GRAPEVINE, TEXAS — Attendees at the 29th annual meeting of the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies (NAILBA) seem optimistic that they can do good business in the coming year – if Washington will let them.

NAILBA, Fairfax, Va., represents independent wholesale insurance brokers, and its latest annual meeting features about 130 exhibitor booths, including many providers of underwriting services, agency management services, technology services and training — and just about any life insurer that is serious about reaching out to retail producers through independent brokerage agencies.

“I’m here because my customers are here,” one carrier rep said.

NAILBA held committee meetings Tuesday. General sessions and other regular meeting events are set to start today.

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We’re “live tweeting” NAILBA 29 here, under the Twitter name NatUndLife.

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One underwriting services provider tweeted that its exhibitor booth will feature new services — and chocolate, cigars and premium wine.

MetLife Inc., New York (NYSE: MET), is sponsoring a general session featuring the author Tom Peters, and Genworth Financial Inc., Richmond, Va. (NYSE:GNW), is backing the Mooers Award Dinner.

Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J. (NYSE:PRU), is the sponsor of a breakfast with former President George W. Bush.

Two years ago, NAILBA meeting speakers were talking about helping producers guide consumers through economic chaos

Last year, speakers talked about changes NAILBA had made in response to the effects of the Great Recession on its members and its own finances.

The number of distributors has fallen since the slump began, and consumers are still wary of buying financial services products, but conditions seem to have stabilized, an insurer rep said.

“The distributors that are here are here to stay — I hope,” the rep said.

William Zimmerman, president of LifePro Financial Services Inc., San Diego, a distributor, said

he believes the mood is much better than it was a year ago.

“Business is back,” Zimmerman said.

Conference hotel managers here said they think their business is rebounding, and attendees at a meeting of the International Council of Shopping Centers, New York, said the same thing.

But many at the NAILBA meeting said they worry about what Congress might do to change tax laws and other laws affecting the life and annuity industry.

The NAILBA government affairs committee is presenting a round table discussion today. Speakers will review some recent legislative victories, such as success at keeping the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from getting jurisdiction over indexed annuities, but they also will talk about the delicate negotiations over bringing back the estate tax, the more complicated efforts to extend other 2001 Bush tax cuts, and potentially wide-reaching battles over general tax reform.

NAILBA also is tracking the new arbitration restrictions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and new New York state broker compensation disclosure rules.

Thomas Petsche, president of the Society of FSP, Newtown Square, Pa., said the challenges likely will create opportunities for the well-informed. At a time like this, he said, education is critical.