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Bob Cuccaro

Owner and president of Financial and Insurance services firm, IntegraRisk Corp, and Securities, provided through Omnia Financial

 

What is the larger field/industry or line of work in which your job fits?

I fit in the insurance and financial services industry/self-employed field of work.  I worked with my friend Andrew at my former job and he recommended me to take the leap and try the financial services field.  Andrew introduced me to his wife’s coworker’s husband, and the rest is history. We golfed one time and I knew I wanted to work with him right away.  My work entails communicating strategies and solutions to clients for personal and business goals. It may entail risk management, asset accumulation, or setting up a retirement strategy from scratch.

What have you learned through your current profession?

I have learned to listen more and speak less. I love to talk and never shut up. When I meet with new clients, I try to let them talk 75% or more of the time. My time management continues to improve, but I am also learning what clients to take on for the sake of operating and revenue efficiency.  It is hard to be a charitable person and say no when someone needs help, but I have come to realize, I have to keep my business operating and earning revenue, or else there can be no charity.

What is the most challenging and frustrating part of your job?

Fighting the misinformation about what value a financial advisor or insurance professional brings to the table.  We are in the Amazon age where people want free this and free that, and some people are brainwashed into thinking my profession is limited to stockbrokers portrayed in “Wolf of Wall Street”. The other side is the last legislative hurdle or the DOL ruling that was having politicians ram a law down the industry’s throat, without having meaningful conversations on what it would mean for the small investors. The DOL was recently squashed and will probably come back in some form with the SEC or FINRA in my opinion.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

When I get someone out of debt, providing a new family life insurance, and getting people on track for retirement. It is also satisfying to help businesses with saving money and assisting with growth. I love meeting new people and not having the same thing day in and day out. I like the fact that my day can change quickly based on a client’s need.  

What advice would you give students interested in your profession? If you were to hire someone, what would you look for?

For students interested in my profession, I would say take a business, economics, and/or accounting classes. Get comfortable being uncomfortable and learn new things that you would otherwise avoid.  I believe learning business in combination the critical thinking skills from the English degree will put students in a better position to get hired. I would hire someone who is personable, but not afraid to work without a guarantee.  An entrepreneur in my field should not wake up saying, “I am only going to work today if I make X amount.” The drive is to build something sustainable and know that you are helping people day in and day out.

What skills did you acquire through your English education? What, in your opinion, is the most important part of this education?

The SBU English degree taught me to think outside the box, and back up what you are saying based on logic and references and not emotion. I am a slow reader so having to read a ton of books in college taught me time management skills without a doubt!

One of the most important aspects of studying an English education is that is gives you a broad view of various cultures, history, and styles. What I think is most important is critical thinking skills without passing judgement. This is extremely important in today’s world because we see that very few people are open to someone else’s opinion if there is a disagreement. For instance, when I studied American literature, with Dr. Nelson, we spent time on Thomas Jefferson’s writings.  We got a glimpse of that historical period and perspective without condemning the author.

What was your favorite experience at SBU?

I loved working with professor Huffman. He is a big reason I started an English department endowment; though small, it was my gesture to say thank you for the great experience of working as a TA during my undergrad, when he could have had a PHD or MA student easily take the position. It gave me the experience to present in front of a large group of people and appreciate all the presentation, time, and effort Dr. Huffman puts into his lectures. My favorite professors, I would say, were Clifford Huffman, Pat Belanoff, and Cornelius Eady- his poetry classes were amazing, and I still read his books today.

What advice would you give to SBU students and graduates?

Stay involved with Stony Brook. Don’t just think of it as a place you attend for four years and then never come back.  Get involved with the Alumni Association by volunteering, give back to the department. Every little bit counts, and it helps the ranking of SBU when Alumni give to the school.  The positive side is you will be in a networking situation, making contacts to further your career or get hired.

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