GAMAs CEO Retiring Soon
San Antonio, Texas
“In my mind, being in the insurance business was the last thing you did in life after you failed everything else,” says Charles A. Smith, recalling his impression of the business back in 1969.
The current executive vice president and CEO of GAMA International had already accepted a job with Merrill Lynch when a friend approached him about a career in insurance planning with Prudential.
“I had no interest in it,” he says. But, as a favor to his old friend, Smith went to meet with the principal of the agency, who challenged him to a task before he made a decision against the career.
“He knew that I was not looking favorably on a career of sales in insurance,” he explains. “He challenged me to interview six people, tell them Im considering making a career switch to the life insurance business with Prudential, and just get their feedback.”
Accepting this challenge, Smith spoke with a number of his close friends and associates. Surprisingly, he says, all of them encouraged him to pursue this career. But this did not entirely convince him, it just opened his eyes–now he would consider this as an option and discuss the opportunity with a more neutral attitude.
After taking a serious look at the career, Smith decided to go ahead, withdraw his job acceptance with Merrill Lynch, and begin working with Prudential in their Charlotte, N.C., agency.
After Smith qualified for the Million Dollar Round Table his first two years and Prudentials Presidents Club once, the individual that had recruited him left the organization. Smith was then presented with the opportunity to get into the role of a second line agency manager.
Being an entrepreneurial agent, Smith had no interest in getting involved with agency management. He wanted to focus on building a successful practice for himself. But, “a long story short, they talked me into it.”