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by Insurance News Net on Nov 1, 2018 9:15:00 AM

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Creativity Opens The Diversity Door In Life Insurance



NEW YORK -- It's no secret that the life insurance industry struggles to find young people. And people of color. And women.


Studies have been done, consultants hired and working groups formed to consider the issue. Still, the industry largely remains white and male.


A LIMRA panel of younger executives explained Monday what led them to financial services, and some small changes they are witnessing that could open the door to others.


Jessica Choi is of Korean descent and initially studied pre-med before embarking on a career in hotel management. Penn Mutual recruited Choi and made her assistant vice president of talent acquisition and diversity in 2015.


"I met our leadership team and I was completely blown away," Choi recalled.


Today, Penn Mutual has two big goals: to achieve 80 percent advisor retention and create an executive team that is two-thirds "homegrown." While working toward those goals, Choi is also bothered that just 23 percent of the industry is populated by women.


"What can we do in our industry to attract more women?" she asked.


All of the panelists cited the team atmosphere, challenges and the rewarding work as reasons they joined, and remain, committed to a financial services career.


Adam Fox has a background in academia, working on research into nuclear fusion. It didn't allow him to see the research carried out. He had a cousin who was a MassMutual salesman, so he found his way to financial services data science.


"I always had this urge to do something that was a little more practical," said Fox, who was a math professor at Western New England University until May 2016. "First at The Hartford and now MassMutual, I was able to build things that actually have an impact on peoples' lives."

Populating a data science team has meant some unorthodox moves, added Fox, vice president of data science for MassMutual.


The company opened offices in Boston and New York City to attract talent, and allows creative working arrangements to retain people in those fields.

"We're really open minded in the hiring process," Fox said. "It's just trying to be flexible and understand how are you going to be most productive."


This article appeared in Insurance News Net.