WASHINGTON – Richie Marrero’s first encounter with a financial professional came when he was a young man and met “Jay,” a successful life insurance agent. Marrero was the son of a single mother whose husband had died young and without life insurance. “I was thinking that we could have used some life insurance after Dad died,” Marrero recalled.
But Marrero said when he approached Jay about a life insurance career, Jay told him he didn’t think he could make it in the career field because of his background.
Today, Marrero is a partner with 360 Benefits. He spoke about his convictions for serving people of all ethnic and financial backgrounds during the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Symposium on Monday.
“We need to evolve in the way we develop agents,” he said. “You should find people you want to help, whatever their background. I say to prospects, “You may not be ready for this conversation but shame on me for not giving you the opportunity to say ‘no.’”
Marrero discussed the mentality of abundance versus scarcity. “People to serve are everywhere. You must have enough conviction to serve them.”
Recruiting the next generation
Every consumer “deserves the opportunity to work with someone who looks like them,” said Chris Gandy, founder of Midwest Legacy Group. “We must recruit to those cultures, and we have to be intentional about it. It’s important that we look like the environment we serve.”
Gandy said the insurance profession often rushes a new recruit into getting licensed and getting out there to sell. He advised that the industry concentrate on developing internship programs where a college student can work for a year as a junior associate and truly learn the business.
Considering DEI when recruiting and hiring the next generation of advisors appeals to the youngest generation in the workforce, Gandy said.
“The next generation wants control of their destination. They want to feel like they’re in control of where they are going and what they can do and what they can accomplish. They want to create their own narrative. We need to build and develop the skills they already have.”
Gandy said one way to position a financial services career to attract millennials and Generation Z is to identify what they want. “People will always work more and work harder for something they really want. They have to do it for their reasons, not for our reasons.”
There’s a right way and a wrong way to have a conversation with someone who is different from you, and too often people mean well but the words don’t come out that way.
Angela White, regional recruiting director with Equitable, suggested the way to a conversation is to ask open-ended questions, find common interests and don’t make assumptions. She gave some examples of phrases to avoid.
- You are so well spoken.
- Don’t take this personally.
- Lifestyle choices.
- Where are you really from?
- Why are you so sensitive?
Womanthology: Women control the pursestrings
A man may claim to wear the pants in the family but there’s a strong possibility that a woman picked out those pants.
That’s one illustration Toni Gonzales used to educate the audience on the financial power of women and why advisors must pay attention. Gonzales is vice president, recruiting, development and sales with Ohio National and vice president of Women in Insurance & Financial Services.
Women account for 70%-80% of all purchasing decisions, Gonzales said. They are responsible for 50% of all home purchases and 90% of what goes into the house. And it’s not just what they buy but what they decide not to buy. Gonzales said Ford Motor Co. research determined that women veto 90% of all auto purchasing decisions.
“Having a female-friendly practice and female-friendly communications can help you avoid that veto,” she told the group.
Globally, women control more than $13 trillion in spending, she added. Over time, women in the U.S. are on track to inherit anywhere from $12 trillion to $40 trillion.
“Women are starting more small businesses,” she said. “We’re inheriting the wealth, we’re creating the wealth, we’re getting more advanced degrees.”
Women and men have different approaches to investing, Gonazales said. Men are more likely to want to get right to the point while women are more interested in learning about the “why” before making a decision. The advisors who can understand those different approaches are the ones who will be successful in working with women.
Gonzales also had some advice for the women in the audience.
“Pour into other women and allow them to pour into you – that’s secret of success for a strong woman,” she said. “A strong woman will promote another woman knowing she will reach back and grab her.”
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents’ association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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