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An 18-year-old's view of the insurance industry

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Hedge Funds. Private Equity. Investment Banking. Venture Capital. Real Estate. Consulting. Accounting. Entrepreneurship…Insurance.

I am a soon-to-be first-year college student, and career planning and long-term goal setting are topics that require serious thought and consideration. When I talk to my peers, many of the above listed careers are strongly desired and sought after. However, when asking a friend what he or she wants to do after college, or graduate school study, not one has said, “To work in the field of insurance.” Obviously, there is some bias in that many of my friends happen to be offspring of physicians, lawyers, accountants, and business executives, but why has insurance lost its sex appeal as a professional practice? 

There are many dimensions to this answer; however, I am writing to illustrate why the insurance field can be a great career for college grads to pursue. 

Before I go in that direction, I think it is helpful to know a bit about my background and why I have even decided to scratch the surface of the insurance industry. Firstly, I come from insurance professionals on both sides. My father’s father started a brokerage general agency, Cotton Rashbaum & Associates. My mother’s father is currently the president of The Strauss Agency, Inc., a brokerage general agency in New York, which is a four-generation family business that also consists of my grandmother, mom, aunt, and uncle. To make things even more complicated, my grandfather’s father, Morris Strauss, sold insurance and Morris’ father, David Schiff, sold insurance upon immigrating to America. To say the least, I have been surrounded by insurance on all fronts my entire life. 

To get back to my reason for pursuing insurance, there is certainly a tradition aspect, but there is a better underlying motive: The insurance industry combines good-deed, genuine, personal interaction with finance that, if done to the best of one’s ability and with integrity, can ultimately result in a limited risk career and comfortable lifestyle. In addition, the planning for providing security for one’s family adds true personal value to this career, rather than simply working on a mercenary motive. I have learned first-hand from my grandfather, Marvin Strauss, and from the spirit of my grandfather, Bernie Rashbaum, that success can be achieved in the insurance business. Through proactively gaining knowledge, establishing great relationships with their clients, and acting in the best interest of their clients, I have seen how emotionally and financially fulfilling this business can be. 

The insurance industry also allows for one to pursue — or discern from — selling many different types of insurance, whether it’s life, group, health, P&C or more. On top of this, there are many creative ways of going about applying the various products available to suit the needs of the client. My grandfather, Mr. Strauss, has engraved in me the concept that the insurance industry is “like Disney,” in that there are a myriad of ways to approach business. As ridiculous as his words sound, there lies great truth, which in turn, allows for differentiation, innovation, and collaboration. 

In addition to the goodwill, stable and versatile nature of the insurance business, there is a rugged, individualistic aspect. I have observed that the harder one works, opportunity for growth is created. Time sacrifice is essential, as in any other industry, but the time spent has ultimately led to a high ROI. Although this industry is certainly not easy, it is promising that if I put my time towards education and meeting with prospective clients, there is hope for me to hold my own in this business.    

Although the other careers I listed above can be very fulfilling, I believe they fall victim to at least one of the distinctive aspects mentioned. This opinion is, of course, subjective, but when the sale of insurance is done with intelligence and integrity, I believe my statement is valid. 

I write with caution because I am undecided in the career I will pursue. Moreover, my intention is not to denigrate other careers and state, “the insurance industry is so much more fulfilling.” Instead, my intent is to spotlight why there is value for me to learn more about what this industry has to offer. 

In the end, I do not know which career lies ahead of me. What can be concluded, though, is that diligence and being proactive begets opportunity in this industry. In an era of a struggling job market, this ability to create opportunity for oneself is promising for college graduates.  


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