Many agents who made the trip to New Orleans last weekend for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) 2015 Annual Conference caught their first glimpse of the association’s new CEO Kevin M. Mayeux.
Polished, articulate and energetic, Mayeux has set the tone for what’s to come and what agents can expect from NAIFA in the future: an organization tied to improvement metrics and driven by a renewed sense of purpose. Prior to his arrival at NAIFA, Mayeux served as executive vice president and general counsel with the Institute of Internal Auditors, a professional society with 185,000 members in 190 countries.
Standing on the stage, Mayeux’s voice carried deep into the back of the cavernous hall of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The convention center is a landmark in a city that is plotting its own rebirth after a devastating loss from Hurricane Katrina a decade ago.
Mayeux reminded advisors why they belonged to NAIFA in the first place. He spoke of the key role NAIFA played in its members’ professional development and the powerful advocacy role that the association plays behind the scenes in Washington and in state capitals.
In short, Mayeux made a convincing case for membership in NAIFA. And advisors needed to be convinced. NAIFA’s membership has been in decline over the past decade, the association has been experiencing a drop in revenue and advisors are wondering whether NAIFA remains relevant.
But the membership decline appears to be turning around. A pilot program has attracted nearly 6,000 new members to NAIFA, Mayeux told InsuranceNewsNet. He said membership stands at 43,000 thanks to the program, and that the association saw membership growth for the first time in 22 years.
“So we have a solid engagement plan to make sure those new members see value and retain them after the trial membership expires,” Mayeux said.
How many new NAIFA members will convert to paid customers after the free introductory subscription period expires remains to be seen. However, NAIFA leaders believe they have a model in place that will grow the organization once again.
Young advisors represent the future of the organization. They recognize that NAIFA is trying hard to be a viable organization at a time when resources are stretched, many veteran advisors are heading into retirement and the insurance market is changing.
NAIFA is making good strides in attracting young insurance agents, according to Eszylfie Taylor, president of Taylor Insurance and Financial Services in Pasadena, Calif. But he believes the messaging about why an insurance career is meaningful and rewarding could start earlier.
“How many people grow up saying, ‘I want to be an insurance agent, I want to be a financial advisor?’” Taylor said in an interview with InsuranceNewsNet.
“I think NAIFA is doing a good job of that, it always could be better but a least the efforts are there,” he added.
Mayeux, 45, knows he has his job cut out for him as he steers NAIFA back to growth from the corner office at NAIFA’s Falls Church, Va., headquarters.
He reminded members of NAIFA’s importance as the insurance advisor’s advocate. These advocacy efforts come at a time when federal regulators are looking to implement some of the most far-reaching changes to the management of retirement assets in a generation.
If ever advisors needed NAIFA, now is the time, Mayeux said. He told the members how much work NAIFA has done over the past six months to sway the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to change draft rules governing what advisors can and cannot do.
NAIFA has delivered value to its members because the organization has been able to “rally the troops” around opposition to the DOL fiduciary rule, said Doug Massey, a San Angelo, Texas, advisor.
NAIFA’s reputation, “street cred” and history of working on behalf of its members and their clients has opened many doors in terms of credibility and access to regulators, Massey told InsuranceNewsNet.
“It’s paid off a lot in getting access and getting credibility and the standing — so that’s helped us to this point,” Massey said.
NAIFA still carries plenty of clout, especially when leadership and membership among the federation of state and local associations pull together as one.
Of that, there was no better proof than NAIFA coming to the rescue of the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) program, which was in danger of falling into a “relegation zone” among premier life insurance industry designation programs.
After two years of revamping the program and finding an educational home in which to teach it, the first online classes for the revamped LUTCF program began July 7 at the College of Financial Planning.
Attendees at the general session and among the exhibits of the convention floor weren’t shy about wearing “I love my LUTCF” badges. This was more proof that when the leadership and membership pull together, NAIFA remains a force to be reckoned with.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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