This is a special edition of “What’s the Good News, Ladies?” because I get to toot my horn a little and highlight some great women!  Last month, I mentioned I was getting ready to go to the Women in Insurance & Financial Services (WIFS) National Conference and I’m ecstatic to report that I was awarded the organization’s highest honor: the Woman of the Year award!  I was beyond thrilled and honored to be selected by my peers for this prestigious award from an organization that’s mission is to attract, develop and advance women in our industry.  

While I was there, I got to meet Christine, Claudia and Kate. These fine women were the three finalists for the WIFS Fast & Furious session, where they are given 45 seconds to share their best business practice that has helped take their business to the next level.  Get ready to be inspired! 

Christine A. Cox-West, LUTCF - International Planning Alliance, LLC

“When I reflect on the past year, I have a lot to celebrate.  I love being part of an industry that gives me the opportunity to work towards my passion and to be a leader.  I am very fortunate to work with a firm that identifies talent that can oftentimes be overlooked due to age.  This past year, I was named vice president of my firm, International Planning Alliance, LLC, and identified as part of the next generation of leadership in our firm's succession plan at 27 years old.  My company also sees the value of being involved in industry organizations and has encouraged me to explore leadership opportunities outside of the office setting.  Because of this support, I’m happy to report that this month, I will be installed as the WIFS Chapter President of the New Jersey Gateway Chapter.  As a final feather in my cap, my peers voted and I won the Fast & Furious competition at the WIFS National Conference last month!” 

Claudia Ferreira, CFP, ChFC, LUTCF - Five Star Financial Group

“This year, I have really worked on creating relationships with decision makers in human resources and was able to schedule 15+ financial wellness workshops at hospitals, universities and other companies for their employees. From these seminars, I was able to meet several individuals and hold countless appointments — all at the workplace and all during the day.  This has been huge for my work/life balance, since it translates into rarely having to work late, and never working on weekends.  I can really have the best of both worlds and be a present, full-time mom, as well as a successful full-time career woman.” 

Kate Reilly, Reilly Financial Group - MassMutual Tri-State

“As a young advisor in the financial services industry, I have found that female mentorship has been a crucial aspect to my development. I joined my father’s team, the Reilly Financial Group team right out of college and found a great mentor in him. That being said, joining the Women in Insurance & Financial Services North Jersey Gateway chapter proved to be a smart move for me. I have gained insight and practical tips from my female peers and role models. I have found the financial services industry to be an incredible opportunity in my mission to be a successful businesswoman, while also being able to help others daily. I was recently selected to be a board member for MassMutual’s Mid-Atlantic Women’s Advisory Board. I am excited for this opportunity and I look forward to being a part of the movement to make financial services an industry that female graduates are excited to join.” 

As always, if you know of great women in the industry who are working hard to make this industry great, send me an email introduction at I’d love to connect!  Hope all you benefits people are surviving during open enrollment!  Make sure to get your rest and take an extra vitamin!