Pivotal Partnerships Help an Association Get Back to Growth

After losing almost half of its members and amid major changes in the insurance industry, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors announced plans this month for new strategic partnerships to highlight its relevance and increase communication with its members.

Dwindling membership numbers is a hard truth faced by many associations across the country, but what do you do when your members are facing industry changes that could alter the way they do business and ultimately rely on you as an association?

If you’re the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, which has seen a 50 percent drop in members over the past 20 years due largely to a downtick in insurance agent employment, you introduce new strategic partnerships to promote your association’s value.

Robert Smith, NAIFA’s new president, says the organization is introducing new alliances between the national organization and local affiliates as well as new partnerships with other associations and insurance companies “to communicate our value and our relevance to prospective members.”

Having recently taken office earlier this month, Smith explains some of the organization’s plans to increase membership.

What is the biggest challenge facing NAIFA’s membership?

We’re getting the brunt of what’s happened with the disarray that’s occurred in the financial services industry.

Brokerage companies, banks, and insurance companies have gotten into each other’s business, and we don’t see as many agents recruited and trained by the insurance companies as they used to.

And some insurance companies have not done well. Some have actually failed, and some have taken TARP money … and we’ve experienced some of the effects of that.

How do you plan to grow NAIFA’s membership?

We have to reach out.

At NAIFA’s recent annual conference, our national council passed a resolution to seek individual partnerships between NAIFA’s state associations and NAIFA-national. The partnerships aim to improve communication and cooperation between the national organization and each state association, with the primary goal being to improve membership recruitment and retention.

We’ve added so many benefits over the last five years for our NAIFA members to improve their ability to generate income and become more professional. We’ve found that many of our states aren’t aware of that, so we’re trying to partner with them so they become more aware and are able to share that information with the members.

What other types of partnerships are you forming?

We’re partnering with the General Agents Management Association, which includes both the general agents and district agents, who manage smaller groups of people. We have a lot of practice-building tools that are useful to people in management to extend to the agents who work for them.

We’re also working closer with the insurance companies because they recognize that NAIFA is the largest financial service member association in the United States. We’ve been around for over 100 years, actually closer to 125 years, and we have a member in every single congressional district in the United States, so the insurance companies recognize that when we visit with members of Congress, they listen to us.

You might say we’ve had shrinkage in membership, but we’re still the 1,000-pound gorilla when it comes to having members throughout the United States that can inform Congress about financial planning and insurance products.

(TMG archive photo)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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