By Jim Magats, SVP, Payments and SMB Solutions
A record 4.5 million American workers voluntarily left their jobs in November, which follows the previous record last September. This “Great Resignation” has enabled people to break from the norm and take control of their own financial freedom. Many of the people looking to take control of their financial lives are women. Women continue to be paid lower salaries compared to their male counterparts. According to Pew Research, in 2020, women earned only 84% of what men earned. Even now, women continue to get less venture capital funding – women-led startups received only 2.3% of venture capital funding in 2020. A recent study by McKinsey found that women’s jobs were 1.8 times more vulnerable during the pandemic than men’s jobs; women made up less than 40% of global employment but accounted for 54% of overall job losses as of May 2020.
As Allegra Moet Brantly, Founder and CEO of Factora, puts it, “the ratios are not in women’s favor.” That’s why she is focused on educating women on how to invest in themselves and their futures. With only 26% of American women invested in the stock market, Factora aims to fill that investment gap, create more opportunities for financial wellness and freedom by teaching women how to build personalized wealth plans and in turn, empower those women to mentor the next generation. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I wanted to share her inspiring story that started with failure and debt and ended in great success.
Jim Magats (JM): Can you share more about your background and what inspired you to start your business?
Allegra and team.
Allegra Moet Brantly (AMB): I was living and working in New York City in my 20s and making around $40,000. Though I was barely making ends meet, I didn’t even think to negotiate my salary. Like many other women, I was just grateful to have a job and a salary, but I didn’t realize my true value. I quickly realized I was spending above my means. I kept thinking that making more money would solve my problems, so I finally got the courage to negotiate my salary and was grateful to get a raise. It was then that I realized how grossly underpaid I had been, and I started to realize my true worth. I got so good at salary negotiation that I started helping friends negotiate salary increases of around $25,000.
But even with my increased salary, I was still living above my means. I didn’t know how to manage my finances and I realized I was financially illiterate. It’s so strange to me that we don’t get taught even basic personal finance skills in school. I ended up kicking off a year-long journey of deep-diving personal finance fundamentals so I could learn how to invest and build smarter money habits. I went from negative $18,000 in debt to over $800,000 in net worth in less than four years. I went from money being a source of constant stress for me to feeling financially stable and free. Now, my biggest joy in life is watching that transformation for other women.
Allegra and team.
My passion led me to start Factora in 2018. We have now grown to 27 Factora Wealth Circles and have over 1,000 customers. Through our Wealth Circles, we teach women how to build personalized wealth plans with our 12-week online course. We’re not just a self-driven course – we’re a community. You go through this with hundreds of other women who want to change their relationship with money. The course gives you your first “money friends” to discuss your financial situation and proposed strategies. The average woman coming out of a Factora Wealth Circle increases her net worth by $34,000 in six months. Women learn to create side hustles, invest in real estate, open a brokerage account, and much more.
JM: As a woman-owned business, how are you giving back to and empowering women?
AMB: The ratios are not in women’s favor. It’s clear when you look at salaries, see who is getting more startup funding or even who is making investment decisions at VCs. Our mission is to help one million women grow their net worth to $1 million, and to help women create a path to financial freedom. I believe that when women have more money, everyone thrives – from their families to their communities. We have a scholarship program called “Rising Tide,” which we started in 2020 when there was a lot of publicity around the injustice toward minority and Black communities, and we realized our Wealth Circles were very white. Our Rising Tide program is a scholarship program that women can apply to. We have had 30 women go through the program, and they’re mostly minority women. We want to help all women create a path to financial freedom.
JM: What challenges or opportunities have you faced as a women-owned business?
AMB: Imposter syndrome has been a challenge for me, as it is for many women. I’ve often questioned myself. I’m not a financial planner. I’m not someone who has credentials after my name. Why am I ever going to have a customer? I actually took a walk with someone who is a certified financial planner and let her know about these insecurities. She reminded me that people like Richard Branson, Tony Robbins and others who talk and write books about money aren’t necessarily experts in it – they just practice what they preach. Another challenge has been not being able to find enough peers and mentors that are women who own successful businesses. To turn this around, we’re trying to help propel women forward, so they can become mentors and peers for other women. I do learn from men, but a lot of them don’t deal with the same issues that women deal with.
JM: How has PayPal helped your business?
Allegra Moet Brantly
AMB: PayPal has helped my business in so many ways! We use PayPal as the only alternative payment option to a credit card when purchasing a seat in the Wealth Circle. PayPal also has a financing option and I know many of our customers are grateful to have that flexible financing option. We’re a small business and we wouldn’t be able to fund that on our own. We also use PayPal as a referral payout tool. Women who refer other women get paid referrals, and we pay that out through PayPal.
JM: How are you leveraging social media to engage with your customers or attract new prospects?
AMB: We use Instagram and LinkedIn primarily. On Instagram, we just hit 15,000 followers, all organic and homegrown. We try to provide as much value as possible on social media through motivational and inspirational content. Our goal is to highlight and feature real women and how their financial lives change when they focus on their money and have a community to get support from. We also have a podcast called “Coffee and Coin,” where I interview women about their financial lives and portfolios.
JM: Small business owners wear many hats. What does your typical day look like?
Allegra and team.
AMB: As a CEO, I have three main responsibilities: 1) hire the right people, 2) make sure they stay in line with the vision, and 3) manage our cash flow and runway very well. That said, we are only a team of five full-time and some contractors, and we’re looking to hire two more people. I still spend a lot of time working in the business rather than on the business, and I’m hoping to pull myself out of the daily operations more and more as we build out a strong management team. However, right now, my day to day includes checking in on the marketing and product departments, creating content, editing, producing podcasts, and I also run our leadership meetings. So, a bit of everything.
JM: What advice do you have for other women entrepreneurs looking to start a business?
AMB: Just do it. I truly believe the world needs what you have to offer, especially as a woman. I understand it’s scary and hard, but it’s worth it. Even if you fail, you will learn so much and apply it to different parts of your life. This is my second business – I failed at the first one. Don’t be so concerned with risk because we only learn and grow from taking risks.