From Swimming with Sharks to Financial Healing, with Gail Wong.

In this episode of Be & Think in the House of Trust, I am speaking with Gail Wong.

Gail is a reformed investment banker who used to swim with sharks. Now a Trauma of Money professional and a certified Financial Healing Coach, Gail is a regenerative Gender Smart investor who has made the nexus of finance and humanity her life’s work.

She helps people shed money-related fear, shame, and guilt, enabling them to live joyfully, love deeply, dream abundantly and inhabit their full self-expression at work. 

In this episode, we discuss financial trauma, the power of hope, and the need for a holistic perspective to impact investing.

We explore how courageous conversations and stewardship of others are necessary steps to move hearts and minds and create a financial system that is based on connection and humanity.

Highlights from this episode

(1:46) What is hope in practice?

(7:46) The triggers for financial trauma

(9:31) The experience of being disassociated from your own humanity

(12:58) Regenerative finance is based on relationships, not denial or harm

(17:43) Challenging my own financial DNA programming

(19:45) Moving hearts and minds is the work that will carry through generations

Useful links

Gail’s website:

Connect with Gail Wong on Linkedin



Servane Mouazan 0:00

Welcome to be and Think in the House of Trust. My name is Servane Mouazan. And every week I'm sharing a moment with an inspiring leader who loves to invest in social and environmental change. And through their words, these leaders help us tell one another and the planet you matter. Together we take the time to think about 40 challenges and questions that also behaviours and conditions that helped you that helped us trust, bond and collaborate, fulfil our mission as impact investors and also ignite great positive impact and my guest today is Gail one all the way from Singapore. As someone who used to swim with sharks, she said as an ex investment banker. She's also a gender lens investor. She's a certified coach and financial healer. She's an advisor for Angels of impact and circulate Capital and she also focuses on restoring the feminine and finally

good morning, good evening. Hello

Gail Wong 1:14

to us or band it's a pleasure to be here sharing space.

Servane Mouazan 1:19

That's fantastic to have you and I'm in London you in Singapore. So we're battling with time zones and and the Wi Fi delay, but hey, anyway guys let's get started. Every two lines once he said Hope is the life giving essential every Changemaker was actively nurture to source their power and light. I love anything around I think this is so meaty, so juicy, but what does it mean in practice in your in your world in your ecosystem? Gail, that notion of hope.

Gail Wong 1:51

I wrote that. At the end of a pivot, you know a pivot away from what we call gender lens investing, investing in women, you know, founders are harnessing female capital, but it was pivot away from that inside of a traditional financial system. What I'm probably gonna say might sound a little extreme, but it got very clear to me that the traditional system is extracted and the incentives are aligned that every person in that system has to step out of their humanity. And so the statement about hope is really my view that we need to be bigger than the incentives and the financial trade offs and decisions to be able to move capital in a conscious and permanent way. And that's hope in the future like it's, it's a bet on a future of hope that we will be human beings and whole and act like them rather than just being counters. It really does require kind of stepping into more than numbers on a page to justify a decision to guide our decisions. I also think that any systems change maker is always battling against the status quo, right the entrenched financial logic and I've got my close figures here. For those who can't see us to find financial logic is is sort of always there as the bugbear and sometimes it's fear based, because it's what we can see and that's what we fall to, to rationalise things and the job of a systems change makers not just to advocate for a solution. You need to hold space for those who might not see that solution yet, right. You hold space for their fear you hold space for the fear of the unknown, your fear of not being taken seriously that fear of not sound incredible. I think any change maker runs into that and it's a can be really tiring for the change makers that I know after a certain time of running up running up to a wall, right. And so the hope is in our work and the hope is also very important for women to nurturing ourselves to go to this dance and to keep playing the game. Whatever we do find for ourselves.

Servane Mouazan 4:49

hearing your words in a wonder is it a privilege to be able to have oh

Gail Wong 4:58

I actually find most helpful people tend to not be in positions of privilege, and privilege poverty, I guess. Sometimes we think of those as two ends of the spectrum. And the wealthiest people and hope are the wealthiest people in generosity. Tend and of course, I'm speaking from limited experience, right. But I've seen people who don't have very much be very generous whereas those who have plenty tend to count. I think similarly, I've seen people with plenty I mean, I live in Singapore, by 10% on population of millionaires. And we have a safety net such that a large very high percentage of the population is has proper shelter. But I think the general culture is the sense of I don't have enough I will never have enough. How do I get more? No, and that's a really hopeless place to be and we do enjoy lots of privilege here.

Servane Mouazan 6:19

If the notion of hope will change depending on in whose hands you put this notion, maybe

Gail Wong 6:30

well, I guess you can ask. The question is it what are we hopeful for? Yeah. And is it a hope about our individual lives? And like our children or family or is it a hope for humanity? Quite quite. a spectrum of hope. Yeah, it is a spectrum.

Servane Mouazan 6:57

So that tells me it makes me it should connect me to that notion of contentment and being at ease and that saturates your to one of your skills which is you are in financial here is an unusual term, isn't it? Your financial year but let's go for that. Your financial year. You look at what's behind the trauma of money exploring the city's forces within I imagine the trauma of money can be found in everyone right founders, individuals impact social investors, anyone? And as it manifests itself, Galen, what are the consequences? Thank you

Gail Wong 7:41

for recognising that so then because many people think of trauma and they think more head injury, sexual abuse. And you're absolutely right that if you've grown up in a modern world, and interacted with any product of capitalism, you probably have experienced this chronic universal ongoing collective experience of trauma. And it looks very different from what you would picture other kinds of trauma. In fact, you might not see any signs of it at all. That's when I find when I work with my clients or even if I just look around observe behaviours. We are shaped by they're just programmed into our awareness, I suppose. So I'm thinking about your question. How does it look like and you know, the triggers for financial trauma? A really wide ranging and let's remember to like the new conversation today around trauma is there's an Olympics right there's no measurement scale, check the box. You You've been through a bankruptcy you're your finance, you have been through financial trauma, or you've been laid off or you've had a business separation. You know, it could be as simple as predatory lending rates or interbank as a woman and not getting the same access to capital, itching, to grow up investors and be seen differently, often less. I think that that thread of financial trauma experience of being disassociated from your own humanity.

Servane Mouazan 9:39

And they're everywhere. I saw you coaching some some time ago, we found ourselves in a system in which fundraising is a game that breaks people and they aren't allowed to show it. That really resonated I mean even tiny fundraising I'm gonna organise them pre incubator for for women in social enterprising years ago and we had to organise them to crowd fund to be able to be polite on the programme. Just you know, feel the fear and do it that way. That triggered so many questions, so many thoughts, so many feelings and when I can't do it, I can or, but also a lot of joy when people were able to just fundraise for their participation and they were just transported to a new territory after that, but for some of them, I realised that there was something broken and something something painful that was emerging, and we are not even talking about now raising millions or VC money. What are your thoughts?

Gail Wong:

Ooh, that's the complex mix. Right? I think that a lot of things showing up for me right now. I'm trying to separate them. Well, I just attended a pitch workshop yesterday. And, you know, it's about the judgments. You've got 92nd elevator pitch or two minutes, like someone's making a judgement. And I think that there's work to be done around separating the outcome of such a pitch in conversation. And we know ourselves to be the value and intrinsic value and but I I've known enough founders, even investors have to raise capital, right? Anyone fundraising on on any level of that spectrum, experiences a power dynamic, of being judged and feeling small, or having to get up tomorrow and do the same thing five more times. And almost be Teflon. And some people just do it. And others who feel the world war that's just part of their super their gifts and possibly kryptonite. Right?

And I think the coping mechanism that I've seen happen and I personally have experienced that to being an ex banker is compartmentalization, denial. Which works to some degree, and then, you know, we all need to reckon with that at some point in our lives.

Servane Mouazan:

So what do you think? would it take to restore or to instal or something different, something kind brave and bold around money especially as we talking together money for good

Gail Wong:

well, now I'm working models of regenerative finance now, right, and we live with that it goes far more beyond exchange for money and term sheets and structures. So it's the introduction of relationship I think we acknowledge that. If there is a relationship in the equation, even if it's invisible to us. That gives space for our humanity for us to exist as people. We're not just a name on the cap table. We're the founder is not just a name in our list of portfolio companies. But relationship and the other way to shop as old people so a founder invests in it's not just someone who's gonna make me lots of money or when when the market right there, people who are contemplating if they are going to have a second kid, how are they going to make it work with series the next round of funding? There? Yeah, they're home people. And so what employees Yeah, I think that's something that we have been encouraged in the capitalist neoliberalism world to ignore because it's, it's not measured, it's not counted. It has virtually no value. On a balance sheet. Right. So that's a mindset change. And I think also now with impact investing, being so common, as a phrase at least, but the practice of it, I think, I think we need to recognise you can't just check the box. It's a renewable energy company. So it's sustainable, and it's impactful. But what about the you know, you're putting up solar panels in a third world country? Well, who are you hiring? What's happening in the community? Are you deforesting a community? Are you depriving it of its livelihood, like that there has to be a holistic perspective to impact investing that I don't know in Europe, perhaps there's a there's more advanced and integrated thinking about that, but certainly where I sit, it's a buzzword and everyone feels good, they're even best suited to climate solution. But you know from across the supply chain, what other ripples this starting from how they treat their employees, once their leadership composition live to the societies that they're impacting their end product.

Servane Mouazan:

So accounting for the natural and human collateral damages along the way, that is

Gail Wong:

the definition of regenerative investing right to which the harms or potential harms and mitigation as well as whatever impact or purported to be delivering hmm

Servane Mouazan:

And that's interesting, because when you raise the topic, some people say, Oh, I'm not someone who will do harm. When you dig deeper, is that what you did? Imagine Gail, we're going to jump into the future just for a few seconds here. Imagine we're in 2033. And then wonder what has happened recently that keeps making the headlines. And that feeds you with hope.

Gail Wong:

Oh, you're a master question, sir. Ben. You're almost asking me to think something I dare not contemplate now. But I would like to see a revamped financial system or perhaps an alternative one that's become a more mainstream challenger alternative to the existing one. That is that is about more connected communities. And we have monies moving in circles outside of the financial system. Perhaps that's one sign like this year, I've joined the giving circle as the experiment of how I've challenged my own programming and my own DNA and as we said that reckoning we each need to do which takes compassion. So I think signs of softening and practice would be hopeful manifestations. 10 years out.

Servane Mouazan:

Beautiful. Imagine that this is happening. And you're that we're still in 2033 and in 2033, how do you wish you had shown up or conducting conducted yourself as a gender lens investor and financial healer during the past 10 years, regardless of

Gail Wong:

outcomes? Yeah, I I do ask myself that a lot. Right. Because, however, it turns out, I want to be clear that I have done my best with what I have. Yeah. So I think it's having courageous conversations. Opening spaces that are safe to have conversations. Maybe holding the hands or guiding stewarding others many others right who are controlling capital, directing capital into that inquiry. It's a it would be a really beautiful process, because we're all just connecting back to our humanity in that journey, so yeah, it's not overnight work. I can't do it. With an app. Yeah, no, but I think that's that's at the heart of it. Because I've been, I've been the one saying your money, right representation dollars, but I think really moving the hearts and minds are opening is the work that will be that will carry through generations.

Servane Mouazan:

Thank you, Gail, thank you so much for joining us in the House of Trust.

Gail Wong:

Oh, my pleasure. So if you are an investor,

Servane Mouazan:

how would you relate to these money traumas and call to action, a call for having courageous conversations, systems-changing conversation? To what extent does this inform and or impact the work you do consciously or unconsciously? What new perspective is needed to allow for change to happen? That's it for today. I look forward to preparing our next episode of be and think in the house of trust for you. I'll be sharing your thinking environment again with someone who loves to invest in social and environmental change. This new series is available to listen to anywhere you love to find your podcast, just typed in D and think in the house of trust. I know that's the longest podcast title. But share the love subscribe and leave a review and for more conscious innovation, insights, events and wayfinding resources you can check my website at and subscribe to my monthly update. I would love to hear from you. See you next time and as trust keep exploring, keep thinking.

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