March is National Women’s History Month. So we thought it’d be fitting to introduce you to Alyse Laemmle.
Laemmle arrived at MassMutual in 1960 with a mission to “take care of widows, orphans and old people.”
Fifty-six years later, at nearly 100-years-old, Laemmle still works for the Los Angeles-Fraser Agency. Protecting the financial security of her customers and their loved ones, she noted in a recent interview, remains her top priority.
“I take service very, very seriously,” said Laemmle, who works from her bungalow overlooking Hermosa Beach.
“Alyse is everything you could hope for and want in an agent,” said General Agent Grant Fraser. “If you were lucky enough to be one of her clients, you would have the best. Her caring and warmth for her clients is second to none, and we are blessed to have her as part of our agency.”
Laemmle has maintained long-time relationships with all her clients and now serves many of their grandchildren and great grandchildren. “We are not just here to sell people insurance but to help them over the years,” she said.
Alyse was married to Kurt Laemmle, nephew of legendary Universal Pictures founder Carl Laemmle. Kurt and his brother Max launched a chain of art house movie theaters in 1938. When the advent of television drew people away from movies, Kurt turned to insurance sales to support his family.
Prominent in the L.A. Jewish community where she and Kurt were known for their philanthropy, Alyse Laemmle volunteered to help lead the United Jewish Appeal and as part of that effort made speeches across the United States. One day, an agent for a publicly traded insurance company heard her dynamic speech and persuaded her to join the life insurance business.
“He never told me that all companies are not alike,” she said. “I learned that I was quite good at the job of selling insurance, but I was never motivated by making money. I wanted to help people.”
Laemmle first worked for a “crummy company,” where, she says, making the sale was the main concern. She appreciated the mutual structure of MassMutual, where policyholders instead of stockholders are the main concern, and felt she could support the company’s mission. She joined her husband at the Los Angeles Agency, becoming the first woman in the agency under then-General Agent Bob Woods.
“I always focused on ways that life insurance could help my clients, say if they were in trouble and needed a loan for their family or business,” she said.
Laemmle became the sixth woman in history to make it into the Million Dollar Round Table, an association for finance professionals. Laemmle believed more women should have achieved MDRT distinction. “It’s not because we were not good at this work, but because we were often not recruited in the first place,” she said.
Laemmle now gives away most of her earnings to charity. “I don’t get around as well as I used to, so these days most of my charitable work is through my checkbook. I give a very big percentage of my earnings away to organizations that support the environment and peace work.”