Leading the way for women in insurance
Diane McCurdy modestly lists herself as being the first woman chair of the Conference for Advanced Underwriting (CALU), the first woman top of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) and part of the first women’s insurance study group in Canada.
McCurdy also chaired the International Women’s Forum’s global leadership conference in Vancouver, was part of the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation inaugural committee for planned giving as well as volunteers for MDRT, saying it helps boost confidence.
The best thing is to work with people who appreciate you and appreciate what you do.
No wonder then that this self-admitted workaholic, busy with her own firm, McCurdy Financial Planning, as well as work in industry and non-profit organizations, wants to pass on the lesson she learned about the importance of managing the work-life balance most working women crave.
“I wish I had known how to manage my time better because I could work 24/7,” says McCurdy. “I wish I had learned more about the balance, which I do now.” Insurance advisors in particular see that life goes by very quickly and there are instances when someone young dies long before their time. “On one level I know you have to put the time and commitment in to make things work but at the same time you have to have balance to have time within your community, your family or your friends.”
McCurdy set herself up in business when she was only 23 and came out of university debt free by taking on three part-time jobs. One of the jobs connected her with an insurance company and she decided to get her life licence. She got a job, but at the time, the company wouldn’t let a woman go out and sell insurance. But after two years she was able to set up her own firm, calling herself a financial planner even though the term hadn’t even been coined yet.
“There just weren’t any [financial planners] then. When [later] financial planner became a buzzword, I got licensed with my CFP.”
She laughs when she says she found it easy to sell life insurance in the early years because she was used to being a starving student holding down a number of jobs.
McCurdy acquired some business skills she felt she needed by working with a friend in a property development company, then left her home in Winnipeg for the better climate of Vancouver.
Since then she has grown her firm into “an amazing team” plus four staff, written a book entitled How Much is Enough (currently in its third edition) and specializes in customizing holistic plans for clients interested in protecting their businesses, themselves and their families.
“We really look for clients who love what we do and appreciate what we do,” says McCurdy. “I have learned you can’t be all things to all people. The best thing is to work with people who appreciate you and appreciate what you do, but not someone who isn’t a fit for you.”
Insurance is a challenging business, says McCurdy, but probably one of the most rewarding professions, and advises young women to hang in for five or six years to get their businesses rolling.
“For women, there is so much flexibility with your time in this business. You can glean ideas from anybody, you can create whatever you want. Of course it has to work, but the reality is that you can make it look however you want.”