Venus Rising: These brokers are redesigning the trade in response to their very own picture
(Photo: Torrey Schenewerk, GCS Photography Inc.)
The social benefits industry has increasingly faced a diversity problem as other industries embrace it. It therefore seemed fitting that this year’s Faces of Change panel at the BenefitsPRO Broker Expo showed an all-female lineup. Moderated by Megan Chiarello from WellNet Healthcare, brokers Jessica Beames from BOK Financial Insurance, Stephanie Berger from Centered Insurance Solutions, Colleen Blum, Combs & Co. and Robyn Tikia from Risk Strategies Company had an open conversation about what it means to be one Woman in a male dominated field and how she paves new paths for others.
“It is our job as women in our industry to tell the younger generation that it is difficult, but not as difficult as it seems,” said Blum. “If we can find women who talk well to people and have organic conversations, they will do business. It’s not as scary as we make it seem as long as you have the work ethic. “
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Between discussions about alternative financing strategies and marketing tips, the participants learned how every consultant’s career path was shaped by being a woman. “When I started there was one consultant who had an amazing, self-funded experience,” said Beames. “He had all of this knowledge and I had the privilege of working with him and I just sat in his office and asked him questions. Hearing this information, which seemed meaningless to him, helped me in a meeting with a client or prospect.
“It was not an easy mentorship,” added Officials, as many older men are reluctant to spend too much time with a younger woman – even a colleague. “Feel good when you meet up with your colleagues regardless of their age. The fact is that there are many more men than women in this industry and we can and want to learn so much from them. Give us the opportunity and a safe place for it. “
The panelists also had some tips for the current counselors who are forming new recruits. “From a mentoring perspective, it’s important to teach assertiveness, perseverance, and resilience – and, frankly, to work harder than your male counterpart,” said Tikia. “Women really have to isolate themselves very much in this industry. But we are also creative lateral thinkers. “
Whether we admit it or not, there are some innate differences between the ways men and women approach business – those that female advisors can use to their advantage. “We cultivate more with these relationships,” said Tikia. “We are also able to be more technical, while men seem more willing to sell.”
Berger emphasized the importance of simply listening to a customer. “Sometimes it’s best not even to open the presentation and just ask if we’re in the room, there’s a reason. What is it?”
Blum agreed that it was important that consultants play to their strengths rather than imitating their predecessors. “If we come to the table with a different perspective, we can change the dynamics of this industry,” she said. “It’s mainly HR that speaks to us. You can have a deeper conversation with us. Our customers know that at the end of the day we are behind us. “
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