Synergy Of All
“Our strength and our leadership rest with our individual members, one member at a time,” said MDRT First Vice President Stephen Rothschild during the final main platform session of the Million Dollar Round Table. “Imagine the quantum leap we make when we move from ‘the power of one’ to the ‘synergy of all!’”
On that inspiring note, the 2005 annual meeting of the MDRT, held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center here, drew to a close. The 9,294 assembled attendees, including more than 7,234 members, were treated to examples aplenty of “synergy,” the theme of this year’s gathering.
Among the motivational presentations: James Barry, a 6-year MDRT member from Ireland, who recounted how his daughter’s courage helped her to overcome cancer; Brian Walsh, who recovered from a fiery accident that permanently changed his life and physical appearance; and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who in 2003 completed 7 marathons in 7 days on 6 continents, despite having undergone emergency double bypass surgery just 4 months earlier.
Talks of a more practical, and practice-oriented, variety drew equally large crowds. Some 50-plus focus sessions provided insights into business insurance, core and ancillary products, qualified plans, estate planning, practice management, technology, sales ideas and the “whole person.”
MDRT’s ever-expanding global reach was vividly on display during the gathering. Insurance professionals from 485 companies and 77 countries held aloft their nations’ flags during the opening general session.
Foreign representation was highest among developed nations that have well-established life insurance markets. Among them: Japan (634 members); South Korea (494); Taiwan (409); and Canada (261). Producers in developing markets, including such far-flung countries as Cyprus, Guyana, Pakistan and Slovenia, were also present.
But Rothschild, who is in line to become the organization’s president on September 1, says that emerging markets, particularly in Asia, are fueling much of the organization’s current growth. Two much-publicized economic success stories–China and India–boasted 169 and 212 members, respectively.
These insurance professionals are largely working for very young companies. MDRT President Adelia Chung, who spent 15 days meeting with new members in China, said most of that nation’s insurance carriers are only 3 to 4 years old.
“In places like China, producers are very much working in an emerging industry,” she said. “They’re eager to learn and not make the mistakes that we in the U.S. have made.”
Rothschild agreed. “Advisors in developing countries have few if any role models.”
As a result, misconceptions about the insurance profession’s potential abound. Rothschild said many emerging market advisors view insurance selling as a part-time job on the way to something better. Others are surprised to learn top producers can earn more than their managers.
Through its global outreach efforts, MDRT is looking to disabuse overseas producers of these misperceptions. Chung herself logged more than 100,000 miles in her travels to Asia, Europe and other continents.
These gatherings ranged from fewer than 100 to several thousand-plus. In China, Chung presided over an educational program video-broadcasted to 22 venues.
In December 2004, Chung and Wang Xian Zhang, the 2005 president of the Insurance Association of China (IAC), inked a deal intended to “increase cooperation and enhance mutual understanding between the insurance industries of China and the U.S.” Among other provisions, the agreement committed the two organizations to jointly develop initiatives to boost corporate productivity and enhance benefits for individual members; co-sponsor seminars, training and educational programs; and exchange information on market statistics, government laws/regulation and business activities.
Aiding Chung this past year were field representatives stationed in MDRT bureaus in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Belgium. Planned for February 2006 is an MDRT Experience in Bangkok, Thailand, a smaller version of the group’s flagship U.S. event.