'Women are well suited for this business'
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a maverick is “an independent individual who does
not go along with a group or party.” For J.K. McAndrews, general agent, Greater Houston-
McAndrews, mavericks are his firm’s leading advisors in life insurance, annuity, disability income
insurance and long-term care insurance (LADL) sales.
McAndrews annually celebrates the top five mavericks, and in 2016, for the first time, all five are
1. Mamie Favor
2. Ann Laufman
3. Mariana Ruiz Posada
4. Reva Azeez
5. Berkely Arrants
In fact, seven of the firm’s top 10 advisors for 2016 are women.
“We’re of the opinion that women are well suited for this business,” McAndrews said. He and his
chief of staff, Susan Tasson, believe the characteristics that tend to come more naturally to women
are the same qualities inherent in a solid advisor: good listener, relationship builder, compassionate and patient.
“They’re not always gunning for the sale,” McAndrews said. “They take their time and build up the
trust that makes for successful relationships.”
But don’t get them wrong. These women are keen on making the sale. “They all want to be
winners,” Tasson said.
When McAndrews and Tasson joined MassMutual in 2002 from another mutual company, the firm had one female advisor. Now 40 percent of the advisors are women and 56 percent
are people of color.
Through the years, McAndrews said, he and Tasson made a couple of small changes to make the culture more appealing to women. “The biggest hurdle we had to overcome was the
need for the morning meeting. It’s hard for people with kids to get to a 7:30 a.m. meeting when they have to drop them off at school,” he said. So they moved those meetings to later
in the day, and associates now use the early morning time to prepare for the day.
“The more flexible we got, the happier people became,” McAndrews said.
Mamie Favor, the top maverick of 2016, said the firm’s positive atmosphere also benefits from how it celebrates success. “J.K. is very individualized in terms of how he rewards and
communicates with everyone in the firm. He finds out how you like to be recognized and follows through with it. It’s not always a golf tournament on a Saturday afternoon,” she said.
Recruiting at all levels
Tasson, who is also chief talent officer, said the firm recruits at all levels, from recent college graduates to career changers to moms looking to get back into the workforce. The value
proposition is straight forward: “This is the only field women can be paid equally to, if not more than, men,” she said.
Typically, Tasson will ask a woman advisor to meet with a new female recruit during the interview process. Then, once the recruit comes aboard, it usually turns into a formal mentoring
relationship. At Greater Houston-McAndrews, she said, advisors do as much recruiting as she does.
In the end, these connections keep proving to be beneficial. “We bring them on board, help them get successful, and then success breeds success,” McAndrews said.
For Favor, who left her law practice to become an advisor, the firm is the right fit, and her maverick status is proof. “Being recognized as a maverick meant more to me than anything
I’ve ever accomplished in my career, including as a lawyer,” she said.