The heads of LIMRA International and LOMA said last week they have begun talks that could lead to a merger of the 2 organizations within a year.

Thomas P. Donaldson, president and CEO of LOMA, and Robert A. Kerzner, president and CEO of LIMRA, said a merger could strengthen both associations.

LIMRA, in Windsor, Conn., and LOMA, Atlanta, provide research, consulting, training and other services for life insurers.

Working together, the 2 organizations would present “a powerful combination,” Kerzner said.

Each group’s board has established a 4-person steering committee to oversee negotiations, which will be handled primarily by Kerzner and Donaldsen.

Both organizations are complementary in their membership, Kerzner notes. LOMA has traditionally served the home office, while LIMRA has been more involved with research and education on the marketing and distribution sides of the business.

The merged groups probably would continue to operate in both Windsor and in Atlanta, Kerzner says, and any staff cutbacks would be “negligible.”

“That’s not the reason we considered coming together,” he says. “Both entities run lean and have reduced staff over several years.”

A combination “would help us do more for our members and make both organizations financially strong to endure for the long term,” he adds.

Merger talks reflect developments in the industry itself, he notes. “Clearly, many experts agree the life insurance industry has been and will continue to be in a consolidation mode.”

Globally, LIMRA has over 800 member companies, while LOMA has about 1,200.