Turning point

Ask most anyone in the benefits industry to recall a pivotalcareer moment, and many point to a memorable claim experience. Inmy case, it was a group disability benefit that I sold to “Stuart”in 1993. Making the sale was no big deal — it was my job that I didevery day. But 17 days after Stuart's disability policy went intoeffect, he couldn't show up for work. He was eventually diagnosedwith a brain tumor, and for the next year and a half, his familyreceived benefits from that disability policy. In 1993, thisbenefit cost Stuart about five dollars a week, and that five-dollarsale changed my career.

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Related: I love my employer … and here'swhy

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How amazing is it to sell a product that so profoundly affects aperson's financial well-being? Stuart's lasting mark on me was toindelibly imprint the importance of what we do every day in thebenefits industry. The benefits that we sell provide safety andcomfort when people are most vulnerable — sick, hurt, disabled,grieving. I would never again see my job in the insurance field asa “job.” I knew I had a career that carried with it a bigresponsibility.

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My hope for all of us in the benefits industry is that weembrace the importance of what we do, we conduct ourselves withintegrity every day without cutting corners, and we never, everforget the “Stuarts” that we serve.

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Peggy P. Hayes, vice president, sales and businessdevelopment, American Public Life Insurance Company

Perfect for a people person

“I love my job because I'm an extrovert and I get paid to talkto people all day long. And I love that what my team does impactsthe business so dramatically — by only hiring smart, kind, humblepeople who are self-motivated and self-managed, we are able tomaintain a very flexible work culture while doing amazing work.

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We hire individuals through what we refer to as auditions, acustom skills test for each role. By using an audition process, wedon't need to rely on degrees or years of experience as a proxy forcompetence, and we can see candidate's self-motivation incompleting the audition. Hiring this way is what leads to the mostrewarding part of my job: hiring people that other companies areoverlooking because their resume doesn't “look right” or they don'thave a ton of experience. Giving those folks the opportunity to dogreat work makes my day.”

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Mary Beth Wynn, vice president of people,Jellyvision

Love at first sight?

First, this has been my only job since the age of 18. I honestlydon't know how it feels to work in another field. It must be loveor I would have left when it started getting “complicated.” Workingin this industry is not about selling insurance — the real love forthe industry comes from building lifelong friendships and helpingpeople understand a very complicated product. Some might call mecrazy, but I never counted commissions before a sale. Being paidwas always lagniappe for doing a good deed.

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Related: 10 best companies to interviewwith

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During the rollout of Medicare Part D, I helped thousands ofseniors in Louisiana and Mississippi to obtain prescription drugcoverage. Together, we cried and celebrated. Finally, they didn'thave to make the decision between paying the electric bill andpicking up their medicine.

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Today, I am the CEO for Health Agents for America, representingmany agents and brokers across the United States that love theirclients as much as I love them and this industry. It iscomplicated, but I wouldn't want to work anywhere else.

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B. Ronnell Nolan, president/CEO, Health Agents for America,Inc.

Compliance is challenging — and fun

Complying with state and federal health and welfare planregulations is a neverending challenge for plan sponsors. Assistingclients in providing relief in all aspects of compliance — fromERISA to ACA — and knowing they will survive a DOL audit providesme incredible gratification and a sense of accomplishment.Admittedly, compliance is not as easy as it was in the “good ole'days,” but that's why I love this industry so much.

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When I arrive at the office each day and open my email, I know Iam accepting today's big challenge: new guidance, FAQs, deadlineextensions, and more. It's all about deciphering the newinformation, which we all know isn't necessarily easy at times,applying it to our clients' plans and then taking action. When Iprovide that valuable information, I know our clients appreciatethat we are on top of things—because they are my number onepriority.

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ACA presented many compliance action items in the past severalyears that required hard work and long hours in order to stayup-to-date and ensure our clients met all the mandates. Whenclients get their dreaded DOL audit letter in the mail, they know Iam ready to help them respond in the five to seven day requiredturn-around time. The relief they feel makes being their brokerthat much more rewarding.

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As we head into the next ACA reporting cycle, letters from theIRS for the last cycle are starting to arrive. Marketplace appealletters, IRS penalty letters, additional guidance, FAQs, New IRS5500s, Schedule J and so much more await us in 2017 and beyond.Anticipating the actions the new administration will take leaves uson the edge of our seats, but there will be much for us to doregardless. With all of this going on, who doesn't love thebenefits industry?

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Lisa Allen, vice president, regulatory affairs, RelphBenefit Advisors

Doing your part

As a long-term care insurance (LTCI) planning specialist, I workwith benefits consultants, employers and employees to help themplan for a secure retirement. The marketplace has certainly settleddown a bit, but we've still seen a few carriers suspend new salesand many implement in-force premium increases.

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Related: What workers are planning to do in2017

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While many professional advisors understand the reasons behindthese moves, this has led to broker apathy around this product line(LTC insurance). The irony is all of this is that consumers finally“get it.”

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They understand that LTC is a real issue that requires planning.Many HR professionals or C-suite executives that we work with havepersonally experienced the impact of LTC on their families andfinances.

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So why do I love working in this segment of the business? Theanswer is simple — Isaac and Rachel Maimon.

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These are my grandparents, incredible people who both needed LTCfor years before passing away. As a young insurance advisor, Iwitnessed them endure chronic illness and Alzheimer's that not onlywas emotionally difficult for our family, but wiped away their lifesavings and home. I kept thinking that there has to be a betterway.

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Planning for LTC became my passion and mission. Well-knownleadership and management consultant Simon Sinek likes to say,“people don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”With no federal insurance or entitlement program in sight, we musttake responsibility upon ourselves to plan for longevity.

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I take great satisfaction knowing that the LTCI industry isdoing our part to help American families manage these difficultsituations. I'm optimistic that group LTC Insurance will continueto grow and be considered a benchmark benefit … and I love ourbusiness!

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Steven M. Cain, director sales & business development,LTCI Partners

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Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson is the editor-in-chief of BenefitsPRO Magazine and BenefitsPRO.com. He has covered the insurance industry for more than a decade, including stints at Retirement Advisor Magazine and ProducersWeb.