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Emerging from the storm
Emerging from the storm

May 01 2024 / Round the Table Magazine

Emerging from the storm

Linaac finds renewed purpose after a family tragedy.

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For 20 years, financial advising was less a career and more a low-commitment side hustle for Hilda Manalo Linaac. The four-year MDRT member from Parañaque, Philippines, spent most of her time helping at her husband’s law office and raising her three children, the youngest of whom was born with special needs.

Then, in late 2019, Linaac’s husband suffered a debilitating stroke and passed away after a prolonged coma. Linaac barely had time to process her sorrow when she became the family’s sole breadwinner as COVID-19 spread and shut down much of the globe only a few months later. Faced with challenging emotional, physical and financial circumstances, she decided to focus on her work as an advisor and weather the twin storms of her grief 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.

This experience brought a newfound drive to why Linaac ventured into financial services years earlier. Back then, she wanted to continue the structure she’d enjoyed working as a teacher and find a profession with the flexibility that would meet her personal needs and appeal to her creative nature. Yet, as a financial advisor, her most challenging client was her husband. He was not keen on life insurance and did not have extensive coverage.

Reconnecting and refreshing

With no choice but to bring her side hustle to the center, she revisited the policies of previous clients, many of whom she secured when she was in her mid-20s. Most of them were around her age, had since advanced in their careers, and were earning higher incomes. Not only were they now more able and excited to consider insurance products with higher premiums when Linaac contacted them for policy reviews, but they also gave her referrals that significantly boosted her practice, quickly going from reawakening to thriving.

Furthermore, Linaac focused on bolstering her skills as a financial advisor, taking classes to learn how to target and appeal to high-net-worth individuals. Her outreach was savvy. She asked her friend, an actuary, to help create sheets with formulas, including computations to help prospects and clients better understand how much they will need for protection, retirement and education funding. Linaac only needs to enter the birthdates on the sheet, then the amount they need to work on together through insurance and investments will be shown. This way, she doesn’t have to perform tedious computations herself in front of clients and prospects, which gives her more time to develop the right solutions for them.

Of course, with the pandemic ongoing, Linaac considered the strict lockdowns in Manila a boon and a bane. While the inability to meet face-to-face was initially a hurdle for connecting with clients, the widespread adoption of remote servicing allowed her to leverage digital platforms and meet more clients without leaving the house. With her children mourning the loss of their father, Linaac balanced dedication to her career with being a nurturing mother, including asking relatives for help when unable to attend her children’s activities due to client appointments.

By meticulously organizing her schedule and seeking assistance when necessary, she qualified for MDRT for the first time in 2021 and has qualified every year since.

Turbulence to triumph

During 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 about her reflections. Even as her children rely primarily on her, Linaac knew the importance of caring for herself and prioritizing her health through exercise and sports. These pursuits enabled her to expand and diversify her network and reach out to more prospects, leading to new clients she met in the gym or through badminton.

Her journey has shown her that periods of turbulence can lead to moments of triumph. Recently, she was on a rough flight after a speaking engagement in Cebu. Sensing her unease, Linaac’s seatmate, an older gentleman, 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 contact information, and the gentleman eventually reached out to inquire about insurance. While he did not yet know what he needed, his pride while talking about his children’s professional accomplishments hinted at the potential for estate planning. With Linaac’s guidance, he is now considering policies for himself and his children.

While there is no way to forecast when storms will rock one’s life, Linaac believes no challenge we can’t handle ever comes to us. “Seeking your true anchor will strengthen you to weather any storm and find the good in everything.”

Therese Panganiban writes for Team Lewis, a communications agency assisting MDRT with content development for Asia-Pacific markets. Contact mdrteditorial@teamlewis.com.