FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS, Val Ladaban Domingo, a two-year MDRT member from Davao City, Philippines, worked in the network marketing industry, learning how to identify people’s needs and communicate how a product can meet them. Yet when the company where both he and his wife worked closed in 2011, Domingo, who like many in the Philippines had never learned to save, was forced to consider other possibilities.
Only because his wife, Catherine, had set aside an emergency fund for their family (which at the time included two kids, and now has four) were they able to subsist for a little more than a year before they attended a financial services presentation. They saw an important opportunity to not just realign their own financial circumstances but make a career of helping other families as well.
Since then, they have focused on financial education for families, many of whom don’t have insurance or any plan to stabilize themselves in emergencies. Because of his marketing experience, and the fact that most of his relatives and friends had minimal protection in place, Domingo was able to get off to a fast start.
To build their brand, Domingo and his wife began doing financial literacy sessions on Facebook Live, sharing their experiences and what they can do for clients. A friend of his wife’s, to name just one example, began following these sessions and sent a message asking if Domingo could help her set aside a portion of her income to plan for her 5-year-old son’s education.
“Because of our continuous effort to add value through social media, my wife’s friend picked up on it, and in a matter of a week, she had signed up for an insurance product to secure her son’s education,” he said.
While Domingo does not involve his kids in his social media efforts — Facebook Live sessions take place Thursdays at 9 a.m., while the kids are at school — he does connect with other prospects through his children. One fellow parent at their school had never been able to get approved for insurance because of a health condition she had many years prior; after connecting with Domingo at school, she was able to provide all the necessary documentation and receive the coverage she had always sought.
We know how it feels to be caught off guard when you don’t have the money to continue the lifestyle you’re used to.
Domingo and his wife have expanded beyond the family market as well, connecting with business owners and millennials. The latter group is a particular target during twice-monthly seminars that Domingo gives. One of those seminars is aimed at capturing clients, while the other strives to introduce people to the role of a financial planner, with half of Domingo’s team of 32 financial planners being millennials.
In fact, the seminar groups are not so separate. Some members of the team started as clients. “When they saw the mission and advocacy of what we’re doing and also appreciated the value of what we did for them, they applied to become part of our team,” Domingo said.
The goal is to create a community of people who also value financial awareness in an area where that is often not the norm. Whether it is a couple starting a family or a business that needs key person insurance, Domingo works to spread education and support, with plans to branch out into estate planning as well.
“We go out there, be part of the social circle in our city and make sure we let everyone know we are in this practice to protect families, businesses or generational wealth,” he said. “Because we experienced it ourselves; we were earning well but not keeping the money we were making, and we know how it feels to be caught off guard when you don’t have the money to continue the lifestyle you’re used to.”
Educating around cultural taboos
EVERYONE HAS DIFFERENT FEELINGS ABOUT MONEY. That occurs as narrowly as members of your family or your colleagues, and as broadly as cultures around the world.
In the Philippines, people usually don’t talk about finances, considering the topic taboo or even sacrilegious, Domingo said. “There’s this notion, especially if you are in the church, that money is the root of all evil.”
So you wouldn’t think Domingo would have much success prospecting to a minister. Yet by connecting the value of insurance to a story in the Bible about managing, protecting and growing financial resources, the prospect opened his mind to taking care of his financial affairs. He also began referring members of the church to Domingo.
“It reinforced the importance of educating clients first and asking them to be advocates so we can reach more people,” he said.