Society Adds CE Flexibility To Its Forum Next Year

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At the next Society of Financial Services Professionals’ Financial Service Forum, agents will be able to earn continuing education credits without the requirement of attending all of the sessions.

“In the old days, you had to be at all of the sessions or you got nothing,” says Marshall Lipson, assistant vice president of professional development for the Society of Financial Service Professionals, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

The new filing method to be used by the society will break each session into its own block of credit. “Each group of sessions, each time slot is independent of the others,” says Lipson.

Now, if you don’t go to a session you don’t lose the hours you’ve already earned, he says.

The way that CE credits were formerly applied for resulted in one program, says Lipson. “What that means is you have to be there for the entire program. If you show up late or leave early, you don’t get any credit at all for the program.”

Lipson notes that attending an entire program can be difficult, even stressful to an attendee when the program spans a period of several days. “Anything can go wrong–an emergency call, a late meeting,” he says. “So, we’ve removed a lot of the anxiety from the attendees.”

The reason why the forum was always applied for as one program was primarily due to costs, says Lipson. “There were some economies of scale with labor costs and some state filing fees, but it was a multiple progression that made it economically very difficult to deal with,” explains Lipson.

“This year we said we were going to bite the bullet, pay the price and build in the most flexibility we possibly could,” he says. “Each session in our program is applied for separately.”

Lipson says that while some people will be upset by not receiving the full CE credit if they are late to a session, or have to leave early, at least these agents will not be penalized and lose the credits they had earned by attending prior sessions.

While this is the first time the society has done this for its Financial Services Forum, Lipson says that it has been handling the CE credit process for several other organizations in the same way. “It’s part of what we do now because we’ve grown so good at it,” he says.

“A lot of organizations were saying that, for two programs a year, it’s not cost-effective to have a staff to do this,” explains Lipson.

“We decided to seize the opportunity to go in the opposite direction and try to become the people that do this,” he says.

“This year we were the CE providers for Million Dollar Round Table, Top of the Table, and Association for Advanced Life Underwriting,” continues Lipson.

“We’ve done 42 programs this year, and only 7 or 8 of them were our own,” Lipson says.

“We have been advising all of our clients to add flexibility,” he adds. “It wouldnt surprise me if more organizations took our lead from this.”

The next Financial Services Forum will be held in Seattle from March 3-6, 2002.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, October 15, 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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