David F. Woods, chief executive officer of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, confirmed Friday he plans to step down next August.
Woods says by the time he leaves he expects to have completed work on a new strategic plan that he hopes will revitalize the life agents’ group.
Woods announced his plans in a memo to NAIFA’s board July 31 and made them public as the group launched its annual Convention and Career Conference, held in San Francisco until Sept. 1.
Woods was named CEO in Jan. 2003 while serving as president of the Life and Health Insurance Foundation of Education, known as LIFE. He has retained that position while serving as NAIFA CEO.
Woods, 70, told the board that he will be retiring effective Aug. 1, 2007. However, if the Board does not select his successor by then and wants him to continue, he would serve until the end of that December.
In an interview, Woods said he wants to make the new strategic plan for growth of NAIFA the “high point” of his tenure.
“This represents a huge opportunity to really reposition NAIFA, perhaps reform NAIFA, so the trade group will have meaning to the quarter of a million producers who are already benefiting from our services and who should be members. And, once we do have it in place, I am going to turn this over to the person who will drive this over the next 10 years, whoever that may be.”
The issue Woods wants to concentrate on is the trade group’s members, which has declined from around 143,000 at the time of their last meeting in San Francisco, 1993, to 62,221 members as of June 30.
NAIFA lost 1,200 members in the last year alone, Woods said.
Woods sees the group’s future as resting on the fact that there are approximately 315,000 life insurance producers doing business in the U.S., according to LIMRA International.
“That means that there roughly a quarter of a million producers out there who are benefiting from what we are doing but just not paying the dues,” Woods said. He noted, for instance, the trade group’s advocacy of the pension reform bill enacted earlier this month by Congress.
“Either we are doing or not doing something that prevents them joining NAIFA,” he said in explaining the motivation behind the new strategic study. “And we don’t know what those things are.”
Woods explained that NAIFA has begun a complete strategic review, the initial piece of which is a survey by Ketchum, Inc. of present members as well as nonmembers.
He said the “challenge” of being NAIFA CEO “has been a blast, more fun than I deserve to have.”
He said he will retain his LIFE post for at least another year. He also said he has maintained his licenses and “continued to do a little bit of business.”
Mr. Woods concluded by cautioning that, “I’m here for another year. There will be a lot of work to be done over the next year; it is Job 1. I will be heavily involved in that so that my successor can pick up the momentum and carry it forward.”