent – the 350 will only provide board level opportunity for a very small number of women but there are well over 1 million SMEs.
How do we challenge the assumptions that female attrition from corporates is all about flexibility or work life balance challenges?
More recent research is already showing that the female attrition is not just about work / life balance but also much about the corporate culture and value system. I don’t personally for example thrive in a hard sales orientated, target focused environment but I work really well where I am allowed to set my own targets. I think this is why some 40% of the women founded / led businesses have a social purpose – our motivations are so much more than just about the money.
What is your advice for women who are looking to develop their professional skills whilst also making a difference to others?
There are many ways to develop your skills; much will depend on what you want and your own competencies. We are not all going to be suitable non-executive material but SMEs have need for many different skills in marketing, IT, HR, operations, finance… and you can be involved with them as investors, mentors, adviser. There are plenty of ways of making a difference – the role you adopt will depend on your own skill set and need for remuneration and how well this matches with the need of the business and its ability to fund what it needs.
Who are the women you aspire to be like and why?
There are many women I admire and respect but I don’t aspire to be like any of them. I am not being arrogant, I am just very aware that I have my own journey to travel and whilst I can learn from others, I have to be true to myself and have faith in my purpose / role in life.
What is next for you and Addidi?
Addidi has come a long way and we are now in a good place but I want Addidi to grow and be even more. In particular, I am keen to develop a more sustainable and John Lewis style business model for Addidi. I am hoping that in due course, I shall be redundant within Addidi and the business runs beautifully smoothly and purposefully.