NAIFA kicked off its much-anticipated NAIFA Nation Impact Week today by hosting a Virtual Diversity Symposium.
Held as a way to give back to the financial-services industry in this time of unprecedented change and turmoil, the symposium attracted hundreds of financial professionals in search of the insights and strategies they need to successfully serve a diverse market.
The symposium was officially opened by NAIFA President Cammie Scott, who welcomed attendees and noted that COVID-19 has touched the lives of all Americans, some in a very tragic way.
But she is confident that the nation will get through this crisis even stronger than it was before and that NAIFA will emerge as a stronger and more vibrant organization because it has been going strong for 130 years.
During this time, the association has experienced lots of crises, but through it all, it has continued to support agents and advisors so that they can serve their clients.
These are different days, she added, and all of us are living and working differently. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of you,” she said.
Scott pointed out that NAIFA has designed NAIFA Impact Week to help and support all agents. During the Diversity Symposium, participants will take a look at the changing demographics of this county to better understand clients’ needs and how they wish to be served. “It is our job to recruit agents and help them work successfully to serve those in underserved communities,” she added.
A message from NAIFA CEO
Next on the agenda was NAIFA CEO Kevin Mayeux, who noted that the idea of hosting NAIFA Impact Week was born because, after the cancellation of the Congressional Conference due to COVID-19, the association needed to do something BIG to bring members and the industry together.
Despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19, NAIFA members are adapting to the new normal and are finding new opportunities, providing a safety net to their clients, and forging long-lasting client relationships. “You offer those who are concerned and frightened comfort, reassurance, and support,” he said.
The goal of NAIFA Impact Week – beyond offering top-notch educational and motivational programming – is to come together as a community of financial professionals, he added. “That’s why the association has opened the sessions to NAIFA members and non-members, alike.”
“And if you are not a NAIFA member, “he added, “the next three days should give a good taste of what we are about. I encourage you to join us. Support your profession, invest in your career, and be a part of something bigger than yourself. Together, we can take on anything.”
Moving the diversity and inclusion needle
Mayeux’ inspirational message was followed by a spirited discussion of how to advance diversity and inclusion in the financial-services industry.
On hand to provide some critical insights for carrying out this important task was a distinguished panel of corporate experts: Kristen Eskew with Consolidated Planning, Darlene Flagg with National Life Group and Barbara Turner with Ohio National Financial Services.
The message from these top executives was clear and to the point: To successfully advance D&I, organizations and their staff should:
- Realize the economic value of having a workforce that better reflects the communities they serve.
- Believe that promoting diversity and inclusion is the right thing to do.
- Be the change they want to see.
- Be intentional in their quest to promote diversity and inclusion in their organization.
- Be willing to have courageous conversations about D&I.
- Realize that D&I must be part of the corporate culture.
- Realize that D&I must be a top-down initiative and be goals-driven. When D&I is part of the corporate culture, all of them agreed, more people tend to opt into it.
Using diversity and inclusion to grow your practice
Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from another group of top-level industry executives–Lee Bethel with Comprehensive Benefit Services (LPL), Brian Haney with The Haney Group, and Silvia Tergas with Prudential Advisors.
These executives addressed a topic that was of interest to many in the audience—how to work successfully with clients in diverse markets. To achieve this goal, advisors should:
- Be authentic, and work to build trust with diverse consumers.
- Spend some time working in diverse communities to find out their needs, aspirations and goals. As Haney pointed out, “I made it about the community. I wanted to be an ally and a partner.”
- Leave current assumptions at the door and listen carefully to what prospects are saying about what they want from you.
- Help them solve the problems they are facing.
Wrapping up the day’s event was the symposium’s keynote speaker, Kevin Allis, with the National Congress of American Indians. Allis described the diversity challenges faced by the Indian Country as it strives to have a seat at the table.
All told, the Diversity Symposium was very impactful and highly effective in shining the spotlight on diversity and inclusion, which a growing number of forward-thinking advisors are employing to enhance community relationships and grow their practices. As the attendees were reminded over and over again: Serving diverse communities is good for business—and it is the right thing to do.
Next NAIFA Impact Week Event: Advocacy in Action
The next NAIFA Impact Week Event, which takes place tomorrow, will prove to be equally as impactful, as NAIFA shows everyone that the association really is “Advocacy in Action”. If you have not already done so, register now at https://belong.naifa.org/impact, and make an impact on the regulatory and legislative initiatives that directly impact your practice.