NAIFA: There’s Strength in Our Numbers
National Underwriter reporter Warren Hersch raises an important question in a new article: “How can [NAIFA] stay relevant as a force on Capitol Hill and in the states when its membership has been declining…?” (“Weighing the Prospects for NAIFA–and the Industry,” Sept. 27, 2010)
Warren was referring to our entirely transparent and voluntary disclosure of our membership total, which today hovers in the 50,000+ range. Yes, that figure represents a decline, but there is so much more to the story than raw membership numbers. NAIFA boasts a storied 120-year history, and for decades we have helped shape the legislative and regulatory landscape that has allowed our industry to thrive and that has protected the financial wellbeing of all Americans.
I can promise you we are not going away.
Today, NAIFA is as relevant as ever, and perhaps even moreso. We have more members than any other organization in the industry. Our market share among our core constituency is 20% higher now than when our membership total was at its peak. NAIFA’s political action committee is the largest among our peers. It ranks among the top 1% of all 4,100 PACs registered with the Federal Election Commission. In the last election cycle, the national IFAPAC and the 50 state IFAPACs contributed approximately $3 million to federal and state candidates and committees.
Our grassroots activities are also second to none. NAIFA has a unique political advantage — we have a constituent member in every legislative district across the country who is a voter, a taxpayer, and a job creator. We have members who serve as personal legislative contacts for nearly every member of the House and Senate, as well as others who are contacts for legislators on the state level. When we go to the Hill with a constituent group of four or six NAIFA members to meet personally with a congressman or senator, you can’t tell me we don’t have an impact and make a difference. Of course we make a difference. Of course NAIFA is relevant.
Yet, Mr. Hersch also makes a valid point. He notes there are an “estimated 200,000 agents who are not — and should be — NAIFA members.” NAIFA represents the interests of everyone in the industry, even those who don’t pay their fair share. I remain convinced that as long as we have a clear mission and execute it well, we will remain effective and influential irrespective of membership figures. Yet, just think of the resources we could bring to bear if everyone who benefited from NAIFA also contributed to our success by becoming a member, contributing to the PAC, and participating in our political involvement initiatives. On this point, Mr. Hersch and I agree: it’s time for our agent community to contribute to the effort. It’s time for the freeloading to stop.
Terry K. Headley, NAIFA President
A Fond Farewell
This month’s issue has a legend, Jack Bobo, saying farewell. I’m looking forward to seeing how your leadership fills the space.