The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors has unveiled a strategic plan that aims to reverse a years-long decline in the organization’s membership and maintain its financial solvency. Dubbed “NAIFA in the 21st Century,” the plan calls on the 117-year-old organization, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., to strengthen its legislative and regulatory advocacy, create new products and services and deliver solutions to members “on demand” using wireless and computer technologies.
The blueprint additionally envisions a marketing program to showcase NAIFA’s new products and services. Beginning in September 2008, membership in NAIFA’s 719 local associations will also be optional for some 62,000 life insurance professionals.
The plan will be put to a vote of NAIFA’s National Council in September 2007, when members meet at NAIFA’s annual convention in Washington, D.C.
“What our members want is training, continuing education and sales ideas, but they also want convenience of access to this content,” says NAIFA CEO David Woods. “They don’t want to have to wait for the next local association meeting or the next issue of Advisor Today [NAIFA's monthly magazine]. They want it now.”
Underpinning Woods’ comments is research from Ketchum Inc., a New York-based public relations firm that conducted qualitative (focus group) and quantitative (online and telephone) surveys of NAIFA members, recently lapsed members and prospective members to determine their attitudes and needs. According to a white paper issued in tandem with a January 22 press release on the plan, Ketchum determined that NAIFA has “not kept pace” with changes in the life insurance industry.
That inattention has prompted a growing number of insurance professionals to view the organization as “irrelevant and archaic.” And it has resulted in a 50%-plus drop in membership during the last 14 years. If NAIFA’s rolls continue to decline at a 2% annual clip, the organization (absent program or staff cutbacks) will have spent its reserves and be insolvent by 2011, according to the white paper.
To reverse course, the strategic plan advocates that NAIFA adopt a “customer focus” on behalf of its members; create “customer value” by expanding its advocacy, training, education and network initiatives; and deliver new offerings “on demand” to an increasingly mobile advisor community. To that end, the plan also calls on NAIFA to collaborate with other industry organizations.
“We had been so concerned about saving NAIFA for the past dozen years that we had lost focus on our members–our customers,” says Woods. “By adopting a customer focus, we not only serve our members, we also save NAIFA. The big test will be whether membership increases over the next 2 or 3 years.”
Woods adds that specifics on the plan will be forthcoming in the months leading up to the September conference. NAIFA’s board of trustees, which approved the plan and will seek its ratification by NAIFA’s national council at the organization’s September convention, has created 5 strategic planning task forces–advocacy, education and sales training; networking; marketing and communications; and technology–to analyze and develop tactics around the plan goals.