A Case for Going Global with Certifications
The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors launched a new certification with an aim to increase global exposure to the new designation, the profession, and the association.
Taking the leap to launch an association certification abroad can seem daunting, but it might be just the way to achieve your strategic goals. That’s what the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors is banking on with its newly launched global certification.
But before we delve into why and how NAIFA is launching its new certification, here are some reasons why associations should at least consider certifications. First, they’re quite popular. There are stories every day charting the rise of the credential and the different ways that organizations have deployed them.
Secondly, certifications and credentials specifically appeal to an international audience, according to global experts like Terrance Barkan, CAE, of Globalstrat. Last year, Barkan told Associations Now [ASAE member login required] that international markets place a much higher value on certifications and credentials than membership. “Credentials and certifications can be directly and immediately leveraged in the work environment to obtain better employment and wages. This is especially true in very competitive emerging markets,” he said.
Kevin Mayeux, CAE, CEO of NAIFA, echoes Barkan’s sentiment. “There’s a lot of developing markets out there right now, primarily in Asia, where you’ve got people that are craving professional development opportunities and designations or certifications that show that they have specialized skills or training in a certain area,” he said. “… For associations that are well-rooted and have a good reputation and have the bandwidth to consider bringing some of those products abroad, they’ll find receptivity.”
That was the case for NAIFA. A few years ago, when the organization was looking for a way to enhance its value proposition to its members, it decided to develop a new global certification: the Life and Annuity Certified Professionals.
In launching the LACP, Mayeux said he hopes to draw recognition to the certification itself, as well as to NAIFA’s brand. He also hopes it will become a distinguishing mark of life insurance and annuities professionals, so that consumers will be able to locate a trusted advisor who is “highly educated, highly skilled, and highly ethical,” Mayeux said. “We would like it to be a trusted certification. Much as the CFP is for those in the financial space, we want this to be the same sort of mark for the life and annuities space.”
In actually administering the certification, Mayeux said that NAIFA gets to draw on some prior international success. Another one of its programs—the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designation program—has been tremendously successful around the world. In the last couple of decades, Mayeux said that thousands of overseas professionals have received the designation.
But while some of the knowledge and infrastructure about how to administer an international credential was already there, NAIFA had to start from scratch on the design of this new certification. It relied heavily on a team of experts, including dedicated staff and volunteers, education specialists, and psychometricians, as well as consultants like Association Laboratory and testing companies like Castle Worldwide.
For this go-around, NAIFA also decided to make the financial commitment of translating its brochures and other marketing materials into Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. “When we looked at which nations have a high percentage of insurance agents and financial advisors, and we looked at which ones spoke English and which ones didn’t, we identified those markets as being the most target-rich for us,” Mayeux said.
The exam itself, available at thousands of testing sites throughout the world, will only be offered in English, though that may change as time goes on, depending on interest in the certification, Mayeux said.
This process hasn’t been easy. In fact, in getting the certification off the ground, Mayeux said that his team has “worked pretty much around the clock” since last fall.
Still, NAIFA is hopeful that its efforts will deliver the global recognition, which will in turn “enhance its value with insurance and financial services professionals at home and aboard,” Mayeux said. “It will also enhance NAIFA’s brand, which gives us an opportunity to market other professional development offerings.”
How has your association achieved its strategic goals through global certifications? Please leave your comments in the box below.