Marc Cadin (Photo: AALU)
Bonnie Godsman (Photo: Gama International)

The Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU) and GAMA International announced today that they plan to merge.

AALU and GAMA intend to adopt a new name and begin operating as one organization by June 2020, the groups said.

AALU is a Washington-based group that once focused on serving advisors who worked on complicated life- and annuity-based planning arrangements, such as estate planning arrangements. AALU now describes itself as an “organization of financial professionals who provide life insurance and retirement planning solutions for individuals, families, and businesses.”

AALU has been active in shaping financial services laws and regulations.

(Related: AALU Members Moved, and Shook)

GAMA International — a group formerly known as the General Agents and Managers Association — is a Falls Church, Virginia-based group that provides education, training and networking opportunities for life and investment organization field managers.

GAMA International has relationships with about 100,000 financial professionals.

AALU said earlier this year that it had about 4,000 members.

Marc Cadin, the president of AALU, is on track to be the chief executive officer of the new, combined organization.

Bonnie Godsman, the CEO of GAMA International, will be the president, AALU and GAMA International said.

The groups said they’ve been talking about the possibility of merging for three years.

The History

U.S. communities have had their own local and regional general agents and managers association organizations in place since the 1800s. The GAMA groups formed to serve the education and networking needs of life insurers’ field managers.

The National Association of Life Underwriters (NALU), which was founded in 1890, created a national GAMA organization in 1951.

AALU came to life in 1957, and it became part of NALU in 1967.

NALU changed its name to the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors in 1999.

The Future

AALU and GAMA International said today that their new, combined organization will represent all financial services distribution channels, and unite the strengths of AALU’s advocacy with GAMA’s strengths in leadership and professional development.

Cadin said AALU and GAMA International want their joint effort to “be the start of a unifying effort that will bring together the entire profession so that we can more effectively address its biggest challenges.”

“This is a moment the profession has needed for a long time,” Cadin said.

Godsman said combining the organizations will help both organizations provide greater value for the members.

NAIFA’s Reaction

Kevin Mayeux, NAIFA’s CEO, put out a statement congratulating AALU and GAMA International on their merger.

Industry organizations need to change to meet new challenges, such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, Mayeux said.

“NAIFA has restructured our organization and evolved our business model to better meet Main Street financial professionals’ needs,” Mayeux said. “NAIFA welcomes opportunities to continue working with all other groups sharing common interests on behalf of the insurance and financial services industry, NAIFA members, and consumers.”

— Read Q&A Session With GAMA Leaderson ThinkAdvisor.

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