Profile

Sam Bernstein ’62

Alumni, Executives and Leaders


 

Published:

April 2, 2012
Tagged: Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, Garden City
 

Sam Bernstein ’62

Alumni, Executives and Leaders


 

Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.

President, Bernstein Insurance Services

Member of: Alpha Phi Beta fraternity and the intercollegiate squash team.

Adephi memories: “Working for WALI 640 AM, the on-campus radio station. I was my own engineer, did news and interviews, announced sports, and keyed up music. I fell in love with radio and wanted to be a sports announcer.”

Advice for students: “Be tenacious and stubborn with your goals and let nothing distract you. Be careful how you treat people in life and business on the way up, as you may very well pass the same people on the way down. If it is to be, it is up to me.” 

An Independent Agent

“You can be master of your own destiny.” Not words one might expect to hear from a life insurance salesman, but for Sam Bernstein ’62, they rang true.

In the early 1970s, Mr. Bernstein was a quintessential corporate ladder climber with Kaiser-Roth Hosiery company in New York, the largest apparel company in the world. He was the national sales manager for one of their divisions when the company moved him and his new wife to Los Angeles.

After two years in California, he received a call from a life insurance agent suggesting he meet with the head of an agency to explore the possibility of becoming his own boss as an insurance agent. Although he had little interest in that business, he went to the interview and eventually left the apparel business to join the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company.

In his first year with Penn Mutual, Mr. Bernstein set a national record for policies sold by a first-year agent at $1,500,000. However, he soon found that his sales and commissions did not translate to personal profit. Eager to get to know the business better, he became a training director and began managing other agents in addition to his own portfolio of clients. He also saw a unique opportunity to step in where other agents had retired or left the company and became a champion of policies that did not have an agent assigned to them.

“Insurance is a relationship business,” he says. “I was happy to step in and help people who were being forgotten, and they were thrilled to see that an insurance agent was paying attention to them and their needs.”

In 1987, after twelve years with Penn Mutual, he once again seized an opportunity to go into business for himself and formed Bernstein Insurance Services. He has expanded the firm from one single affiliation to partnerships with 34 life insurance companies. His dedication to meeting clients’ needs has paid off.

A remarkable 97% of all the clients he has had over his 33 years in business are still with him. His firm has now grown to four divisions with primary emphasis on medium to high net-worth individuals and he has been named one of the top 200 life insurance agents in the country. His firm has over $1 billion of life insurance in force.

Mr. Bernstein, a native of Jamaica Estates, Queens, came to Adelphi looking for a college outside of the city.

“Adelphi had the feel of an out-of-town school, but it was within commuting distance, and that was very important to me,” he says.

A sports fan and athlete, he was disappointed to be last student cut from the freshman basketball team, but went on to compete in track and field and squash, where he remembers facing schools such as MIT, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

After Adelphi, Mr. Bernstein volunteered as a medical corps reservist with the U.S. Air Force. During his reserve time, he found a job with MetLife in New York City, but left after one year to pursue a sales opportunity in Philadelphia with Fruit of the Loom, never thinking that he’d return to the insurance industry ten years later.

Mr. Bernstein and his wife, Nina, live in Los Angeles. He has a married daughter, Jennifer, and is a proud grandfather to Rebecca. When he is not working, his special passion is playing golf. He has two holes-in-one and presently has a 9 handicap. He served as Captain of the Marshals for the 1995 PGA championship and the 1998 U.S. Senior Open.

He also enjoys photography and had an excellent chance to practice during a three-week photographic safari to Kenya. A car enthusiast, he has raced a vintage Opel GT throughout the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. His favorite race track was at Bridgehampton, on Long Island.

 
Tagged: Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, Garden City
 
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