Greg Nemec finds himself in an unlikely position these days — filling the role of insurance advocate.
What’s unlikely about his advocacy is that Nemec, regional director at American Financial Network in Parsippany, NJ, never saw himself in the insurance business. In fact, insurance was the last place Nemec thought he’d be.
Nemec grew up with the insurance industry all around him. His father, also named Greg Nemec, had worked on Wall Street in the equity market. He saw the future of financial services heading toward the financial planning sector, so he started his company, where the younger Nemec interned during high school.
Nemec Jr. says it was from that background that he learned to “believe in the power of financial services.” His perception of the industry is of positive work that impacts families significantly. Still, it wasn’t where he wanted to be. “This isn’t the world I was supposed to enter, and certainly not the path I was supposed to go down.”
Still, Nemec’s career path didn’t lead directly into the insurance industry. He began college with visions of becoming a lawyer or politician. Yet sometime in his final year at Villanova University, where he was earning a criminal justice degree, Nemec became disillusioned with his chosen profession. He explained his disenchantment to a trusted professor. What he heard back shocked him. “He said, ‘Oh Greg, don’t worry about it. You can absolutely become a social worker or a prison guard.’”
After applying for some internships at the FBI and being turned down for lack of security clearance and connections, Nemec came home that holiday and sat down with his dad for a heart-to-heart. “I laid the cards out on the table and explained to my dad that I wasn’t going to go to law school, that I didn’t see it.”
At the same time, Nemec’s father was grooming another family member to join the firm and to become part of the elder Nemec’s succession plan. The family member didn’t work out, but the timing was ideal for Nemec. After having broken the news about law school, he presented his case, hoping to be part of his father’s business and his successor.
With some hesitance, his father agreed to let him try to build a career through the family business. Not eager to face any nepotism charges, Nemec jumped with both feet into the business. Teaming up with the in-house underwriter, Nemec says he learned the business from every angle, and obtained his life insurance licensure.
That was in August of 2006. Since then, Nemec, who is 31, has enjoyed a career where he’s able to control his own destiny. He’s a young agent with big plans. One of his initiatives is to move his career into the wholesale realm, develop more relationships with CPAs, P&C brokers, employee benefits people and potentially wirehouse reps. The reason, for him, is simple: “I stand a greater chance of helping more people through those strategic alliances than I can prospecting on my own.”
He likes the ability to define his own future. “This career I really couldn’t recreate anywhere, and I don’t think I’d have been given the same opportunities.”
Facing challenges, old and new