What The Dash Means To Me: Part 2

By Mayer Smith


Prior to 1960, Public School employees did not have the same right as non-profit schools to have their salaries reduced with the amount of the reduction being set aside in a tax advantaged plan on behalf of the employee.

When the publication announcing this new program came across my desk, I pushed everything else aside in order to thoroughly digest what this could mean for me if I could successfully compete for this business.  The reason was that each school-system could only have one or two companies or else the program would be unmanageable.

What I concluded was that I would have to know more than any other agent about all the products available from all the insurance companies offering tax deferred annuities and determine which one was the best for the teachers and be able to prove it!

I checked the products of over 60 different companies and deleted the 30 that were obviously not suitable.

Then, I requested illustrations from the other 30 companies showing what $100 per year would accumulate to at age 65 and how much income per month that accumulation would yield if the teacher started at ages 25, 30, 35, 40, etc.

To demonstrate this, I needed to put all of that information on a 30- column ledger page.  

Ruth came to my rescue with her legible handwriting and took all of the responses and entered them for me so I could show them to the decision makers.  This involved over 3,000 entries!

When she completed this for me, I had overpowering proof which company had the best product for this purpose.  It was a company to which I had already sent a meaningful amount of business and had a wonderful relationship with the Home Office Management team and was able to get them to appoint me as their Northern Virginia representative for this program.

All the other agents competing for this program represented only one company and presented only that company’s product.

In late 1961, I presented my 30-column page to the insurance committee for the Fairfax Education Association at one of their meetings.  I left off the names of the companies but kept a key as to which column was for each company.

One of the committee members asked “How do we know your numbers are right?” My answer to him was “tack the 30-column page up on the wall, throw 2 darts, tell me which columns they hit, and I will tell you which companies they are.  Then you can check with those companies to see if my numbers are right.” That answer satisfied them temporarily.

The time I had to devote to that program bit deeply into my normal insurance production and almost put me out of business because it took 2 years before the Alexandria, VA school system (a much smaller system) started its program and 4 years before Fairfax County, VA did so.

If you recall from one of my previous articles, I received the advice “Make certain that you are right and all else will follow.” Because I followed that advice, I was given a one year exclusive to market annuities to the Fairfax County School System.  I had to enlist the help of five other agents to be able to reach all 165 schools in a timely fashion. However, it was with the understanding among us that while I was giving them an opportunity to earn a lot of money, all of the hundreds of applicants would become my clients exclusively for future purposes.  Referrals and even larger repeat sales took place through the ensuing years. In 1966, I earned more than the cost of our 5-bedroom, 3 bath house! The logistics to enable all of that to be accomplished was an achievement in itself that I could never have accomplished without Ruth’s help.


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