Purse Strings – An American Fintech For Women, By Women

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Fintech, as we’ve oft stated, comes in all shapes and sizes and spans across a multitude of spectrum.

One of the many fintechs we’ve encountered are matching wealthtechs – pairing up potential customers with financial advisors, and one of the more interesting in this genre is Purse Strings, founded in 2015 by Dr. Barbara Provost out of the Chicago area and positioned to women.

According to Provost, “I saw women in my circle, and beyond, being ignored and blatantly pandered to when they consulted their insurance and financial professionals. On the other side of the coin, I saw that this kind of valuable real-life information wasn’t being shared with women, so they didn’t know how to approach these hurdles in their life.”

Provost also went through the prestigious Yodlee | Envestnet fintech incubator program with her firm.

We’ve become an advocate for her work in helping educate women about finance, and when I received the following blogpost from her last week, I thought it provided interesting insight into the way Purse Strings markets to their audience of female prospects, and thought it bore sharing, with her permission, of course.

Advisors, read up and learn some tricks for marketing to women from one of the best in the business.


“Ladies, when’s the last time a professional: 

  • Used complicated language that you couldn’t follow?
  • Bulldozed through a conversation without checking in to see if you’re following or you whether you have questions?
  • Didn’t look you in the eye?
  • Exclusively talked with your spouse during a meeting? (AND — your spouse did business with that person anyway!?)
  • Made you feel like prey during a sales pitch?
  • Pushed a product even though you’re not sure why you need it or how it’ll serve you?

Don’t settle for “meh” service. Think carefully about how you’d rate the professionals that serve you — your financial advisor, your insurance agent — even your dry cleaner. 

Then, decide whether you need to get a new one.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

Put the professionals you work with through a mental checklist.

  • The professionals you work with must treat you with respect. Seems obvious, right? But sometimes, you’ve worked with a professional for so long that you — well, get used to it. Trust us, you shouldn’t feel like you need to stick with anyone who calls you “lil lady.”
  • Professionals must prove their integrity. Do you get the feeling that your auto servicer tries to tack on “extras” when you bring your car in? Maybe your technician tells you your timing belt needs replaced, and as you’re Googling that, he tells you you also have a rusty frame. Get the feeling you’re not getting the whole truth
  • They should make eye contact and talk to you — not just your husband or partner. Let’s say you’re in your financial advisor’s office. He looks at your spouse the whole time he’s yammering on about global small caps. You don’t know what that means (you’re pretty sure your husband doesn’t either, but he nods along anyway). Feeling like the third wheel? You shouldn’t have to.
  • The professionals you work with should answer your questions. Even if you ask demanding questions, a professional should never sidestep your questions or worse, direct the answer to your question toward your spouse. As if you’re not there.
  • Professionals shouldn’t only push a product. Sales these days is a far cry from product pushing as it used to be “back in the day,” where the salesperson was the expert preaching to the lowly masses. Have confidence and know that you’re more informed than ever, thanks to the internet. Sales professionals should want to build a relationship with you.

So, how does your professional add up?

Have you decided on a new insurance agent/car guy/financial professional? Or maybe your idea is to reform your current professional. Either way, good for you. Here’s what to do so you can make it clear what you need.

1. When making decisions, make it clear that your voice matters. 

Make it clear immediately. Put your stake in the ground and let them know that you’re a major part of making this decision. Make sure you get to engage in the financial discussion. You can choose from a few different things to say: 

  • “My husband and I are equal partners in this decision.”
  • “I may have different questions than my partner does. He/she understands this differently than I do, so we might need to backtrack first.”
  • “Can you back up to start out and explain the different types of life insurance before we get started?”
  • “I’m excited to work together to make this decision.”

2. Ask questions to understand.

Don’t take, “Don’t worry about that” for an answer. Insist on asking questions to clarify — remember, you are the customer. Whatever you do, don’t think to yourself, “I don’t quite get that, but I’ll Google it when I get home.”

Professionals might use financial lingo or plow right through a sales pitch without asking if you have questions. Remind yourself that you have control and here are some clarifying questions you can ask: 

  • Can we back up a bit and go over exactly what that means?
  • In summary, what do I need to know about your product to make a decision?
  • What are your fees? How do you make money on my purchase?
  • What other options do I have besides this specific product?
  • What will you do to support me during this journey? How often will you check-in?
  • What do I need to do to ensure success throughout this process?
  • What are your metrics for success?
  • How does your return policy work? What should I do if I don’t like your product?
  • Do you have customer support options?
  • What have other customers said about your product or service?
  • Can I contact one of your other clients to get a referral?
  • Can I ask who your clients are? Who is your usual clientele?

3. Know that you don’t have to work with your dad’s insurance guy.

It never fails — you end up hearing from some well-meaning family member, “Go to Jim at ManlyMan Investing. He’ll tell you exactly what you need to do with your money.” 

We’re giving you permission to decline. You don’t have to work with who your spouse chooses. Or who your dad, brother, or brother-in-law recommend. 

  1. Do your own due diligence. Do some online research or ask around to figure out what type of professional you might want to work with.
  2. Interview people. Don’t skip this step! You want to sit across from someone face to face and ask as many questions as you can think of. No question is too silly to ask, especially if it’s a legitimate concern of yours.
  3. Examine your comfort level. Every time you interview someone, you’re potentially hiring that person to be part of your team. Make sure you’d feel comfortable picking up the phone at the drop of a hat. Assess your confidence that this person can help you make the best decisions with your money, your car, your insurance and legitimately cares about your goals.

Life’s too short to be worried that someone’s not handling your money, your car, your business — whatever it is — well.

4. Make it clear how professionals can earn your business.

Tell a professional up front how they can earn your business. This way, nobody plays cat-and-mouse or beats around the bush. You simply say, “You can earn my business by doing X, X, and X.”

For example, you can say, “I’m looking for a partner who can help me build up my retirement portfolio and who can meet with me once per month until I retire so I know I’m confidently building my retirement portfolio so I’ll have enough money for retirement.”

Or: “I’m looking for the best partner possible to guide me through my life insurance choices. I want to make sure I’m saving the right amount of money for my needs and I want to make sure I’m partnering with a company that offers great customer service.”

Whatever you’re after, make sure that your professional understands exactly what he or she can do to partner with you. Don’t turn meetings into guessing games.

5. Know you have options. 

You want to do business with those who are knowledgeable and who listen to you. As various demographics further define what they want, such as LBGTQI individuals and many other groups, you may want to work with professionals who are more like you. That’s okay! The internet makes it possible to find just about any professional in any category related to sex, race, sexual orientation, and more. You’ve got more options than ever before.

6. Keep looking.

As much as you might not love this idea, it’s possible that you’ll have to keep looking for the right professional for your needs. Do your due diligence and peek into lots of different options — look beyond your local area. 

Even if it takes you a few months to find a new insurance provider or a new financial advisor, wouldn’t it be worth it if it meant that you could have the right provider for life?

Of course it would. Keep interviewing, hopping on Zoom meetings, and looking for the right person to add to your very special team.

HOW DOES YOUR PROFESSIONAL RANK IN YOUR EYES?

So, how do all the professionals you work with fit into your life? Do you feel like they’re top-notch providers or do you feel like you’re patronized the second they open their mouths?

Remember, you have control of your own situation. You don’t have to stick with the same professional you have for years just because it’s what you’ve always done.