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After 10 years working in the corporate office of American National Insurance Company in Springfield, MO, Stephanie Hohenshell was recruited into the field. She loved her career in the corporate office, so it was a big step to resign from that job to take on the role of a 1099 advisor. It took about a year and a half of encouragement before she made the leap. Seven years later, she only wishes she had done it sooner.

Of course, the motivations and satisfactions of her job as a multiple-line general agent are a little different now than they were when she first started. “Sometimes what brings people to the industry and what keeps them there are different,” says Hohenshell. “What was appealing about transitioning to the field was I was ready for something more. I was ready to be a business owner and to be a little more in control of my future…. But the thing that I find to be the most rewarding now is the client experiences and the impact you have on people’s lives.”

Hohenshell has become particularly passionate about helping people prepare for retirement. “When I first became a manager, I had a peer in Texas who took me under his wing…. And one of his passions was retirement planning.” Hohenshell and her mentor collaborated on some seminars and joint work. It was while working with her mentor that she had the experience that has defined her career ever since.

“There was one appointment that to this day gives me chills,” she recalls. A prospect came in for an individual appointment following a seminar. She was single, never married, and had worked for the same company her entire life. Hohenshell remembers how this prospect came into their appointment, obviously feeling defeated. Her attitude seemed to be, “This is what I’ve got. I’m never going to be able to retire. I’m here. See what you can make of this.”

After some work together, Hohenshell was able to present this client with a proposal that, with a few recommendations and adjustments to what she was doing, would provide the prospect more money in retirement than she was making in her current position. Hohenshell remembers how the client practically floated out of the room. “We changed her entire outlook on retirement. And it was a life-changing moment for me.”

That is why Hohenshell set out to earn her LACP certification. With an aging population and more Baby Boomers approaching retirement every day, there is a real need for advisors who can demonstrate the knowledge and experience of a proven professional.

While she is responsible for personal production, as a general agent, Hohenshell is responsible for recruiting, training, and developing agents. It is important to demonstrate not just to her clients but to her agents that she is gaining knowledge and staying current in the industry. “I can’t give them what I don’t have. I can’t teach them something I don’t know,” she says. “We have to take the lead and set the example.”

Hohenshell sees professional credentials like the LACP as having an indirect positive impact. “I think it provides some reassurance,” she says. “If somebody is looking you up, as most will at some point, they’re going to see it.” Of the LACP credential, she says, “I have it on everything: social media, my email, LinkedIn.”

It is that commitment to staying current that inspires Hohenshell to continue to seek new training and credentials and to be a NAIFA member. “This is an industry full of change,” she says. “Almost every time I’m talking with a client, I’m referencing at some point in the conversation something I’ve learned in a designation, or a bulletin I’ve received from NAIFA about a recent change in legislation or something.”