Humboldt State University - BA, French
University of San Francisco School of Law - JD
The American College - CLU and ChFC
A financial representative with The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, Marguerite Rangel changed careers late in life. It was a big leap, too: one from law to financial services. Today, she works with clients on an individual basis to help plan their financial futures through personalized insurance policies and other products.
Toward the end of her law tenure (12 years!), Marguerite found herself feeling uninspired; finding it impossible to balance her work and home life as her children were growing up. Although working as a financial representative is something she never would have imagined doing, she finds it gives her the ability to create her own business and manage her own schedule to better fit her work into her life—not the other way around.
We have to create our own boundaries based on our personal values, then make the most of our working hours.
How did you discover your current job?
I was at a point in my life where I was actively looking to make a career change. I had spent 12 years in law and was finding that, although I was making a good living, I wasn’t able to spend time with my husband and small children, which is what’s I consider to be most important. I honestly didn’t know what a financial representative was, but I discovered the career from an ad in a legal journal calling for attorneys looking to make a career change and I fit the bill, so I called the recruiter. We met and talked through some of the benefits of a career as a financial representative—meaningful impact on clients’ lives, unlimited income potential and a flexible schedule—and it fit with everything I was looking for. So, I dropped everything and made a career change. I had no idea what was in store for me at that moment, but it was the best decision I have ever made.
What responsibilities do you have in your role?
In my line of work, the No. 1 priority is the client’s wellbeing. Guardian is a mutual insurance company, which means our policyholders are its only owners. Our responsibility is to protect them and their assets, so that they’re taken care of throughout retirement or if something unfortunate were to happen to them or their families. My job is work with each client on an individual basis to identify their needs and provide them with reasonable and effective insurance strategies to build their financial house and keep them safe.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
This job is the perfect fit for me because I genuinely care for others. I really do enjoy getting to know people, talking with them and helping them. A career as a financial representative puts me in a position to help clients plan their financial futures so they can live out their life goals through retirement and they’re protected should something unfortunate happen to them or their family. As you can imagine, discussing one’s finances and financial worries is a very intimate and introspective topic that cannot be taken lightly. I’ve built my business around developing strong and trusting relationships with my clients so I can be there for them when they need it.
The other reason is that this job gives me the ability to spend more time with my family. Because I’m essentially my own business, I’m able to create boundaries separating work time and family time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always on call should a client need me, but while my children were growing up, I was able to be there to cook dinner five nights a week. Family time was—and still is—the most important thing in my life.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
I think about my clients and their wellbeing. My clients face so many challenges; whether it’s a struggling business, a sick loved one or worrying about financial stability during retirement. My job is to make sure that everything’s in order and they’re taken care of so they don’t have to worry about these challenges—at least financially—so they can sleep at night. Inherently, I take on that concern for them.
From a career standpoint, what keeps me up at night is my own ambition. I’m a very ambitious person, which bodes well for me because being a financial representative comes with an unlimited, rewards-based pay scale. I’m always looking to do more and do better. When I do, not only are my clients taken care of, but my own family is more secure as well.
Is work/life balance ever a problem for you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
In all honesty, there were times in the beginning of my career that I wasn’t sure if it was going to be possible. Like most jobs—especially sales—starting out is very difficult. You have to build your foundation, your network and your knowledge before you can start enjoying the perks the recruiter and I discussed. But never let that struggle make you doubt yourself. I got through it and now my work-life balance is never a problem for me. In fact, it’s the best part about this career.
If you’re worried about balancing work and life, be sure to create a structure that separates the two, then make sure it’s clear to your clients. I’ve never worked nights and weekends when our children were younger. Although this is a service career, your clients need to respect that you have a family, just as they do. We’re in a profession, no different from an attorney, a physician or an accountant. We’re on call for emergencies or in case they need immediate assistance and my clients know that I’m there for them when they need me, but generally, there aren’t a lot of matters that can’t be addressed during regular business hours.
It sounds like a career as a financial representative has two sides. On one hand, it’s an amazing career that offers a unique balance between work life and home life, but on the other hand, it comes with significant growing pains—especially in the beginning. How did you get through it?
I think this is the most important question to ask. This is a very rewarding career, but it takes the right kind of person to succeed. The beginning of my career as a Financial Representative was very tough: I struggled to build a network, to find clients and to earn a livable wage. But three things got me through it: faith, my ambition and the love and support of my husband, family and friends.
If you’re an ambitious person; a person who has big dreams and a person who wants to make a difference in the lives of others, there’s no limit to your opportunity in this field. It all comes with a price, but the price is worth admission.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
That’s hard for me to say, because I’m a very ambitious person and I tend to be very hard on myself—almost to a fault. I’ve been doing this for a long time and although I’ve been successful, I still don’t really think I’ve “made it.”
But there has been one moment: the first time I made Guardian’s President’s Council, which acknowledges the company’s highest performers for that year and rewards them with a company-paid vacation to an exotic resort. My husband and I were in our room staring out at the spectacular view overlooking the Pacific Ocean and he thanked me for going into this business and not giving up when it was hard. You have to understand that, although the career comes with many amazing perks you can’t find in other careers, it’s extremely challenging. I wasn’t necessarily prepared and I didn’t have the immediate tools to feel stable or secure in the beginning. It was frustrating at times. But at that particular moment, I think we both realized that the entire struggle was worth it.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Integrity is my only rule. It embodies everything I do, from client work to my family life.
Believe in yourself and always do what’s in the best interest of those who are important to you.
In terms of my career, every decision and every suggestion is genuinely with the client’s best interest in mind.
Be honest and tell the truth, even when it’s bad news. If you can do that; if you can own your work, then you’ll never have to second-guess yourself.
I would say my biggest piece of advice would be to never stop growing and never stop learning. The more knowledge you have and the more you can bring to the table, the better you can provide for your clients.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
The five essentials for someone to be successful as a financial representative are: integrity, determination, likeability, a sincere desire to help people and a commitment to continue learning and growing.
The career revolves around your ability to build trusting and long lasting relationships with your clients. In order for them to feel comfortable with you, they must trust that you have their best interests in mind and that you’re able to provide expert strategic advice. There are many times when the career is extremely inconvenient, but if you aren’t afraid and you continue to stick with it, you can fly.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
That’s funny. Considering the drastic change I made after spending more than a decade in law, my 21-year-old self probably wouldn’t listen to what I have to say.
The best piece of advice I would give is to take a step back and really think about what’s important in your life. You need to explore yourself and really have a sense of what your values are. Once you know that, then you can be truly happy, because you’ll only seek out opportunities that fulfill those values.
I went into law naively: being an attorney worked for Victor Hugo, one of my favorite French authors, so I went to law school. Once I became a lawyer, I wanted to help people through my work and that desire to help people also brought me to a career as a financial representative. Because my family is the most important facet of my life, I yearned for a career that not only offered a high-income opportunity, but enabled me to spend time with my family. Being a financial representative has given me both.