Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. is steadily growing its minority business from the inside out.
Within the last few years, the carrier has expanded its multicultural hires and launched products and promotional videos targeting burgeoning ethnic communities. These moves are a result of market research that MassMutual undertook beginning in 2008 to better understand the financial needs of multicultural groups in the U.S.
“Our passion and motivation is to know the voice of the customer,” Chris Mendoza, MassMutual’s vice president of Multicultural Market Development, explained to Insurance & Financial Advisor. “We rely heavily on consumer and financial professional research to better understand the needs of diverse groups, their expectations related to financial services companies and the solutions available.”
According to Mendoza, professionals in MassMutual agencies across the country were already working effectively in the diverse markets that make up their local communities.
Change from the inside
Mendoza described some of the changes the company has made in its organization, including creating the Multicultural Market Development team with directors that reflect the ethnicity of each of key program.
“While we serve all consumers and markets, we have a primary focus on the Hispanic, African-American, Chinese, Korean and Asian-Indian consumer segments,” Mendoza said. It’s beneficial that each segment team leader “understands the markets, cultures and the languages spoken. Our team members serve as resources for our financial professionals.”
To wit, MassMutual hired multicultural expert Nimesh Trivedi, whose career began in India, to head up its Asian-Indian market group, and the new leader of the company’s greater Los Angeles office, Brian K. Lee, speaks Cantonese, Mandarin and English. In the Los Angeles office alone, 40 financial professionals speak 10 different languages, including Spanish, Russian and Japanese.
The company reports seeing exponential growth among all the consumer segments upon which it is focusing.
Mendoza noted that 20% of MassMutual’s sales are to diverse consumers, up from 12% five years ago. Within its own ranks, 17.57% of the company’s career agents are from a multicultural segment, while 16.58% of producers are women, he said.
Among its new marketing and sales tools are informational videos on financial education in several languages, including Mandarin and Korean, each geared toward the identified needs and concerns of the specific ethnic groups. Topics cover the basics of annuities, disability income insurance and life insurance.
In the company’s annual report, Roger W. Crandall, MassMutual’s president and CEO, wrote on the company’s diversity strategy: “Our board of directors now includes more women and people of color, well ahead of the ‘Fortune 500’ average. And, we have nearly doubled our insurance and annuity sales to multicultural consumers in the last five years.”
MassMutual has also been named a “Top 50 Company for Executive Women” in 2012 by the National Association for Female Executives, and a “DiversityInc 25 Noteworthy Company” for its diversity management.
Tips for advisors in a changing, diverse world
“There are some very practical things any financial professional can do to get active in a cultural market,” MassMutual’s Chris Mendoza explained.
“The first and most-important step is to become immersed in the community of your interest. Join cultural and professional organizations – like a chamber of commerce, professional organizations or community groups – to learn about what is important to them and to gain trust in that community,” he advised, adding, “have a curious mindset about the culture.“
Mendoza concluded: “Learn as much as you can and be a student. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to go out and stub your toe along the way. Resolve that as a financial professional, you have products and advice that everyone wants and needs.”