Building Diversity in LTCI Leadership: Meet Heather Kane

Heather Kane, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Equitrust Life Insurance, was happy to share with us the many ways that she is intentional about mentoring young women to become LTCI leaders of tomorrow. In this brief interview, one of our exclusive series in honor of International Day of the Girl 2023, we hope you’ll enjoy her many tips and insights about how to grow diversity at the leadership level.

How long have you been in the LTC space and what attracted you to pursuing this career path?

Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve touched all facets of the insurance business, including sales, marketing, contracting, and operations, and have even sold products as an independent producer. Location played a significant role in my career path. Des Moines, Iowa, is the number two state in the country for annuity and life insurance companies, which has provided me with exciting growth opportunities. 

My LTC chapter began two years ago when EquiTrust partnered with Assured Allies to develop Bridge, a new hybrid annuity product with an LTC rider and the NeverStop wellness program. It’s been rewarding to use my health license and be on the front lines of developing an innovative product that goes beyond providing financial coverage and helps policyholders live healthier and better in retirement. I’ve enjoyed dipping my toes into technology and being the driving force behind building an interactive agent portal.  

Did you have any female role models? How did they support your career growth? 

I’ve been very fortunate. At my first job in banking, the branch vice president was an excellent role model. Her support sparked my curiosity to learn new things, which gave me confidence in my ability to grow. Within the insurance industry, I’ve benefitted from several leaders who took me under their wing, honored an open-door policy, and provided valuable guidance on building a strong business presence. They helped me develop my leadership style and insisted that I never apologize for not knowing something and instead embrace it as a learning opportunity. That has always stuck with me. There are many female leaders at EquiTrust. It’s a positive environment supporting women’s career development and growth. I have colleagues who are trusted sounding boards. 

Have you been a mentor? How have you helped an aspiring female professional pursue a career in long-term care insurance?

I certainly make an effort to support and encourage the women around me. Inspired by my early career days, I encourage them to be curious, learn about different aspects of the business, and seek out growth areas. Being a mentor is often about helping people see their strengths. After meetings, I acknowledge each person’s valuable contributions. It’s a small way to create a positive learning environment with open feedback. 

I’ve also supported aspiring colleagues to take additional training courses to expand their knowledge. Overall, I encourage women to find something they are passionate about doing. There is no point in just going through the motions. I’m a big believer in feeling like you make a difference. Make what you do matter! 

Can you share any memorable experiences or instances where your influence has brought about positive change in the industry?

Developing and launching Bridge is an example of making a positive change in the industry. It’s a unique product that makes aging better in retirement accessible to everyone. The fact that it has a 100% guaranteed acceptance rate and provides LTC coverage benefits to people who typically would be denied is a game-changer. Women are usually caregivers, and this new product’s wellness program provides them with support and tools to take care of themselves, too. 

What do you believe is the key to empowering more women to pursue leadership roles and become influencers in the long-term care insurance sector? 

We are seeing more female leadership in our industry. I was encouraged by the strong female representation at last month’s CLTC (Certification for Long-Term Care) Summit. Working for a company that supports professional development and career growth is very important. EquiTrust is a member of Tero International and offers two different nine-month corporate training programs for executives and managers. I’ve nominated female members of my team to attend. 

How do you envision the future of female representation in the industry, and what steps do you believe should be taken to further promote gender equality and inclusivity?

One of the best ways to promote equality and inclusivity is to nominate women for leadership roles at industry associations. There’s an opportunity to embrace the competition and create a more united front across all carriers. We can build a stronger voice together by getting involved in influential organizations.

Currently, I’m a board member of the National Association for Fixed Annuities (NAFA) and served on the Executive Committee for four years. Years ago, I admired another female board member and knew I would learn from her by getting involved, so I joined her committee. Several years later, I was nominated to be on the board. It has been a productive way to use my voice and help shape the industry and future female leaders.