When we think of longstanding financial institutions, many of us typically don't automatically associate "humanity, warmth, and spirituality" as descriptions. Yet as I learned from Angela Daniels, Assistant Vice President of Women's Markets, LGBT Initiative and Young Professionals Market, at New York Life Insurance, these are exactly the values that infuse her hard work and commitment every single day. Please join me for this enlightening Spotlight with a community leader who synthesizes heart, compassion, and integrity with insurance marketing.
Damon L. Jacobs: Tell us about your work with New York Life.
Angela Daniels: In June I will celebrate twenty-five years with New York Life. I work as a Market Manager for three of our target markets: Women’s Market, LGBT Market, and the Young Professionals Market. I help our field management recruit, develop, and educate our agents in providing the best financial products for our clients.
Damon L. Jacobs: What are some of the unique needs of your target markets? Starting with the Women’s Market?
Angela Daniels: In regards to women clients we work in stages. We target the middle market mom, the pre-retiree, and the retiree. One of the challenges for women is that women often outlive their money. The life expectancy of an average woman can be into her 80s. Women tend to live seven to eight years longer than men do. So planning for retirement is essential. Plus, there are a lot of years women can be out of the workforce because of child bearing, taking care of parents, or taking care of children. They can have a lot of catching up to do. We offer a Lifetime Income Annuity that provides a stream of income or as we call it, a guaranteed lifetime income, for as long as you live.
Damon L. Jacobs: What are the unique needs of the LGBT community?
Angela Daniels: For the LGBT community there are tax implications, particularly if a couple is married or Domestic Partners. A lot of our products allow them to protect themselves in retirement and estate planning issues. It’s very important for couples to make sure they have the proper legal advice, the proper tax advice, and proper financial planning.
Damon L. Jacobs: So right now if a same-sex couple gets married in New York and think they don’t have to worry as much about financial planning and protection, what would you say?
Angela Daniels: There are many rights that same sex couples don’t get that straight couples do get. As far as protecting each other if someone dies - it is very important for all couples to have a life insurance policy that one partner owns, and lists the other as the beneficiary. So if something happens, they are both protected and can stay in the lifestyle they are accustomed to.
Damon L. Jacobs: How have changes in the economy in recent years affected the way you market these products?
Angela Daniels: One of our cornerstones at New York Life, other than humanity and integrity, is financial strength. We are extremely strong; we have been in business for over 167 years. I think our financial strength speaks for itself. People are looking for safe financial institutions to invest their money and protect their families. So we are doing great.
Damon L. Jacobs: When you started at this job twenty-five years ago, was there any attention given to the LGBT market?
Angela Daniels: I don’t think anyone was thinking about this community twenty-five years ago.
Damon L. Jacobs: So how did this shift in attention come about?
Angela Daniels: I have to tell you, New York Life is a company of the community. Whether it is Asian-Indian, African-American, Chinese, or LGBT, we are a company of this community. Like these ethnic markets, we realized there was a growing need for products and agents that addressed the LGBT community specifically, and we began to develop materials, resources and train agents that serve this market. It’s important for people to feel that they are speaking to an agent that understands their situation and see themselves when they look at brochure, or a website.
Damon L. Jacobs: How did you become interested in this field of marketing and financial planning?
Angela Daniels: I majored in marketing in college. But for an African-American woman, who is gay, who is dyslexic, from the South, I cannot tell you how great it is to come to work every day. This is a company that embraces all of my markets. To help people in each one of those markets is very special for me. And to work with people who have a passion for working in those markets is fantastic.
Damon L. Jacobs: What are some of the struggles you have faced in your career?
Angela Daniels: I come from a very supportive family. It didn’t matter what I was to do, I was to be the best at it. So that has been my work ethic no matter where I have been. It was important for me to be with a company that respects individuals and what they bring to the table. That has been my experience with New York Life. I have been here twenty-five years for a reason. I can’t say I’ve had a lot of challenges here career-wise. But as a woman, it is about integrating lots of things. You’re going to work, having a life, and integrating these two.
Damon L. Jacobs: What do you consider to be your greatest successes in this career?
Angela Daniels: Being on the forefront of developing relationships with organizations like NGLCCNY and introducing New York Life to the LGBT community. I had a great opportunity to do that last year as part of “The 100 Women We Love” at GO Magazine.” I also had the opportunity to create our “LGBT website.” It was major for me to have the company support this effort, and put their energies and talents behind it. There was also one specific incident I’ll tell you about. During an Employee Networking Group party, I had the opportunity to talk directly with our CEO about the LGBT initiative. He was very excited about it. That was one my highs.
Damon L. Jacobs: What keeps you motivated and inspired to do this work?
Angela Daniels: Again, I came from a very supportive family, with a very spiritual background. I am a Deacon in my church. In my career, I support the people that change others' lives. It might sound corny, but think about what these people do. At the end of the day, when something devastating happens to a family, New York Life agents are the ones who walk in with a check instead of a bill. I help them develop these relationships. So yes, I am passionate about what I do. New York Life people are very passionate about what we do because everything we do feeds into that one moment.
Damon L. Jacobs: What might you say to someone who has joined NGLCCNY and isn’t sure how to make the most of the organization?
Angela Daniels: I’d say that you get to meet such an eclectic mix of people that are genuinely interested and passionate about what they do, and it fuels your fire. Sometimes when you are starting a business you go through a low. When you are around other business owners you start thinking about new ideas. When you are around corporate people you think about what you can do on a larger scale. It’s a continuous learning experience. My experience of going to M3s (I assume readers know what this is) and talking with Richard Oceguera is that it is a supportive community. People are serious about growing the community and putting the economic strength back in our community.
Damon L. Jacobs: If you could go back to twenty-five years to when you started at New York Life and give yourself a piece of advice, what would that be?
Angela Daniels: I would say, “Keep energized, keep motivated, and find a couple of mentors. One that knows you and one that doesn’t.”
Damon L. Jacobs: Is there anything else you would like the NGLCCNY to know about you?
Angela Daniels: I would like them to know that I am very proud of working here. If you knew me intimately, you would know that it is a big thing for me to say. I love my company because I respect my company. I respect the financial decisions the company has made. I genuinely feel comfortable here because of the commitment to diversity. It is a company that has shown me that it lives its values of humanity, integrity, and financial strength. These are not exactly things you would think would go together, but we do it.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City. He specializes in issues related to grief and loss, HIV related concerns, gay/lesbian issues, stress management, depression, addiction, ageism, bullying, caretaking fatigue, as well as couples in non-traditional arrangements. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." To have him speak with your group, or to schedule a counseling visit, call 347-227-7707, or email at Shouldless@gmail.com. An initial complimentary consultation is offered to NGLCCNY members, or people who are referred by NGLCCNY members.