To The Editor:

While we commend the election of Adelia Chung as the new president of the Million Dollar Round Table, we are a little surprised by the tone of your column, “The Editors Edge” in the June 28 edition of National Underwriter. I refer specifically to the statement, “It is little short of scandalous that we should have had to wait until the 21st century for a woman to head one of the industrys major organizations.”

As president of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, it is my pride as well as my duty to correct your misconception. In 1960, long before the term “glass ceiling” came into vogue, the Society elected its first woman president, Lillian G. Hogue, CLU. Lillian served the Society proudly and well, paving the way for three more female presidents of our organization: Maxine B. Niemeyer, CLU, ChFC in 1988; Beverly L. Brooks, CLU, AEP in 1998; and Ann W. Hartmann, CLU, ChFC, AEP in 2001. All four presidencies were marked by significant advances for the Society, and our organization was the grateful beneficiary of their careful guidance and their capable, enthusiastic leadership.

This information was somehow omitted from your column, despite its being available to you via a phone call to our national staff in Bryn Mawr, Pa. Certainly, it is not because the Society is not among “the industrys major organizations.” As a 76-year-old institution, with more than 22,000 members in nearly 200 chapters across the United States, we will stand with the “majors” however they are defined.

In a laudable effort to celebrate Ms. Chung, National Underwriter unfortunately also did her, MDRT and others in this wonderful industry a disservice by not recognizing other great women. We would appreciate a public acknowledgement of the Societys women leaders as well as those of other industry organizations.

Adelia Chung is most worthy of congratulations, and I heartily offer ours on behalf of the entire Society of Financial Service Professionals. We wish her, and MDRT, a year rich with growth and achievement. Many Society members are also members of MDRT, and we value the relationship our two organizations enjoy.

Richard A. Bell, CLU, ChFC, CFP

President, Society of Financial Service Professionals

To The Editor:

I commend the National Underwriter on its “Editors Edge” article dealing with Ms. Adelia Chung and her hard-earned position within MDRT leadership, which is certainly well-deserved. Undoubtedly women still are working their way up the corporate ladder, particularly in the financial services industry. Efforts from Ms. Chung and other women leaders who came before only bode well for our overall future.

However, Im surprised at your comment that MDRT is clearing the path (for women) that others will most certainly follow. As a matter of fact, the Society of Financial Service Professionals has had four female presidents and I am currently serving as the second woman to chair the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies (NAILBA), the first being Pat Joline in 1997. We also take pride in our achievements and hope that we have been an inspiration to women in our industry.

Adelias achievement is certainly great, particularly with her world travels, and she will no doubt bring inspiration to women and men throughout the world. Let us also not lose sight of the fact that other forward-thinking organizations recognized talented women previously to this and together we all are proud to have helped pave the way.

Cindy V. Gentry, CLU, ChFC

NAILBA Chairman

To The Editor:

Congratulations to Editor-in-Chief Stephen Piontek for his insightful and courageous editorial viewpoint in the June 28 issue. The observations about the challenges facing women in our industry were made in a succinct and pleasantly painful manner to remind those of us who have had the advantage of being born a male that the life of the fairer sex isnt always fair. Thanks for the reality check.

Tom Bass

Via e-mail

Editors Note: First, I am happy to be corrected about these omissions and want to apologize to those women who headed the Society and NAILBA. No slight was meant in overlooking their achievements. In fact, it should be pretty obvious from the tone of the column that any such oversight was purely unintentional.

Yet, just as there is truth in the old saying that “the exception proves the rule,” I believe that two forward-looking organizations do not get the industry as a whole off the hook. The fact is that too few women areand have beenin the top positions in trade organizations and the industry at large. Remedying this could very well be one way the industry discovers new approaches and effective solutions to enduring problems.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, July 29, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.