Iris Nance, LUTCF, got into the insurance and financial services industry because of a postcard. In 1997, she was working as a Real Estate Finance Credit Analyst at a local bank after more than 10 years as a Bank Examiner with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). While exploring other career opportunities that would allow quality time with her twin daughters, she received a postcard in the mail from Farmers Insurance, and the rest is history.
Making a Difference
Nance says her career transition was hard at first—she was a recent transplant from Tennessee to Virginia and didn’t know anyone—but she made it work. Now, 25 years later, she has a thriving practice helping her clients with everything from personal lines to life insurance to securities. The key to success, she says, is tenacity. “This industry has its ups and downs, and I see far too many who leave the industry when it gets difficult. It is definitely not for the faint at heart.”
For those who stick it out, however, it can be an incredibly rewarding career. Nance’s favorite part of her job is helping people understand insurance. Many focus so much on cost with little to no thought on the protection being provided, she says. “I'm all about educating them on how to best use insurance.”
Nance shares an experience that made a significant impact. A life insurance policy was issued on the daughter of one of her long-time clients. He had shared his concern about her precarious lifestyle, and wanted to ensure if something were to happen, she was covered. Less than two years later, she tragically passed away. When Nance spoke to the grieving father, he had forgotten that the policy amount was $100,000. His response was “You mean $10,000, right?” “No, you heard me $100,000,” replied Nance. Experiences like this is a constant reminder of the value she brings to the table. “He was so thankful and remains a client today.
The Power of Political Advocacy
Now the President of the NAIFA-Tidewater Chapter, Nance admits she didn’t understand the importance of political advocacy when she initially joined NAIFA. However, after attending her first NAIFA-VA Day on the Hill in Richmond and meeting with lawmakers, she realized the power NAIFA members have in shaping legislation. She also thanks long-time NAIFA member and President of NAIFA-VA, Tim Westerman, who she regards as a mentor and friend, for the chance to follow him on his scheduled legislator visits. It was eye-opening! I am sure that there are many in this industry like myself who don't understand the importance of actually being there to help legislators understand the effect certain bills can have on our livelihood and the lives of our clients. So, I am a believer that [advocacy] is extremely critical,” she says.
Nance attended her first Congressional Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this year. She describes both experiences in Richmond and Washington, D.C. as “incredible.” “More of us should be involved to make certain that our industry and clients are protected,” Nance says.
The Benefits of NAIFA
In addition to the chance to meet face-to-face with legislators, NAIFA also offers invaluable opportunities for continuing education, says Nance. She earned the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designation through NAIFA and takes advantage of the continuing education courses and educational webinars. She credits Jeff Lane, one of the LUTCF course instructors and a loyal NAIFA member since 1983, with recruiting her to NAIFA. “I have to thank him for that because I don’t think I would have understood the importance of membership in [NAIFA] without his encouragement. Nance is currently a student in the Leadership in Life Institute (LILI) course. “This investment in myself is providing much clarity on the areas of leadership where improvement is needed particularly in my given role as the NAIFA-Tidewater Chapter President. I am so grateful for this training opportunity.
Outside of the Office
When she’s not working, Nance stays involved in her community. She serves on the boards of Help and Emergency Response, Inc. (H.E.R. Shelter), which provides leadership, advocacy, and resources to survivors and communities affected by domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking, and Envision Lead Grow, a local nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by sharing the power of entrepreneurship with girls and young women.
She is also a mentor for Kempsville High School’s Business and Entrepreneurship Academy, providing shadowing opportunities to juniors and seniors to learn about the financial services industry and business ownership. Some of her mentees have gone on to become interns in her agency.
Now that her twin daughters, Ashley and Megan, are all grown up, Nance is enjoying empty-nesting. She loves traveling with her husband, Ben, and is an avid singer.
Thank you, Iris, for your service to our industry and association. We’re #NAIFAproud to call you one of our own.