Salt Lake City
“We wanted to do a better job of showing the value of being a member of NAIFA,” said Dennis Merideth, president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, in speaking about a slew of new member benefits at the opening session of the group’s annual convention.
Arthur Kraus, NAIFA’s executive vice president and CEO, explained the importance of adding value to membership. “People will always weigh the price and value,” he says, “and when the perception is that the value of NAIFA membership is greater than its price, more practitioners will join us.”
NAIFA’s membership has fallen in recent years from a high of about 140,000 members to its current 80,000.
At the conference here, Kraus discussed four new member benefits designed to increase the value of a NAIFA membership.
The first initiative, said Kraus, is to improve NAIFA meetings on the local level. “We can and will do better,” he said.
“Although there are many locals that provide meetings on a regular basis that are worthwhile, many of our locals dont have the wherewithal to provide excellence month after month,” Kraus said.
To improve these local meetings, NAIFA is making available to its local associations a new programming tool called programs in a box.
These programs include scripts, videos, flip charts and other presentation aids.
Also, NAIFA hopes to improve local meetings by adding educational programs for professional designations. NAIFA has worked with The American College on bringing designation courses in LUTC format to their local chapters.
“The locals provide the NAIFA experience to members,” continued Kraus, “but it is the program that must provide the practical, motivational, and bottom-line resources to members. Programs are what will make us the association of choice.”
Kraus stated, “Great programming with first-rate materials is value to membership, and value to that all-important return on investment is the key to rejuvenating our local meetings.
“But, great programming is only one ingredient to assisting members in a well rounded career,” he said.
The second new benefit added for NAIFA members is participation in the MDRT/GAMA mentoring program.
“The practical side of our business is usually learned from those who have successfully preceded us,” said Kraus, “so in addition to programs in a box we are piloting a program that has been very successful within many companies.”
Currently, local associations are teaming up with the Million Dollar Round Table to match MDRT qualifiers as mentors for NAIFA members, said Kraus. “We believe nothing is more valuable than learning from excellence.
“What new producer in our business would not want to join NAIFA if they got spectacular local programming and expert personal coaching?” asked Kraus.
The third new benefit added for NAIFA members gives producers the opportunity to create a personal customized Web site promoting their practice.
“Clients and prospects can find out more information about you and your practice through your Web site,” said Kraus. “This Web site presents your business image 24-7-365.”
Kraus recounted his experience building his own Web site: “Ive got thousands of dollars invested and still have a very dormant site.”
“NAIFA can provide you with the dynamic software loaded with everything you need for $24.95 a month,” he said. “Its a real investment in you.”
The fourth benefit is a new, members-only Web site that was created by teaming up with Standard and Poors. This new Web site is called the NAIFA Advisor Insight program.
Development of this program is a result of more advisors offering investment-based products to their clients.
“NAIFA teamed up with Standard & Poors to build a Web site, exclusively for the NAIFA membership, using S&P’s core competencies, all of our analytical information,” said Todd Esan, director of product development retail brokerage for Standard & Poors, New York.
The Web site offers tools that were previously only available through S&P directly. Some of the tools offered include a fund advisor, client communication tools, fund manager interviews, and insurance company ratings reports.
“Fund advisor is probably the lead product here,” said Esan. “It has over 12,000 mutual fund reports that are available with S&Ps proprietary ranking system, and all the historical and fundamental data that you could possibly need on the fund.
“These are the reports that you would get if you subscribed to S&P reports,” said Esan.
“We also have hypos, which allow you to do comparative illustrations, from a fund to fund perspective, or you can do an entire portfolio of funds. You can compare your clients current portfolio with your recommended changes in the portfolio and how they would perform,” Esan said.
“This is a great tool to help justify the advisors recommendation,” he said.
Len Brevik, chief marketing officer and vice president of business development for NAIFA, said, “Agents can grow in sophistication with these types of tools.
“What were trying to do is add benefits and services so that agents can see the value in NAIFA and using these great tools,” said Brevik.
The NAIFA Advisor Insight Web site is available in one of two packages. “The premium package has everything in it,” said Esan. “The basic package will just exclude the stock reports and the marketscope modules because theyre very comprehensive individual security analysis tools.”
Esan said that NAIFA members who are spending most of their time focusing on mutual funds should probably choose the basic package. Advisors who are focusing more on individual securities should go with the premium package.
By making all these additional benefits available to NAIFA members, Kraus said, “I think youll agree that the price of being a NAIFA member is a great deal less then the value of the benefits our association presents to you.”
Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, September 17, 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.