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A challenging career in insurance

by Admin-Phmp

By Henrylito D. Tacio

“I always believe that the smartness of a man is nothing without God’s guidance. Acknowledging the Lord God, Jesus Christ who gives us the skills, knowledge and talent is what makes us become successful in anyways.”

Those words came from the mouth of a man who was named by his parents, Rico A. Mag-usara and Erlene T. Bustaliño, Cristian Eric – perhaps after the Son of God only without an “h.” He was born eight days before the supposed birthday of Jesus Christ – on December 17, 1988, in Bislig, Surigao del Sur.

Tantan – as he is known among his family and friends – has gone a long, long way since his childhood days in Surigao who dreamed of becoming a commercial pilot. Although he wasn’t able to fulfil his wish, he is now one of the most successful business unit managers of Manulife Philippines. But it was a long struggle, perseverance, and a lot of prayer that brought him to where he is now.

He attended three colleges. His first year was spent in Cagayan de Oro City at Lourdes College. For his second and third years, he went to St. Mary’s College in Tagum City. He finally got his nursing degree at Arriesgado College Foundation, Inc. in 2011.

“I took up nursing because of the inspiration of my grandfather, whom I took care of when he was hospitalized at San Pedro Hospital in Davao City for almost two months in 2005,” he recalled.

It was at that time when a lot of students were taking nursing. At the hospital where his grandfather was confined, he saw the beauty of these nurses in taking care of the ill patients aside from being captivated by the white uniform and white shoes these nurses were wearing.

After graduation, he took the board exam but didn’t pass. “When I took the exam, my sister would be in college and I had to support her in sending to college. In addition, I had to help my parents as well,” he said.

Tantan had to do something to make both ends meet. He was up to the challenge. After all, he had been selling kakanins that were made by his mother and grandmother when he was still young. “I loved doing it – going to our neighborhoods and offering it. I love the idea of selling and gaining profit from it,” he said.

He started his career by joining the BDO Life Assurance Company, where he worked for five years. “I had the best training in BDO Life,” he admitted. “It was tough but it was worth it as I was being mentored by my bosses. I attended a lot of seminars and training that the company provided. Being in the insurance business was very hard. It was a tough job because it was not easy to convince people about the value of having insurance.”

Later on, he joined the Maxicare Healthcare Corporation only to transfer to Manulife Philippines in the same year. He is now in his sixth year in Manulife as a business unit manager.

It was Roy Cervantes who invited him for a new opportunity; he was recruited by him to join Manulife. When he accepted the offer, he was assigned as a unit manager in Tagum City. “With my experience in sales in my previous company as an insurance sales advisor, it was easy for me then to have the job,” he said, adding that the only challenge he encountered was to create a new team and how to manage these people as well.

The task was herculean. “It was so hard for me when I started because I have to recruit people to join in the industry and at the same time I have to sell as well because I have a rank retention to maintain,” he said.

“Recruiting people was very hard because it’s a commission-based program and most of the people I invited are not into it because they have that employee mindset that is comfortable in 15-30 payroll,” he continued.

What most people don’t know is that a career in insurance is very self-fulfilling. “On top of the earnings that you have, you are entitled and privileged to enjoy perks in an all-expense paid luxury trip if you hit the sales parameters,” he said.

Tantan is one of the chosen few who had that opportunity. He was 28 when he got his passport because he has to travel in other countries. “So far, I have been to six countries since I joined Manulife,” he said.

The first country he visited was Taipei, Taiwan. “It was very memorable to me as it was my first time to be out of the country. This was in 2018 when I attended the GAMA Lamp Asia. It was an Asian Conference for Managers across Asia in the Insurance Industry. Another reason why Taiwan was memorable was the fact that I discovered the use of Google Map. I got lost and with the help of Google Maps, I was able to be reunited with my colleagues.”

In 2019, he had the opportunity of travelling to five countries: Shanghai, China; Singapore; Johor Bahru, Malaysia; Sydney, Australia; and Osaka and Tokyo in Japan. “I visited these countries as my travel incentives for hitting targets,” he said. He may visit Japan and Australia again.

According to him, the challenges he is meeting as a unit manager are the recruitment and getting new business sales representatives. “Every year, we need to recruit new people and get new business sales representatives. If we stop recruiting people to join in the industry, that is also the time we kill our business. Or it may die eventually because every year is always a new beginning. Even if you did so well the previous year, that is already in the past,” he said.

A career in insurance is no bed of roses. “The qualities that you need to have in this kind of job is to have a very long patience,” he pointed out. “Patience is a virtue in this career. You must be teachable. Above all, be honest and truthful to all your clients.”

Like other jobs, a career in insurance also means a lot of stress. But his coping mechanism against stress is his family. As he puts it: “Even how hard and tough the day is, going home and seeing my kids that are so happy and hearing them yelling as they saw me coming, the heavy feelings on that day are being wiped out. Family is everything. The smiles of my kids and their sweet hugs remind me always that everything is okay because you have someone waiting for you.”

Now, looking back, Tantan considered himself a successful insurance adviser “because being in this career is very tough,” he said. “The pressure that it gives in hitting targets is frustrating. Sometimes, talking to a lot of prospects where you get rejections and objections is a common thing but in every yes to your proposal from a client who trusted you is what really makes this career so great. I have several clients under my portfolio who were insured as high as 100 million coverage in protection.”

When asked about his future plans, he replied: “To expand my business and recruit more people to be part of my organization, to educate more Filipinos. and to help every family about the beauty and purpose of insurance.”

Tantan is now settled in Tagum City with his wife, Jenny Ann. They have three children: Stanley, Margaux, and Stingray.

“Every day is a challenge,” he said of being a father. “A challenge to face again thinking what lies ahead for today but being prayerful is what keeps me going that everything will be alright.”

When asked what success means to him, Tantan replied: “Success for me is having the sense of contentment. Being content with the things that were the product or results of your success or hard work. Contentment is a level of hard work. If you want something more then you have to work hard and do it smartly.” 

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