Fradel Barber is a born educator. One of 12 siblings (!), she honed her teaching skills at a very young age. Her creative bent took her via fashion school but, she soon changed direction to embark upon her life’s mission – to bring financial services education and advice to middle America.
A successful leader of an independent financial services business, Fradel now also teaches people how to build their own financial education and planning business.
What initially drew you to this profession?
Never in a ‘million years’ did I think I would be in the financial industry.
I’ve always been interested in graphic and fashion design and my thought process has always been right-brained; on the creative side. I first got introduced to the financial industry when I was 20 years old and about to start college for fashion design in Los Angeles. I was looking for a part-time job to do while in school but, with no work experience or background in design I found it difficult to secure a job. So, I began to search elsewhere.
At first, I didn’t understand financial services. In fact I was clueless about how to manage my own finances, let alone advise others on theirs! However, I soon realized what a tremendous need there was (and still is) to educate people on how money works and help them implement that education. Upon realizing this I immediately quit school! I went about building a business in financial services with my goal being to revolutionize the industry by offering products and services, typically reserved for the wealthy, to middle America through education.
The business went from my head to my heart when I was able to help my own family get their finances in order. I realized that I was making a real impact.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
As a child I played “school” with my siblings. Being the oldest of 12 children I always had an audience and my “job” would always be teacher. I taught different subjects and came up with creative ideas to keep my “students” engaged. Although in my play time I was a teacher; at school I was not a very cooperative student, they would call me ‘’the troublemaker’’! Little did I know that what I would end up doing had so much to do with education and teaching.
How do you approach financial planning and why?
Most of the industry is focused on the top 5%; the high net worth individual or the institutional investor. This leaves the majority of people “left behind”.
I am committed to educating people regardless of their income so they can make informed decisions. Clients learn how to control their money instead of letting their money – or lack of it – control them. You work hard for your money, so it should work hard for you.
I hold bi-weekly seminars on various personal financial planning concepts as well as larger events such as the annual Women & Wealth event. [Editors note: see the bottom of this post to register for Women & Wealth on April 24th in Brooklyn. It’s free!]
Education is important but, it is only the beginning. The implementation of education is where many get lost and this is where individualized coaching and advising comes in. I believe there is no “one size fits all” as every individual, family and/or business has different goals and therefore may need a different financial vehicle to get there.
Implementation part is always done “one on one” so that each person gets the individual attention they need to assess their financial situation. The first step is a financial needs analysis to get to know the client and the second step is researching a wide selection of programs, products and services to identify a solution that best fits their needs and goals.
Doing the right thing for the client with honesty and integrity is the only way to build a business in the financial industry. I’ve been in the business over 10 years and haven’t done any cold calling or telemarketing; because I only do business via referral.
Why do you think there are so few women in this profession and what needs to happen for this to change?
Many studies show* that women have a different way of thinking about money and their finances. Although women control more than half of the private wealth in this country and account for 64% of consumer spending; many women process information and make purchasing decisions differently to men.
When it comes to making investment decisions 84% of women say they feel misunderstood by investment marketers. I believe a ripple effect takes place when most of the industry is male. There is an equal (if not greater) need for women to know how to plan for their future and women prefer to be advised by a female advisor. Unfortunately, the result of the current imbalance is that a lack of women in the financial industry leads to fewer women getting the financial education and guidance they need.
Through building my business from the ground up, it became clear to me that although most people think that our business is a ‘numbers’ business; it is more a ‘people’ business. When you are dealing with people, listening to their story, discussing their life goals and dreams and helping them strategize a way to accomplish them; the skills necessary to be successful are compassion towards others, the ability to build a relationship and trust, and the ability to understand human nature. This by nature is what women excel at!
The financial services industry is unique. It can provide you not only with a great income but also a lifestyle to go with it. As a woman you may have the need for more flexibility in your career and this business can give that to you.
How can we encourage more women to get excited about building wealth?
Through education and conversation about the subject.
For many women talking about money and investments is a taboo subject. We need to engage women to converse, to understand how money works, to understand how to build wealth and how that wealth will provide security for them and their family. If we do this I believe we can change the ratio!
What’s the biggest challenge you face in running an independent business?
Serving the market I serve, which has very high demand and need means there is never enough time!
Time is something we can’t buy, produce more of and we don’t know how much of it we have left. I am fortunate to have an incredible leadership team that is aligned with the mission and vision of serving the underserved market most of the industry has left behind. I now focus most of my time on training individuals to become part of this leadership team and help them to build successful independent businesses of their own.
What personal achievements are you most proud of?
I am proud to have built a financial services company from the ground up in NYC. I was told it wasn’t possible and yet I did it anyway.
Today what makes me most proud is teaching others to do the same and watching them have that same pride in the businesses they’ve built.
Do you have a favorite book, and why?
I believe that you are the combination of the top 5 people you hang out with, the books you read and audio you listen to. One of my favorite books is: “177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class” by Steve Siebold. He compiled 177 secrets of what it takes to have the mindset of a champion. Each page is one of those secrets and it’s a book you can reread over and over again to develop that winning mentality that can see you through any challenge.
Fradel is currently inviting women to join her for “Women and Wealth” – a financial education and networking event to be held this month on April 24th at Borough Hall in Brooklyn. No matter what your current financial status, this event will give you strategies on how to build and protect wealth, how to plan for retirement, how to increase cashflow, and even how to start a business. Don’t hesitate to register – last year’s event drew a crowd of over 300+ women from all over NYC and NJ and more are expected this year. Oh, and there’s free wine too!