After hiring 3,597 full-time agents last year, New York Life is raising the ante, with a goal of adding 3,700 reps in 2013. Among the new hires, more than half are expected to be women or individuals who represent the “cultural markets,” as the company put it, referring specifically to the African-American, Chinese, Hispanic, Korean, South Asian, and Vietnamese communities.

“Those are growing markets, with large consumer demand for the products we offer,” said Rich Simonetti, senior vice president of field recruiting and development at New York Life.

Since 2000, New York Life has recorded 11% growth of its agent force, reaching a current level of more than 12,250 agents. In 2012, 62% of the company’s new hires in the field were women or individuals who represent the cultural markets. 

“They’ve helped us expand in under-serviced markets,” Simonetti said. “For example, in one Brooklyn neighborhood with a large Chinese population, our office has grown from scratch to 42 agents in two years.” He added that agents engage in activities designed to help clients in these markets feel more comfortable, such as hosting community events.

Where will this year’s crop of recruits come from?

“We’re looking for people who are successful,” Simonetti said. “They might be people who have had success in their current jobs, who want to switch careers. They may want to change for monetary reasons, or because they have life goals they’d like to achieve.” He mentioned teachers, coaches and people who have served in the military as possible recruits.

“We also attract experienced recruits from the financial services industry,” Simonetti said. “That includes independent advisors. It’s not easy running your own business these days, so some professionals appreciate all the support we can provide.” Regardless of their background, New York Life’s recruits will offer a full range of the company’s products, including investments, annuities and long-term care insurance. “Clients in the cultural markets are interested in all of these products,” Simonetti said, “but they often have a strong propensity for purchasing life insurance. Generally, there’s a desire for family protection.”

New York Life, which led new agent membership in the Million Dollar Round Table in the United States for the 58th consecutive year in 2012, continues to recruit an agent force to address that burgeoning demand.