NAIFA President Tom Michel
NAIFA has come through the COVID-19 pandemic and remains strong with momentum to move us forward through Year Three after NAIFA’s reformation at the beginning of 2019, President Tom Michel told attendees of the State of NAIFA Q2 webinar.
The NAIFA 20/20 Strategic Plan was the building block for the NAIFA 2025 plan that set the association’s course for the next five years. We know that the strategy is working, Michel said, because producers are seeking NAIFA out to join, prestigious carriers are seeking NAIFA out as a partner, “and the industry as a whole is understanding our presence and taking notice.” And importantly, Michel reported that NAIFA’s financial situation is as strong “as it has been in a long, long time.”
Michel is not the only one exuding enthusiasm for NAIFA. NAIFA’s Congressional Conference, May 25-26, has more than 700 registrants at two weeks out from the event, and attendees will represent every state. More members are seeking volunteer positions within the association, he said.
“NAIFA is built on a bedrock of volunteer power and enthusiasm,” he said. “We embrace that volunteer power and take great pride in our strength on Capitol Hill and in all the state houses. We’re the epitome of grassroots, with 535 legislative contacts. And, what I feel is its strongest trait, NAIFA is a community based on its core of concern for its fellow advisors and its fellow man and woman.”
NAIFA CEO Kevin Mayeux
NAIFA CEO Kevin Mayeux followed with an update on the first year of implementation of the NAIFA 2025 Strategic Plan.
NAIFA 2025 creates goals and desired outcome in three categories: Membership Growth, Brand Amplification, and Member Experience. Tactics for the current first year of the plan are available in the 2021 Business Implementation Plan. Quarterly dashboard reports inform stakeholders of NAIFA’s progress as an overall enterprise as well as obstacles the association faces and what NAIFA is doing to keep its pace.
Much of the programming for the professionals served by the association is delivered through the NAIFA Centers for Excellence. “[A NAIFA Center] is a place where members can get, and thought leaders can put, information to serve as a resource to our members that serve in a particular space,” Mayeux said.
The Limited and Extended Care Planning (LECP) Center was NAIFA’s inaugural Center, formed in 2019. It was created to provide agents and advisors with resources in the long-term care space. The first LECP Impact Week was last fall. More recently, the Center has formed an advisory council of experts who produce impactful content.
The Business Performance Center provides agency owners and managers with resources to help them run profitable and efficient practices. NAIFA’s Business Performance Center Impact Week was in March. The event had an advanced practices track with top speakers brought in by NAIFA partner the Society of Financial Services Professionals, including FSP President Kathleen Bilderback.
The Talent Development Center helps individuals break into and thrive in the industry. It supports professional development and recognition. The Talent Development Center sponsors NAIFA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Impact Week, which was in April. NAIFA is a leader in the DEI space in the insurance and financial services industry. DEI Impact week featured some of the leading experts on this important issue, including Ohio National President and CEO Barbara Turner, Midwest Legacy Group Founder Chris Gandy, and OneAmerica Regional Sales Director Michelle Prather. It also included briefings on the importance of DEI in advocacy by government relations experts from NAIFA partner the American Council of Life Insurers.
NAIFA professional development offerings introduced or in development during Q1 include an online Leadership in Life Institute (LILI) course, an exam prep course for the Life and Annuities Certified Professional (LACP) exam, and planning for the virtual Performance + Purpose conference in August.
The LACP exam registration deadline is June 15. “For those who work in the life and annuities space, I encourage you to look at the LACP,” Mayeux said. “It is one of only two on FINRA’s list of approved designations and certifications that’s actually accredited. Many of our companies have embraced it, put it on their approved list. And several of the companies are also offering reimbursements for people who are affiliated with them who earn the LACP.”
Mayeux also announced that NAIFA’s membership awards, including the NAIFA Quality Award, Diversity Champion, Young Advisor Team Leader of the Year, and NAIFA’s Four Under 40 are accepting applications and nominations. Several of the awards will be presented in person at NAIFA National Leadership Conference, Dec. 6-8 in Washington, D.C.
NAIFA Senior Vice President of Government Relations Diane Boyle
NAIFA members are the storytellers who bolster the industry’s advocacy on a personal level, Boyle said. NAIFA has members in every congressional district and more than 87% of state legislative districts. “We are in every community, and the industry relies on us to bring that community aspect to the policy debate.”
NAIFA is active with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and was instrumental in “ensuring a diverse voice of Main Street was represented” at an NAIC working group on diversity and inclusion initiatives.
NAIFA’s state advocacy has not missed a beat despite COVID-19 restrictions. Nearly a dozen NAIFA state chapters have held virtual legislative days, meeting with lawmakers via Zoom and other technologies. Also, more than a dozen NAIFA members have testified on issues important to insurance and financial professionals and their clients during in-person and virtual state legislative hearings.
“Advocacy is a numbers game,” Boyle said. “We’ve got to get the numbers up. You have to have the people, and that’s why the industry relies so heavily on NAIFA, because we do have that presence in every community.”
To ensure members can make a maximum advocacy impact, NAIFA has created a grassroots training course that will be launched at Congressional Conference, May 25-26. The course will walk members through every stage of political advocacy, from “How do I meet my legislator?” to “How do I develop a relationship?” to “How do I run for office?”
Personal relationships provide communications that are vital to NAIFA’s advocacy. Despite heavy turnover at the beginning of the year, NAIFA members have relationships with 83% of the new Congress. The association is looking to close the gap by establishing relationships between NAIFA members and the remaining 13% of members of Congress.
These relationships are vital now, due to coming legislative challenges. Among these are the three primary issues NAIFA will be talking to legislators about at the Congressional Conference:
- Infrastructure proposals could result in changes to tax laws that would impact NAIFA members’ businesses. “We need to stay on top of that and we’re talking about the value that this industry brings to consumers,” Boyle said. “And that we shouldn’t be the source of payment for other plans.”
- The PRO Act threatens to reclassify many NAIFA members as “employees” rather than “independent contractors” under federal law. This could threaten insurance and financial professionals’ business models and their ability to serve the best interests of their clients.
- SECURE 2.0 legislation, which NAIFA supports, would provide 42 largely helpful rules changes to enhance retirement savings opportunities.
The Congressional Conference is open to all insurance and financial professionals. The program includes presentations by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), a former NAIFA member, and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), a member of the influential Ways and Means Committee. Registration is open online.