One of the most disturbing problems of the past 10 years has been the decline in membership and influence of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA). These two vital organizations have been and continue to be our best hope for the stability of our business and its product base, both always subject to assault by regulators, legislators and the media.
Attending the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting annual meeting in Washington earlier this month afforded me the opportunity to meet with the new president of the ACLI, Gov. Frank Keating. To say the least, it was a most reassuring meeting. Gov. Keating is, I believe, the right man for this job and at a critical juncture as far as the future of that association. He is serious about rebuilding the organization to its former strength and hopeful about bringing back some of the key players that have played such an important part in the ACLIs history.
Companies have left the ACLI for a variety of reasons, but I believe the presence of new and strong leadership will provide a compelling reason for them to return. The ACLI is itself a form of insurance, offering a measure of protection from unseen perils posed by forces that would do us in. And so, I would ask the age-old question–which is the greater risk, paying the premium or going without coverage? If we believe in our calling, the answer is obvious.
Attending the AALU meeting also gave me an opportunity to visit with David Woods for the first time since he became CEO of NAIFA. Again, the right man for the job has arrived on the scene to start the rebuilding of that organization.
The membership of NAIFA today is less than it was in 1956 when I entered the business. Bringing the organization back up to previous high levels is a formidable task, but I believe it can be done over time. Woods is a past president of NAIFA (when it was the National Association of Life Underwriters) and is thoroughly steeped in its history, structure and mission. Woods chaired NALUs first strategic plan and understands the consequences of change or standing pat.
Well, we have in place two top guys leading these important organizations, and both are intent on a growth-oriented future and more effective activity to protect our working environment. We wish them the very best of luck in this endeavor.
Gratuitous suggestions or advice are seldom welcome or appreciated. However, not being one to remain silent when an opportunity arises, I will nevertheless offer some to both organizations knowing full well that I may tread upon some tender feet.
As I see it, and from personal experience, not gossip or second-hand stories, the ACLI for years has been the victim of malicious attacks from people and organizations pursuing their own self-interest.
The first rule of Washington lobbyists is to secure the client, and that can best be done by discrediting the trade organization that represents the client. I have dealt with these people, I have seen them at work, and I know that over the years they have done great harm to the ACLI by destroying or damaging member confidence.