Rith Nou always knew she wanted to make a career helping people. A Cambodian refugee, Nou learned English from volunteers who came to her school to read to her, and she used that knowledge to help her family and community communicate and navigate the American financial system.
Nou went on to work in the banking industry for 15 years, but she didn’t consider a career as a financial professional until her father began planning for retirement. They chose to work with a New York Life Insurance Company agent and were impressed with the company. Seeing that she could use her skills to help make a difference in the lives of everyday Americans, Nou decided to become an agent with New York Life.
Making a Difference
Nou is fluent in English, Cambodian, and Spanish and grew up with many friends in the South Asian community. Now, she serves a multicultural population providing insurance and financial services. She believes in always doing what’s best for her client. “We are not the main characters. It’s about them and their goals. They are the hero in the story; we just help complement where they are, what they have in place, and where they want to go with our knowledge and experience,” she says, adding, “Give them the best of you and not the rest of you.”
Nou has seen firsthand the impact that life insurance coverage can have on a family. In her second year as an agent, she filed her first unexpected death claim for a close relative. Seeing how the money helped them maintain their lifestyle solidified her business, she says. Nou talks about her managing partner and role model, Peter McAvinn, whom Nou refers to as “The G.O.A.T.” She says, “When I was starting out, Peter would say, ‘Each life insurance policy you write is a reinvestment in the community you serve,’ but I didn’t know the value of what I do until it hit close to home.” Of all the products she offers, life insurance is her favorite. “I love selling life insurance, adding protection, and making sure it’s enough. Consider getting it while you are young and healthy to help keep your insurance premiums lower,” she says.
From her personal experience, Nou realized that helping protect families was her calling. She is passionate about providing guidance to her clients and helping second-generation immigrants like herself assist their first-generation friends and relatives. She empowers her clients with knowledge and finds solutions to help them achieve their financial goals, retire comfortably, gain peace of mind, and create legacies. Nou follows the principles that Wade Pfau, Ph.D., CFA, lays out in his article “Building Integrated Retirement Income Strategies with Traditional Investment, Guaranteed Income Annuities, and Whole Life Insurance.” In the article, Pfau states that integrated retirement solutions should be based on Liquidity, Longevity, Legacy, and Lifestyle, “The Four L's.” As Nou says, “There is no secret to success; it’s just being authentic and doing what’s best for your clients!”
Nou’s goal is to open a multicultural financial firm with a diverse group of agents who share the same passion to serve all communities with multilingual professionals. Nou believes in “paying it forward” by helping mentor junior agents. She wants to add value to her clients’ lives when they choose to work with her in their financial journey. She describes herself as a leader, follower, listener, teacher, and a student in her career and in serving her clients, adding “I am grateful to my current clients for trusting and supporting me.”
The Power of Political Advocacy
In her first few years as a NAIFA member, Nou attended NAIFA-MA events but wasn’t active in NAIFA’s political advocacy. That changed when NAIFA-MA President Joshua O’Gara invited her to sit in on a board meeting. At the end of the meeting, he turned to her said, “You would make an impact on the board. So, which board do you want to join?” His recommendation was that she join the grassroots committee. She hadn’t intended to join any board but decided to embrace the challenge. She took O’Gara’s recommendation of grassroots because it was the place she felt she could make the biggest impact.
In 2022, Nou joined NAIFA members and leaders in Washington, D.C., for her first Congressional Conference. “I felt like a little kid in a candy store,” she begins. “It’s the most American thing I’ve ever done! And it was such an eye-opener of what NAIFA is really about—fighting for what’s best for our clients.” She thanks NAIFA Vice President of Advocacy, Diane Boyle, for her part in planning NAIFA’s Congressional Conference and for making Nou’s first experience “pretty spectacular.”
Nou is passionate about recruiting more diverse young financial professionals to NAIFA. “Being on Capitol Hill is an experience on its own,” she says. “I want to inspire [people in] other cultural markets to be a part of NAIFA and go to Capitol Hill.” She’s excited to see increasing diversity in her state congress as well. When she returned home, she was invited to the Massachusetts State House of Representatives to visit its first Cambodian woman State Representative, Vanna Howard of Lowell, MA.
NAIFA’s advocacy is the most important benefit to NAIFA membership, says Nou, but she is also grateful for networking and continuing education opportunities. She loves hearing the stories of fellow NAIFA members, hearing their “why’s” and being part of an organization with members from diverse backgrounds. “Everybody has their own experience, their own stories, and it's been very inspiring,” she says. She is looking forward to growing her business while contributing to NAIFA in the years ahead.
Giving Back to Her Community
Nou is passionate about giving back to her community and is intentional with where and how she volunteers her time, striving to make the biggest impact she can. She was part of Read to a Child program through New York Life and, in the years before the pandemic, read to a child in East Boston for 3 years, where she felt the need was greatest. She also volunteers to help build houses with Habitat for Humanity and is a Big Buddy at Comfort Zone Camp, a camp for grieving children.
She is also an ambassador for New York Life’s Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative (GSSI). Through this program, schools and school districts can become recognized as grief-sensitive, which helps their staff and school community be better prepared to help support children who are experiencing the loss of a loved one. Through a school’s pledge to strive to become grief-sensitive, each school can earn a $500 grant. She also volunteers with Family Movement through NAIFA-MA, providing financial literacy to help families in Boston, from homelessness to homeownership. Nou stays connected to the Asian American Studies department at the University of Massachusetts Boston and UMass Boston Alumni.
In her free time, Nou enjoys reading, writing, tennis, pickleball, soccer, softball, puzzles, playing board games, going on outdoor adventures, and cheering on New England sports teams. Two of her favorite authors are Jay Shetty and Tony Robbins and her current read is Shetty’s “Think Like a Monk.”
Thank you, Rith, for your service to our industry and association. We’re #NAIFAproud to call you one of our own.
Agent, New York Life Insurance Company
201 Jones Rd 5th Floor
Waltham, MA 02451