In light of the upcoming NAILBA 33 conference in Hollywood, Fl., I spoke with Jim Kerley, president of LL Global Services and Chief Membership Officer of LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global. The following are Kerley’s insights into NAILBA 33 and the general state of the insurance industry.
Holbrook: I see you’ll be speaking on a panel for the opening general session at NAILBA 33. Is this your first time speaking at a NAILBA event? If not, which other NAILBA annual conferences have you been a part of?
Kerley: I’ve been involved in various conferences for four years very actively, but the primary level of activity centers around the NAILBA annual conference. I had the pleasure of participating in the “View from the Top” panel at NAILBA — and this is my third year doing that. I’ve been fortunate enough to represent LIMRA and present the information we have. That’s how I’ve gotten involved. Through that I’ve gotten to know a lot of broker general agents and participated in various study groups of those principals. So it’s been fun.
Holbrook: What draws you to this specific conference?
Kerley: There are a couple of things. We always like to support our sister associations because we have a common mission and common bond around what we offer the consumer public. Every chance that LIMRA has to participate with trade organizations, we try. We do it quite frequently. The other reason is that the independent brokerage channel represents the largest channel for life insurance sales for premiums recognized by the industry. So, we represent that channel and learn from the channel. And lastly, no other better place to learn and participate than NAILBA. It’s also a great chance to get to know people.
Holbrook: Without giving away too much, what important industry topics will you be speaking about during the general session?
Kerley: Where does a BGA add value in the future as the industry is changing? I’m going to speak to a number of trends in the industry. The changing dynamics of consumers and how they like to buy, and how that’s shifting from face to face to online for research — and as we think about millennials purchasing online.
We’ll remind people there are still 70 million households that are underinsured. And that the agents have a great mission ahead of them to speak to them about the benefits of life insurance. We’ll also talk about the age of the typical broker — let’s just say they have a large number of years in tenure.
I’m also going to challenge the BGAs and carriers to think more aggressively about the middle market and remind them that there is a huge block of middle market buyers who will become high net worth people. And hopefully through that, create discussion about what the future is.
Holbrook: Do you plan to take advantage of any of the other events NAILBA 33 offers, such as sessions, the exhibit hall or networking events?
Kerley: I always try to make the workshops and I learn a lot from the exhibit hall. I introduce myself to as many BGAs as I can. The work that I’ve been doing in the past 12 months has gotten me in front of maybe 200 principles. I’m also looking forward to the Mooers award dinner.
Holbrook: What would be the one thing you think is the most important issue facing life insurers in this day and age? Why?
Kerley: I think that we as a financial services industry have done a marvelous job of talking about retirement as a critical need for the future. Unfortunately, we’ve missed the message for protection and that consumers in every generation know that they need more life insurance. As an industry we need to find ways to help the consuming public act on their beliefs.
Of course, there are 15 other issues that are critical to the industry, not the least of which is interest rates.
(Jim Kerley will be a part of the NAILBA 33 opening general session held Thursday, Nov. 20 at 9:15am.)