For each episode of Share Your Umbrella, the First Financial Security® podcast where entrepreneurs share stories of helping families in need with financial solutions and opportunities, we like to take the most interesting parts of the interview and offer them here on our blog. This week, our guest was Daniela Dubach, a Field Vice President at FFS who moved to America from Europe to pursue life as an entrepreneur. We spoke to Daniela about the differences between the two cultures regarding financial education, how financial vulnerability impacts women, and just how much progress can be made in ten years.
See below for an excerpt of our conversation — you can listen to the full episode here.
Daniela, what were you doing before you joined FFS and what was your career like then?
Before FFS, I did a bunch of different things — first of all, I moved to this country about 20 years ago. Because this is America, the land of opportunity, I figured, “Let me just see what I can do here.” So I got here in 2000, started in the beauty industry, and ended up in real estate. After 2008, when the market crashed, I realized that was not the industry I wanted to stay in.
I was looking for something else where I still could interact with people and be my own boss. Then, an old friend of mine who has been in the business for a long time suggested, “Well, why don't you get your insurance license?” I thought, “I might as well try.”
I was born in Germany and raised in Switzerland, where I spent my life. I had a great job in Europe — I worked for an airline, I was very fortunate to travel a lot, but soon I realized that corporate Switzerland wasn't for me. I never looked back.
I don't know what my life would have been back there, but it would be very, very different than what it is here. I always say it would have taken me probably five lifetimes to get where I am today, here in America, if I had stayed in Europe.
It's just a different mindset. It's not good or bad, it's just different. When we're talking about entrepreneurs, America is just the mecca for people who have big dreams and want to make those dreams come true.
Do you have any stories of sharing that dream with others? For example, we named the podcast Share Your Umbrella because umbrellas are an insurance symbol — they cover, shelter, and help people. For us, the umbrella represents not only the products that shelter our clients from risk but also the opportunity to build a business in the financial services industry. In what ways have you shared your umbrella?
Well, I felt very lucky when I got into the insurance industry. I kind of fell into it, because I would say that a little over ten years ago, I was a financial disaster. I didn't even know what a 401(k) was — mind you, I didn’t grow up here, but I had to learn many lessons the hard way. I realized that I can't be ignorant about finances.
I started learning a lot on my own, which opened a lot of doors, but also made me realize that there are a lot of people in this country, especially women, who just don't really know a whole lot about finance. I would say 80% of my clients are women, and I want to help them feel more empowered by being in control of their finances.
I think in Europe, in general, people are not so into instant gratification; that was a big adjustment for me. Everything is on credit, the beautiful homes, the amazing cars — 90% of those things aren’t even fully owned. Kids get out of college here and start their adult life already in debt, chasing their tail because they're living paycheck to paycheck. That’s why it’s so important. Financial education can get us out of that rat race.
2020 was a challenging year for everybody — how do you and your business adjust at the time?
Before COVID, our industry was 100% face-to-face. I didn’t even know — nor did I want to know — how to run a webinar, because I considered myself a face-to-face person. That’s what I was good at. When COVID hit, I had to make some major adjustments to that attitude. I had to get out of my own way and adapt because otherwise, I would have had to close up shop. I was very nervous for my first few meetings, but I remember how excited I was when I closed my first application via Zoom. After that first success, I knew that adapting was possible.
We've heard from so many agents that Zoom has really transformed the way that they do business. How do you see those Zoom meetings being incorporated into your practice going forward?
I would never have imagined me saying this a year ago, but I don't want to get back to face-to-face. Of course, it's nice sometimes. But if I have to go out in person to deliver a policy or pick up a check or something, I can’t help but think, “Well now I have to get in my car, I have to drive 20 miles, and I have to fight all the traffic coming back.” Before, I would fill up my gas tank probably twice a week; now, it's every