DALLAS – The association representing life brokerage agencies opens its annual conference’s first full day with some wind in its sails as it pushes into a challenging future.
The National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies had 825 registrants as of Monday, with another 50 to 75 expected to walk in, said Dan LaBert, NAILBA’s CEO. Even without the walk-ins, this year’s registration represents a 16% increase over last year’s 711.
This is the second annual conference under LaBert, who inherited a legacy association that needed to transition to survive in a changing environment.
That reality includes a diminishing member base with consolidations absorbing distributors, a thinning producer population and intensifying regulatory attention. On top of all that is increasing pressure away from commission-based selling under the suitability standard and toward fee-based advising under the fiduciary standard.
NAILBA has emphasized its partnerships this past year, particularly with its producer counterpart, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.
The association also added a new award, ID 20, to honor “Independent Distribution's most courageous innovators, change-makers, trailblazers, visionaries, leaders, techies, marketers and operations gurus.”
The creation of the award was announced in early September accompanying an appeal for candidates by early October. Twenty recipients have been named from across the distribution spectrum.
The longstanding Douglas Mooers Award for Excellence will be presented on Friday evening. The award was named for NAILBA’s founding chairman, H. Douglas Mooers and established in 1986. It honors “excellence in brokerage and is bestowed upon the individual most committed to furthering brokerage and independent life brokerage as a distribution system.”
'We Are Ecstatic'
Although the dinner is on Friday night, when conference attendees may opt to leave early, LaBert said 400 are registered for the black tie-optional event.
“The last time NAILBA hosted the Mooers Dinner on a Friday was 2017,” LaBert said. “There were only 225-235 total attendees. We are ecstatic with the response. This demonstrates a significant turn in the right direction for NAILBA.”
Increasing event attendance is a good turn of events for any organization. Another association in the insurance space, the Million Dollar Round Table, had to resort to changing its requirements to increase membership, by allowing fee income to be counted. MDRT also reoriented the association to be far more international.
Part of MDRT’s change was an acknowledgement than much of the growth in distribution is pivoting to the financial space.
Sheryl Moore, an annuity and life insurance market analyst, said insurance distributors used to account for 97.4% of indexed annuity sales and 91.9% of indexed life. Now they are responsible for less than half of indexed annuity sales and about three-quarters of indexed life.
But on the positive side, she said the overall pie grew substantially over the years, with marketing organizations getting an $18 billion slice of the 2018 indexed annuity pie and $1.6 billion of indexed life.
And the hot streak for both segments has been booming. Indexed universal life sales had their best-ever quarter in 4Q 2018 at $617.4 million and have been strong this year. Moore said she expects big sales numbers this year because CSO 2017 and principles-based reporting go into effect on Jan. 1.
Indexed annuities had their best quarter in 2Q of this year, with $19.6 billion in sales, Moore said, although she warned that Fed rate cuts will make it challenging to beat this record.
Steven A. Morelli is editor-in-chief for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers and magazines. He was also vice president of communications for an insurance agents’ association. Steve can be reached at [email protected].
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