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Joanna Dellosa, LUTCF, FSS, RICP, CLU, LACP, a loyal NAIFA member since 2012, has fond memories of her father heading out to his office each day with his briefcase in hand. She recalls thinking at a very young age, “I want one of those, too. I’d look so professional with a briefcase.”

Her father was an insurance agent, and Dellosa’s early impressions of him created an image that influenced her career decisions later in life. “I had that idea in my head,” she said, “I am open to the idea of becoming an agent.”

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Other less pleasant formative experiences also helped shape Dellosa’s future career path. She recalls that her grandmother passed away with no financial plan in place. Then a few years later, her grandfather passed away as well, again with no plan. Issues with both estates created conflict within the family during an already stressful time. Dellosa wondered, “Is there a way to prevent this kind of situation with other families?”

It was then that Dellosa, now a successful financial professional and 2021 Advisor Today Four Under 40 winner, began to realize how carrying that briefcase as an advisor comes with a lot of responsibility.

Education Builds Confidence

Dellosa graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2008 with a degree in business administration with an emphasis on finance. She began her insurance career with New York Life and then became an independent agent after nine months. For the past 13 years, she has been a financial professional with Wilshire Group Financial Services, the same agency her father worked for in the 1980s.

Over those 13 years, education has played an important role in her career success. She has earned a host of professional credentials, including NAIFA’s LACP certification and LUTCF designation.

“I was quite young when I started in the industry, so I didn’t have as much confidence going out there and talking to clients,” she said. “The continuing education definitely helped to boost my confidence in what I’m offering my clients and how I’m doing in my practice. I kept going because there’s never enough information that I can have and the more I know the better I’m able to help my clients. It also helped to inspire people in my office to get more educated.”

The Value of NAIFA

From the LACP to NAIFA’s Leadership in Life Institute (LILI), Dellosa has experienced firsthand the value of NAIFA’s career development programs. “NAIFA helped tremendously. It definitely put me in positions where I could grow,” she said.

Equally important, Dellosa said, is NAIFA’s advocacy at the state and federal levels. NAIFA was instrumental in protecting producers’ independent contractor status in California, securing federal protections for individuals and small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, and protecting tax benefits of life insurance policies. “NAIFA was at the table, helping guide the congresspeople to make those provisions,” she said. “We're going through so many changes. It is important to be able to keep those benefits for our clients and have those tax benefits as well. If not, they're going to struggle, especially when they’re retiring.”

Dellosa has participated in NAIFA legislative events at the federal level in Washington, D.C., and state level in Sacramento. “Both were really educational and interesting," she said. “To be able to go into those buildings and to meet in the different offices is a very cool experience.”

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She takes every opportunity to talk to her colleagues about the benefits of being a NAIFA member. When they ask why they should join, Dellosa likens NAIFA to professional organizations for other occupations. “You wouldn't want to work with a doctor who wasn't a member of the American Medical Association, would you?” she asked.

She said being associated with like-minded professionals dedicated to serving their clients is also a major plus. “I love that we have a Code of Ethics that sets us apart from different organizations,” she said. “The NAIFA Code of Ethics is going above and beyond just having a license. It shows we’re always looking out for the very best interests of our clients. That’s another key thing that helped me grow as a person.”

NAIFA’s membership promise – “Advocate. Educate. Differentiate.” – rings true with Dellosa. “NAIFA has fulfilled its promise with me,” she said.

Contributing in Her Community

Dellosa believes participating in professional associations is important for her own growth and for protecting the insurance and financial services industry. She holds active leadership positions in both NAIFA and Women in Insurance and Financial Services (WIFS).

She serves on the Board of NAIFA-Los Angeles and is the chapter’s national committeeperson. She is the 2022 President of WIFS-Los Angeles. She has lofty ambitions for her term in office. “I want to tighten our bonds and create greater camaraderie between the two organizations,” she said.

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In her community, Dellosa spends some of her free time – when she is not doing tai chi, teaching yoga, hiking, swimming, or working to improve her golf swing – volunteering with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. She is in the speaker's bureau for the planned-giving office, putting her professional expertise to use educating communities within the archdiocese about estate and financial planning. She also serves on her home parish’s Lectors Committee and Pastoral Council.

Patience, Resilience, and Gratitude

Professionally, Dellosa is driven by a sense of purpose, a sure knowledge that her work improves the lives of everyday Americans. Her practice is centered on finding the right solutions for her clients. Her career also allows her to travel, as well as build camaraderie with other agents, both of which she finds rewarding.

A good advisor, Dellosa says, must have patience, resilience, and gratitude. They must be patient enough to delay gratification; resilient enough to adjust to changing circumstances, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown; and grateful for where they have been and where they are now.

“As the pandemic has shown us, life can throw you curveballs,” she explained. “You need to be able to pivot and adjust so that you can still meet the needs of your clients and meet the needs of your company.”

Making a Difference

Dellosa’s clients tend to be retired, or nearing retirement, with some uncertainty about what they need to do to prepare for the future. She loves helping them enhance their lives by finding options they may have missed or that they did not know existed.

“I like how our profession is client-centered, how we’re really trying to find solutions for people,” she said. “I enjoy hearing clients’ stories and learning about their lives. And, once in a while, they feed me too, which is nice.”

Dellosa recalls one experience, in particular, that had an impact on her. A client presented her with over a dozen insurance policies accumulated over many years, looking for guidance on how to handle them. She needed to decide whether to keep a life insurance policy on her mother. The premiums were significant, and the policy was already in a grace period. Reviewing the policy, Dellosa saw that her client’s mother was older, in her late 70s or early 80s, and in relatively poor health. Dellosa advised her client to keep the policy.

A few months later, her client’s mother passed away. Her client came to her at the wake to express her gratitude, saying, “If I didn't keep this policy, I'm not sure how I would have been able to bury my mother.” That moment reinforced to Dellosa how important her work is, how much of an impact she can have on someone’s life. It was one experience among many in her career.

“The journey has been great,” she said. “It’s allowed me to really help my community and people, and my friends and family as well. It’s been a privilege and honor to know that the planning I helped them put into place is being put to good use. They appreciate it, as well, so that’s another good thing.”

Now that she’s established herself as a successful professional, Dellosa admits that despite the impression her dad’s briefcase made on her as a child she doesn’t carry one herself. “I have a bag that I use to hold my papers, but it doesn’t really look like a briefcase,” she said with a laugh. Still, her profession comes with the same responsibility to her clients and community. Briefcase or no briefcase, it’s a responsibility that Dellosa works to fulfill every day.

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