Susan Glass never expected to have a career in insurance.
Although her father was an insurance agent and she spent time around the industry while growing up, Glass never pictured herself following in his footsteps.
“Interestingly enough, growing up I always thought there was no way I would ever do what he did, only because there’s a lot of rejection in this industry,” said Glass. “And I only saw men in this industry when we would go on trips with my Dad that he won or company gatherings. It was never on my radar to say I want to do what my dad does, selling insurance is one of the toughest industries to be in as a woman.”
After graduating from college, Glass went into event planning and catering, an industry she was passionate about, but one that also required a fair amount of travel. After several successful years as a corporate event planner, Glass was newly married and thinking about starting a family. She began to consider making a career change that would allow her to be home more often.
Her dad suggested the insurance industry.
“At first I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? You want me to talk to people about buying life insurance? I’m used to planning parties!”
He thought she would do well at it, and after thinking it through, Glass decided to give it a try. In 2001, she joined her dad’s agency and worked with him for about a year, learning the ropes and building a client base. Whatever hesitations she had about a career in insurance growing up were quickly erased.
“I love the industry,” she said. “I just celebrated my 16th year.”
Building a business
After a year, her dad left the agency and she inherited his book of business. Initially, Glass was working with many of his existing clients, including a lot of service work. She found that she was trying to do something impossible — be her father. She decided she needed to focus on building her own client base, so she reached out to several contacts she had made in the event-planning industry.
“I was working nights and weekends when I first started out, those first three years you do whatever you can do to get your business going,” said Glass. “The majority of my client base is female, however, I work a lot with retired couples as well. The age range of most of my clients is between 45 through 70, and I am actively involved in the LGBT community and with same-sex couples.”
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As a risk management financial professional and an agent with New York Life, Glass offers life insurance, long-term-care insurance and fixed income annuities. She is a Million Dollar Round Table qualifier (2013-2015). MDRT is recognized throughout the industry as the standard of excellence in life insurance sales performance, a distinction she earned without doing any investment work.
Glass has found that her role with her clients often crosses over from retirement planning into the realm of acting as a counselor and confidante.
“Not only do we discuss retirement numbers and insurance policies, but we connect on a personal level as well. Sometimes it is just a matter of me letting them know everything will be okay,” said Glass, who noted clients often express fears about running out of money during retirement and facing exorbitant health care costs. “I have some clients I talk to on a regular basis now that they are in retirement, because it doesn’t just stop once they retire.”
Her role as a confidante has brought her some unexpected clients. One of her contacts in the catering industry, a single mom with a special-needs daughter and an adult son, reached out to her several years ago and told her she feared she’d never be able to retire. Glass sat down with her and helped her understand basic principles, including how to create a budget and open a savings account.
“It was those little things that most financial professionals would have walked away from because there was no business generated just for lending a helping hand,” said Glass. “But I just kept working with her, and two years ago she retired, her kids are doing well and she’s enjoying retirement. She only had a span of seven years to turn things around and she was really focused and willing to do whatever it took. It wasn’t about making a sale, it was about making her feel comfortable and confident that she could and would retire one day.
“Now she’s probably my biggest referral source and one of my best clients,” continued Glass. “It’s rewarding to see somebody who struggled so much and work with her a little at a time to chip away at it, and now she’s retiring. I just saw this single mom of two that wanted to retire someday and now I can call her about anything. She’s a great client and friend.”