With benefits adviser Angela Kiani, everyone’s family
Angela Kiani was born into a family of benefit advisers. Her grandfather was a New York Life agent, and her father started benefits advisory firm Lincoln Financial Management in the 1980s.
Now, Kiani is making a name for herself in the same industry as an area vice president at Arthur J. Gallagher, an insurance brokerage and risk management consultancy firm.
Based in Lincoln, Nebraska, Kiani graduated from University of Kansas with a degree in Business Communications. She worked in a number of sales positions before her father recruited her to join his firm in 2005.
“After my father had been successful as a benefits broker, he tried to reel me in on his team,” Kiani says. “I’d always been in some sort of sales with a service role, meaning that I sell a client and then develop a relationship. But benefits was new for me.”
Kiani quickly became indispensable. Her father has now taken a back seat, and Kiani is leading the business. In 2017, under Kiani’s leadership, Lincoln Financial Management merged with Arthur J. Gallagher, a deal that joined the family-owned business with the resources of a worldwide firm.
“We were growing every year, and I felt like in order to keep growing, we needed to get more smart minds around us,” Kiani said. “We looked at merging with other local brokers and merging with a bank, but then Gallagher came along. The people that work there are so open and willing to share. You can pick up the phone call anyone and they'll help you.”
Kiani manages a team of eight people out of the Lincoln office, and together, the team serves about 200 groups 一 from small to large. But for Kiani, every firm is treated equally.
“No matter what the size, I would never hesitate to have a person do business with her,” says Sharon Eighme, an account manager with Arthur J. Gallagher. “Even a small business 一 she would listen to what they have to say, she would do the best that she could and negotiate as much as she would for any large business. They're all on the same level playing field.”
Clients echo this sentiment. Patty Kousgard, human resources director at OneStaff Medical, who employs around 600 people, has worked with Kiani for a decade. She valued Kiani’s help enough that she brought Kiani with her when she moved from her old employer to OneStaff Medical.
“Angela wants to understand exactly what our needs are, so that she can help us get there,” Kousgard said. “And I just know she will do everything possible to get us to where we need to go.”
Kiani’s commitment to clients is clear. In 2014, when there was a last minute change in a state insurance cooperative, Kiani cancelled family Christmas Eve plans. She spent the evening in the office filing paperwork, getting enrollment forms ready, making sure her clients were getting the best rate and ensuring that her clients were set for the new year.
“Early on Christmas Eve, I began getting calls, emails and seeing it on the news,” Kiani says. “I cancelled my Colorado vacation, and headed back to Lincoln to get to work helping clients move insurance companies prior to Jan. 1. Although this situation was far from ideal, everything turned out well.”
While work may often come first, Kiani says finding a balance, despite sacrifices, is vital to reaching success.
“It really is challenging figuring out a balance,” Kiani says. “I've learned over the years that family is more important than your career. As I get older and wiser, I’ve learned that you have to have a good family base in order to be successful in all areas of your life.”
But, according to Eighme, Kiani’s definition of family goes above and beyond biological limits.
“She's had relationships with [some of her clients] for years, personally and professionally, because she grew up knowing them,” Eighme says. “To watch her passion to do the right thing and to take care of the people… I have never seen such a big heart and such force with that heart.”