Two successful women entrepreneurs shared their thoughts on building a business while balancing other life commitments. Persistence, passion and focus were three of the qualities they embraced. “My mother always told me to have an elephant’s memory,” said one of the consumer panelists. “Forgive, but never forget.”
The two consumer panelists also talked about how they found and why they chose their current financial advisors. Both panelists said they had once worked with brokers but that the incentives were bothersome to them and that they had eventually moved to working with an independent, fee-based advisor.
“I took a lot of time finding my advisor,” said one. “I wasn’t happy with my dad’s financial advisor, who due to the sale of our family business gifted a significant amount of money to me when I was only 25 years old. I interviewed 4-5 individuals, and while knowledge, experience and references were important, I needed someone I could talk to. My dad’s advisor was talking down to me; it was not a respectful relationship.”
On the topic of women in the workplace and women as entrepreneurs, on of the consumer panelists said, “For women to get ahead, we have to help each other.”
WOMEN WINNING IN BUSINESS
Author, professional speaker and sports agent Molly Fletcher, labeled the female “Jerry McGuire” by CNN, echoed many of the sentiments shared by the consumer panel during her speech, “Women Winning in Business.” She emphasized that the women in the room were in the relationship business and encouraged them to add so much value that their clients would enthusiastically refer them, let alone ever think of leaving them.
“Do your clients feel like they owe you or do you feel like you owe them? The goal is this: How could they possibly leave you after all you have given and given and given? Another tip: before people officially sign on with you, show them what is it is like to work with you. Have a sense of fearless urgency. Be intentional about how quickly or slowly you respond to things. We are all cognizant of the messages we send to clients – we tend to execute around things that make us money or don’t make us money. Show that sense of urgency around the work you do for your clients,” Fletcher said.
By the way, Fletcher said that not enough women advisors pitch her on becoming a resource for her professional athlete and celebrity clients. In the middle of that pregnant moment, a Securities America advisor stood up and quickly walked to the front of the room. Holding out her business card, she said, “Hello. I’m Amy Lipsitz. I’m an independent financial advisor. We work with athletes, affluent individuals and business owners at my firm. I’d love to be a resource for you and your clients. Can we have a quick side conversation when you’re done here?” The room erupted into laughter and applause. Fletcher gave Lipsitz a high-five.
PROVIDING A FEMALE-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT
During the “Women of the Ages Panel” moderated by Janine Wertheim, chief marketing officer of Securities America, advisors from Triad, Investacorp and Securities America, each representing a decade of life, shared their life and work experiences. All emphasized that building relationships with their employees and strategic partners was as important as building relationships with their clients. All relished the benefits of being an entrepreneur and the support that they received from their respective broker/dealer.
Triad advisor Laura Schilling, who represented the 30’s and 40’s age group on the Women of the Ages panel, has found the best employees are women who want to work part-time so they can be available for their kids. They are paid hourly and can work from home if they want, using a Citrix connection. Some come to the office but being a flexible employer is key. She also asks each of her employees, “What would make you feel appreciated – spas, retreats, time with the team, time for yourself, time with the kids? I look for what motivates them, and not only find but keep incredible women this way. Most of my staff comes from staff. They are extremely loyal and hard-working,” Schilling said.
BUSINESS BUILDING TIPS
When asked how she attracts new business, Kim Kropp, a Securities America advisor in her 50’s, said she does no direct marketing. Everything hinges on the soft sell. She gets all the business she needs through referrals from existing clients. As an example of how she builds relationships, Kropp talked about the holiday open house she’s held at her own home for the past 32 years. 100 people, mostly family and friends, came the first year. 400 people came through in 2011, many of them clients and their friends. She makes all the food, drinks.