The year was 1880. Among the new agents signed by the growing New York Life Insurance Company were five women. Historians say they may have been the very first female life insurance agents in America. By 1890, another woman – Mary Fremont Niccolls of Chicago – would become one of the company’s top producers. Her accomplishment was no small task, considering that most men of this era flatly refused to believe that a woman could advise them on wills, trusts and life insurance.
Fast forward from the 19th century to the 21st. New York Life recruits and retains a higher percentage of women agents than our peer competitors. And we are proud of the fact that New York Life has more women MDRT qualifiers than any other company: more than twice as many as the nearest runner–up. (Over 20 percent of New York Life's MDRT qualifiers are women, compared with just seven percent of total qualifiers for the second place company.) And overall we had a record number of MDRT qualifiers, giving New York Life a wide margin as we achieved our 52nd consecutive year of MDRT leadership.
Today, women represent one of the fastest–growing markets for life insurance and annuity products. Government statistics show that women comprise more than half of the American population, constitute half of the country's work force, and are graduating in greater numbers than their male peers from colleges, graduate schools, medical schools and law schools. And as Americans age, women will become an even more significant portion of the population. According to the U.S. Census in 2000, by the time an individual reaches age 75, there are 146 women for every 100 men, and by age 85 there are an astounding 245 women for every 100 men. However, in spite of these demographic realities, much of the marketing in our industry is still oriented toward men.
Purchasing Power of Women
According to the 2004 LIMRA U.S. Ownership study, “Women and Life Insurance,” women are more receptive to life insurance than men, considering it the best way to protect their families financially in the case of premature death. Women are also more likely to say that someone in their household needs life insurance. Given that women initiate 80% of all purchases and are becoming key financial decision makers in their households, agents must be equipped to respond to their needs.
At New York Life, we are aggressively attacking this challenge on three levels – recruiters, agents, and marketing to women. And we have set the bar high for future achievements. We want our company to be viewed nationally and globally as the number one company of choice for women who seek life insurance careers and for women who need life insurance coverage. Those are ambitious goals, but with our strong head start we are confident we will achieve that recognition.
Among New York Life’s outstanding agents are many women who will one day choose to pursue management careers with our company. We offer tremendous support and encouragement for those who take this path. But we are also interested in recruiting more women – and men – from outside the company.
We now have a women’s market team in place, headed by a veteran agency executive officer. In 2006, she invited a large group of women agents to the Home Office to learn about careers in management. We are incredibly excited about the response to this initiative.
Women who have built sales and management careers with New York Life enjoy unlimited income potential while having the security of a competitive benefits package. They take pride in the knowledge that they are helping others achieve financial security, all the while maintaining a satisfying work/life balance for themselves.
With agents like pioneer Mary Fremont Niccolls, New York Life has been keeping promises to all of its policyholders for more than a century. Thanks to the thousands of men and women who are today’s New York Life agents, field managers, and Home Office leadership, we shall be keeping those promises in the generations to come.
Mark Pfaff is senior vice president in charge of the Agency Department of New York Life Insurance Company. He joined the company in 1985 as an agent and moved into sales management in 1988. In 1999 he was promoted to zone vice president and became senior vice president of the Agency Department in 2006.
This material is for informational purposes only. Neither New York Life nor its agents provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Please consult your own tax, legal or accounting professional before making any decisions.