Minding Her Business: An Interview with MetLife Exec Bellaria Jimenez

Bellaria Jimenez, M.B.A., CFP, ChFC, earned her graduate business degree at Georgian Court University in 2011. And while she learned plenty in the classroom, there are more lessons to be learned—and shared—from experience.

 

BellariaAs a managing director for MetLife Solutions Group in Cranford, NJ., Bellaria (left) and her team of more than 170 financial advisors work with businesses throughout New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. She is also the founder of WOW, Women of Wealth, and in February 2014 was named to NJ Biz Magazine’s Best 50 Women in Business. She took time from her busy schedule earlier this year to talk with Marissa Antunez, a full-time student in the GCU School of Business and a full-time manager for a national retailer at Freehold Raceway Mall.

 

 

Marissa: First off, did you always see yourself working for an insurance company and how did you discover Met Life?

Bellaria:

I came into this industry back in 1995. I didn’t see myself working for an insurance company, I really saw myself working in the stock market. That was really my first inclination that I wanted to be in this business. It was really my love for Wall Street. As I started to experience more career opportunities on Wall Street, I realized that my real passion was in financial planning and being able to help individuals plan for their financial future. I have been with MetLife for 11 years. I came to MetLife once I was in the field, having realized that I was looking for a company that could provide holistic planning for clients. When I came into the business originally, I didn’t realize how important life insurance was in really planning someone’s financial future. So, that’s really how MetLife came to be in my world.

Marissa: What specifically are your roles and responsibilities in your position?

Bellaria:

I started as a financial advisor, and now I am the managing director who oversees the financial advisors. My office currently has over 170 financial advisors and 35 managers.

Marissa: You created the organization Women of Wealth. How did you go about establishing that organization?

Bellaria:

Part of my work with financial advisors consists of understanding that there is a lack of women in our profession, and that trying to help women really build their resume and to grow in this field is never easy. As women, we tend to be conservative sometimes in our decisions to expand our horizons and take on more roles and responsibilities. So, with that in mind, I started the group WOW, or Women of Wealth. It was really in an effort to help women; bring to light issues that affect them when it comes to going to the next step–such as getting promotions, or building their practice. The topics range in the meetings from how to network effectively, to how to negotiate or how to properly position yourself in a board meeting. There have been all different kinds of topics, and its focus is on helping women take that next step and go out of their comfort zone.

Marissa: In  NJBiz, you mentioned that business etiquette was something that you wished that the university would have touched upon. In all of your time in business, what did you find most important in business etiquette that you wish you knew?

Bellaria:

There is quite a bit of stuff that I think hadn’t been taught, but I think for the most part, the things that you could do in your career to help you excel and what can actually set you back. People may not always give you the right advice, and you may not know ‘hey, look, you know what this is a good meeting for you to attend because these people are going to be in that meeting, and if you discuss what you’re doing here that’s the kind of stuff that will get you noticed’ and things like that. That is one part of business etiquette that no one ever had discussed with me, and I had to learn it throughout the years. It’s all about the dos and don’ts, right? What to do, what not to do when you go to a business party or an office party, things that happen in your office, like gossip and how to get yourself out of that. There are many little things like that, that I think we just take for granted and think that everyone knows that stuff. I was very fortunate that I had a mentor in my business very early on that kind of took me under their wing and coached me. I didn’t even know to find someone like that, who could help you with decisions that can be made to really help your career.

Bellaria’s Advice for GCU Business Majors:

  1. ”Learn

    That’s something that as a leader, and a manager, you have to learn how to relate to your employees–how to help them, how to give them recognition, how to make them feel part of the organization. It is really the key part of being a good leader and if you do that, people will walk through walls for you. They will do anything to help you, and at the end of the day that team is what is going to help your business be successful.
  2. ”Use

    I think a lot of newer students probably would not have that challenge, but at the same time they do, right? You have to know how to use technology the right way. You have to make sure that everything that goes online is actually positively reflecting your business, yourself, and your company. So using technology the right way and knowing how to protect your business are very critical.
  3. ”Think

    You have to stand out. There is a lot of competition out there, and you always have to be doing things that are a little different. There is not like a checklist to say “OK, to be a good leader you have to this, this, this…” You always have to be thinking creatively. How can I do something different in my business? What are the things that are still not being done? How can I position our company differently? There are many different ways. If you’re a business student, sometimes our business classes are still teaching us things that are no longer relevant. We have to be very much on the lookout for keeping up with what is happening today.
  4. ”Create

    We don’t spend enough time in school learning about how to take care of our clients. We learn about different ways to build our practice, to build the bottom line, accounting classes, communication classes, but there is no one really saying “hey listen, without clients, you don’t have anything.” What are the things that you need to do to make sure that you are constantly taking care of the client? You need a strong service model, and you need to constantly review that service model, because without the client, you’re wasting time. You’re not going to really be able to generate the right revenue if your clients don’t keep coming back. I think that’s important for any student.
  5. ”Have

    Taking one or two things, that’s all you have to be good at, and saying this is my business plan for the year and I’m going to make sure this happens, and sticking to your business plan. If you really want to make an impact, and you really want to grow your practices, then you have to have a business plan and review it every quarter and make sure that you actually execute it. If you do that every single year, your business will continue to grow.

Edited by Kristi Rosa ’15, GCU English Major

Bellaria Jimenez, M.B.A., CFP, ChFC, earned her graduate business degree at Georgian Court University in 2011. And while she learned plenty in the classroom, there are more lessons to be learned—and shared—from experience.

 

BellariaAs a managing director for MetLife Solutions Group in Cranford, NJ., Bellaria (left) and her team of more than 170 financial advisors work with businesses throughout New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. She is also the founder of WOW, Women of Wealth, and in February 2014 was named to NJ Biz Magazine’s Best 50 Women in Business. She took time from her busy schedule earlier this year to talk with Marissa Antunez, a full-time student in the GCU School of Business and a full-time manager for a national retailer at Freehold Raceway Mall.

 

 

Marissa: First off, did you always see yourself working for an insurance company and how did you discover Met Life?

Bellaria:

I came into this industry back in 1995. I didn’t see myself working for an insurance company, I really saw myself working in the stock market. That was really my first inclination that I wanted to be in this business. It was really my love for Wall Street. As I started to experience more career opportunities on Wall Street, I realized that my real passion was in financial planning and being able to help individuals plan for their financial future. I have been with MetLife for 11 years. I came to MetLife once I was in the field, having realized that I was looking for a company that could provide holistic planning for clients. When I came into the business originally, I didn’t realize how important life insurance was in really planning someone’s financial future. So, that’s really how MetLife came to be in my world.

Marissa: What specifically are your roles and responsibilities in your position?

Bellaria:

I started as a financial advisor, and now I am the managing director who oversees the financial advisors. My office currently has over 170 financial advisors and 35 managers.

Marissa: You created the organization Women of Wealth. How did you go about establishing that organization?

Bellaria:

Part of my work with financial advisors consists of understanding that there is a lack of women in our profession, and that trying to help women really build their resume and to grow in this field is never easy. As women, we tend to be conservative sometimes in our decisions to expand our horizons and take on more roles and responsibilities. So, with that in mind, I started the group WOW, or Women of Wealth. It was really in an effort to help women; bring to light issues that affect them when it comes to going to the next step–such as getting promotions, or building their practice. The topics range in the meetings from how to network effectively, to how to negotiate or how to properly position yourself in a board meeting. There have been all different kinds of topics, and its focus is on helping women take that next step and go out of their comfort zone.

Marissa: In  NJBiz, you mentioned that business etiquette was something that you wished that the university would have touched upon. In all of your time in business, what did you find most important in business etiquette that you wish you knew?

Bellaria:

There is quite a bit of stuff that I think hadn’t been taught, but I think for the most part, the things that you could do in your career to help you excel and what can actually set you back. People may not always give you the right advice, and you may not know ‘hey, look, you know what this is a good meeting for you to attend because these people are going to be in that meeting, and if you discuss what you’re doing here that’s the kind of stuff that will get you noticed’ and things like that. That is one part of business etiquette that no one ever had discussed with me, and I had to learn it throughout the years. It’s all about the dos and don’ts, right? What to do, what not to do when you go to a business party or an office party, things that happen in your office, like gossip and how to get yourself out of that. There are many little things like that, that I think we just take for granted and think that everyone knows that stuff. I was very fortunate that I had a mentor in my business very early on that kind of took me under their wing and coached me. I didn’t even know to find someone like that, who could help you with decisions that can be made to really help your career.

Bellaria’s Advice for GCU Business Majors:

  1. ”Learn

    That’s something that as a leader, and a manager, you have to learn how to relate to your employees–how to help them, how to give them recognition, how to make them feel part of the organization. It is really the key part of being a good leader and if you do that, people will walk through walls for you. They will do anything to help you, and at the end of the day that team is what is going to help your business be successful.
  2. ”Use

    I think a lot of newer students probably would not have that challenge, but at the same time they do, right? You have to know how to use technology the right way. You have to make sure that everything that goes online is actually positively reflecting your business, yourself, and your company. So using technology the right way and knowing how to protect your business are very critical.
  3. ”Think

    You have to stand out. There is a lot of competition out there, and you always have to be doing things that are a little different. There is not like a checklist to say “OK, to be a good leader you have to this, this, this…” You always have to be thinking creatively. How can I do something different in my business? What are the things that are still not being done? How can I position our company differently? There are many different ways. If you’re a business student, sometimes our business classes are still teaching us things that are no longer relevant. We have to be very much on the lookout for keeping up with what is happening today.
  4. ”Create

    We don’t spend enough time in school learning about how to take care of our clients. We learn about different ways to build our practice, to build the bottom line, accounting classes, communication classes, but there is no one really saying “hey listen, without clients, you don’t have anything.” What are the things that you need to do to make sure that you are constantly taking care of the client? You need a strong service model, and you need to constantly review that service model, because without the client, you’re wasting time. You’re not going to really be able to generate the right revenue if your clients don’t keep coming back. I think that’s important for any student.
  5. ”Have

    Taking one or two things, that’s all you have to be good at, and saying this is my business plan for the year and I’m going to make sure this happens, and sticking to your business plan. If you really want to make an impact, and you really want to grow your practices, then you have to have a business plan and review it every quarter and make sure that you actually execute it. If you do that every single year, your business will continue to grow.

Edited by Kristi Rosa ’15, GCU English Major

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