From personal storms to professional successes
By Therese Panganiban
Hilda Manalo-Linaac, a three-year MDRT member from Parañaque, Philippines, was marking her 20th year as a financial advisor in 2019 when a series of life crises revealed the mettle she was truly made of.
As a young woman, she had ventured into financial advising, looking for a job that offered both the structure she was used to as a former teacher and the flexibility that appealed to her creative nature. However, after getting married and devoting herself to help out at her husband’s law office and raising her three children, including her youngest child who was born with special needs, financial advising was something she pursued as a low-commitment side hustle. But just before 2019 ended, her husband suddenly suffered a debilitating stroke and passed away after a prolonged coma.
Finding purpose in pain
She barely had time to process her sorrow and figure out how to become her family’s sole breadwinner when COVID-19 spread across the globe. She decided to pick up the pace in financial advising to help her weather the twin storms of her husband’s death and the pandemic.
“Besides the income financial advising would bring, I found my purpose in wanting to spare others the pain I endured of being burdened with insurmountable medical expenses after a loved one passes away,” she said. Even though she was a financial advisor, her most challenging client was her husband, who had not been keen on life insurance and did not have extensive coverage.
Setting strategies and systems
Linaac revisited the policies of previous clients, many of which she secured when she was in her mid-20s. Because most of them were around her age, they had already advanced in their careers. Now that they are earning more, they were more primed to consider insurance products with higher premiums when she contacted them for policy reviews. Her meetings with them led to valuable referrals.
She focused on refreshing her skills as a financial advisor. “I took various classes to help me target and cater to high-net-worth individuals. I reached out to an actuary to create formulas that will automate inquiries about computations so that I could respond to client queries faster,” she shares.
The strict lockdowns in Metro Manila were both a boon and a bane. While the lack of face-to-face interaction was initially a hurdle in connecting with clients, the institutionalization of remote servicing allowed Linaac to leverage digital platforms to meet more clients. With her children mourning the loss of their father, she balanced her dedication to her career with being a nurturing mother. If she cannot attend her children’s activities due to client appointments, she asks for help from relatives. By meticulously organizing her schedule and seeking assistance when necessary, she achieved her MDRT status that year and then repeated it for two more years.
In her professional ascent, Linaac recognized the importance of facing her grief. She found solace in her spirituality and writing, leading to the publication of a book compiling her reflections. As her children only have her to rely on, she made time to care for her health through exercise and sports. These pursuits allowed her to expand and diversify her network and reach out to more prospects, which translated into new client opportunities. “I’ve been able to convince people I’ve met in the gym or through playing badminton to avail of policies.”
Turbulence to triumph
Linaac’s journey has shown her that periods of turbulence can lead to moments of triumph –sometimes quite literally. She was recently on a rough flight from a speaking engagement in Cebu. Sensing her unease, her seatmate, a distinguished older gentleman, kindly engaged her in conversation. She answered his questions about her trip, and he, in turn, shared stories about his family. After the flight, they exchanged calling cards, and the gentleman eventually contacted her to inquire about insurance. While he did not know what he needed yet, his pride when talking about his children's professional accomplishments hinted at the potential for estate planning. With her guidance, he is considering policies for himself and his children.
While there is no way to forecast when storms will rock one’s life, Linaac believes nothing comes to us that we can’t handle. ”Seeking your true anchor will strengthen you to weather any storm, enabling you to find the good in everything.”