Today we had the honor of catching up and interviewing a powerful and inspirational woman. Not only has she changed the lives of many with the top-tier service she has made it her personal mission to lead, inspire and educate the community on financial literacy to give the tools necessary to lead a financially free life.
Each year we evaluate different industries to proclaim one person that is making an impact in the community with the Los Angeles Tribune Profesional of the Year Award – Michele Farrell has earned her Award in the financial sector for consistently putting the well being of the community and her clients as her top priority.
Her story is inspirational and educational, we hope you enjoy this exclusive interview as much as we did.
What inspired you to start this business?
I was at a crossroads in my life, not fulfilled with my previous career and was looking for a way to make a difference, to make a contribution when I was invited to a interview with a financial services company. Honestly, I never thought I would be in financial services, little did I know the hard paved road my mom was forced to take would inspire, motivate me, and turn bringing Wall Street to Main Street as my life’s work. Going back to when I was 9, my dad had recently been laid off losing all of his life insurance, my mom was just getting back into the work force, but his was the primary bread winner. Three short weeks later he died of a heart attack leaving my mom to instantly become a single mom. My mom never got a call from a financial advisor asking her what her financial goals and dreams were, no one to turn to for financial education – she just worked hard her whole life, sometimes used her 401k to make ends meet and thought she would work until she died. Well, at age 65, her body had something else to say about that and she was forced into medical retirement; she only had $10,000 in her 401k. My passion, purpose and mission to is to educate and empower, especially women in all things financial.
What is your number one motivation to continue your journey?
The women I come across that need my help. These stats are crazy to me, 43% of women do not have life insurance. According to CNBC, almost 1 in 5 have nothing saved for retirement. When I sit down with anyone, especially women, I see my mom in them. I love teaching and I love solving problems. As I sit down with someone and can teach them options, they have and help them solve the number one enemy to money of procrastination, then I get, for lack of a better phrase, a warm and fuzzy feeling. I always look at that person and ask myself, is this a recommendation I would to my mom? If I can just keep one person from following down my mom’s path, then it is all worth it.
How important do you feel women’s empowerment is in the financial space?
On a scale of 1 to 10, a 100 for numerous reasons. One of the main reasons is so they do not follow the path my mom took; my mom has shared with me if she had an advisor in her corner, not only educating her, but advising her other options than using her 401k as an emergency fund, her retirement might look different today. Another is when you’re not educated and able to make financial decisions for yourself, it prevents or takes away your ability to say no to harmful situations like domestic violence and unsafe workplace environments. The last I’ll talk about here is according to the US Census in 2018, women only earned 81.2 cents to every whole dollar a man made, which means they have less money to save for themselves. Also, women tend to be in the workforce less due to having children and women are more likely to become caregivers to their parents, spouse, and siblings.
Where do you see yourself and your business in five years time?
I know my business will continue educating and empower women. I project we will have not only offices in Southern California; also expanding across the US, not only with brick and mortar offices, but a strong virtual presence. My goal is to reach over 100,000 in financial empowerment. Outside of the financial ring, a big passion for me is supporting survivors of domestic violence and abuse and I see The Financial Architects Wealth Management partnering with an organization to help support these women with education, planning and opportunity.
Who are your top mentors or influences?
Natalie Essman is my business partner, mentor, and friend. Natalie was the first one to empower me with financial education and she is my go-to when I need to discuss my own financial matters. Not only that, but she has poured belief, vision, and guidance into me to help me reach the successes I have been blessed to achieve. No matter what area of my life I need guidance on, I can count on her just like I can count on the sun rising every morning. Another mentor I hold near and dear to my heart is Manuel Soto. Manuel moved from a one-man firm to tripling the size of our insurance brokerage in 2 years. He has taught me to think outside of the box and bring an unconventional way of doing business in a very traditional business. People that influence me outside inner circle are people such as Sharon Lechter, Ed Mylett, Tony Robbins, Oprah, Warren Buffet, David McKnight, and list goes on. I look for people that opinion also conflicts with mine, as you never know where a great idea is hidden.
What words of advice do you have for aspiring women entrepreneurs?
Do not quit. Simple, but not easy. As long as you are moving the needle forward or learning when you move backwards, then everything is worth it. There are so many times I wanted to quit when I first got started (and still even some days), but I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Find your purpose, your why – latch into that like it provides you oxygen. That will keep you from quitting, it will help you make that one more call, read one more chapter and get outside of your comfort zone. If you do not learn to live outside your comfort zone, entrepreneurship gets much tougher. Find a mentor, a coach and associations that will support you during your journey, give you course correction and guidance. Have a plan and be flexible with the plan as needed. My vision and journey has changed over time, only because I have a plan and am willing to make changes along the way.
What final words would you like to say to the audience?
When you sit down to select a financial advisor, or even a mentor or business coach, understand what you want them to help you achieve and the role they play; and make sure they understand their role in the process. Especially with a financial advisor, it should be a long-term relationship. They should be willing to meet with you at least every year, fully disclose why they are making recommendations and their fees. Do not be afraid to interview them, this is your financial future on the line, you have every right to be picky. Lastly, do not procrastinate – it is the number one enemy to your money and the only way you have 100% control of. Get educate, take action and take care of you, because at the end of the day, no one else will.