Charles Kennedy has been in the insurance and benefits business for 40 years—which is a long time, especially considering his incidental introduction to an industry that he says he got into by chance.
After graduating from Xavier University, Kennedy moved to Houston for a job. When things didn’t work out there, he came back to New Orleans. He was home, but he still needed to make a living; so he took a job with Universal Life Insurance, first as a collector going door-to-door to pick up insurance premium payments from Universal customers.
After being told by supervisors that he needed to also make sales or risk getting fired, Kennedy says “I got out there in that hot sun, knocked on doors and made some sales. I ended up being good at it.”
An army veteran whose time in the insurance business was briefly interrupted when he took a job at his alma mater and also returned to Xavier to earn his master’s degree, highlights of Kennedy’s work in insurance and benefits include rising to the position of manager at Universal Life, landing a position at a large, national insurance firm and earning valuable certifications along the way, including the Certified Financial Planner designation from The American College in Denver, Colo., and the Chartered Healthcare Consultant designation from The American College at Bryn Mawr, Penn.
But it was while working at the large national firm, that Kennedy became disenchanted.
“I did well, but they kept promoting White agents over me—agents that I was much better than,” he says. “I trained some of them.
His response—Kennedy decided to open his own agency, a local All-State Insurance franchise, where he offered services and products covering all aspects of insurance including life, health, property and casualty insurance, benefits, and financial planning/advising.
Later, he started The Kennedy Financial Group, which specializes in insurance and benefits programs for government entities and businesses. In addition to some subcontracting work for the Regional Transit Authority’s employee benefit program, The Kennedy Financial Group conducts a wellness program for the city of Atlanta, and handles or has handled employee insurance/benefit programs for the city of New Orleans, the city of Opelousas, St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parishes.
With one office in Atlanta, two offices in New Orleans and a total of nine associates, Kennedy has managed to turn a chance job he took 40 years ago into a successful business and career. And while his firm has does well, Kennedy notes that work with governments and agencies can come and go with election cycles and leadership changes. His challenge, he says, has been attracting more commercial clients, especially among other local Black-owned businesses.
With a tinge of disappointment, Kennedy makes notes of what he sees as a tendency for many businesses in Orleans Parish to work with agents and brokers from neighboring Jefferson or from across the lake, while seemingly overlooking a qualified firm closer to home.
That challenge aside, Kennedy is pleased with the business he has grown.
“We enjoy what we do,” he says. “We are proud of what we do. We are a small boutique firm, but we are as qualified as anyone else.”
The main office of the Kennedy Financial Group is at 935 Gravier St., Suite 2010. Kennedy Financial group can be reached by phone at (504) 942-1640, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be found on the web at www.kennedyfingrp.com.