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    2016 is off and running…

    The holiday season – and those five extra pounds – are both behind us, and I can’t think of a better way to burn off those Christmas calories than by hitting the ground running in 2016.  Here are a few highlights of the TJAlliance’s 2016 Strategic Plan to give you a glimpse of what you can expect from your trade association this year.  As Robbie Robertson said on “Rock of Ages,” The Band’s landmark live album, “We’re going to try something that we’ve never done before.”  This year, the Alliance’s Strategic Plan is full of those kinds of goals:

    • Race to 100 – The Alliance will pull out all the stops in an effort to secure 100 co-sponsors for House Congressional Resolution 19 (the “Fraternal Resolution”).  Thanks to the hard work of Alliance member society executives who participated in our 2015 “Day on the Hill” event and the tireless work of our retained advocacy counsel, 70 U.S. Representatives have already signed-on as Resolution co-sponsors.  But to reach our goal of 100, we’ll need every member society to engage their employees, local chapter leaders, field representatives, and rank-and-file members in an on-line grassroots campaign that will kick-off in mid-February.  Look for lots of additional information on how your society can participate in this important advocacy initiative in the coming weeks.  With a little luck, we’ll be celebrating our achievement at the 2016 Annual Meeting this September.
    • Meetings with Meaning – And speaking of meetings, the Alliance’s 2016 conferences match up with any insurance industry trade group in terms of value and impact.  The Advisory Councils for the Mid-Year Meetings – Executive Summit (May 11-13, Toronto, Ontario), Fraternal Communications (April 13-15, Ft. Lauderdale, FL), Fraternal Compliance Day (April 26, Chicago, IL) Investment (June 9-10, Naperville, IL), and Actuaries (June 6-7, Oak Brook, IL) – are putting the finishing touches on some of the most impressive programs in recent memory.  And we’ve got a few new features for the Annual Meeting (September 7-9, Nashville, TN), that will improve your overall experience and allow you to bring more of your society’s leaders to the meeting.  We’ve set the membership satisfaction bar high for all of these events, so mark your calendars today and look for registration materials soon.
    • Building a Brand – As you know, the Alliance has made a significant investment in consumer research over the past several years, in an effort to find an effective way to explain the beauty, value, and importance of the fraternal model to consumers, policymakers, and the media.  In 2016 we’ll take the next step in this process by developing a unified fraternal brand that all member societies can use in their marketing and communications programs.  It’s an enormous undertaking – another one of those “never been done before” projects – but the Alliance Board of Directors feels strongly that the time is right for such an initiative.  Members will be briefed on the progress and the promise of the program at the 2016 Executive Summit.
    • The PBR Exemption – After years of effort by larger life insurers, Principles-Based Reserving regulations will likely be approved by a majority of state legislatures by the end of 2016.  The new PBR rules will take effect on January 1, 2020, after a three-year phase-in period.  While the NAIC’s PBR proposal contains an exemption for insurers with less than $300 million in annual life insurance premium, the current version also contains a provision that requires these “small” insurers to maintain an RBC ratio of 450%.  This RBC provision could put many of these insurers – including many fraternals – at a competitive disadvantage.  The situation is exacerbated by the potential changes in the evaluation of insurers’ investments now being considered by the NAIC that could result in a 12-25% reduction in current RBC ratios.  That’s why the Alliance is working with key state regulators and the NAIC to amend the current PBR exemption language so that all small insurers – fraternal and commercial – with less than $50 million in annual life insurance premium and an RBC ratio above 300% can apply for an exemption.  We’ll keep you posted on the results of our efforts as they occur.

    Of course, we’ll be working on many other initiatives throughout the year.  As always, we’ll be running a tight fiscal ship to make sure that your dues dollars are spent wisely and deliver an excellent return on your membership investment.  We’ll also be looking for ways to enhance the value of your membership by expanding participation in current affinity programs (like our terrific professional liability insurance programs for fraternal boards of directors and your society’s field representatives) and developing new ones.  And we’ll be cleaning off our crystal ball in an effort to determine how the Alliance can continue to be a full-service trade association – providing members advocacy, education, information, and products and services – on a sustainable basis for years to come.

    That’s a tall order.  But we’re excited by the challenge.  I hope you’ll take advantage of all the Alliance has to offer your society – and be an active participant in our “Race to 100” grassroots advocacy campaign.

    A trade association is only as effective as its members make it.  Let’s join forces to make 2016 the breakout year for fraternals and “try something we’ve never done before!”

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