This is part of our “Women In . . .” series, which looks at women in specific fields and how they have gotten where they are, as well as what advice they want to share with other women following similar paths. Below, Fradel Barber shares the powerful story of how she took the bold move of leaving college and diving into the financial services industry, ultimately founding her own financial services company, World Financial Group, which serves the financial needs of individuals and families from all walks of life.
Rubina Magazine: What made you want to go into financial services?
Fradel Barber: I never in a million years thought I would ever be in the financial industry. I always had an interest in graphic and fashion design and my thought process has always been right-brained, on the creative side. When I first got introduced to the financial industry I was 20-years-old, about to start college for fashion design and looking for a part-time job to do while in school in L.A. With no work experience or background in the industry I found it difficult to secure a job so I began to search outside of my preferred industry of design. That is when I came across the financial services industry.
At first I didn’t really understand it; in fact I was clueless about how to manage my own finances, let alone advise others on theirs. However, as I learned more I realized what a tremendous need there was in the financial industry to educate people on how money works and help them implement that education. When I realized the massive potential of what this business had to offer I decided to completely switch my course. I immediately quit school and went about building a business in the financial services arena with my goal being to revolutionize that industry by offering the products and services typically reserved for the wealthy and bringing it 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
Was there anything that made you second-guess your decision to pursue this?
Sometimes when we decide to do something we haven’t really decided; we are just checking it out; dipping our toe in it; sitting on the fence. I believe a true decision is made by taking immediate, massive action.
I remember very clearly the day I truly made my decision to completely devote myself to my business and to helping people get educated about how money works and understand financial products.
I had just started working part time in the financial services industry while attending college for fashion design. My plan was to do it part time to support myself while going to school.
It was my first day of college and I was sitting in LA traffic; thinking. Thinking about my life; where I was at the time, where I was going and about all the things I wanted to do. It occurred to me that almost every dream I had, had a big $ sign next to it. I then thought: what is the reason I am going to school? I am going to college to learn something in order to have an opportunity. But I already had an opportunity waiting for me in the financial services business and even though it may not be in the industry I always pictured myself in, it would give me the ability to accomplish every dream and goal I had!
At that moment I turned my car around went to my office, told my business mentor I was going full time and never went back to school. From that moment until today I never second-guessed my decision to pursue a business in the financial services industry. I’m helping others and fulfilling my dreams!
What has been the most interesting thing so far about your career?
What has been fascinating to me in learning the financial services business and building it from the ground up is that although most people think that our business is a numbers business, but it is really a people business. You are dealing with people, listening to their stories, discussing their life goals and dreams and helping them strategize a way to accomplish them. You have to be compassionate and know how to build trusting relationship and trust. By nature a very shy person, I learned to develop these skills and be able to transfer it to others through this business.
What would you say to other women who want to go into finance or financial services?
Know what you want: My entry into the industry was anything but typical but it happened because I focused on the outcome of what I really wanted as opposed to my circumstance at the given time. If you understand what you really desire establishing a business in this industry can surely get you there.
Do your own research: Asking friends and family and other people who have no experience or knowledge in what you are trying to do can sometimes hold you down. Just because you trust someone as a person, doesn’t mean they are credible to give you advice on the direction of how to go about accomplishing your goals in the business. Get opinions from someone who has done what you are looking to do or has reached certain goals that you’re looking to accomplish within the industry.
Find a mentor: Find a mentor who has a vested interest in your success and duplicate what they have done. I mentor many people entering the industry at various levels of experience; many coming from other industries. What I’ve found as a mentor is that the best thing a mentee can do is follow the instruction and advice that they are given and then come back for more. Sometimes you may get answers that you don’t “like” or that are out of your “comfort zone”. But that is when you will really grow. It takes doing something you’ve never done, to get something you never had.
Anything you want to add?
Doing the right thing for the client with honesty and integrity is the only way to go about building a business in the financial industry. If you do the right thing every time, you will build a strong business and get a constant stream of referrals. I’ve been in the business over 9 years and haven’t done any cold calling or telemarketing; because I only do business via referral. When people trust you and you provided value to them they want to introduce you to others. As I always tell my associates: “Mission, before Commission”
The financial services industry is one of the unique industries today that if built the correct way 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.