When Tiago Prado, co-founder and chief visionary officer of Best Rate Zone in Framingham, Massachusetts, realized the language challenge he overcame while emigrating to the U.S. was his biggest strength, it changed the game. “Being Latino wasn’t my weakness—it was actually my superpower,” he says.
Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer
Best Rate Zone (BRZ)
When Prado moved from Brazil to Boston at age 14, he had never felt so cold in his life. However, it wasn’t just the weather he needed to acclimate to—learning English was a struggle, and he was held back a year in school before eventually dropping out.
Determined to succeed, he enrolled at Bunker Hill Community College and took English classes to earn the GED diploma. After transferring to Tufts University on a scholarship and later working in asset management, Prado realized the language challenge he overcame while emigrating to the U.S. was his biggest strength. “Being Latino wasn’t my weakness—it was actually my superpower,” he says.
What Next For Your Agency?
Our big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) is to help 5 million Latinos protect their American Dream by 2030. Once we achieve that, our backend platform, which is built on artificial intelligence using Portuguese, Spanish and English, can be integrated into the Latin American market.
Your Approach to Service?
“You always forget what people say to you, you never forget how they make you feel.” We are not an agency. I don’t even like insurance. I love servicing people. I love to make people feel good about their experience with us. BRZ will be the Zappos of insurance.
Misnomer About the Hispanic Community?
I was once told by a marketing rep that my business plan was not appealing to her because it was niched on Hispanics. She emphasized that they don’t assimilate fast enough, fail to learn English and were bad risks. But it’s not about assimilation—I despise that word after that experience—it’s about integration.
Do You Have a Mentor in Your Life?
My mom used to work for a hedge fund manager who was a mentor of mine and a father figure in my life. I told him I wanted to get my GED diploma and get into the Marines, and he said, “I'll pay for you to go to school. Don't go into the military right now.”
He helped me to get through college and told me I was smart when I didn't believe in myself. While I was at Bunker Hill, I had this person who really wanted to invest in me. When I asked him how I was ever going to pay him back, he said, “One day, you’re going to do the same.”
Paying It Forward to The Latinx Community?
What good is my knowledge and education if I don't share it with my community? I can help them be more successful. Latinos don’t have the culture of buying insurance, that's not something we inherited from the colonizers. We got the language and the bureaucracy in Latin America but definitely not the financial system.
How Big Is The Opportunity to Serve Latinx Insurance?
There are 62 million Hispanics in the U.S.—65% were born here and 35% are foreigners like me. And of those 62 million, 74% prefer to be bilingual. Also, their median age is 30 years old. Basically, just hiring a Spanish-speaking person at your agency will not cut it because the biggest challenges are how to service and how to use the right tools.
You Worked on a Healthcare Bill?
While attending Bunker Hill I worked with former Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, on the reorganization of student health insurance benefits. The bill significantly enhanced state and community college students’ access to quality health care coverage for over 100,000 students. In particular, we improved preventive care for women.
When Did the Insurance Bug Bite You?
I was fortunate enough to go to the “From Graham to Buffett and Beyond” dinner in Omaha, Nebraska, which is a black-tie dinner held on the eve of the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting, where I found myself sitting with some of the biggest hedge fund managers from around the globe. As part of my business development role as an investment analyst with MIT Endowment at the time, we spoke with a bunch of fund managers and I realized that they all had some sort of insurance exposure. That was when the insurance bug bit me and I thought, “Holy cow, I’ve got to get into insurance.”
Making the Workforce More Diverse?
The first thing the insurance industry needs to do is make top management more diverse. Don’t just fill a quota—promote based on intellectual capabilities. Also, I want to call on Latinos in executive roles: You’ve made it but what good is that influence if you don’t lift others up?
Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.