Andrew Holt is the Government Relations and Grassroots Manager at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA). NAIFA works on behalf of its members to promote a favorable regulatory environment, provide professional education services, and ensure ethical professional conduct for insurance and financial advisors.
Andrew spent several years of his career in the political arena, getting his start as an intern for a senate race in South Carolina, where he found his passion for connecting voters with elected officials. This eventually led to his current position at NAIFA, where he influences public and elected officials on legislative priorities, engages volunteers in grassroots efforts, and leads grassroots lobbying efforts at the state level.
Cody Schoonover is a PAC Manager for NAIFA. Before NAIFA, he was the Sr. Associate at PLUS Communications, a Beltway-based consulting firm specializing in coalition building, grassroots mobilization, advertising, digital engagement, message development, and media relations. Cody earned his BA in political science from The Ohio State University.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Andrew Holt and Cody Schoonover talk about advocacy and why it's important for businesses
- How NAIFA's advocacy folks differentiate themselves in the industry
- The typical issues NAIFA represents
- Tips for using political advocacy to stand out from the competition
- Advice for financial agents or advisors not registered as a voter
- The value of attending NAIFA’s fundraising events and festivals
- What to expect from the NAIFA’s Financial Security Advocate Academy
- Why you need NAIFA Why you need NAIFA — even if the company you work for has established government relations
In this episode…
Are you a young professional struggling to stand out in the insurance or financial service industry? You are not
What is advocacy? Do you need it for your business?
According to Andrew Holt and Cody Schoonover, advocacy is fundamental for the success of a business. To understand how the industry you are in is doing things and to stay ahead of competitors, business people need people who ascribe to a code of ethics and actively participate on your behalf in their advocacy efforts. Tune in and learn how Andrew and Cody are helping people through advocacy at NAIFA.
In this episode of Advisor Today, Suzanne Carawan sits down with Andrew Holt, Government Relations and Grassroots Manager at NAIFA, and Cody Schoonover, PAC Manager at NAIFA. They talk about advocacy and why it's essential for businesses, how NAIFA's advocacy folks differentiate themselves in the industry, the typical issues NAIFA represents, and tips for using political advocacy to stand out from the competition as a business.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Suzanne Carawan on LinkedIn
- NAIFA (National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors)
- Andrew Holt on LinkedIn
- Cody Schoonover on LinkedIn
- NAIFA's Financial Security
- Financial Security Advocates
- Financial Security Advocate Academy
- Get Out the Vote
Sponsor for this episode...
This episode is brought to you by NAIFA's Advocacy in Action Center.
When funds need to be raised in government, politicians turn to the tax code to find revenue. NAIFA advocates at both the state and federal levels on issues that affect the well-being of both your clients' assets as well as your own advisor business. NAIFA membership is the best insurance you can buy to protect your business.
To learn more, visit https://advocacy.naifa.org/.
Welcome to NAIFA's Advisor Today podcast series, where we focus on how financial advisors work, live and give to their local communities and our greater financial services industry. Now, let's get started with the show.
Suzanne Carawan 0:20
Everyone, its Suzanne Carawan here with Advisor Today's podcast. Today, I'm joined with two of my favorite colleagues, Andrew Holt, and Cody Schoonover over who are from our government relations department. And we're going to talk all things advocacy today. And don't worry if you have no idea what advocacy is, and you're sitting there going, Look, I'm an insurance advisor. I'm a financial advisor. I'm out there looking. I love annuities. I'm doing IU wells, you know, I'm a DI person, that's great. We're going to talk about why it's so important for your business. And today's episode is actually sponsored by NAIFA's, Financial Security Advocate Badge, they might say, what is that? So if you look over and my good friend Andrew Holt, he'll show you on his lapel pin, that he's got a lapel pin with the FSA. And we're going to talk a little bit about that, and what that program can do for you. It's only available to NAIFA, members. So if you're not a NAIFA member, you really need to be at hopefully the show will help convince you to join us. But what that financial security advocate badge also does is it gets you more promotion into the public. What do I mean by that, NAIFA has its own consumer site, financialsecurity.org. So if you go to www.financialsecurity.org, you will find that all of our producers, all of our great members are proudly displayed there for consumers. And of course, we market that direct to consumers to explain that you not only deserve a financial advisor, but you deserve someone who ascribes to a code of ethics, which is what all NAIFA's members do, and who is also actively participating on your behalf in their advocacy efforts. And so we want to talk about that and unpack that a little bit today. But you'll see the same badge that Andrew has on his lapel pin on the consumer-facing site, we're really, really proud to highlight those members to differentiate themselves who take part in advocating every day for not only their business, but for consumers, financial health as well. So gentlemen, thank you for joining us today. Prior to getting on the call, we actually started into the show inadvertently and I want to just bring it back and just ask you one of the questions we have, which is let's talk about the wisdom. Well, what's in it for me, hey, I'm an advisor. I've been licensed a couple of years, I'm doing well. I'm doing everything I can to get ahead in this business, or I've been in the business for decades, and I haven't needed advocacy to now what are you all talking about? Why is it so important? And do I really need this right? Isn't there somebody they're already doing this for me? And I don't need to be a part of it. So I'm going to start with you, Andrew, what would you say to retort for that kind of question?
Andrew Holt 2:55
Yeah, I think you have to go back and look at that. I guess the analogy I would use is the myth of 911. You have an emergency, you're around people, and everyone thinks that somebody's going to call 911. Well, if everyone thinks somebody's doing it, there's a chance nobody's doing it. So I think that same thing happens with advocacy. And when you think about as your day-to-day life, you may think, Well, what does advocacy need to be? Why do I need to be involved? Well, if you're not going to be involved, you're hoping someone else is, you mean meaning you're not only entrusting your livelihood and your family and your income, you're also entrusting your clients and their wealth, their financial well-being to potentially someone else, we want to make sure that you get involved. Because once you get involved, you'll realize you can be the voice for your clients with lawmakers and become that, when you're with your clients, you're that subject matter expert. Well, not every lawmaker is a subject matter expert on every single arena out there that's gonna come across their desk in a legislative session. So when we're talking about building those relationships, and talking about why it's important to become an advocate, we want to become that trusted adviser to our lawmakers, when legislation in the insurance or financial sectors pop up both at the state and federal level.
Suzanne Carawan 4:14
So Cody, alternate to you. So actually, Cody wants to give us a little bit of your background, and Andrew will pop back to you in a second too. But Cody, I know you've worked in that legislative capacity, you've been in the office, etc. So can you talk about it from maybe the other side? So here you are, you're sitting there, you're working away? And you tell us that and then here comes people trying to visit and talk about the impact that it has.
Cody Schoonover 4:38
Yeah, so as far as my background, I did work with the Ohio legislative assembly and I work for the governor of Ohio as well. So I'm just thinking about generally like how many constituents every politician has right if you're a governor you're talking millions if you're a senator millions if you're a representative in the United States House, couple votes 100,000 plus, right So, you may not actually be making the kind of impact you think you're making if you're just leaving it up to other people. If you're working for a politician, if you are a politician, your phones are ringing off the hook constantly 24/7 people are angry with you, people want you to do more. So you need to also lend your own voice to that like crowd that chorus. If you're out there making an impact, if you're out there on the phones every day, if you're part of an association that's out there on the bones every day or has a team in DC, or in the state legislatures, you got someone who's in a politician's ear, constantly 24/7. And that's exactly what you want. Without letting off of that, like, you're gonna get lost. There's just no ifs, ands, or buts, or ifs, ands or buts about it. There's too much going on constantly every day. So we need to have our issues out there in the forefront. And we need to as a group, get together and keep on the politicians.
Andrew Holt 5:59
If you don't mind me jumping in. There's somebody that Cody had mentioned that I wanted to point out that I think is unique is really something that we focus on here at NAIFA with our advocacy efforts is Cody mentioned when you're a staffer, whether it's at the governor's office or up on Capitol Hill, you're inundated with phone calls, do more do this, one of the things that we always try to differentiate ourselves and NAIFA we're thankful we're helpful to our politicians, we're making sure that we're thanking them, you know, I can I can count, you can go up on Capitol Hill and ask any staffer, any politician? How many times they've gotten a thank you from a constituent? And I can guarantee they can they remember exactly when that took place? So one thing I just want to point out that Cody had mentioned is, is really we are we differentiate ourselves by being positive, even when we're going up against legislation that we do not support. It's always making sure that when we're coming, we're happy, we're courteous and professional. But that's something that in such a hyperpartisan day, and it can be tough. That's something that is the differentiating factor for NAIFA's advocacy folks.
Cody Schoonover 7:01
Advocate educate, differentiate, right? I mean, that's exactly what it is, we go in there, we're nice. We're pleasant, and we offer ourselves as resources. That's the other big thing. When our members go out, and they talk to the politicians, they can say, look, I've got my boots on the ground, I can tell you exactly what's going on with my clients what's going on. And in my neighborhood, on Main Street, in my town, they bring all of those different experiences to the forefront with them. So it's definitely very important.
Andrew Holt 7:30
Exactly. And even when you come back, when our folks come to our big conferences, and they go back home, I know our comms department will put out stuff on, look at your local neighborhood advisor went up on Capitol Hill, but your clients will see this. And what you have to remember is, if you decide to raise your hand and become that advocate, you are now advising for your clients. Remember, your clients have day jobs as well, they've got kids, they've got family, so by you raising your hand and saying, you know what, I'm going to be that person, I want to step up and take that leadership role. You're a force multiplier for these offices. Remember, your clients also vote. And so when you come back from Washington, DC, and you talk about how great your time was, or your state capitol, and you talk about how great your lawmakers are in your region, your clients will hear that as well. So that's something that you're a force multiplier, when we talk about when you come up on the hill, you're not just yourself, you're representing your family and your Rolodex as well as your community and your clients on Main Street.
Suzanne Carawan 8:30
Yeah, and I guess I'd say, maybe we should have been back up for a second and, and just really highlight so like, what's the difference? So let's say I've got my license. Okay, I want to get involved. Why do I need an organization to do it? Right? Like, why do I need to belong to NAIFA? Can I just do this on my own? Like, are there people out there? Talk to me about like, why NAIFA makes it so much more effective when you do this in a coordinated group-based effort? And Cody, I'll go to you first, because you've again, had that experience with people walking in the office taking the phone's ringing off the hook, you're saying, what does that mean when you keep hearing the same name of the organization?
Cody Schoonover 9:10
It lends credibility to the message. That's first and foremost, the most important part of it. Once I hasn't met NAIFA member, you go in, you're part of a group. You have hordes. And I don't mean that disparagingly, but there are hordes of us on our hill days. And we go out there and it really reinforces the message, but there's just, there's no way around it. When you have 20,000 people out on Capitol Hill, all across the states. It means a lot, especially when you're a staffer, and you open up your email, and oh, there's someone from NAIFA again, there's someone from NAIFA's again, it really kind of underscores the point. And all of our issues are very, very middle of the road, right? So when they look at the communications that we're sending out to the legislators, there's nothing controversial in them, we all want to help, like the average American family lived the American dream. So just to have all of us out there in force and saying the same thing saying the same coordinated messages, it really, really gets into the politicians head, it gets into the staff head, and it sticks. And I really, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have that coordinated message.
Suzanne Carawan 10:25
So Andrew, you want to jump in on that and talk about a little some of this? Why don't we go through a couple of some of the typical issues that we had NAIFA advocate, on behalf like, what are some of the typical areas? Because you're right, we should bring that up, some people think nowadays, it's there's a lot of controversy out there of organizations, etc. Let's talk about what does NAIFA represent?
Andrew Holt 10:50
Yeah, no, that's, that's a great question. And so, in terms of a lot of the things that we see across the country, one thing that is unique to being a NAIFA member, especially being a part of the NAIFA advocacy world is we both operate at both the state and federal level. So we have, we are in state capitals, we chat and I think we just wrapped up majority of our state capitol legislative days, but we're also up on Capitol Hill. And so at the state level, and at the federal level, we lobby and work on a lot of different issues, from worker classification to long-term care, to dealing with regulators, both at the state and the federal level. What we see and we also deal with, you know, financial literacy, one of the things that we really champion ourselves on is, is opening up financial literacy across the country, especially for our next generation of high school students. So that's something that we really, we cover such a broad spectrum within the financial services and insurance world, that there's something for everyone. And that's what makes it so fun is that, you could be a part of a state chapter. And when we come up on Capitol Hill, you could be in a room as Cody mentioned, with five other NAIFA's members. And you know, there may not be much moving at the federal level, across the board, but there may be a long-term care issue, and one of your five folks in that group is a long-term care specialist. Well, now you have a subject matter expert in the room with five other names, or four other NAIFA's members with their lawmaker. Just think of the, there's Suzanne, I'm gonna steal this from you, because you're from, you head up our comms department, a picture's worth 1000 words, y'all. And this is huge that makes, when we go up that that's something that's really exciting. We also at the state level, we operate, you know, one of the things that we see is we do a lot of work at the state level, and we have a great government relations team that tracks all that legislation for you. That's, that's the other thing that you know, joining NAIFA's is such a helpful thing is that we provide a lot of the resources, because we know that you work all day long, and it's not necessarily you can take the time to do your research, we can provide those resources to make it so that you are as effective as possible when delivering the messaging. So that's kind of the differentiator, of course. And that's where, kind of the things, a few of the topics that we cover, both at the state and federal level.
Suzanne Carawan 13:04
So Cody, like, break it down for me, like, give me like the actual, like the actual play-by-play? Because I think a lot of times also, it sounds very, out there. So like, I'm an advisor, and then what's going to happen? So I get to Capitol Hill, and how do I know what I'm doing? How do I walk in? How does that even work?
Cody Schoonover 13:25
Well, Suzanne, it depends on the year. But lately, we at NAIFA, have set up this amazing app that we can use for all of our conferences and our hill days, we streamline the process, we tell you where to go, we tell you when to go. And we even list the staffers and the representatives that you may be meeting with because, again, it's not a guaranteed thing that you will be meeting with your legislator, but you will be meeting with staff. And that's the next best thing. Really got to emphasize that drive that home. But yeah, so I mean, we tell you where to go, we'll tell you how to get there. We even put the talking points into the app. So your meeting is you're doing it alone. Most of the time, you can ask for a lobbyist to come with you, of course. But no, we have given you the roadmap, and it's up to everyone to kind of drive it home. But all the resources are there.
Suzanne Carawan 14:20
So the three of us had the pleasure and delight of being at our inaugural women's financial security fly and a couple of weeks ago, and I think there were 42 women who were invited to come and the vast majority of them had not only never been to Washington, DC, just as a city, but it definitely never been to Capitol Hill. And so we were able to actually follow them around with our video crew and capture that. And I would say that of the people that we saw 99% of them were so nervous going in, right but they felt prepared. They got the debrief, they knew where to show up, et cetera. I mean we walk you to the shelf right, but when they came out and what the part that I like to capture and let's talk about that, like why you should do it. The part that when they came out, what I like is it's like this chrysalis. It's like everything that they do the 100 calls they make a day, right, all the emails that they send to the client care calls and the going out and doing networking events, et cetera, et cetera, it comes to fruition where they realize that they are part of the American economy, right. And they have this kind of epiphany moment. And the pride that comes out of that is unbelievable, when they realize like, every one of them is so stuff like I had no idea like they're so human rights, they took time to talk to me, they really wanted to hear about what my clients are in what my practice areas, right, and that's like a really resonates. And I think that people forget how incredibly human our elected leaders are, and you need to make you to need to become a human to them, and have that relationship. So Andrew, I'm gonna pass over to you and talk about so let's say we can't get to Capitol Hill yet. But what are some other things we can do? We talked about state legislative days, but how do we make that a reality to say, hey, look, I'm an advisor, and let's face facts, I'm competitive, I want to stand out in my market, right? I want to do the best for my clients, I probably wouldn't be in this business if I didn't. Right. So how do I use that political advocacy to Help me stand out from the competition? And what do I do? Like, give me from day one? What can I do?
Andrew Holt 16:28
Yeah, that's a great question. And that's kind of the question. I think a lot of people that they think about, right, when they decide, You know what, maybe I do want to dip my toe in the water and get involved with advocacy, I'll say the first thing you can do, the very first thing you can do is simply raise your hand and let a NAIFA staff, whether it's Suzanne, or myself or Cody, know that you are one of your state execs know that you want to get involved and we will start we'll get you plugged in immediately. So should we love that? Yeah, yeah, exactly. And it's, we want to make sure that we were helping you because like you said, Suzanne, and I think this is something and Cody would 100% Agree with me. A lot of people put their politicians on a pedestal of, oh, my gosh, that person's an institution, nobody can approach them, there's no I, you know, you probably can't get within 100 yards of them. That's not the case, especially all at your state level, your state level, folks, on average, depending on what state you're in, we're going to leave Texas out of this, most your State House reps are about 30 to 40,000 constituents, they're a member of the community, they want to engage with their constituents to find out their needs. Otherwise, this is what you got to remember. If we have if your lawmaker is a dentist, and they get elected, and they go to the state capitol or the state or go to the federal level? Well, they're gonna know a lot about dentistry and probably some good stuff about medicine, but they may not have it in their wheelhouse for a lot of other things. So it's important that we want to be getting involved early, and you talk with your lawmakers, because they are accessible. They want your they want you they want somebody to be able to call when they have an issue and say, Yeah, I don't have any idea which way to vote. I know. But I do know, I have a subject matter expert that's in my district that I can call and say, what do you think how would this impact your business or impact your clients? So that's the first thing we have to break that pedestal essentially, and anybody can be accessible, whether it's at the state or federal. That said, there's always ways to get involved. So let's start at congressional conference. So congressional conference is coming up in May. It's our big, everybody comes up to Capitol Hill, as Cody mentioned, we have 500 plus people come and take meetings over 300 meetings. That's incredible. Well, when you leave congressional Congress, what's next? Well, I'll tell you, it's called August in district. So during at the federal level, in August, there is a recess from August one till about mid-September where lawmakers go home, they'll host town halls, they'll host fundraisers, they'll host any type of event in district office hours, and we engage our members, hey, you just came to congressional conference. How do we go and build that relationship more with our lawmakers, let's go visit them in August, you know, you have a little bit of that buffer of you're not just trying to meet with them every two weeks, because, you know, just like you guys have to work, you guys or girls are working your day job, or lawmakers are also working. So they don't necessarily want to be contacted every single week just to be contacted. So we have August, and that's a great way to get involved and get to meet, especially for new members get to meet some of your state chapter folks that you may not have met from around your state because especially at the federal law for those districts are pretty big. We want to bring people together. Then after that we have our National Leadership Conference, which is a great way to come back to Washington DC and get involved and then next year, we'll be getting back into our state legislative days, which is a great way to get involved with your state lawmakers Now, throughout the year. The reason why I mentioned at the beginning, we need you to raise your hand that you want to be involved, their events trickled in. I know Maryland does a brews and bites once a month. I know that some of our chapters hosts a monthly meeting. There's a monthly bid in Wisconsin, they host a monthly advocacy call that you can tune into just to listen on, hear what's going on at the Advocacy Fund. So there's always things going on. But the biggest thing is we just need y'all to raise your hand and let us know that you want to get involved. And we will help you get plugged in whether it's at the state or federal or both.
Suzanne Carawan 20:43
Yeah, Cody, you have any comments on any of that?
Cody Schoonover 20:46
I have no comments. I think that everything you just said was 100% Spot on. I'm still stuck on the humanizing of the politicians thing. Ever since you said that. All I can think of is that our woman's fly-in when we had two members just walk up to members of Congress walking out of the hill, say, hey, I'm from your district, how are you? They sat there for 10 minutes. And they had a conversation with each other. It was incredible. And as a civics nerd, this is the culmination of all of our efforts. This is exactly what we want. Right? So like, I'm, yes, that was perfect. That's exactly what we need. We need to humanize our politician.
Andrew Holt 20:58
Well, and just to add on to that you'll the 100-day teams, Cody, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure the this is the youngest age group of federal politicians we've had in the US Congress. So there's a lot of opportunity, especially for our younger folks. I was when we were in the rotunda, weren't we? Who did we run into with during the women's fly? And what was.
Cody Schoonover 21:43
The younger athlete, Florida, whose name I'm forgetting right now? I feel like it's max.
Andrew Holt 21:48
I don't quote us on it. But we met when we were standing in the rotunda with all these women during the women flying and we look over and there is the 25-year-old. Yes, you heard that correct. The youngest us represented ever a 25-year-old out of Florida, taking a family of constituents on a tour of the Capitol, y'all these folks are approachable. They want you to approach, they want that good interaction, it's their job to have good constituent services, but they can't help you. If they don't know that they want to.
Suzanne Carawan 22:17
Yeah. And I was gonna say, I love that idea. And we should think about it more about, you know, listen, they're an elected, you know, leader, and you're using the example that they're coming from, they're dentists, but they got to build their own network to, I mean, right, they got to keep finding ways to get elected, they got to get buy in, they got to get, right, they need stakeholder buy in, they need to understand and they need to understand where popular opinion is, and where the dissenting opinion is, and the whole thing. And of course, we're nonpartisan. So it doesn't really matter what side of the aisle where you're coming from. But it's important that you understand as an agent or an advisor, you're a licensed professional, right? Licensed at that state level, where do you definitely need to know what's happening at the state, but you can be that resource to them. And I think it really is they're looking for, okay, again, you may have a Chuck Grassley, who has been in office for decades, and they have their network, but they will always listen to new people from Iowa, right? Like at that point, they love what they do. And they love being able to see the kind of the breadth of the people that they represent them. Because after all, they are elected. Right? We are the ones electing them. And so then I'll do a little plug on the voting stuff. So Andrew, let me take it away on our stats gets the real life here about if you're an agent or advisor right now on and you're listening to our show, and you're not registered. One, what does that mean, Andrew, what can we do? And what are our real stats out there?
Andrew Holt 23:40
Yeah, no, that's a great question. This is kind of the misconception that we have in the United States that, everybody votes. I'll say in the historical trends, that's the world I came from. There's a reason why there are historical trends. There are not a lot of outliers with how the election cycles go. Midterms have lower turnout. presidentials have the highest, every four years, you'll have that the presidential cycles, you'll have the big turnout. And they really do stay in the same block, meaning that registration has always stayed about the same every time or voter participation. You can look at it either way that said, the last presidential election, just for perspective, we had well over 150 million Americans vote. If I remember correctly, my last check of the census, there's over 130 million Americans, everyone can do that basic math, less than 50% participation, that said, we can take those numbers, you can apply that to just about any industry any factor. We know that there are people that are not registered. So I do want to give a quick plug. If you have any questions on your registration status. You don't have to worry about, if you have questions you have we're happy to help point you in the right direction. But we do have a great website called GOTV4financialsecurity.org and that's the number four In that website, you can look up sample ballots by district, you can check out if you registered to vote or if you need to get registered to vote, you can see that we have interactive maps that will send you to your Secretary of State's websites. But that is a great one-stop shop, especially this year, we have only four states or an election year in Virginia and New Jersey was Mississippi and Louisiana. So there's not a lot necessarily on that front. But we are gearing up for another presidential cycle. So if you have any questions, just go check that out. It has full sample ballots of everybody that you could potentially vote for. And remember, what we always have to focus on is we are the party of financial services and insurance. We're not on either side, we are that party. So do your research, make sure that when you look at your ballot, you're voting for folks that are going to support you, your business, your family and your clients on Main Street.
Suzanne Carawan 25:57
Yeah, and one of our wonderful past members who actually passed recently, Terry Headley, one of the things he always says, if you're in business, you're in politics. And so if you're not showing up, you know, you're not doing your own business, any good, you're not certainly doing your industry any good. And insurance in particular, and in financial services, one regulation could of course, completely change the landscape. So it's something, if you think of yourself, as this is your business, and you're building it, you need to be in politics. And then the other piece I just pushed because I am a marketing communications person, is that one of the things that our top members do and top members, meaning like they're super involved in advocacy, they're also top producers, right? They have long-standing practices. And usually at that point, all based on referral. One of the things they do when they go vote, think about what a good conversation starter that is. So they're very happy to go get their sticker. And then they go, and they talk to lots of people that are not their clients, or they make sure to tell their clients hey, listen, don't forget voting is coming up. They give them the same tools and resources, we want you to vote, be a good citizen, right? Part of your financial security is you also voting, I'm out there protecting you. Right, they start to expand that. So then when they go talk to their elected leader, they're really saying, Hey, listen, my client base of 200 families, right, and 30 independent businesses, we're all making sure we're out there voting, and we're all plugged in. And by the way, clients, I can't be here today, because oh, I'm at Capitol Hill. And here's my money-shot photo of me up there talking to our senator, right. And so they're using these opportunities to differentiate themselves and increase that trust with their clients and their prospective clients. Because who doesn't want to go to that person who's out there investing their own time and effort to make sure that I'm protected, right? Like you're selling me life insurance? Well, I want to be with the person who's going to make sure when that day comes, that it stays tax-free, or whatever the case might be. And so we really try to, the top ones do that they use advocacy as a real way to market themselves as well. Andrew, you want to say something?
Andrew Holt 28:08
Yeah, and I was gonna say that's exactly right. And I'm just off the top of my head. I know, especially as we look at that August, there's so many of these events, you can hit two birds with one stone, you're going to advocate for NAIFA. Well, I can tell you this during August, there's a barbecue back where I'm from that's hosted every year by my representative 1500 people attend this and you're at tables with folks of the community. This is a great also networking event for you to go meet other folks in your community and expand that Rolodex and show that you're that advisor. So I do just wanted to point out that's exactly right. You can these events, and they're fun, y'all. I remember the first fundraiser, I had to be completely honest. And this might shock Suzanne and Cody, I had no intention of going into politics as a day-to-day job. I got pulled to a fundraiser year about a decade ago from a buddy and I have not looked back. So initially I want to do politics as a hobby. Now, I do it as a day job. But you know, those fundraisers, those town halls, those festivals, they're a really fun thing to do. And it's a very low-key way of getting to meet your representative and their staff in a less pressure zone. So definitely that's plug in August and districts because you can use those type of meetings for a lot of different things. So thank you for mentioning that Suzanne.
Suzanne Carawan 29:26
And I even asked that question and maybe Cody throw this one over to you because we hear about these things all the time, like fundraising events, etc. But I think another misconception is that everything is like $1,000 a plate dinner, and so like, let's like what are how do I do it? Like how do I get invited to a fundraiser? How do I find out what these things are? How do I you know you sing town halls like what do I do with that?
Cody Schoonover 29:50
So there are multiple listservs usually if you contact the representative you can get put on and listserv unwillingly sometimes, but you know, that's just what happens when you reach out to politicians who are trying I think maintain their voter base. Other than that NAIFA's happier
Suzanne Carawan 30:04
How happy are they? If you're like, Hello, I'd like to be on your list, right?
Cody Schoonover 30:08
Yeah. NAIFA does keep track of that. I mean, just through like our government relations department and through our volunteers, we get offers all the time, like, hey, do you have any members in district you can attend these events, I would recommend reaching out to either Andrew Hall, myself or your grassroots chair in the state and see if they have any idea of what's going on. And if they don't, they can reach out to NAIFA national, and we can start picking up phones and figuring out too.
Suzanne Carawan 30:35
We're happy to help get you there. And let's talk about what's in that financial security advocate, Academy. Because I think that it's another great tool that we provide. So most of people that come in, who are involved in our grassroots programs, they don't know anything to begin with. Right? They don't know anything. And then we have people that are running for office now. So Andrew, you want to take that one?
Andrew Holt 30:59
Yeah, yeah, I'll gladly take that. And Cody, jump in. And please, whenever you feel free, but I do want to put a notice because we are really excited about our new FSA Academy. It's a great revamp of our grassroots training course, there are folks that are probably going to listen to this and go well wait a second, is that the same thing that I've done in the past? This is a brand new course. So you know, we are asking NAIFA members that may have gotten their FSA badge to retake the courses. But I just wanted to put that out there for anyone that may be confused as to what we might be talking about. But yes, this is a great course. And again, this goes back to you don't have to be nervous about wanting to get involved. We are here to help, we're here to coach you, we're here to provide the tools necessary. And that's what I think the best part about that FSA Academy, which will do for you. It's a six course self-guided class that it breaks down into, as I mentioned, the six courses, a lot of it around, how do these meetings run? What do they look like, as Cody mentioned, before folks go up on the hill, and maybe you can get the butterflies of like, oh, my gosh, I'm going to meet with my lawmakers. And this kind of gets that. Take the pressure off, you understand what that meeting will look like, you'll understand you know, how the procedures will go. But I really think the best part about it, and this is what we do at NAIFA's. And this is what we do very well is we want to craft our message and personalize it. And that's how we advocate at NAIFA's. And so that's what that course will teach you. It'll make it, when we look at these, everybody always sees that picture once a year of the omnibus bill that is, you know, this big, 3000 pages. Well, how do we humanize that? When a lawmaker looks at that stack, they're going oh, my gosh, that's 3000 pages. Well, there's stuff in that that could impact our industries. So we need those personal stories, when we go and meet with lawmakers up on Capitol Hill that ties it either back to the industry, to the district to a personal anecdote. And again, remember, you'll when you go to these meetings, and when you decide you want to become an advocate, you are now not only representing yourself, you're representing your clients. So you may not have a personal story that you think moves the needle, but you may have a client that does and taking those stories and learning and this is what those courses do is really kind of helps you understand how to get an advocacy brain and how you can think strategically in the advocacy world. And then how do we translate that? And how do we humanize it. And you know, because I'll tell you this, I wouldn't recommend watching C span all day long. But you will see on C span, there will be lawmakers go up and go. I just want to tell a story of a constituent of mine about this law. And they may not message about the specific law, but they're gonna say this was sent to me by somebody in Greenville, South Carolina, I am going to read this out to everybody in this body knows that those pieces of paper will have an impact. And this is the story. So I couldn't speak highly enough about the courses. There's testimonials. But I think it really like I said, it gives you that basis of okay, I want to be an advocate. What does that even mean? And how do I even start and how do I even start crafting my message because messaging is key messaging is the biggest factor in our success is making sure that we're messaging and we're all staying on message. So that's a kind of an overview of the FSA Academy. Again, really excited about it. And I just I think it's going to be a great resource to for some of you, you may go, I've done this before I've worked I've volunteered on a campaign, but it's still it never hurts to brush the cobwebs off and get, you know, back into the fold.
Suzanne Carawan 34:35
Okay, it's another thing to tell your clients and it's another reason to touch base with them and reach out and explain what you're doing and why that's important. And you're on top of whether it's cyber security or some of the new things that are coming up or, senior financial exploitation and you're a resource to them and you're taking a you know, ownership of that and then I'd also say that our members that do it well, they make it part of their personal brand And it's extends their circles of influence, right? So that they've really made it into something that they're actually profiting from right, it's actually using it to expand their business. So I wanted to as we kind of get towards time, I want to get one point. That's kind of another thing that we hear all the time, which goes a little like this. Maybe the sounds great, y'all, if I'm like an independent advisor, but I work through XYZ company and they have government relations. So why would I actually need NAIFA to?
Cody Schoonover 35:34
NAIFA represents the individual agents and advisors, there is a difference between what the company is looking for and their government relations program and what NAIFA's doing for you. That's really like, the underlining point here. I feel if Andrew, you want to jump in there a little bit?
Andrew Holt 35:50
No, I would agree. I think when I look at the reason why you need to get involved as because a lot of the world this world has government relations departments, which is great. We have a great government relations department with our lobbyists who are up on Capitol Hill. When you become a citizen advocate, you're supporting our lobbyists efforts on Capitol Hill, our lobbyists know the lawmakers, they know what they're coming to talk to them about. The difference is that our lobbyists, whether they're at the state or the federal level, they're not constituents, those lawmakers aren't beholden to them because their lobbyists don't vote for them. So you being the constituent? Well, I can talk till I'm blue in the face to a lawmaker. But the final question they may go is, what part of my district do you live in? If I say I don't live in your district? Well, they're gonna go, we'll go take it up with the law. Your lawmaker, I'm not your lawmaker. So you're that back in support, but also, and I'll finish with this anecdote, and I'm not going to use the lawmaker. But this is derived from a federal lawmaker from an event years ago that explaining why it's so important to be involved. There was a bill that came across his desk, and he had legitimately nowhere with all, as to any of the background on the issue, anything. So he called his district office, and he said, you know, has anybody voiced concerns about this law? They said, ah, let me double checks. The next day, he got a phone call. And they said, we've had 23 phone calls come in about this law. It was a small, little nuanced thing in agriculture. It was, well, we'll what was the yeses versus no's? It was like, it was 19 yeses and four no's has one on the floor. And I voted yes. So 23 people that that district was 1 million people, 23 people made that difference, you need to be one of those 23 people on every single one of our issues.
Cody Schoonover 37:41
Like that just underlines the point I was making earlier, right? Like, we have to come in as a crowd, you have to have a lot of voices saying the same thing. And it really gets to the politician. And the old strategy in American politics is you vote your district and you win. So that's what the politicians are thinking.
Suzanne Carawan 37:58
Yeah, and I think it goes back to just, there's so much nowadays, where I back to wrap it all the way to the very beginning of the show, that we just assume that somebody else is taking care of it. And it's amazing how few people are actually stepping up and showing up. And when you actually do that, you just put so much distance between you and your next competitive if you will, financial advisor agent. And again, when you come together as NAIFA, we don't have that amongst ourselves, but we come and unify as one. So we can really be that voice. And that's really important, because I think I just want to get Cody's point one more time. You know, we're the voice for this is your business, this is not for the company that you're writing through. This is your business that you built with your sweat equity, if you care about your sweat equity, unless you just feel like I'm sorry, what's five years of my life, that's 10 years of my life, what's all those Saturday mornings, and all the late nights that I put in. So I mean, it's your business, you're building that you're in this business, so you can have that legacy. And you hopefully you're building it for generations to come. And if you care about that, and you care about serving others, then NAIFA's a good home for you. And you'll find very like-minded people who absolutely love what they do. So I want to thank both of you. Any ending final thoughts from Andrew, you?
Andrew Holt 39:16
Yeah, the final thought that I'll leave you with is, again, please become one of those 23 and I will finish it with we like to have fun with NAIFA advocacy. There's a lot of fun things that you we get to do. Our members are really fun to be around the events that we do. So, you're with family, when you come here, your people are going to help you out. But we just like I said, we just need to know that you want to dip your toe into the advocacy world. And you know, I'll promise you this. You won't look back, Cody.
Cody Schoonover 39:44
Yeah, we're a tight knit community here. Everyone who comes to our conferences, I see the same faces over and over again. I'd love to see more faces. To be entirely honest. We need more people involved all the time. Civic engagement is obviously the highest goal. If our department, but you know, NAIFA's Great. Our advocacy is top notch. I recommend everyone come to congressional conference in May. And I hope to see everyone there.
Suzanne Carawan 40:10
Yeah. And I'd say I'm infamous for being like a one last thing. So I will say one last thing, too. We are the only organization with a member in every congressional district and lobbyists and grassroots program in all 50 state houses. And one of the things you see all the time is that one state will introduce a proposed legislation and their copycat next thing you know, three others have, we are that early warning detector system, because we are so close, we're able to advocate and get going on that and then we have a jumpstart on everything else. So we're very tight. And I think it's an important point. But it's not just you know, you're a member of your let's say NAIFA's state as well as federal and that's why we say strong skate strong nation. So I want to thank both of you. And we look forward to seeing everybody again. Cody's absolutely right may 22 23rd. Hope to see you in Washington, DC. Thanks, everyone. Thank you.
Thanks for joining us for NAIFA's Advisor Today podcast series. Make sure to subscribe to get future episodes. And if you're interested in coming on the show, let us know.