In 1993, Sheryl Hickerson faxed her resume to MassMutual—by accident. But they called her back and offered her an interview. Nearly 30 years later, it’s the best mistake she’s ever made.
Serving Main Street USA
Hickerson is the founder and CEO of Females and Finance, a private vetted community that offers support for hiring, mentoring, training, and advancing women. In her practice, Hickerson is especially passionate about helping families. “Women are often the glue in families,” she begins. “I’ve seen far too many friends displaced from their homes because of a lack of insurance.” With so many advisors focused on high-net-worth individuals, the industry doesn’t have nearly enough advisors focused on Main Street Americans, she says.
The most important quality for an advisor, Hickerson believes, is the desire to connect with real people. “We need to be able to understand where each individual is at in their journey,” she says. “Each has a different dynamic.” Too often, Hickerson sees a one-size-fits-all approach, but she strives to counter it with individualized solutions. “We're always hungry to grow, elevate, and evolve our business. We’re only able to do that through exercising the muscle of change.”
Hickerson founded Females and Finance in 2018 with the mission of increasing the visibility of underrepresented groups of financial professionals, including women, neurodiverse individuals, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals. She’s a member of NAIFA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Council and advocates for diversity in the insurance and financial services industry. Females and Finance also has a Male Ally Network (MAN) initiative, which Hickerson says is critical for providing the wind beneath the wings of the organization.
The Value of NAIFA
NAIFA has something to offer for professionals at any stage of their careers, says Hickerson. For newcomers, mentorship from more seasoned professionals is incredibly valuable. She points to the attrition rate of new advisors and agents and applauds NAIFA’s support in keeping diverse talent in the insurance and financial services industry.
For industry veterans, NAIFA helps facilitate networking with other professionals and thought leaders. Hickerson believes that interacting with members who have differing opinions is essential for moving forward as an industry. She adds that the tiered membership pricing, dependent on experience, makes membership affordable for all.
To those who haven’t become NAIFA members yet, Hickerson says, “If you’ve been doing your business the same way and nothing has changed, force yourself to exercise the muscle of change. Go to a local meeting, reach out and connect with someone who doesn’t look like you, find a dialogue, and find out ways that other people are doing their business.”
Outside of the Office
When she’s not working, Hickerson enjoys spending time with her growing family—her 10th grandchild was born last month. She and her husband are avid travelers and love finding new places to explore.
For her service to his community and our industry and association, we’re #NAIFAproud to have Sheryl Hickerson as a part of our NAIFA family.