SAINT PAUL, MN. — The National Association of Fraternal Insurance Counselors (NAFIC) revealed July 31 its decision to select Denise Degerstrom, of Hinckley, Minn., and a sales representative for Catholic United Financial, as the International Fraternal Insurance Counselor (FIC) of the Year.
To become the International FIC of the Year, Degerstrom was selected from the submissions of 47 member-societies, whose own representatives, like Degerstrom, won their association’s Fraternal Insurance Counselor of the Year award earlier in 2020. The awards recognize the agent who best exhibits the ethical and professional standards that being an “FIC” designates.
“I am so humbled winning this award because there are so many people who are so good at what they do in this company, and so many important people in the Home Office who support us,” Degerstrom said. “I would have never guessed 18 years ago that I could work in a way that was involved with my faith. Its amazing how God provides in ways you’d never expect. Just like how we have to ask to know what our members need, you have to ask or you’ll never know.”
FIC is a designation earned by education and testing through the Fraternal Field Managers Association (FFMA), which emphasizes the ethical and community building aspects of life insurance sales in a fraternal society. The nominee for FIC of the Year from each member society is that organization’s best at both aspects of their career – fraternal engagement and life insurance and financial product sales.
Degerstrom set herself apart in 2019 with strong new membership and sales production, along with exceptional fraternalism. In her nomination, Member Engagement Director Nate Lamusga said she had championed bringing a Gather4Good® event to her region, which drew hundreds of volunteers to pack more than 2,000 care kits for people experiencing homelessness. And for helping to organize a legacy scholarship fundraiser for one of her high school-aged members who tragically died in 2018. That event raised more than $28,000 to fund an annual scholarship and brought out the entire community in support of the family.
Catholic United President Mike Ahles (pictured) said, “Denise Degerstrom is simply the nicest person you will ever know. Her passion for our Catholic faith, our members, and our entire Association is unparalleled. It is amazing to me that she is able to build a personal connection with everyone she meets and we all feel blessed to know her. This award is well deserved, and we hope that she will continue to work with us and our members for many years to come.”
Catholic United Financial recognizes the benefits of the FIC training, which places a strong emphasis on sales ethics, and encourages the Rep’s involvement in the volunteer and mission-building activities of their association. Any Sales Representative to join Catholic United is required to pass their FIC exams within their first year of employment.
Degerstrom is the third representative of Catholic United Financial to earn this honor in the last four years. Peter Ryan, of Delano, MN., won in 2016, and Brian Zitzmann of Canby, MN, was recognized in 2018. The award is usually announced with all nominees present at the awards banquet of NAFIC’s International Conference each May, but was delayed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic response.
Degerstrom and her husband Doug live in Hinckley with a Golden Retriever, and are parishioners of St. Patrick’s church. They have four children, 11 grandchildren, and are members of Catholic United’s Immaculate Conception Parish Volunteer Team in Pine City.
About NAFIC and the International FIC of the Year Award:
The National Association of Fraternal Insurance Counselors (NAFIC) is an organization of mutual aid insurance professionals, comprised of 47 associations in the U.S. and Canada. The Fraternal Field Managers Association (FFMA) awards the Fraternal Insurance Counselor (FIC) designation to agents who have completed roughly one year of coursework and tests which emphasize the ethical responsibilities of life insurance sales and prioritize participation in fraternal events and activities. Each organization is eligible to award one top representative their association’s FIC of the Year award. These winners then become the field of potential International FIC of the Year winners, selected by a committee from the NAFIC and the FFMA.
Each FIC-designated agent promises to take responsibility for: Maintaining the highest standards of professionalism, honesty, fairness, and competence; knowing and adhering to all applicable insurance regulations; continuing their education about the financial and fraternal elements of the field; empowering and educating their members; and serving their own society by putting others first.
About Catholic United Financial
Founded in 1878 in St. Paul, Minn., Catholic United Financial is one of the oldest fraternal life insurance associations in the nation, and the oldest domiciled in Minnesota. It serves more than 70,000 members in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas. Providing financial security for Catholic families through life insurance, retirement products and Medicare Supplement insurance, it reinvests its profits in its members’ local Catholic communities through scholarships, service projects, grants and other unique programs. Its annual Catholic Schools Raffle program has raised almost $10 million for Catholic schools since 2009.