Members Bottom Line A Key Concern Of NAIFAs Transformation Plan

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Creating member benefits that “help add to our members bottom line” is the central thrust of the transformation plan being put together by the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, according to its CEO.

Over the last few years NAIFA membership has declined and is currently around 70,000. The charge given to leaders at NAIFA is to grow the association to 100,000 by 2005. As part of the effort to reach this goal, NAIFA leaders formed a “Transformation Task Force” last September. The team has since developed what many hope will be the blueprint for the associations success in meeting this goal.

NAIFAs board of trustees and executive committee are in the process of visiting state associations to promote the actions outlined by the task force, which include added member benefits and changes in federation bylaws.

“We are having a dialogue with the state associations, answering questions to make sure everyone is on board and understands what were doing with the transformation,” explains C. Robert Brown Sr., president of UCL Financial Group in Memphis, Tenn. Brown is also serving as chairman of the task force.

“All this transformation has really been to narrow our focus and bring better benefits that would help improve the bottom line for our members,” adds David Woods, NAIFAs CEO. “Weve realized thats what everything is about.”

After presenting the plan outlined by the task force to five state association meetings, Richard A. Koob describes the state associations as having “an overall feeling of optimism and acceptance.”

As NAIFA president this year, Koob has three more state association meetings scheduled in the coming months. “The federation is of the mood and mindset that they expect change, they know that the status quo is not an alternative.”

While political advocacy has always been a strong area for NAIFA, and will continue to be, many members agree that effective delivery of member benefits at the local associations has been a problem in recent years. A contributing factor to this problem is NAIFAs diverse membership, says Brown, because with such diversity, providing programs that are of interest to all is a great challenge.

“We have people who make their living at the kitchen table and those who qualify for Top of the Table,” he says. “That is a wide spectrum of markets served.”

To better serve these members, educational programs and services will be segmented based on the areas in which each professional is practicing. These segments include life insurance and annuities, health insurance and employee benefits, multiline, and investments.

“If your practice is in one of these areas, the NAIFA promise is that we will deliver you member benefits that will help improve your bottom line,” says Brown. By refocusing the presentation of member benefits in this way, Brown is hoping to provide more value to members, which, in turn, should help grow NAIFAs membership.

Another change outlined by the task force is that the educational programs and services members will receive from the local associations will not be created by NAIFA.

“There are too many good programs out therewere foolish to compete with them,” says Koob.

Rather, NAIFA will act as a distributor of programs from sister associations, which have more expertise in each area.

For example, Brown explains, “some of the best sales courses are available through LUTC, and if you were looking for inspirational, motivational material, or sales ideas you might look to MDRT.”

“Why would we want to go out and spend all the resources to duplicate those resources when we could form alliances with them? Its a good opportunity to partner,” Koob adds.

“The content will be on point and will be relevant to the individual that makes his or her living within the segments,” says Brown.

In addition to more effective distribution of member benefits, NAIFA hopes to increase membership by putting new emphasis on recruiting “young advisors,” according to Juli McNeely, a registered representative with McNeely Financial Services Inc., Spencer, Wis., who is also a NAIFA trustee.

“Our whole focus is to try to get younger agents to become members of NAIFA. In order to do that we have to provide them with something of value,” she says, noting that when she refers to young agents, she also means second-career professionals who may be inexperienced in the business.

After surveying a number of members fitting this profile, it was determined that the biggest need was for programs to help these new agents “stay in the business,” McNeely says.

Integrating these types of programs across the four segments listed earlier provides an opportunity for new agents to pursue any segment they desire, she says.

Another proposed change that requires an amendment to the bylaws addresses the problem that many remote members have–traveling a great distance to go to a local chapter meeting. The proposed bylaw change will “empower the states to recognize and accommodate those members that arent served at a local chapter because of their geography,” says Brown.

For example, he explains, for a member who lives 250 miles away from his local chapter, its not economically feasible for him to travel all day to attend a local meeting. Preferably, the state would allow that individual to establish an “at large” local, providing that individual with benefits through the state and national associations.

“They dont have that opportunity right now,” he says.

Changes in bylaws and acceptance of the plan outlined by the transformation task force will be a big topic of discussion at this years annual meeting in September, according to officials at NAIFA.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, May 26, 2003. Copyright 2003 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.