David Hufnagel: Insuring Latino Futures
Story By: Kristian Jaime
As a generation of Latino professionals enters the workforce, the need for sound financial advice is at a premium. Thanks to Mass Mutual, that responsibility is being met.
David Hufnagel, Latino Markets director at Mass Mutual, knows all too well that the journey to financial literacy is not always easy or immediate. Moreover, investing in education has been a pursuit decades in the making.
“I’m third generation from Argentina and like many Hispanics, I came here to further my education. Like many of us, I worked full time to get an undergraduate degree and I was the first in my family to do so. I wanted to grow, so I moved on to my master’s degree,” said Hufnagel.
Planning for the future was far more than a business venture for the newest addition to the Mass Mutual team. It was personal when he became cognizant of the lack of financial foresight common among a large section of Latinos.
In many ways, that was the impetus to embark on an educational and diversifying journey.
“For the past 12 years, I worked in the financial industry. I’ve seen it with my own eyes that my family has not had the financial education to make the right decisions and protect themselves and their loved ones for their [investment] future,” Hufnagel continued.
Among the challenges Hufnagel and many other Latinos in the business world faced was to adapt to a very different corporate culture rooted in individual achievement. So much of what characterizes the Hispanic tradition is a strong sense of communal gain.
Yet it was the efforts of the financial giant that swayed the native Argentine to take a closer look at a new opportunity.
“When I started seeing what Mass Mutual was doing in giving back to the community, that was very important to showing they were [dedicated] to expansion and educating the Latino [population],” Hufnagel said. “What really sold me was a program they have called ‘Life Bridge,’ which offers free life insurance to certain individuals.”
The initiative provides a life insurance policy for parents in a certain segment of the population, and in the event that policy must pay out, the children receive $50,000 to be earmarked for education.
Although he’s only been in his post for a year, the decade of experience that preceded his move to Mass Mutual was the perfect primer for Hufnagel to reach out to an underserved public in the investment market. Mass Mutual’s full slate of products was more than a selling point for Hufnagel; it became the cornerstone of financial literacy for him and the prosperity that often follows.
“The key factor in the Latino market is that they are largely at the age where they are making huge decisions like buying their first home or having their first child, Hufnagel said. “So I think there’s an opportunity to educate them on steps to protect their future.”
For many, that journey begins with the first job in their desired career and financing a future that may be over 30 years away. As the fastest growing segments of the populace, the 55 million-plus individuals already in the United States are poised for exponential growth in the next half century.
Yet they represent one of the youngest census blocks as well. Many see the American education system as their ticket to lucrative jobs at firms not traditionally known for hiring Hispanic talent. Therein lies the importance of outreach efforts by Mass Mutual.
“Roughly 40 percent of Latinos do not have enough insurance to protect themselves or their loved ones and that is the challenge for Mass Mutual. We need to know how to educate the consumer,” Hufnagel said.
Statistics bear out that Latinos are on the right track in corporate America, with a 20 percent rise in the number of professionals in the last five years. Thus, firms like Mass Mutual are tapping into a market sector on the verge of unprecedented financial growth.
Reaching emerging Latino professionals is no easy task with as many players in the fiscal arena.
“We’ve been working extremely close with the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA) and we’ve developed a fully bilingual website that is tailored for the Hispanic market,” concluded Hufnagel.
Since the start of Mass Mutual’s Hispanic outreach effort, market research directly contributed to the creation of more offices across the country and search tools to find the nearest financial professional to start planning.
Sowing the seeds of prosperity, it appears, starts one family at a time.