Successful industry practitioners who have yet to see enough value in the Million Dollar Round Table to justify membership now are being courted by the associations leadership.
The culture of the Million Dollar Round Table is “sharing, caring and helping each other grow,” said Richard Sullenger, president of MDRT, as he addressed the crowd of more than 6,300 members at this years annual meeting in Las Vegas.
For the last eight months, MDRT leadership has been spreading this message aggressively. According to Sullenger, officials have visited well over 100 local National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors chapters throughout the United States.
“Weve been to local and state association meetings, talking about MDRT and the benefits of it, why you should strive for it,” he said in an interview.
Last year, Sullenger took the helm of MDRT and set the tone with an aggressive goal of a 50% increase in U.S. membership.
“The initiative really didnt get kicked off until October, so that only gave us three months to impact 2002 membership, but we still had an increase,” he said.
Sullenger estimated the increase in U.S. membership to be around 5%, but is optimistic that “this is just the tip of the iceberg.
“Its going to take some time, but I see this really having an impact on membership for next year,” he said.
One potential source of new members could be the large group of wire house investment professionals who also are offering life insurance to their customers. After researching this population, however, Sullenger and his “Financial Guru” task force decided these were not the right fit for MDRT. “They dont understand our culture and they never will,” he said.
Rather, Sullenger has redirected these efforts to focus on two other areas: independent broker-dealers (IBDs), and wholesalers of equity and insurance products.
Leaders of some of these IBDs as well as a number of wholesalers were invited to this years annual meeting to give them an idea of what MDRT is all about. “Instead of inviting the CEOs of the companies, we are inviting the people who I believe would make more of an impact with their producers,” he said.
There are a lot of IBDs and wholesalers who have access to many insurance professionals who can benefit from membership in MDRT.
This value proposition that MDRT offers its members is one of the areas of focus for the coming year, according to George Pickett, first vice president and incoming president of MDRT.
“We want to get the message out,” he said. “We want to attract the most successful producers in the financial services business.”
Pickett adds that “the organization benefits from excellent members, and excellent members benefit from the organization.”
What makes MDRT different from other industry practitioner associations, he said, is the fact that you have to qualify to join–productivity is a centerpiece of the organization.
Pickett explained that qualifying for MDRT is similar to getting a promotion for someone who may be working at a company in a professional position. The productivity requirement of MDRT shows that the member has accomplished a great deal. “Its certifiable documentation that youre doing something right, youre exceptional,” he said.