When he was an economics major in college, Kelly knew he wanted to get into sales. As luck would have it, one of his college friends suggested Kelly meet with his father, who was a top producer with John Hancock at the time. When Kelly walked into the man’s office—a top-floor space with a great view of downtown Atlanta—Kelly knew he wanted to become a financial advisor too. He joined John Hancock and his friend’s father became a mentor to him.
With his background in economics, Kelly has always enjoyed the financial aspect of his career, but he also enjoys the personal aspect of his work. A good financial advisor, he says, should be goal-oriented, a self-starter, and a people person.
When Kelly started his career at John Hancock, his mentor made it clear that joining NAIFA (then the National Association of Life Underwriters) and contributing to IFAPAC (then LUPAC) were essential to the success of his career and the industry as a whole. “NAIFA advocates for our best interest in Georgia and in Washington, D.C.,” he explained, and Kelly joined right away.
Leadership Through the Years
Over the past 23 years, Kelly has contributed to the success of NAIFA at the local, state, and national levels. At NAIFA-Atlanta, he’s served as the Young Advisor Team Chair and IFAPAC Chair and is a NAIFA-Atlanta Past President. When he became the President of NAIFA-Atlanta, the chapter had experienced a 20-year decline in membership. By the end of his first term, NAIFA-Atlanta was third in the country in new members among NAIFA chapters. Kelly has also served as the IFAPAC Chair and Grassroots Chair for NAIFA-GA and was on the IFAPAC Board of Directors for NAIFA-National.
The Importance of NAIFA’s Advocacy
Political advocacy is the reason NAIFA exists, says Kelly. Each year, he looks forward to attending NAIFA’s Annual Congressional Conference in Washington, D.C., and he urges all insurance and financial services professionals to attend as well. “We’re doing well, but if we could get every NAIFA member—or for that matter, every professional in the business—to [NAIFA’s Congressional Conference] every year, we would be doing a lot better.”
One of the central benefits of getting involved in political advocacy is the opportunity to meet with elected officials, Kelly explains. Through NAIFA, he’s met face-to-face with the lawmakers whose actions affect Main Street Americans every day. “Advisors benefit in their business from getting more involved,” he says. He encourages his colleagues to participate in advocacy—not just for their clients, but for their businesses as well. “It adds perspective—and possibly even more confidence—when working with customers and clients."
The Benefits of NAIFA Membership
Being a NAIFA member has impacted Kelly’s life and career immensely. “I've been able to gain insight, knowledge, and perspective from other successful advisors throughout Atlanta and throughout the country,” he says. Kelly enjoys meeting and getting to know industry professionals and legislators, and NAIFA has provided that opportunity.
For industry professionals who haven’t become NAIFA members yet, Kelly has a simple message: “What are you waiting for?” Attorneys join the Bar Association; physicians join the American Medical Association. Kelly believes that, in the same way, insurance and financial professionals should join NAIFA. “You need to be a member of your professional association and contribute to the people who are helping make your industry better every week,” he begins. “You're investing in yourself and your industry.”
NAIFA-Atlanta has grown under Kelly’s leadership and is one of the largest local NAIFA chapters. Kelly is excited to see what NAIFA will accomplish under the NAIFA 2025 Strategic Plan and beyond. “The future's bright,” he says. “NAIFA-National’s thriving and we're doing well locally. I really look forward to the next several years.”
Outside of the Office
When he’s not working, Kelly stays involved in his community. NAFIA-Atlanta supports the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and has hosted the foundation’s holiday party for over 30 years. Kelly also enjoys going to concerts and sporting events. He’s a fan of Georgia’s and Atlanta’s college and professional teams—although he admits it’s a lot more fun when they’re winning.
For his service to his community and our industry and association, we’re #NAIFAproud to have Trey Kelly as a part of our NAIFA family.