Those of us attending the MDRT annual meeting last month received an unexpected jolt that had nothing to do with the programming. I refer to the bombshell thrown by the American College, which quickly became a hot topic of conversation in the halls between sessions. We learned that the American College executive committee had notified the Society of Financial Services Professionals that it was severing relationships and that the SFSP would no longer be the alumni association for the college. Commencing in 2004, the American College will conduct its own conferment and this will no longer be held in conjunction with the societys forum.
Reasons given for this action centered around moves that had been and were being made by the SFSP to distance itself from the college. Specific moves cited were the societys name change, fund-raising activities and the launching of educational products. The last two reasons were no doubt viewed as activities competing with the college, particularly in the light of LUTC now being part of the college.
In the ad hoc discussions that I personally witnessed during the MDRT meeting, no consensus seemed to develop. Both the college and the society had strong defenders, but there did seem to be a general feeling of sadness over this turn of events, with the sentiment that somehow we were all losing something.
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My purpose in writing about this is not to take sides in this dispute, but rather to offer a few thoughts that might cause the parties to rethink their positions.
First of all, I believe it would be well for the executive committee of the American College to remember that it was the college that started everyone down the road of name changes. I remember well a meeting in Miami Beach between Dave Gregg, then head of the college, and Bruce Hendrickson, president of NALU, Bob Forker, president-elect of NALU, and myself as NALU secretary. The purpose of the meeting was a last ditch effort on the part of the NALU to dissuade Gregg from changing the name of the college. We argued that dropping the name “American College of Life Underwriters” was distancing the college from the life insurance business and the CLU movement. Our efforts were in vain. I asked Dave Gregg, when he had picked July 4, 1976, as the date of change, whether this was a declaration of independence from the life insurance business–his only response was a smile.
It is also true that the college led the change into diversification, which the society has embraced and attempted to frame a response. The first industry forum on the movement to financial services was held at a CLU forum with Dave Gregg as moderator. There were skeptics at the time who alleged the college primarily was seeking other venues because of sagging enrollment in CLU.