As we come to the four-month anniversary of the Women’s Insurance Network (WIN), it’s a good time to take a look back at the amazing women we’ve profiled thus far. In their own way, each has inspired, advised and coached our readers through personal and professional stories of growth, determination and life balance.
Though female agents and advisors are still underrepresented in the financial services industry, and women still lag behind men in retirement and protection planning, by sharing knowledge with each other and creating a discourse, we can help stem the tide — and help each other succeed.
The following are some highlights from each profile we’ve published on WIN so far.
CEO, Combs & Company
On the beginning…
“When you start out you feel like you have to take everyone as a client and you are not allowed to be selective because you need them. Have confidence in yourself: The sooner you realize that they need you more than you need them, that confidence will shine through. There comes a time where you will see a flip, where you’ll be able to be more selective in who you take on as a client. We have a phrase in the office, ‘If they are not the type of person you would want to ‘friend’ on Facebook then we do not want them as clients.’ About seven years ago, I saw that certain clients would have what I call the cringe factor: You see their number on caller ID and you do not want to pick up. We got rid of all those clients and we are quick to see the writing on the wall with prospects and decide before we take them on if we want them to be our friend.”
CEO and chair of the board of directors, Leap Systems, LLC
On managing time…
“I’ve also found that we need to have more productive meetings. I keep meetings to 15-30 minutes and always have an agenda so I can stay on track. I like to take mini breaks throughout the day too so that I can clear my mind and stay refreshed. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I’ve learned to say “no.” I only want to do things that meet with my intention for my life.”
Founder, Walser Wealth
On opening her own practice…
“I was in a board room with a client at the head of the table and his financial advisor was on one side and I was on the other as the tax attorney. Now, both the client and the financial advisor had no idea of my background in finance and the advisor began to outline a financial strategy that they were recommending. It felt in that moment that my ears were almost burning – as I could not have disagreed more with the advisor’s financial advice, but since I was just there in the capacity as a tax attorney, I literally dug my heels into the carpet and kept repeating to myself, ‘You are just here as a tax lawyer.’ It was at that moment that I knew I would open my own holistic wealth management practice. Now, here I am nearly three years later and very blessed to have my own practice.”
Vice president and employee benefits broker, Rust Insurance Agency
On opening doors…
“Again, look for innovative products, such as supplemental executive insurance benefits. These help with getting an ‘in’ to decision-makers who may not typically deal with employee benefit decisions. But with supplemental executive benefits, they have a personal stake in the outcome, so they are willing to play a bigger role in choosing benefits they want, such as Ultimate Health. Getting an introduction to the C-suite of a company can help you gain trust and allow you to sell other lines of coverage later on.
“Never give up has always been my motto. The industry has its ups and downs, but if you work hard, stay dedicated and are willing to adapt to change, you will succeed.”
Founder, Work at Home Vintage Experts (WAHVE)
On being a woman in a male-dominated industry…
“At first it was difficult. In the late 1980s, when I would walk into an industry meeting, I would be the only woman. I would typically be asked if my father, husband or boss sent me to represent him. I would answer, ‘I sent myself.’ I did not let them ruffle my feathers. I was confident I knew more about how to run an insurance agency than they did, and that I knew more about insurance than most of them did.
“How I handled being a woman was to be more knowledgeable, smarter, more involved in the industry and run a stellar agency. The insurance companies noticed and invited me to be on their agency advisory boards. I joined the Big I of New York Board and became the second woman chair of the board.”
Agency owner of Tristate East with Family First Life
“I enjoy being around other strong women who are looking for a rewarding career that makes a difference. The benefits of association with other women are infinite. I draw strength and advice from them when I need it and vice versa.”
President, McNeely Financial Services
On why insurance is a great career choice for women…
“The best advice I can give is that this is an amazing time to be a female financial advisor. More and more women are handling the household financial decisions and in many cases, they want to work with an advisor who understands them or looks like them. It is an incredible career choice that allows women to utilize their best skills. This industry may have been dominated by males in the past but I believe the opportunity is now for far more diversity.”
Senior vice president, Empire Wealth Strategies
On what keeps her going every day…
“Without strong belief and passion for my purpose it would be difficult to inspire clients and advisors to take action. I am invigorated when I can help inspire change for the future of our industry, and if it involves diversity and inclusion, my excitement level increases exponentially!”
President, The Palmer Agency
On how loss has shaped her…
“After each loss, people would ask me if I had healed. My answer was always the same: ‘No, I’ve changed.’ It is difficult to articulate how loss has shaped me, but I can tell you how it changed me. I have a deeper understanding about the connection between joy and sorrow, what it means to be present, to forgive and to be grateful. I have a genuine appreciation for life and empathy for others. To understand the fragility of life is one thing, to witness it is another. Loss taught me about grace. If you were to ask me to use one word to describe myself it would be ‘resilient.’ Professionally, it has given me perseverance.”
Chief operating officer, P3 Financial Group
On the greatest part of her job…
“When working with clients, I love seeing the moment when the light bulb for ideas goes off. At P3, we approach each client relationship holistically, understanding that finances are interrelated and don’t operate in silos. I often work with clients who need more than tax preparation — they need tax planning. For most cases, I incorporate life insurance as part of their long-term tax strategy. During our meetings, there is always a moment when it is obvious that they ‘get it.’ That is what I love.”
If you or someone you know has an inspiring story to tell, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, we welcome your comments below.