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John Vaccaro (Photo: MassMutual)

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Insurance Is a People Business: MassMutual’s John Vaccaro

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What You Need to Know

  • Vaccaro worked for Prudential and The Hartford before he moved to MassMutual.
  • He is on the board of the parent of LIMRA.
  • He sees people seeking some level of certainty in an uncertain world.

For many Americans who will have the resources to enjoy a comfortable retirement, John Vaccaro’s name could go somewhere in the credits.

Vaccaro is head of MassMutual Financial Advisors and CEO of MML Investors Services.

The units have built a network that includes about 7,500 career agents and registered representatives. The agents and reps sell life insurance, disability insurance, annuities and brokerage products.

Vaccaro has a bachelor’s degree from Saint Anselm College. He started out in financial services at Colonial Investment Services, and he moved into insurance in 1997, at Prudential Financial.  He also has been chief marketing officer at The Hartford.

He began working for MassMutual in 2007, and he assumed his current titles around that same time.

In 2017, he flew to Puerto Rico to oversee delivery of MassMutual’s donations after Hurricane Irma hit. He helped MassMutual bring in 2,000 of supplies.

He helps shape the world’s life insurance and annuity arrangements as a board member at LL Global, the parent organization for LIMRA.

We asked Vaccaro a set of questions about what he’s been seeing and doing.

1. What took up the most time and energy last year, and what did you learn from that?

Hands down, change management. The pace of change over the last 24 months rivals the 30 years prior.

I’ve managed through recessions. I’ve never managed through a pandemic, faced with new technologies, working from home, and a new way of interacting with clients and our large network of financial professionals.

2. What are you focusing on the most right now?

Culture. Respecting and tapping into the legacy and lessons from those who came before us and managed through pandemics and wars cannot be overlooked as we propel into a new world and way of operating.

The pandemic didn’t change what we do. It changed how we do it.

Insurance is a people business. It’s always been this way, and always will be.

It is intangible until customers need it most, when benefits are paid, months, years or decades into the future.

3. What forces out there are helping, and what forces are hurting?

Not surprising, the pandemic shined a light on one’s health and mortality.

In fact, according to recent MassMutual research, just over 4 in 10 people thought about life insurance, purchased additional life insurance, or purchased it for the first time during the pandemic.

Add to this the uncertainty of the market and tax changes, people are seeking professional advice and strategies to mitigate their exposure and provide some level of guarantee in an uncertain world.

And they’re looking to do this with companies with strong track records of delivering on their commitments through pandemics, global unrest, and recessions.

And then there are headwinds facing many industries, including insurance.

In fact, in recent MassMutual research, almost half of Americans said they think the current geopolitical environment will impact their spending and lifestyle in the coming months, with finances already strained by inflation.

4. What do you think your market (or your specialty, or the world) will look like five years from now?

I’ve said this before and it is worth repeating. The pandemic didn’t change what we do. It changed how we do it.

Insurance is a people business. It’s always been this way, and always will be.

As my grandfather always said, if you’re in the business of helping people, business will always be booming.

John Vaccaro (Photo: MassMutual)


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