Your opinions on an event wanted!

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
Your opinions on an event wanted!
14
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 4:47am

As most of you know, I have altered my career slightly in business to personal/small business financial planning.  I have been on this board for 5 years now, was in financial planning in the 90s but hated the corruption, but now I am back doing what I honestly LOVE it and should have been doing this my entire life.

I find I really enjoy helping women, working women, single women, women who are the key wage earner or financial decision makers in their homes.  I have been able to sit with many and help them see where they are and map out a plan for their future.  My clients are people I care about and respect.

I do not like how many planners "market" to get clients.  I am not comfortable with the "free dinner" or "cold call" or soliciting friends and family.  But I stumbled on something this last week that I really enjoyed and wanted your opinion on.

I took a group of about 5 women to Nordstroms for a presentation from their personal stylist, then lunch.  None of us knew Nordstroms had such a service that can do shopping for you, help you pick out an outfit or just accessories to jazz something up.  They can work on any budget, so this is not just for the wealthy, but can be a real time saver for many of us.  The women were all senior managers or directors, so they had some needs to update a wardrobe, they were not struggling financially, but none had a mega budget and we had fun talking about current styles, age appropriateness, etc.

Then when we went to lunch we talked a bit about finances, their fears, their look toward the future.  It was open and enjoyable.

All of the women really enjoyed the event, and I gave them a small gift card as a token of appreciation for their time, and they all agreed to allow me to email them, or be open to other education events and call if they needed any financial advice.  (I made it clear I would not call to solicit them, the ball is in their court.)  Most said they will call me as they really now understood how I could really help them.  All of them gave me a hug and thanked me for having such an event - it blew me away!

So I wanted your take, would you go to something like this?  How do you now, or how do you think you would find a financial planner?  How would it be comfortable for you to seek/find financial planning assistance?

My goal is to really take care of people in an industry that has a rep of male domination, fear and corruption.  How do you feel you would like to be approached?

 

-Marie

By the way, there are so many times I wish I could give you all advice, but some things are now illegal for me to say on a forum.  It is weird, those of us who are licensed, educated and ethically practicing professionals are policed by our brokers to the point they monitor all we do and say on the internet.  Everything must be approved by the regulatory agencies now, so no one wants to say anything for risk of being slapped.  That means I have to stay anonymous and watch what I say.  Those that have emailed me recently I have done calls with about their budgets.  I can still do Dave Ramsey coaching, as I have disclosed that to my licensing agency, but now all copies of everything must be archived. 

My only other word of advice is that you all should see a planner, don't wait until your 50s or 60s, by then it is very late to help as much as we can.  A good planner can help you with strategic decisions that could save you more than you can imagine.

#Marie

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 9:08am

Personal shopper service has been around for a LONG time. 

I would not go to such an event becauase:

1.  While I enjoy get togethers with close friends, I don't enjoy crowds.  Nor do I enjoy distractions when I shop.

2.  I don't have a need for a planner.   From time to time, however, I do consult with a tax accountant and tax lawyer.  (I found both by word of mouth - a friend used the same accountant before; and the tax lawyer is a referral from another lawyer that I socialize with).

3.  There are tons of tools and books out there and most people with high school level math skills, if they are willing, can adequately educate themselves for financial planning.  Even during a time when I was in a rather complicated situation: juggling income tax in three different states (because I was considered a resident in two different states and did work in a third one) and had four income sources (different jobs) within one year, I was able to sort out everything out with a 30-minute appointment with a tax accountant. 

I think it all comes down to style.  There are people who would rather work with a planner, but I would rather learn to plan myself.  So far it has worked well:  no credit card debt, student loans and mortgage for my home all paid off, have plans to paid off the mortgage on a rental property within 5 years, and saving some 20% before tax income to retirement.  And I am in my early 40's.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-09-1999
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 12:20pm

I would enjoy attending an event like that but I tend not to have very much time on my hands.  I work full time & go to the college gym 4 evenings a week & bowl one night a week.  Possibly a Sat afternoon.   I do enjoy learning new & better ways of doing financial planning, but I too am at a point of being debt free except our mortgage & concentrating on our EF & retirement savings now.  I have read & listen to Dave Ramsey & so have been able to put a lot of his practices in place.  Good luck to you I hope your business takes off. 

Cindylee

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 12:51pm

Great topic, Marie! 

I have been in direct sales since 1996 and as you already know, we have to walk a fine line.  Some of my customers are thrilled to hear from me "oh, I am so glad you called, I have been meaning to call you," and others would rather not be called at all.  We also offer social events where yes, they do hear the marketing plan for our company.  But they are all females, invited to get out of the house, to get a break from the kids, and have some girl time.  We don't sell product at the events. 

I am also not real big on the free lunch events and I don't want to name names, but there is one who has sort of put a bad taste in many peoples mouth.  The one where the don't tell you until they are in your home. 

Anywho, so to get back to your question.  Even though Nordstrom has never been in my clothing budget, I would go if invited.  Hey, I am broke, so I would do just about anything if offered lunch or a gift card.  :smileytongue:  But seriously, I think the goodwill you offered that day will pay off in good karma, even if it is not from those women in attendence.  They will remember you were not pushy and asked in advanced how much contact they were comfortable with. 

I think most people know that of course, we are marketing, advertising and networking.  It sounds like this group of gals had a great time and it went well for you.  A personal shopper at Nordstrom may attract a small group of women, but I don't see anything wrong using different kinds of avenues to attract different kinds of women. 

I wanted to share one last thing.  When I was pregnant with my DD12, I knew I was going to be cutting back my hours after her birth, so some serious planning was needed.  I don't recall how it came about, but a friend of mine hooked us up with a gentleman, who was a retired school teacher, that felt led by the Lord to help those in need of financial planning, for no charge.  Yep, he never charged us a dime.  And yes, he did offer other services that he did charge for. 

He showed us plan and made us accountable.  He would litterally come by the house and pick up all of our bills and mailed them himself.  He showed us if we tightened our belt buckle, how much we get get paid off.  We reduced our monthly expenses by $700 a month while I was pregnant. 

Granted, we have not talked to him since, but as you see, he made an impact on us and I have no doubt whether you belive in God, or just plain old karma, that what we give comes back to us two fold. 

Sorry for all the babbling.  I just see this as so much bigger than simply the bottom line, as I think you do, too.  I am like you.  I love helping women.  And it is so easy to the let the mighty dollar get in the way of what we originally set out to do.  Customer service is slowly making a comeback, and I think as long you keep your heart in the right place, you can't go wrong. 

 

 

 

Serenity
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 2:19pm
Thanks, Serenity, you words are always so thoughtful.
Today I had a client I was able to help and now prevent her from loosing as much in the market of her retirement funds with some different investments. She was smart, read books, and such, but her IRAs were just invested and forget it - she was averaging a 2% loss each year of the last 10 years (big down years included here). Now she knows about when she can retire, has a plan to get out of a lease car, and an emergency fund. It felt GREAT to really help.
So many people have IRAs or 401ks and set it and forget it - OMG so many are not doing what they need to get them to those years and now there are so many things that can be done. Companies with 401ks will not tell you what to do as that would make them possibly liable in the future for your lack of funds - therefore a catch 22 as they model you into conservative, moderate or agressive and can cover themselves for any liability lawsuits.
I too love helping women, and what is nice is that now we are close to being out of debt, my husband does well and I don't "have" to make a certain dollar to put food on the table, I can just do what is right, what I know, and what will help.
#Marie
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 3:29pm

Marie,

That event sounds fantastic and a great way to build a r/ship with clients.

I would not attend such an event. But ONLY because I hate the sales pitch that I expect at those things. You didn't do that, but I'm sure I wouldn't believe you if you pitched it that way, LOL :smileyhappy:

I had considered a networking group when we had the video business. But I think w/video, it is just too specialized for that. The group works in that they only allow one professional for each field. So one accountant and everyone in the group uses that accountant and he uses all their services for his business. If any of his clients ask about a marketer - he refers them to the marketer in the group.

I also took financial planning in university and decided against it due to the predatory nature of it. I love helping ppl with budgets and planning. People at work are ALWAYS asking me for advice. I do use these skills in my work - though I will be doing less of that now.


KUTGW,

Dee

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-01-2009
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 11:16pm

Wow that sounds super fun Marie....

I don't have a financial planner on a regular basis.  I do have a super nice fellow that helps me with retirement planning and education on investment risk etc.

I think though that once word of your skills begins to flourish you will get many referrals from satisfied customers.

Good luck with it...

Duke

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-15-2012
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 11:27pm

Marie,

 

I think you will succeed because you genuinely care about people and budgets and you LOVE what you do.  That in itself will go along way.  The majority of people will sense/feel/know what you are truly about and that will take your further than anything else.

I think net working is a great way to meet people, get to know them etc.  I don't know if I would hae attended this particular event with being a stay at home Mom (who makes all the financial decisions in our family) I am not in need of a wordrobe and clothes are not my thing but something similiar, yes, I might attend it.

I do have a financial planner who I absoultely love.  She tells you like it is and has a lot of things she does not like about her industry and she has no qualms telling you what those points are! LOL  I like her honestly and her PASSION that shows through.  She LOVES helping people with their money and budgets etc.  She is honest and wants what is best for her clients, not her pocket book and in the end it is a win-win.  She will not "sell" her clients if the product is not in their best interest. She tells us why something is a good idea or a bad idea  and explains it all.  In the end, she gets most people's business becaue they admire her honesty and tell you like it is attitude especially since it is about money. 

I met her at a networking group.  Not sure where you live, but many cities, smaller towns etc have women's business groups and I met her through that.  She shared her knowledge freely with us and in the end many of us ended up her clients because we could see and understand just how much she was committed to doing the right thing for her clients.

And I ramble on.

 

Sandra

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 11:42pm
Here is my caveat . . . I'm totally biased :smileyhappy: My Dad is my financial planner and he is d@*n good at it :smileyhappy: I post all the time about my debts and immediate concerns, but in the background, he has grown my retirement funds to almost $100k at the age of 31. Normally he won't consider people with less than six figures to invest but I get away with it because I'm his kid. Having said that, part of the reason that I can't get out of debt faster is because i've accepted that debt at 0% or 0.9% is not a bad thing per se...
I digress :smileyhappy:
Now having said that, my thougts:
1. I'm weird (its okay, I accept it) - I'm 31, thisclose to 6 figures and have no use whatsoever for fashion ( I actually had to google Nordstroms to figure out what you were taking about - turns out its not Nostradamus' illegitimate son . . . who knew???)
2. I hate "the pitch". I hate selling or feeling like I'm being sold something
3. I trust "straight shooters" more than people who are "selling" me something. I.e. those that have nothing to lose.

I get I am not of the norm. But I would ask myself how to market towards the different types of clients. And is your target market the older, well established group, or is it the younger professionals (think recently graduated nurses, docs, teachers, civil servants) who may not have a lot now, but will 10-15 years from now.
What about getting onside with employers? I know that having someone sponsored by the company has instant credibility?
Not sure if this helps or not . . . just my thoughts :smileyhappy:

Bex -

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-17-2010
Fri, 08-31-2012 - 6:18am

Wow, it sounds like you put some thought into this event.  That is impressive.

For me, personally, I would attend something like this.  While I work in fields that are incredibly casual, there is always the odd lunch or presentation where one needs to dress up more and I can always use advice on something like that.  Nordstrom is a bit out of my budget as well, but maybe if you find other stores with personal stylists (Macy's maybe?) that are a little less expensive you can attract a slightly wider range.

So far as an approach, I am most likely going to go if you are recommended by a friend.  I will also be likely to attend if I find you on a website.  I don't know if you have one, but it's a thought.  I dislike being cold called, I do it at work (not even selling!) and I don't like doing it either.  Sales pitches at the event itself I am ok with, if it's stated and expected and without pressure.

I am also in the market, if you will, for a financial planner.  I've googled it a couple times actually.  Our credit union has several on staff though, and I've gotten good word about them so that helps.  Although men have traditionally dominated the industry, I would not object to a woman as a financial planner.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-14-2008
Fri, 08-31-2012 - 3:06pm

Hi Marie,

I can see how some people would like this and I do think it is a good idea.

I don't think I would though. I am vey private(except for this forum) and I wouln't like to talk about my situation(because it so different) in front of others. I don't have a lot of money to invest but of course you know, as you pay down debt that changes  through out people's lives and soon they do have money to invest. I think it is great to get to know people on that level and when they do need help they will call you simply because they don't have to explain it all again. If you remember I own land and rent it out and that is part of my retirement strategy.  It would be great to hear insights thoughout my life as to what I should be doing and I will get a planner at some point. I also don't like to be told what to do LOL to some degree. I want to save to build a house next and I don't want anyone telling me I should be saving for retirement more when the house is a priority. 

Anyway, I just wanted to give an example of how everyone's situation is so different and how some might not want to tell a group those things. Some need very specific advice. I find it very hard to have a group conversation without giving details because it just wouldn't make sense.

However, it might be nice to meet you this way and talk more later. I just can't see myself discussing future without telling more about my situation. Therefore, I don't think this would work for me. I am the kind of person though, where if I really like a person, I tell all my girlfriends that this person is the best. I can really see you getting this kind of referal Marie. You are a great listener and very knowledgeable  and that is what people want. Plus a little ballsy lol and some people need that too!

Good luck!

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