Mergers are not the sole province of corporations. Two longtime financial trade organizations have joined the trend to consolidate. However, they will not lose their autonomy, as each will continue to function within its own area of expertise. LIMRA International (formerly known as the Life Insurance and Market Research Association), the sales and marketing research group of the insurance industry, has merged with LOMA, the research and educational organization of the insurance industry, to form LL Global, Inc., effective January 1.
Both LIMRA and LOMA will continue to exist as separate entities under the new organization's administration and management, with each group's headquarters remaining where it is: LIMRA in Windsor, Connecticut, and LOMA in Atlanta. The new organization is incorporated in Connecticut and its headquarters are located in Windsor. Each member of the merging organizations is now also a member of LL Global, and judging from the vote on the issue, most feel good about the change: LIMRA's membership vote was 100% in favor of the merger, and 96% of LOMA's membership approved the merger.
The president and CEO of LIMRA, Robert Kerzner, will serve as the president and CEO of the new organization, and Susan Waring, executive VP and chief administrative officer at State Farm Life Insurance Co. and VP at State Farm Health, will serve as chair of its board of directors. The president and CEO of LOMA, Thomas Donaldson, will serve as chair of the executive committee of LL Global's board. Although each original organization will maintain autonomy in its own field, the new organization will allow them to seek synergies in education, research, and operations.
Benefits for Both
According to Howard Drescher at LIMRA, the merger will be good for member companies for a number of reasons. "It's going to involve some efficiencies, obviously, but it's also going to put our organizations on the same plane to address the needs of our companies more holistically," he argues. One plan in the works is for LIMRA to be able to put some of its content onto the LOMA-developed e-learning platform, which will enable member companies to educate their agents more easily and efficiently. "It's something we're all looking forward to," says Drescher.
Jeffrey Hasty of LOMA concurs, but takes it a bit farther. "The goal of the merger," he says, "is to take the sales and marketing information that LIMRA has and combine that with LOMA's technical and content delivery platforms, so that we have a better overall product that not only helps the sales professional, but also provides a total back-office solution. It goes all the way, linking the sales process to the home office operational side." The joint organizations would be able to provide "a more robust technology platform to offer real next-generation, world-class training, combining the one [organization's] content with [the other's] tech platform."
Hasty says the new entity plans to leverage both organizations' resources to provide communities and networking opportunities, as well as online and joint conferences. This will result in time savings, as well as providing opportunities for those who can't attend conferences but can take part in the group's learning experiences--through a textbook, iPod, or Webcast. "It's a total solution that provides choice in many different ways," he adds. By offering blended learning solutions in many different areas, the group will offer more options to its member companies and agents. He sees the online communities as offering great opportunities for sharing knowledge and connecting a diverse membership--particularly among the younger generation.
Hasty adds that the international presence within the group offers the opportunity to share best practices not only "based on North America, but on demographics around the world."
Marlene Y. Satter is a freelance business writer based in New Jersey. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.