Category Archives: Business

Gender Lens Investing

lensfunnyHave you heard about gender lens investing?  I must admit that it is something I am just learning about.  So, let’s learn together.

To me, the two words gender lens create a vision of looking through the lens and seeing  the world through  adjustments. The lens is a filter which symbolically contains all our personal prejudices and experiences along with those we have acquired as the result of the norms and rules of society.

I googled the term “gender lens “to see what the experts say.  Interestingly enough, there were not pages and pages of quick definitions, most were quite clinical.  So I am going with the one from Wikipedia which is simple and concisely states what the long detailed articles and papers take paragraphs to explain.  It says:

What is a Gender Lens?

Think of a gender lens as putting on spectacles. Out of one lens of the spectacles, you see the participation, needs and realities of women. Out of the other lens, you see the participation, needs and realities of men. Your sight or vision is the combination of what each eye sees.

Gender is about relationships between men and women. Gender equality is about equal valuing of women and men – of their similarities and their differences. We need equal, respectful partnerships between men and women to have happy, healthy families and communities in the same way that we need both eyes to see best.

You can read more by clicking here.

This gives us a foundation to beginning to understand the concept of a gender lens, now to see how that term applies in the investment world and what it means to women.  More next time.

Until then.

Debra Hadsall

www.ffptalk.com

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A Post Office with Banking, Bill Paying, and Small Loans?

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I was attracted to a post in the Huffington Post which acknowledges that many Americans are not having their basic banking needs met by the existing services.  A few years back I probably wouldn’t have even noticed an article about the subject.  Yes, I have seen payday loan advertisements, been at the local super market where people cash paychecks, or even seen check cashing businesses in the strip mall.  However, they were just part of the background scenery. Everyone in my life knows her or his way around banks, mortgage companies, brokerages,  and all that the financial world offers.  Of course they offer it to us because it is profitable.

My perspective changed when I moved to a small town located on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in Texas.  The people with money are visitors, business owners, and those who own resort properties.  The local workforce includes a high percentage of low-income people or those living at poverty level.  No longer was I living in the suburbs where having a checking account with a debit card is a fact of life for high school students.  I found myself standing in line at the post office with lots of people who were getting money orders to pay bills and send money to family members.  Sometimes it actually looked more like a bank than a place to send and receive mail.  That’s why this concept of basic and uncomplicated banking services at the post office seemed logical to me.

Over time I learned a lot about why the low-income people around me avoided traditional banking systems.  One reason is that often they were undocumented and want to remain invisible.  Even if the person does have legal status, often he or she was brought up in a family where the parents were undocumented.  The children simply emulate what the parents did and the cycle of using cash, money orders, and expensive loans is perpetuated. People living in poverty or on very low incomes see banks as scary places which they don’t trust.  Even those of us who are middle-income and above often have that same feeling.  Things have just gotten very complicated.

According to the article,  collectively those households which use alternative banking products spent about $89 billion in 2012 on interest and fees. That represents a huge cost for people with lower than average incomes.

Please click here to read the entire article.  The concept of tying simple and affordable banking services to the local post office is being done elsewhere successfully.  There is a very good chance that those people currently using alternative banking methods would be more trustful of a place they have visited throughout their lives, the post office, than they would be of banks which really don’t want them there anyway.  There are benefits to the U.S. Postal System too!

Until next time.

Debra Hadsall

financialFreedom_bookwww.ffptalk.com

To order my book, please click here.

A Billion Women

Looking for a very insightful and forward thinking article about women?  Just click here to read from Bloomberg.com an article titled”  A Billion Women Are About to Transform the Global Economy.”

Enjoy.

Debra Hadsall

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www.financialfreedomparty.com

www.ffptalk.com

Empty Mansions– Living the Good Life?

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I just finished reading the book “Empty Mansions” by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Junior.  The title says it is about “The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune”.

Any book with the words fortune and spending just calls to my financial education mind.  It would seem that a book about wealth would be all about what we call “living the good life”.  I learned that the title refers to the empty properties Huguette continued to maintain even though she didn’t live in them.  Interesting.

This book is about a woman and her story which revolves around extreme wealth, business, family owned businesses, decision-making, relationships, trust and distrust, and how money can be both a blessing and a curse.

Personally, it took me a long time to learn to deal with money in an unemotional manner.  The main character, struggled with that for a really long time as she was born in 1906 and died in 2011. She dealt with a lot of emotions and they often guided her decisions.  For Huguette, these decisions usually involved  large sums of money. The world changed radically during her lifetime and she also outlived her close relatives.  Some of the change was more than Huguette wished to deal with, so she created a lifestyle which was strange and unconventional to most ordinary (and even wealthy) people.  Her needs for security and safety as a wealthy person played a big part in how she spent money.  As an elderly woman  it appeared that those who were caring for her may have taken advantage of  her financially, even though the medical professionals found her competent.

It is hard to imagine the majestic homes her father created with his wealth  and the mind-set of  Huguette who was born into such a lifestyle and never knew anything different.  Still, I was struck by the similarity between the decisions she had to make about  businesses, advisors, and income management, and those made by the rest of as we manage our personal finances or make lifestyle and financial decisions about the senior citizens our lives.

Was Huguette happy living what most would see as “the good life”?  It is hard to tell.  That is the mystery which remains in her interesting life story.

Until next time.

Debra J. Hadsall

Culture of Threes – #2

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This posting relates to what I refer to as our Culture of Threes. As explained in previous posts, when an idea or concept comes to me three times from totally different sources, I have learned to pay attention, process the information, and then act. 

The Culture of Threes happened to me recently concerning my Financial Freedom Party for Women.

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My Number 1 post was about the Financial Freedom Party for Women and how financial education for women meets party plans and the financial industry asks, “Like Tupperware parties?”  Please go back to my previous post for all the details.

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This post is about Number 2.  It starts with a fictional character in a novel who encounters mystery with a backdrop of relationships, relationship selling, and Tupperware.  The book is The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.                        .

This is a nice mystery book and it was picked last month by one of our book club members as a reading selection.  I hadn’t heard of it before.  If I wasn’t in a book club, it is highly unlikely I would have read it.

I was reading the book quickly (it is fun and easy to read) and enjoying the story, the characters, and the setting (Australia).  My mind had shifted from business stuff, like my Financial Freedom Party for Women, to playtime.  I was so wrapped up in the husband’s secret part of the plot that it took me a while to understand that part of the story revolved around the career choice of one of the main characters.  Instead of being a traditional professional in a career we all understand, she was a successful sales representative and manager in a direct selling and network marketing company.  Yes, part of her story was about her relationships, relationship selling, product knowledge, business management, coaching, and income production as an independent representative of….Tupperware.  It wasn’t until I finished the book that I realized this is the first time I have read a novel where a character’s successful career and resulting income involved direct sales, network marketing, and party plans.  A nice experience and a good reminder that women, relationship selling, great products, and party plan selling are a nice fit.   This made me smile and re-enforced my commitment to legitimizing the use of my Financial Freedom Party for Women to an industry which is traditional and male dominated.   

More next time about my third(Number 3) recent encounter with the power of party plans with relationship selling as successful business model which is attractive to women consumers and businesses.

Debra Hadsall

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www.financialfreedomparty.com

www.ffptalk.com

Culture of Threes – #1

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My last posting was about our culture of threes. I describe how when something comes into my life and consciousness for three times over a short period of time, I pay attention and act.  The next three posts are a culture of threes story.

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Recently I submitted my book, Financial Freedom Party for Women®, A Little Book about Money for Women, Workbook Edition, to Amazon.com.  This will make it available to the general reading public.  It also has put the book back into my daily thoughts as I often wonder if the financial services industry is ready to change and accommodate a new  easy and fun way of teaching women about money and marketing to us.  So this represents my most recent  confirmation about the value of parties as a way to connect with women, share meaningful and life-changing information, and starting a personal connection. I count this as Number 1.

Recognizing the value of learning about party plans which are used by direct selling companies was a natural evolution for me.  My entrance into becoming an insurance agent and registered representative was through a direct selling and network marketing company. Some of my friends were very successful in direct selling and network marketing and I listened and learned from them. This opened my mind to looking at more meaningful ways of marketing and selling complex products such as investments  insurance, and financial analysis/planning.

I hadn’t grown up professionally in the brokerage and insurance industry.  This meant I  wasn’t saddled with industry paradigms and allowed me to seek out a way to really meet the needs of the women I was encountering.  Having women clients was my main goal, but I believed they should be part of the process and have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of financial management so they could be more comfortable with their decisions.

This turned out to be a more difficult goal than expected.  There are some real barriers to getting women interested in learning about financial management.  Now there are always what I call the “MBA” women or those who are passionate about financial management, but there are many women who don’t meet that description.  Women tell me that the information can be difficult to grasp at first and the presentations are pretty old school and boring.  If a woman can go do something more interesting with her family or friends, why should she show up to a boring presentation?   Think about it, going to a girl’s night out, watching sports with the family, shopping with friends, taking a walk, or just staying home and watching a DVD are way more attractive and acceptable options.  As explained in my book:

The Financial Freedom Party (FFP) was created when I found many other women brokers, like myself, were frustrated when women wouldn’t show up at financial seminars. Only 3-4 women would attend, even though we mailed invitations with plenty of lead time, followed up, and targeted our efforts to women who needed this information, and who were not already working with a financial services professional.

One evening I attended a Pampered ChefTM party hosted by my next-door neighbor. She had made a last minute decision to have the party, and gave her guests about two-day notice. Nonetheless, when I arrived at her home, there were thirty or more women in attendance, and at the end of the presentation they were all buying — and buying “lots.”  It became clear to me that we needed to change our approach in the financial services industry. From this experience and with the help from three other women brokers, the Financial Freedom Party concept began and the format was developed.

This seemed pretty logical to our team and it worked.  However, as I reached out to professionals in the investment community to share the concept and expand its use, the reaction was rather unexpected.  Some people simply couldn’t see how it would work (even after I explained it).  Some were amused.  Then there were those who asked me, “Oh, like Tupperware Parties?”  At least this gave me an opportunity to explain that it is founded on the same concept but no product is sold at the party.  So, the  Financial Freedom Party for Women is an adaptation on party plans based on sharing information and building relationships.  I found again, that some comments  were little more than subdued snickering and amusement,  However, there were some men and women  who grasped the concept, could see the potential, were genuinely impressed, and encouraging.  Overall, the people I spoke with really didn’t see a need for change. Obviously the timing wasn’t right.  So I spent time doing Financial Freedom Parties and building my business, hoping for a more positive reception at a later time.

Business leaders tend to “get it” when products or services are sold and delivered with the result being money cash flowing into the business.  Success is an attention getter.

Recently two more references to Tupperware and party plan businesses came to me from two unexpected sources.  Both reflect success for women and money for the business.  They confirmed my experience that marketing to women (and with women) is often different, but highly profitable.  More to come next time about the second reminder I received about how women and party plans connect for both the consumer and the business.

Until next time.

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Debra Hadsall

www.financialfreedomparty.com

www.ffptalk.com