Noting 46 years of working with “the people of NAIFA,” David Woods, chief executive of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, affirmed that relationship, stating “I can think of no better way to have spent my life.”
Woods’ remarks concluded the second general session of the 2007 Convention and Career Conference of the organization, based in Falls Church, Va., held here Sept. 8-12.
The speech also marked the close of Woods’ 5-year term as NAIFA’s CEO, a turbulent period during which the 117-year-old organization has warded off financial insolvency but faces the continuing challenge reversing a decline in its membership.
The capstone of Woods’ efforts to keep the organization relevant to the nation’s estimated 250,000 agents and financial advisors is NAIFA 21. An outgrowth of a strategic planning initiative in January of 2006, the endeavor calls on the organization to enhance its advocacy role on Capitol Hill, develop a “full-service” professional development initiative, and beef up business resources and professional networking opportunities.
Marketed under the campaign theme “Connections that Count,” the plan also calls for expanded use of online learning tools to provide mobile access to educational information and other resources. Since May of this year, for example, NAIFA has availed its members of monthly podcasts and Webinars that deliver sales ideas, industry information and legislative updates. Also, this year, NAIFA upgraded “Programs-in-a-Box” to provide on-line delivery of program content to state and local association meetings.
To help fund the various initiatives, NAIFA has instituted a dues increase for members to begin January 1, 2008, the first such increase in 5 years. NAIFA executive said the dues hike was essential to maintain the organization’s fiscal health.
NAIFA’s improving financial condition is reflected in its 2006-2007 annual report. As of June 30 2007, the organization’s reserves totaled $3 million. For the fiscal year ending August 31, preliminary internal consolidated financial results through June 2007 (10 months of operation) indicate that NAIFA’s operating income will “once again exceed its budgeted goals for the fiscal year,” though the results include many of the costs associated with the creation of NAIFA 21. NAIFA executives counseled, however, against excessive optimism, as they expect the strategic plan will sorely test finances.
“The much needed changes outlined in NAIFA 21 will be extraordinarily challenging for us to implement financially,” said NAIFA Treasurer Peter Browne. “Fiscal 2008 is shaping up to be one of our most daunting yet. Our utmost resolve and fiscal discipline on all fronts will remain vital to our continuing success.”
Another top challenge is reversing a decline in membership. While meeting its budgeted projection of 60,000 for the fiscal year, NAIFA has 15% fewer members than it did 5 years ago and less than half of its membership from 14 years ago, according to Woods. Despite “the most imaginative membership campaign and capable volunteers,” NAIFA remains well shy of the campaign’s target of 100,000-plus members, he said.