Financially Fearless: An Interview with Barb Provost

At Score 3 Angels, we are about more than just providing financial capital (although that’s really important to us too!). A big part of our mission is to provide social capital and resources to founders.

I was recently introduced to Barb Provost, Founder and President of Purse Strings, and we think that Barb and her team provide resources that you can’t afford to miss out on. I had the opportunity to sit down and ask Barb some questions about Purse Strings, and I encourage everyone to take a look and at the very least sign up for the newsletter! Ladies, it’s time to be #financiallyfearless.

Enjoy!
Marinna

What is Purse Strings and how can women benefit from the organization?

For Women: Purse Strings provides free information and resources, right online, to its community of women on financial topics such as planning for retirement, investing, buying a house, or whether to keep the house when going through a divorce. Information that will help women make smart financial decisions for themselves and their families.

For Financial Professionals: Purse Strings provides the information, knowledge, and skills needed to reach, engage, and earn the female dollar; 14 trillion dollars of potential earning power. By becoming “Purse Strings Approved” financial professionals will have their own webpage on the Purse Strings site. Our female community members can easily view their picture, see their location and read about the professional and the services he/she provides. Purse Strings community members will be able to connect with any of the Purse Strings Professionals, via email, right from our site.

This is the Purse Strings model:

What inspired you to found Purse Strings?

I am an adult educator and have 25+ years of experience creating education and training for
insurance and financial professionals. Over this time I could see how women were overlooked. They were not represented in marketing materials, in sales processes these organizations use, in products they sell and so on. I consistently brought it to Leadership, but to no avail.
A few years ago I went through a divorce and in my divorce network group I heard from smart, educated women, that they were unsure about the money in their household. They feared divorce because they didn’t have a handle on their household income, debt, investments or retirement. I knew, as an educator, I could help these women learn what they needed to know to be confident having these conversations with financial professionals, and in turn, make the good financial decisions based on their life circumstance. However, fearing the insurance and financial professionals were not primed to serve women (per my years of experience), I knew I could create that education as well. (I have the creds — Doctorate of Adult and Higher Learning, Masters in Business, Certified Coach, professor, Mother, sister, daughter…)
I commissioned a researcher to validate my assumptions, and the facts were overwhelming! Here is a statement from one body of research, “the insurance and financial industry wins the award as being the least sympathetic to women.” And, Purse Strings was created. We teach both groups (women and financial providers) and provide a gateway for women to work with Purse Strings Approved providers to serve women how they want to be served.

Why focus on women? Doesn’t everyone need to be educated about their financial choices?

Yes — we all can use more education and training about our financial choices. But, women are different. Here is just an excerpt from my latest blog:
Research to determine and teach the medical field signs of a heart attack, studied large groups of white males and defined signs of a heart attack to be shortness of breath, pain down the left arm, and pain in the chest. Yet, women would go to their doctors and complain of pain in the back of their neck or their jaw, exhaustion and an upset stomach. These women were told they were stressed and should go home and have a glass of wine, take a vacation, or better yet, be prescribed an antidepressant, only to experience a massive, sometimes fatal, heart attack later.
The same thing can happen in your financial life, with an equally devastating outcome. Women’s financial needs are different from men’s financial needs in exactly the same way that heart attack symptoms display differently. Also, just as there has been a lack of research into women-specific symptoms, there has been a disturbing lack of attention paid to what women need when it comes to financial professionals. So often financial plans or decisions are made that don’t focus on the unique needs of women, leaving them financially insolvent when it comes to their financial future.
Data shows that women are NOT prepared for their retirement or their financial future. They are not prepared because they earn less money, leave the workforce to care for children or an ill relative, and don’t earn benefits while they are not in the workforce — and so on. Also, most women will age alone and will need money to care for their health and welfare. Women are an underserved market — meaning their individual needs have not been addressed, and yet, they need the products and services you provide.
There are articles surfacing this information more and more. Here is just one recent article which is from the Atlantic. See the article here.

How is Purse Strings changing the climate of the finance and insurance industries for women?

My vision for Purse Strings is to “shift the tide.” Instead of the Insurance and Financial industry telling women what they should buy — Women are telling these industries (and industries are asking women) what they need. The current products and practices of today aren’t working.

Purse Strings is a small company with a big and powerful mission. We are working to get the word out to all women and the insurance and financial industries through PR events, our website www.pursestrings.co, the monthly newsletter, articles, and social media and so on.

THIS IS WHERE WE NEED THE MOST HELP!!!
Website: www.pursestrings.co
Facebook: befinanciallyfearless
Twitter: pursestringsco
Instagram: pursestringsco
Pinterest: pursestringsco

What is a Purse Strings Approved Professional and how can prospective professionals get involved?

Becoming “Purse Strings Approved,” provides a unique sales pipeline and income stream. Approved professionals will be featured on the site with opportunities to be highlighted via Ask an Expert and featured blogs. Every time Purse Strings is recognized and promoted, these professionals are recognized and promoted. All marketing materials will drive traffic to the Purse Strings website, and in turn, on to our Approved professionals.

It is important to note that we don’t take everyone. The first step is to attend and complete our Purse Strings education. Once completed, any professional attending the training can take what they learn and apply it as they desire. To become Purse Strings Approved, professionals who attend the training and know they want to focus on and serve the female market can apply to become Approved. They will then be provided with a comprehensive and rigorous assessment to complete, which involves making changes to their practice and processes. Once they have completed the assessment Purse Strings will vet them and determine if they have fully completed the assessment and are worthy of serving our female community.

Can you talk about your partnerships with some of the larger financial institutions and how they are helping women around the world take control of their finances?

Currently, we are talking with the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank to build “purse strings-like” education work on their Banking on Women program. Last year we worked with them on their She for Shield (insurance and finance) program. These training programs are implemented in underserved countries. (Nigeria, India, Vietnam to name a few). This demonstrates how the need to invest in women is prevalent throughout the world.

We are working feverishly to get this message to larger financial institutions in the US. Many of these institutions will say they have a “women’s program” geared toward women, but often they are cursory and sometimes insulting (pink it and shrink it). Do you know of an organization you can name that has a comprehensive strategy that focuses on the female market?
The amount of information available may seem overwhelming at first glance.The amount of information available may seem overwhelming at first glance.

If you were introducing someone to the Purse Strings website for the first time, where would you direct them first?

I would direct them to the first page that comes up! First, you will see a link to an article on Why Women which explains the dire need for women to help themselves and for the insurance and financial industry to help women to become “financially fearless.” As you scroll down, you will see links to 8 different Money Guides; it’s great information on all sorts of topics. Continue scrolling to see some of the common questions from our community in Ask an Expert. Last, you will be able to take a peek at how other women spend their money over the week in our Money Diaries. Moreover, if there is anything women want to know more about they can simply send us an email, and we will be on it! This information is built by women for women!