This article has been posted on website for publications, but is not now easily accessible there.
I’m posting it here because it represents the best “bio” about me and what led to my first book, the Financial Freedom Party for Women, A Little Book about Money for Women.
My friend and talented professional writer, Katherine Hause, tells the story in a way that I love!
Party with a Purpose
Transforming a Niche into a Market
Limited by accepted policy and frustrated by the lack of support and materials, financial advisor Debra Hadsall turned a time-tested concept into an innovative system for better reaching an underserved market of investors.
The time is early evening, the place, a comfortable suburb in deep South Texas. The street is deserted, the light almost gone. All quiet, except at one house where, judging by the cars lining the curb, it’s clear that in here there’s a party going on. A pachanga, as they’d call it here, family style.
Inside, there’s the usual cast of characters: mamas, daughters, an occasional baby or son-in-law, and the usual dining room table laden with homemade concoctions, some hot, some cold. Every now and then someone wanders in, fills a plate and disappears into the living room. Because, tonight, that is where the action is.
At the front of that room is the hostess – indisputably the one who organized this event — and a woman with a flip chart and a small paperback booklet, twin to those in the laps of her audience. They pore over these booklets like catalogs, but it’s not candles or cosmetics that these women are shopping for: it’s answers to their financial services needs.
This is a party all right, but a Financial Freedom Party for Women®, the brainchild of financial advisor Debra Hadsall who developed the concept as a way to engage a previously untapped source of women investors using the home party sales model.
Q: What is the Financial Freedom Party for Women?
DH: The Financial Freedom Party for Women – FFP for short – is a unique and low-cost tool that serves two purposes: to educate women about financial management and to provide investment and insurance professionals with an effective medium and the materials for connecting with potential clients in a meaningful way.
Q: And you created it because…?
DH: Because in my experience, the financial services industry is not meeting the needs of the female client or the financial services professional who works with women, their families, and friends.
Q: How does the FFP remedy this?
DH: Simply put, through the marriage of two sales methods: the home party and the financial services presentation.
Q: Why is this model particularly attractive to women?
DH: Money management is a private and personal matter, even more so to women who tend to be uncomfortable with money management and distrustful of the financial services community. FFP is designed to bridge that gap through a process that connects them in a fun, familiar, and supportive way.
Q: Are you speaking as a client or Financial Services Professional?
DH: Both, really. Like many people growing up, I didn’t know much about how money works and wasn’t really offered any education about things like investing, insurance, and debt – and I have a minor in economics! I knew about having a job and making money, but the concept of passive income and an income stream from investments was really not mentioned. It surprised me to find that the women I was getting to know through my networking – even successful career women — felt as uncomfortable as I had about money management.
Q: And you knew what you didn’t like….
DH: Like everyone else, I have been approached by advisors, insurances sales people, brokers, and others in the financial services industry. The sales process is pretty standard and not very personal. I would receive a letter or a phone call followed up by another phone call and then a request for a meeting in an advisor’s office. There was a constant turnover in the advisors and insurance agents in the networking groups and each one repeated the sales process. All a big turn off and leaving me uncomfortable with entrusting my money – and my future – to something and someone I knew so little about.
Q: So you saw a need….
DH: When I joined the financial services industry as a licensed insurance producer, then a registered representative, I did so because I saw a need for middle-income women to have useful and appropriate information and financial solutions. That was important to me because I never felt I had affordable access to good financial advice. I soon discovered that the securities and insurance industries have evolved slowly over the years and the educational formats were very traditional. Most presentations were quite technical, pretty boring, and did not easily attract an audience, let alone audiences of women.
Q: Why is this, do you think?
DH: As I found when retailing financial services, the main motives of investment and insurance companies are to teach the client enough to hope she will buy the company’s product. Use of these materials by brokers/representatives is usually tied to some type of production requirement or commitment. For new representatives (with small levels of sales, or no existing client base) this is a problem. Also, not all the seminars are targeted to the entire financial picture, focusing only on the areas promoted by a particular company. For example, most presentations mention little, if anything, about debt management and focus mainly on investing.
Q: But why the home party concept?
DH: The Financial Freedom Party (FFP) was created when I found many other women brokers, like myself, were frustrated that women wouldn’t show up at financial seminars. Only three to four 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 home sales party hosted by a neighbor. There were 30 or so women there and they were buying a lot! A light went off in my head. It was suddenly clear to me that we need to change our approach in the financial services industry. And with the help of two other women brokers, the FFP concept was born.
Q: How is the FFP different?
DH: FFP is based around the power of relationships. Women really are relationship “buyers.” We don’t like hard sell and we prefer doing business with someone we know and trust. FFP is built on the concept of one person connecting with another person who introduces the first person to a group of her friends. In party plans, it is the hostess who invites friends and introduces them to the person with a product or service. Successful parties involve product education, relationship building, and the chance for the attendee to comfortably make a purchase without feeling pressured. This structure has been very successful for many years in marketing products to women.
Q: So where’s the value?
DH: The FFP gives an overview of a variety of areas of money management, offering a balanced overview of all aspects of a woman’s financial life. It isn’t about a product; it’s about information and, along with it the confidence that knowledge inspires; the confidence, for example, to plan, to invest. It also allows the attendee the chance to meet a financial services professional in a warm and friendly environment. This is a big change from sitting in an auditorium and experiencing a Power Point presentation. The party is really the beginning of the possibility of networking relationships and, of course, sales.
Q: You mentioned materials….
DH: The cornerstone of FFP is an inexpensive booklet that actually evolved from my first presentation script. The Financial Freedom Party for Women ®, A Little Book about Money for Women is an unpretentious little workbook designed to educate the reader about basic financial management concepts. It also includes everything the financial professional or party host needs to know in order to conduct a party – tips, a script, work sheets, and role playing cards for “party games.”
Q: How is that important?
DH: It starts the dialogue. The roles in the game cards present hypothetical situations, but are reflective of questions women ask and situations that occur in life. This is the springboard. Personal questions arise. And, as each individual situation is unique, questions relevant to personal finances and specific to the individual are directed to the appropriate professional to ensure that the situation has been evaluated carefully and appropriately, thus setting the stage for further discussion. (The Authors and Publisher specifically disclaim any liability, loss, or risk which is incurred as a consequence directly or indirectly of the use and application of any of the contents of this work.)
Q: But it’s not promoting a product. How does this benefit the Financial Services Professional conducting the party?
DH: It’s all about the relationship. Time and patience are required. For some of the party goers, the topics covered during the party are entirely new concepts. For a woman newly widowed, or just starting to earn money on her own, this may be the first time she has needed to think about financial planning. – or even about such simple things as insurance or a will. The response to the Financial Freedom Party has been positive. Some of the attendees became insurance or investment clients. Others just simply benefited from the information provided and became more confident about their financial decisions. I’ve had women come back months or even a year later and say “now I’m ready to invest.” I’ve even had clients who never attended a party but were referred to me by someone who had.
Q: If a Financial Services Professional wanted to use FFP as a marketing tool, is there any training required or is it simply a question of just buying and reading the book?
DH: Training is certainly available – especially for anyone not comfortable with presenting in the home party format — but FFP is structured so any Financial Services Professional could hit the ground running after reading it through with just a little practice.
Q: Where can the book be purchased?
DH: The first two editions of the book are available at Amazon.com. The most recent edition is available directly from lulu.com and there is a link at www.financialfreedomparty.com
Katherine Hause is a freelance writer whose articles regularly appear in
Debra Hadsall has been involved in the financial management business in both public and private sectors for most of her adult life. For more than a decade she has concentrated her efforts on working with women and coaching them on how to be financially free by teaching them how money works and getting them involved in taking charge of their finances. She holds a degree in business administration with a minor in economics and held a variety of securities and insurance licenses. She recently released the third edition of her book, Financial Freedom Party for Women®, A Little Book about Money for Women, now available in workbook format
The Party Success Model
Want to learn more about how party-goers have benefited from attending parties and how Debra placed business in the areas of mutual funds and variable annuity investments, term life insurance, and legal plan sales? Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may follow her blog about women, money, and other topics of interest to women at www.financialfreedomparty.com
According to the 2010 U.S. census, there are 92,086,050 women in the U.S. between the ages of 20-64. If we can share the Financial Freedom Party for Women with only 10% — 9.2 million women – it would be transformative.”
Copyright©2016 by Debra Hadsall