The Importance Of Trust
By Jack Bobo
I have just returned from the annual meeting of the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU) in Washington, D.C. The meeting always is stimulating even to retired guys like me. As I listened to the sophisticated presentations of today’s practitioners, I could not help but engage in a bit of nostalgia.
My mind wandered back more than 40 years when I was making a presentation of split dollar at an AALU workshop. I don’t believe there were more than 12 or 15 people in the room and the stuff I covered was very primitive by comparison with today’s material. But these were the seeds that were planted and that produced the growth in advanced life underwriting. I am also reminded that split dollar, which originally was simply a way to bring together the insurance needs of one party with the premium-paying ability of another party, has expanded into a number of questionable areas. Such expansion always produces a reaction from government and we are witnessing this today.
AALU originally was created to defend the interest deduction in minimum deposit or bank loan plans. The group successfully led this battle, which resulted in the 4 out of 7 rule, a compromise that has served our interests very well over the years. Unfortunately, when this battle was over, membership dropped precipitously and the future of the organization was in doubt. Luckily, some of the leaders of that time saw a broader mission that AALU could serve and took steps to rebuild the organization. Thanks to people like John Todd, Polly Poole, Ewing Caruthers, Al House and Marshall Wolper, the process of restructuring began, resulting in growth in numbers and influence.
AALU is strong today. Its leaders are forward thinking and it is managed by a talented staff. Indicative of this strength is the kind of talent it attracts to address its annual meeting. The leadoff speaker in the main part of the meeting this year was Colin Powell. He has spoken to the group previously, but I thought his message this year particularly was timely and important.
Powell’s message essentially was about the nature of trust and the role it plays, not only in interpersonal relations but also between nations, as well. He cited examples of quick decisions of great significance that were made when there was no time for research and debate, and it was trust among the parties that enabled them to move ahead. Trust that had been earned in previous dealings served us well in foreign relations. But he emphasized that trust must continue to be earned and once lost, may never be returned.