Tier One Interview: Mayur Dalal
This month, Jay talks to Mayur Dalal, Owner, Mayur Dalal Associates. The pair discuss Mayur's path through the life insurance industry, sales processes, family and, of course, restaurants. Read the interview in full below.
JAY: Mayur, thanks for being this month’s interviewee. I’ve known you since my international life insurance distribution days and, admittedly, put your practice in that box in my mind. Then, when I switched back to a domestic focus, I started running into you at various industry events and I became curious about your business and how you successfully handle U.S., foreign and U.S.-nexus clients. Also, you always have a big smile and a hug for me and I’m a sucker for attention!
Before we talk about your background, tell me about your firm, Mayur Dalal Associates and your focus areas.
MAYUR: Jay, please allow me to express my heartfelt gratitude for inviting me to be part of your community-building initiative. It is so wonderful to be able to catch up with you under these circumstances!
At our firm, based in Jerico, NY, the primary focus is on creating 100-year sustainability roadmaps for our clients and providing the solutions they need in order to meet three goals:
Financial freedom for living life with dignity;
Financial growth along with emotional well-being of all their stakeholders; and,
Community impact through sharing their time, talent and treasure.
I am eternally grateful for the exceptional commitment and support I receive from those inside and outside our organization. Christina Mohacsi is our Vice President who helps me with family governance matters. I also receive advice and guidance from my son, Sagar, who worked for me for five years and is now with Spearhead Family Office as their Managing Director, Advanced Planning.
Over the years, I have found support and community from being a member of larger organizations. I was with Equitable from 1988 until 2014, Partners Financial from 2014 to 2020 and, today, I am an Owner in Lion Street. Along the way, I was privileged to serve on the board of advisors for the Elite Producer Group area of Equitable and for Partners Financial.
JAY: I’m excited to speak more about your practice and your novel approach to empowering clients to make their own decisions. First-things-first, walk me through your upbringing and education and the path your career has taken.
MAYUR: I consider myself blessed to have been raised by my grandfather and my wonderful parents who bestowed upon me the values of empathy, humility and purity of purpose. I completed my undergraduate studies in chemical technology at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai, which is Asia’s Premier Institute, and then received a Master’s in Marketing Management from JBIMS, a top four business school in India.
Both my parents and my in-laws had family businesses dating back to 1925. I learned to have an abundance mindset from sharing everything we had amongst 24 cousins. After a successful career in India for eight years, I immigrated in February 1988 to the U.S. and started my career, and life, all over again at the age of 30.
By joining the Equitable Life system, I was fortunate enough to be mentored by several outstanding professionals, including Mahinder Suneja, Larry Shulman, Ed Feiman and Dick Jenerrate. At Equitable, I had great coaches, too, and am forever thankful to Bill Bachrach, Scott Fithian and Dan Sullivan. My most influential teacher was my guru, HDH Pramukh Swamiji, who accepted me as disciple and transcended me from being a successful business leader to being a servant leader of every one I serve.
I was also empowered by my parents and my wife, Madhavi, who raised the bar in motivating me to build a reputation of being considered a trusted advisor by my clients and their families. This encouragement led to the innovative Values-Based Planning I use today.
When I look back, I’ve come to see that my upbringing, education and 34 years of experience in the life insurance industry has given me a third dimension in life to provide education, enlightenment, empowerment and empathy-based sharing with all of my clients. This has helped me to not only assist families to keep wealth and pass wealth but to bring harmony to the family dynamics.
My professional growth can also be attributed to my affiliation with Forum 400, an exclusive life insurance professional community consisting of the top one percent of life insurance industry leaders, Finseca and Top of the Table at MDRT.
I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to share my life experience as a keynote speaker for each of these organizations. In addition, I also served either as a board member or a mentor to many members of these organizations.
JAY: Often, with top tier producers, we talk about a practice area like estate planning, executive benefits, PPLI, etc. Today, though, you and I can talk about how you handle the life insurance sales process or, rather, your process that lacks a traditional sales element and empowers your clients to transform their families. How does this work and how does your experience as a life coach help?
MAYUR: Our entire process is experiential with the singular purpose to simplify a client’s life. We start with a 25-year road map by first looking at the past 25 years and learning where the client wants to be 25 years from now.
A significant part of the process is seeking to understand a client’s unique journey so we can create customized strategies based on their specific needs.
JAY: Let’s stay with this for a moment. You often talk about ‘family sustainability’ when working with clients. What is this, where does it fit in the planning process and how might a life insurance purchase result?
MAYUR: When family members become aligned with their values, interests and purpose, the family, as well as any family business, becomes sustainable for multiple generations.
Multigenerational sustainability is built by incorporating the strengths of each family member to create a high level of trust and commitment amongst family members.
Life Insurance almost always fits to address one or more of four scenarios:
Equalizing assets between different stakeholders and benefactors;
Creating financial freedom to provide HEMS for children and grandchildren;
Providing liquidity to purchase shares of a deceased partner or shareholder; and/or
Providing a tax-efficient vehicle to provide supplemental income.
JAY: In these interviews, I try to gain some insight on how the face of life insurance can change or diversify so that, as an industry, we can serve a more diverse client base. Sometimes I think progress is being made and then, other times, I’m not so sure. In July, you and I were at a meeting with around 125 attendees. There were seven or eight women, and you were the only person of color. You and I were probably the only people to take notice of this because it isn’t unusual.
What do you think the life insurance industry can do to increase the number of women and minorities and why is this important to do?
MAYUR: Today, there are 3.5 million Indians in the United States and less than 500 Indian American life insurance professionals. This means for every 7000 Indians, there is one Indian life insurance professional and this demonstrates how the Indian community is significantly underserved.
I have often thought there is a greater role our industry associations could play in creating awareness about diversity and inclusion so that underserved prospective clients can be served. This would mean action from MDRT, NAIFA, Finseca and others that might start with social media campaigns. I’m encouraged to see Finseca taking this on by creating community groups.
Then, there must be a way to incentivize women and minorities to consider life insurance as a career. They would certainly grow to serve others and prosper as a result as I have.
JAY: You love spending time with your family. I know your son, Sagar, who is quickly building his own professional career. How did you stay in touch during the pandemic and what kind of activities are you getting to do together now that things have calmed down?
MAYUR: My wife and I spoke every other day on Facetime with my mother as well as with Sagar and my daughter, Reema, to check on each other. Unfortunately, I was down for 55 days with Covid-19-related pneumonia earlier this year and it was this virtual support system that held all of us together.
After the worst of the pandemic passed, we spent a lot of time together as family and expressed our gratitude as being able to do so. Reema just got engaged and will be getting married next year so I am certain my family time will soon center around preparations for me to give her away.
JAY: Congratulations to Reema and your entire family on her engagement! This time together has been great, Mayur – you never fail to impress. You have made it to my restaurant question and I’m looking forward to your answer since your travel takes you around the world. Without naming a steakhouse or a steak dish, what are your recommendations for restaurants I need to try and what should I order when I’m there?
MAYUR: I was tempted to give you a slew of answers, Jay, but there is one outstanding spot that is an indulgence for me. Whenever I am in New York City, I cannot pass up SAAR, an Indian bistro helmed by Michelin-Starred Chef Hemant Mathur at 241 West 51st Street.
The menu emphasizes the ever-changing and multi-cultural aspects of India, featuring Parsi and Jewish Indian sub-culture cuisine with starters like cauliflower latkes and Kashmiri gucchi (morel mushroom) truffle risotto. Entrées include stir-fried Cochin black pepper chicken with coconut chutney; Kashmiri kabargah, consisting of milk-poached crispy New Zealand lamb ribs with onion, red pepper and radish relish; and cilantro-tamarind glazed tandoori tiger shrimp with rice and lentil porridge and lemon chutney. The dessert list features kaju kulfi, an Indian cashew ice cream with Tagmo chile chocolate, and unniyappam in the form of sourdough banana fritters with black pepper caramel.
Since its inception, Life Insurance Strategies Group has solely focused on the individual high net worth life insurance market. We do not sell products. This allows us to offer unbiased, pragmatic advice. Visit us at www.lifeinsurancestrategiesgroup.com.