For New York Life Agent Vesela Nikay, life insurance is personal. When she was 13 years old, she lost her father to cancer. Her family had to move from their home and Nikay had to move to a new school and make new friends. Protecting families from experiences like hers is why she chose a career in the insurance and financial industry. “I'm very, very passionate about life insurance, and that's what keeps me going,” she says. “If I can protect one more family today and save one more child's future, that's what motivates me.”
Making a Difference
An immigrant from Bulgaria, Nikay’s clients are fellow immigrants, families with young children, and small business owners. Three qualities are essential for success in business, she says. First, agents and financial professionals should have a passion for learning, as the profession requires continual education. Resilience is also an important trait, as the first few years in the industry are full of ups and downs. Finally, agents and financial professionals should be team players, willing to work with others to develop their skills—especially in the first few years of their careers. Implementing these skills, Nikay has achieved professional success; she is a Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Qualifying Member (2022)* and an Executive Council Agent^ with New York Life.
Nikay talks about a time when she helped a small business owner structure her financial strategy. Her client owned a trucking company and needed help selecting her employee and executive benefits. She and Nikay put a sound financial strategy together and, after the first year, the business owner had retained all of her top executives along with implementing a tax-advantaged solution1.
The Power of Political Advocacy
Nikay believes in the power of political advocacy. She talks about her experience at NAIFA’s 2023 Congressional Conference. “It was amazing,” she begins. “I fought tooth and nail to get my American citizenship. It took me 6 years. And so, for me to go and advocate on the Hill for my clients—who are mostly immigrants as well—that was very, very powerful. That was the best thing that has happened to me professionally since I started this career.”
Nikay says that industry professionals shouldn’t be afraid to get politically involved. She shares that meeting with lawmakers and educating them on the potential effects of proposed legislation has been an eye-opening experience. “I just never knew that we could go and talk to the decision-makers and actually make a difference,” she says. “I think that’s very empowering.”
The Value of NAIFA
Nikay was first introduced to NAIFA by fellow New York Life agent and NAIFA-IL Secretary and Treasurer David Kikoen, LUTCF, CLTC, RICP. She joined NAIFA in order to meet and learn from fellow members. Since then, she’s made connections with professionals from around the country from different companies who have different perspectives. At this year’s Congressional Conference, she met a member from NAIFA-KY who offered to mentor her. "I wasn't very involved with NAIFA until I went to Washington, D.C.,” she says. “I was a member, but I wasn't doing too much with it. And now I am way more involved because now I see the real value of being a member.”
In addition to political advocacy and networking, industry professionals should join NAIFA for the opportunity to learn from fellow members with different specialties. “We all shine at different things,” she begins. “Meeting people and learning new concepts and new products—it can only help you. It helps me serve my clients better.”
Outside of the Office
When she’s not working, Nikay stays active in her community. She serves on the board of her local chamber of commerce and volunteers with several organizations, including Home of the Sparrow, an organization that helps unhoused women and children in McHenry, IL. In her free time, she loves traveling and spending time with her family, friends, and two dogs.
Thank you, Vesela, for your service to our industry and association. We’re #NAIFAproud to call you one of our own.
*The Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), The Premier Association of Financial Professionals, is recognized globally as the standard of excellence for life insurance sales performance in the insurance and financial services industry.
^Council is an annual company recognition program based on agent production from July 1- June 30.
1Neither New York Life Insurance Company, nor its agents, provides tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult your own tax, legal, or accounting professionals before making any decisions.