NAIFA President Says Membership Decline Not Due To Name Change

To The Editor:

As president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, I feel I must comment on Steven Brostoffs article of June 11, 2001–”NAIFA Membership Off 8% To 76,000.”
NAIFAs membership decline the last few years is due to many factors, but certainly not the associations name change as his article implies. In fact, the delegates of the National Association of Life Underwriters (NALU) voted in September 1999 to change the associations name to the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) as a first step to reposition the organization in a rapidly changing financial services marketplace.

As you are aware, the entire financial services industry was in a state of redefining itself, a time that affected all membership organizations–not just NAIFA. In fact, our decline tracked with the decline in the total number of agents nationwide, as companies struggled with compliance issues and overall recruitment fell well below previous years levels. Since the name change, NAIFAs leadership has vigorously developed innovative programs and services to retain and attract new members, including many programs designed specifically for financial advisors.

NAIFAs Division of Financial Advisors was established, and with it, a new educational conference in the spring, the Financial Advisors Forum. Additionally, NAIFA retooled its fall convention to include a Career Conference that features 30-plus workshops that cover six tracks, from multiline to insurance to financial advising. Other new member programs are the result of ventures with nationally known companies to offer trust services, personal Web sites, financial calculators and electronic newsletters, among others. NAIFA developed the new member benefits, but needed help getting the word out. So the next step in our repositioning effort was to enlist the services of BSMG Worldwide, the 6th largest communications management company in the U.S. BSMG had already proven valuable to the industry through its work with the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE). NAIFAs promotional launch began in January 2001 with national ads, but members and prospective members received the majority of the materials, including a CD-ROM of member benefits, in late spring. The response? Membership increased 17% in April and 15% in May versus those months one year ago!

We also had a corresponding spike in Web site activity in April/May. Its too early to tell if this is a trend or a result of our campaign, but certainly it is good news. Last summers research (via BSMG) told us that NAIFA needed to become more bottom-line focused, more innovative, multifaceted, aggressive, inclusive and responsive to its members. We think were doing a pretty good job so far. And judging by the latest round of Web site and membership numbers, we’re on track to do what wed set out–to be the association of choice for anyone in the financial services industry, regardless of designation or career track.

Dennis R. Meredith, CLU, ChFCDennis R. Merideth, CLU, ChFC
President,
National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors,
Falls Church, Va.

Editor’s note: Mr. Brostoff reported what he was told by a NAIFA spokeswoman and we stand by our reporting.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, June 29, 2001. Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.


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