Women’s Financial Education Group Launches a New Business

Victoria, BC — Dollar Divas Victoria, a social networking group that aims to educate women on financial matters, is celebrating a milestone: 500 members—and it continues to grow!
Launched in January 2012, Dollar Divas was created with a dual goal: to help women become more financially independent by offering free seminars on real estate and investing and to help expand the client bases of its two founders: Jen Paterson and Saira Waters.
At the time, Paterson was a financial advisor at a wealth management firm. She was unhappy about the standard approach to gaining new business in her field—cold calls—and the lack of constructive advice available to her.
“I wasn’t being told anything on how to build a business,” says Paterson. “There was no instruction besides someone telling me to go book appointments and I was saying, ‘Okay, with who?’”
Waters, then and still a realtor with Royal LePage, didn’t lack for business-building advice, but found the traditional methods didn’t resonate with her.
“It was just seemed so archaic and not fun,” says Waters.
While both Paterson and Waters knew they needed to build their client bases to be successful, neither wanted to pressure potential clients into working with them. Instead, they wanted to build authentic relationships by offering value to their community and sharing what they knew.
“We both knew that we wanted to connect with women in our businesses and teach them about our respective fields,” says Waters.
And so Dollar Divas was born with the tagline “Fierce. Fabulous. Financially Independent.” The first seminar was on how to be a savvy homebuyer.
“We had 10 people show up, and we were both just gob-smacked that it actually worked,” says Waters.
As it turned out, women were very interested in what Paterson and Waters had to offer.
“The lack of knowledge that is out there among women is one of the things that drives me forward,” says Paterson. “Seeing so many capable women who are so smart and who have every ability to do these things, and they have no outlet to learn: no one is teaching them.”
That’s the essence of what Dollar Divas is—a safe, supportive place where women can learn how to make their own financial decisions confidently and get real answers, instead of a sales pitch.
Because Paterson and Waters do offer financial and real estate services, being transparent about their businesses has been an important part of their philosophy from the beginning.
“Especially at the beginning, we were not shy about doing shameless promotions,”’ says Paterson. “At the same time, we were also very clear that if they had no desire to work with us, we would never bother them. We would never harass them.”
“We are definitely here to provide value,” Waters adds. “At any first-time buyer seminar, half the people who show up already have realtors, but I look at it this way: ‘You guys need to know this, and you need to know how our industry works, and when you know these things, you are going to go out there and be better consumers.’”
But enough of the participants have become clients that both Paterson and Waters have achieved levels of success they never imagined.
“Suddenly, there was this bank of women who not only would give me the time of day, they actually respected me and what I had to say,” says Paterson. “It was seamless and smooth and easy, there was no pressure, and there was none of that palm-sweaty ugliness of a cold call.”
In the fours years since that first Dollar Divas meeting, Waters has grown her database exponentially, and now she has a full-time assistant and has partnered with a junior relator who is also doing well.
Waters adds that when she started in real estate, she was shy, but running Dollar Divas has built her confidence, strengthened her knowledge, and developed her public-speaking skills.
“It has helped me grow as a person,” she says. “It put me in a position of leadership and I was able to take that leadership role into my business.”
Meanwhile, Paterson has given up her financial advisor practice in order to manage the business development and consulting side of Dollar Divas—and take it to the next level: franchising. New branches have already launched in West Shore, Nanaimo, and White Rock.
Currently, Paterson and Waters are looking for other realtors and financial advisors interested in joining the Dollar Divas leadership team. They recommend duos who share their belief that to be successful, business has to be profitable but must also contribute to the community.
New Dollar Divas franchise directors will inherit the model Paterson and Waters have refined, including their growing pool of presentation resources, branding materials, and meeting guidelines, as well as weekly coaching sessions and ongoing support.
And with Paterson devoted full time to the franchise, one of the first positions to be filled is the one she held until recently: a licensed financial advisor for the Victoria branch.
For the immediate future, Waters, who describes her role as “realtor by day and Dollar Diva by night,” will continue to run the events for the flagship Victoria chapter and use it as the model for testing future concepts.
Dollar Divas meetings are free to join and free to attend and are held two to three times a month at various locations, including at businesses happy to gain the exposure that comes with having 10 to 15 women on the premises.
“It is about building relationships and just following up and creating those connections—it is more about connections,” says Waters.