From confidence crisis to career credit: Iona Bain on blogs, burglaries and banking awards

February 19, 2019

“Sometimes we don’t take enough time to reflect on our achievements. Entering IPSE’s awards allowed me to do that and obviously being shortlisted, and then actually winning, is going to have an immeasurable effect on my career. But you just don’t know until you go for it,”

Those are the words of Iona Bain, founder of ‘The Young Money Blog’ and IPSE’s 2018 Freelancer of the Year.

© Nisha Haq Photography

After six months, hundreds of entries and an exhaustive search which scoured the length and breadth of UK, the Scottish-born journalist, author and industry authority specialising in finances for young people took home IPSE’s top award for the UK’s best freelancer.


In 2011, Iona set up her blog, which has since become the authoritative source of financial guidance for thousands of young people. Following the success of the first British blog to focus solely on the so-called ‘Generation Y’, Iona wrote her first book, Spare Change, published by Hardie Grant in 2016.


In an impressive, and ever-expanding, list of publications, the Oxford graduate has written for the Daily Mail, Telegraph, Times, Sunday Times, Independent, Mirror Money, Herald newspaper, and regularly appears on ITV Tonight, BBC Radio, BBC Scotland, Channel 4 News and across local radio.


A regular speaker at conferences and financial events, Iona was also recently made one of the youngest-ever governors of the prestigious Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) and is a founding member of the agenda-setting Next Gen Pensions Committee.


It all adds up to a portfolio and presence that made an immeasurable impression on the judges – even in the strongest field of finalist for the IPSE Awards.


© Nisha Haq Photography

“I was in complete shock when the comedian Lucy Porter called my name, and then I realised I had to get up on stage! My brain was saying ‘come on Iona, you better get up’. The main emotion was one of disbelief,” Iona continued.


“I was in such a strong field, and for some time in the run up to the awards I was preparing myself for not winning, because that’s the sensible thing to do. I genuinely thought someone else would very deservedly win.


“Once the disbelief subsided it was a case of wanting to show my gratitude and show that the faith placed in me by the judges was justified. Now I want to use this to not just help myself and my career but help other people too.”


Iona’s story is an interesting tale; a career that started purely by chance. After graduating, she was trying to earn a living working as a musician in Glasgow. All the money earnt from the gigs was deposited in a piggyback she kept in her bedroom.


It contained about £500, but returning from a gig one evening, she found her room had been completely ransacked and the piggybank had been burgled. You could say that was a eureka moment: the need for a better saving strategy.


So in 2011 Iona set up The Young Money Blog, and the rest, as they say, is history. And now, having turned that unfortunate event into a successful career, she has an important message for those freelancers unsure about putting themselves forward.



“I would say go for it,” she added.


“I had no idea, all those months ago when I made my application, that I would be here now. Freelancers can suffer from a confidence deficit, partly because we have to motivate ourselves and tell ourselves that we’re worth it. Especially at the start of your career when you don’t necessarily have the achievements behind you to justify the frequent moral boosts.


“Putting forward my application was very easy, and I had nothing to lose from it. To actually set out what my achievements were actually felt like a really positive process in itself. But If you don’t go for these opportunities, you’ll never know whether you could have made the cut. Now I’m processing what it means and how I can use it as a springboard for my career – contemplating all those possibilities is very exciting.”


How to apply

For more information and to apply for one of our individual awards visit our awards page.


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