The leadership team of GAMA International unveiled plans at its annual conference to nearly double the organization’s membership by 2010, in part through a campaign to attract leaders beyond its core audience of top-tier agency heads.
During a press conference at GAMA International’s Leadership and Management Program (LAMP) 2007, the executives outlined several components–including a new mission statement and strategic initiatives, plus an expanding portfolio of professional development content–supporting the membership drive.
“Our current mission statement calls for ‘growing through sharing,’ or the dissemination of information and best practices across companies,” said Ed Deutschlander, president-elect of GAMA International, Falls Church, Va. “That’s been a cornerstone of GAMA throughout our history. But for the organization to really have an impact, we also have to develop and grow leaders.”
The broadening of the organizational charge is reflected in a new motto, “build leaders who build the financial services industry,” and in a strategic plan currently underway to expand GAMA’s membership beyond its traditional base, first-line general agents and managers at career life insurance agencies. To that end, GAMA is marketing its professional development products, conferences and services to a larger community of second-tier managers. Among them: individuals responsible for identifying, recruiting, selecting, training and mentoring advisors, including those employed at multi-line agencies that also sell property and casualty insurance, and those who work at independent broker/dealers or financial planning firms.
Second-tier managers now constitute a small percentage of GAMA’s membership. For every 4 top-tier managers belonging to the organization, GAMA counts just one second-tier manager among its rolls. The goal, said Deutschlander, is to reverse this ratio and boost membership by 2010 to 10,000, from approximately 5,500 today.
GAMA is aiming not only for a broader membership in functional terms but also demographically, as a still large percentage of members are boomers. To attract a younger generation of leaders, including so-called “GenXers” and “Millennials” (those born between 1965 and 1980 and between 1980 and 2000, respectively), GAMA is exploring additional ways to deliver educational content. GAMA CEO Jeff Hughes said this might entail a more robust Web platform or the use of MP3 technology that will allow recordings of educational sessions to be digitized and downloaded to a portable device.
“We need to be technologically savvy,” said Hughes. “We also need to align our marketing, branding and content delivery to those [generational] preferences so we can have broader appeal, but in very specific ways.”
GAMA’s diversification efforts are already having an impact. Whereas 10 years ago the organization was 99% white and male, today women make up approximately 25% of GAMA’s members, according GAMA President Tim Murray. He adds the organization has also had success in recruiting minorities, who now constitute one-fifth of the organization’s board, as well as international leaders. Present among the 2,300 general agents and managers at this conference was a 300-strong contingent from Mexico; there were also 450 attendees from Canada and 100-plus from Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.