My first million: Fiona Price,

When she joined a firm of IFAs, Fiona Price was shocked that there weren't any women around. And that's how the idea for an IFA aimed at women came to her.

As an advert for business school, you couldn't get much better than Fiona Price. Straight out of Exeter with a degree in psychology, she did an MBA in 1983 at City University, set up as an independent financial adviser, sold out within five years for a "not insubstantial sum" and then set up another successful business. So it's a pity she doesn't have much good to say about it. "Business school is a disappointment. I couldn't even read a balance sheet."

But the financial world still had its attractions, and after replying to "one of those really crass ads at the beginning of the 80s be your own boss, be your own company'", she joined an IFA firm staffed mostly by men. "I was really shocked that there just weren't any women around. I came from a student background where it was pretty evenly spread, men to women. In a financial seminar there would be one woman in a room of 100 men."

That's how the idea for an IFA aimed at women came to her. "People around me thought I was mad are there seriously women out there who might want financial advice to warrant setting up a business?" But she went ahead and got a £10,000 overdraft, set up Fiona Price & Partners and moved into offices in west London. It wasn't the most salubrious setting. Two second-hand filing cabinets, a couple of small chairs and a table not forgetting the kettle, which she once saw "boil up the skirt of a woman who earned about £100,000 and was sitting waiting. Looking back now I really cringe, but I think people liked the fact that we weren't pretentious."

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

But the press liked her fresh angle, and with the likes of the Today Programme, and News at Ten giving her airtime, the business grew by about 70-80 clients a month.

In 1991 she moved premises to Covent Garden after "crying myself to sleep for a week" over the thought of justifying an expensive five-year lease. It was a leap of faith, as if she didn't expand dramatically within six months, she knew she would go under. That meant courting corporate business. She drew up a list of 300 companies to contact, from which she got just one meeting. But it "yielded one client who did the job" an advertising agency that wanted financial advice for both the business and its staff.

By 2004, now in London's Holborn, the business was turning over £1.5m and employed 35 staff when she decided to sell up. "I'd been working like a nutter all of my professional life," she says. So she sold, and spent some time in her house on the Welsh borders, to think of what to do next. That led to her new venture,, which offers practical business advice to women. So does she think the role of women in the workplace has changed since the 1980s? "Massively.

But the numbers of women on British boards is pathetic less than 10% and the number of women who own and run their own business is still less than 20% half the number in America.

"But I do think we have reached a certain critical mass, where there are enough women out there doing it who can be seen by other women and are role models."

Jody Clarke

Jody studied at the University of Limerick and she has been a senior writer for MoneyWeek for more than 15 years. Jody is experienced in interviewing, for example in her time she has dug into the lives of an ex-M15 agent and quirky business owners who have made millions. Jody’s other areas of expertise include advice on funds, stocks and house prices.