NRI woman is top US insurance agent | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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NRI woman is top US insurance agent

PTI | ByIndo-Asian News Service, Chicago
Dec 15, 2004 01:41 PM IST

Before joining New York Life, her only selling experience was in a video store, Jayshree Patel, 32, said.

An Indian American woman who grew up in a small Gujarat town and taught herself English and marketing skills only after arriving here is now one of the top agents for New York Life in the US.

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Before joining New York Life, her only selling experience was in a video store on Chicago's Devon Avenue, Jayshree Patel, 32, told.

Nevertheless, within months of joining New York life as an agent in 1997, she made it to the company's executive council, an acknowledgement of her marketing skills.

Less than seven years later, Patel has sold policies with a total face value of $300 million. She has done business worth $60 million this year itself, putting her among the top New York Life agents nationwide and in the fourth rank in the company's West Central region that includes the Midwest.

Patel, whose family hails from Sokhda town in Gujarat, credits her success to an unwavering ambition. She said even as the fourth of five sisters, who had lost their father when very young, she had the urge to "achieve something in life".

In 2000, she made it to the New York Life Chairman's Cabinet, an honour given to the top 50 agents. It is a distinction she has won every year since then.

Patel, a mother of three, keeps a hectic travel schedule, flying across the US 15 days a month. She holds licenses in 30 states and has clients across the country.

"But I do not have any clients in Chicago," she said. This is a calculated move. "That way I can devote time to my family, which, for me, comes first."

Patel said she takes her family obligations seriously. "My husband is the only child of his parents, and I am the only daughter-in-law. I want to spend quality time with them."

Husband Nilam Patel is the one who egged her to join the company. "He is my biggest motivation," she said, "he reminds me constantly of my goals."

Despite her success, Jayshree Patel does not believe in hard sell.

"I explain the benefits of life insurance to my potential clients. The example they most relate to is that life insurance is like the safety net over which acrobats perform. Death disturbs most Indian Americans. But it is a reality they cannot run away from. I tell them now is the time to think about income replacement for your family when you are not around.

"I never push them to buy insurance from me," she added, "If they say 'we will think about it' I leave them alone."

"Most Indian Americans do not have retirement planning. If you are the breadwinner of the family, it makes sense to insure yourself. Even a million dollar policy can be very competitive if you are healthy. A policy makes sense because today even a good funeral costs over $10,000."

Most of her clients remain Indian Americans. "We share the same culture and sometimes the same language. It is easy to relate to them."

"The biggest factor in her success is that she enjoys a challenge, and has a very strong desire to make it to the top," said husband Nilam Patel, who as a partner in New York Life, recruits, trains and manages personnel.

"Jayshree thoroughly enjoys what she does. My advice to her has always been 'never take no for an answer, and never take a no personally'."

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