In spending three nights and four days at the recent MDRT Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, a common point of contention seemed to keep popping up among domestic attendees and exhibitors I visited with. The meeting is “too international.”

Yes, it is the premier forum for the exchange of ideas among the world’s top 1% of insurance and financial services professionals, and MDRT has long enjoyed a notoriously international membership. The “Premier Association of Financial Professionals” boasts membership from 84 nations, and well over half of the 4,710 registered attendees were from outside the United States. India and South Korea even outdrew Mexican and Canadian attendees, while contingents from Japan and Thailand were each well over 100.

My question is how valuable is this meeting to those international attendees when only 30 of the 54 focus sessions were appropriate for all attendees, with the remainder essentially only applicable to members from the states? And does having an international focus – content appropriate for members from any country – require the information in those sessions to be too generalized and mainstream to be truly valuable? Is the insurance business climate similar enough across the world for ideas to translate easily from one country to another? Each day’s main platform session is sometimes more akin to a church service, with dramatic motivational speakers sharing their stories on more generic topics ranging from “enhancing relationships” to “secrets to winning” from a World Cup champion skier or boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard.

They are all great speakers with great stories, and are well-received by the large multi-cultural audiences who assemble each morning for the main platform session. Not a problem there. The exhibit show floor, however, is a completely different animal. I’d guess at least half of the attendees walking the exhibit floor at any given time were from outside the United States. Yet many of the exhibitors are only set up to deal with American attendees.

MDRT puts on a first-class event, no doubt. Just wondering if anybody else heard similar rumblings.