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CEOs and Secretaries join forces to hit one out of the park…

I’m still coming off the adrenaline buzz from last week’s Presidents and Secretaries/Human Resources Mid-Year Section meeting in Washington, D.C.  Thanks to all those executives from Alliance member societies who engaged in the meeting.  The dialogue between members and the interaction between fraternal leaders and the line-up of diverse speakers was the primary contributor to the meetings’ success.  And thanks also to our sponsors, whose support of the Alliance helps us bring such outstanding education programs to members at the most affordable price possible.  Here are a few highlights of last week’s meetings.  Members can access the various PowerPoint presentations by clicking here.

  • Attendees got their first glimpse of the sometimes surprising results of the Alliance’s survey of member societies’ governance practices and heard Berit Lakey of BoardSource provide detailed instructions for ways fraternal leaders can effectively address educating their organizations’ board and members to support governance modernization initiatives. The BoardSource-Alliance on site Bookstore was open and helped attendees find the right tools to improve governance.  (Click here to hear a snippet of the session.)
  • Mei Cobb of the United Way told fraternal leaders that “volunteerism just doesn’t  happen” and urged them to invest in organizing their members’ community service activities and partner with other groups to maximize their societies’ volunteer programs and enhance their appeal – and value – to  members. (Click here and here to hear snippets of the session.)
  • Secretaries Section participants engaged in a no-holds-barred roundtable discussion on a variety of issues affecting fraternals.  Executives’ willingness to share the ways – good and bad – they are attempting to address the operational, financial, and fraternal challenges facing them is what made this session worthwhile.
  • Gary Strohm and Heather Hafeman of Strohm-Ballweg gave attendees a preview of Alliance’s annual “state of the fraternal system solvency report.”  The bottom line is that while the overall fiscal health of the fraternal industry has improved over the last year, there are a few persistent trouble spots that could negatively affect all societies.
  • Following up on the fraternal solvency report, a regulatory panel featuring Steve Johnson of the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance, Susan Real of the Ohio Department of Insurance, and Dave Brummond of the Treasury Department gave society executives their candid views of the future of fraternal regulation.  Real unveiled the key components of a legislative proposal – drafted in conjunction with the Alliance’s Ohio-domiciled members – that could serve as a model for fraternal solvency regulation across the country.  Johnson expressed a view that any society with less than $100 million in assets should seek merger partners to ensure that organizations have the financial strength to secure a healthy financial future for their members.  And Brummond, the former general counsel for the Alliance, expressed dismay over how long it has taken for many fraternals to adapt to a changing environment.
  • Representative Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio) delivered a stirring address praising the work that fraternals do in communities across the country on a daily basis and encouraging societies to take our message to members of Congress before the fraternal tax exemption is on the chopping block.  “If you don’t tell your story, no one will know what you do.”
  • Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships, delivered a similar message and also urged societies to partner with his organization to expand the impact of their community service activities.  Alliance members interested in joining forces with DuBois and First Lady Michelle Obama to assist military families should plan on participating in a conference call on Wednesday, May 18, at 2:30 p.m. CDT (call in number: 866-615-1885; and passcode: 204772).  More information on the call will be posted soon on this blog: www.whitehouse.gov/partnerships/blog.

Joshua DuBois, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships, (left) shakes hands with Kenny Massey, President and CEO, Modern Woodmen of America.

  • And Alliance members rose to the challenge by spending Tuesday afternoon on Capitol Hill meeting with more than 40 members of Congress and their staff to spread the good word about who we are and what we do.  The meeting was capped off with a reception in the Capitol building for attendees, members of Congress, and legislative staff in which a message from President Obama wishing fraternals the best on our efforts to provide members financial security and improve the quality of life for individuals and families was read to the group.
  • Next year… Be sure to save the dates for next year’s meetings in Charleston, South Carolina.  Secretaries/Human Resources Sections will take place on April 14-16, 2012, and Presidents Section will be held on April 15-17, 2012, at the Charleston Marriott.
  • Your comments… If you attended the recent Section Mid-Year Meetings in D.C., I’d love to hear from you.  Post your comments to this blog and let me know what you thought about the meetings.  Tell us about your experience!
  • Upcoming blogs – Next week I will share some incredible JOIN HANDS DAY success stories, and after that, we’ll revisit the “agitation” posting and your responses to the mini-survey.

Action Creates Clarity

That’s the mantra of one of the Alliance’s most popular Annual Meeting, speakers, Peter Sheahan.  And if you loved his presentation last September, and his best-selling book, Flip, chances are you’ll want to be among the first to buy his latest tome, Making It Happen: Turning Good Ideas Into Great Results.  Have you put one or more of Peter’s ideas to work in your society or your life?  Share those ideas by posting a comment here…

And we’ve got another great speaker line up for 2011...
Frank Luntz, the nation’s premier pollster and image builder will be featured at the 2011 Alliance Annual Meeting (watch for registration material in the next week or so).  He’s also written a recent best-seller – Win: The Key Principals to Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary.  Here’s a look at Luntz’s “11 Phrases for 2011″…

  • ‘Imagine’ is still the most powerful word in the English language because it is inspiring, motivating, and has a unique definition for each person.
  • ‘No excuses.’ Of all the messages used by America’s business and political elite, no phrase better conveys accountability, responsibility and transparency.
  • ‘I get it.’ This explains not only a complete understanding of the situation but also a willingness to solve or resolve the situation. It’s short, sweet and effective.
  • ‘If you remember only one thing…’ is the surest way to guarantee that voters will remember the one point that matters most to you. This is essential in complicated situations like the upcoming debt ceiling vote.
  • ‘Uncompromising integrity.’ Of all the truthiness words, none is as powerful as ‘integrity,’ but in today’s cynical environment, even that’s not enough. People also need to feel that your integrity is absolute.
  • ‘The simple truth’ comes straight from billionaire businessman Steve Wynn, and it sets the context for a straightforward discussion that might otherwise be confusing or contentious.
  • ‘Believe in better’ comes from BSkyB, the satellite television provider owned in part by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. empire. Of all the corporate mission statements of the Fortune 100, ‘believe in better’ is the second-most popular – and it applies to politics as well.
  • ‘Real-time.’ This is not a pitch for Bill Maher. Many Americans were furious that they couldn’t get the details of the health-care legislation in a timely fashion. ‘Real-time’ communicates receiving information at the speed of life.
  • ‘You decide.’ No, this is not paying homage to Fox News. The lesson of 2010 is that Americans want control of their lives back and they don’t want Washington or Wall Street making their decisions for them.
  • ‘You deserve.’ This comes from DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and it was first employed by him in his highly praised 2006 SOTU response. It tells voters exactly what they should expect from their politicians and their government.
  • ‘Let’s get to work’ was employed by Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) in his successful campaign. No other end-of-speech rallying cry is more motivational to voters.

What once was old is new again…
Have you ever heard of a “benefit corporation?”  Well check out this article and tell me it doesn’t sound like a fraternal.  Here’s the quote of the day:  “This is a great model.  It leverages all the power of capitalism – the value proposition to clients and job creation – and it also has a community impact.”

We’ve been doing this for over a century!  It’s time somebody noticed!!  Maybe we should TELL PEOPLE!!!

Is state regulation federalism at its best or worst?
Industry analyst and blogger extraordinaire John Lobert weighs in on his latest posting.  Click here to read more…

Are you ready to compete in a no-frills life insurance world?
This March 12 Wall Street Journal article by Leslie Scism should be a “must read” for any fraternal executive.  I know simplified term life goes against the time-tested theory that the only “real” insurance is whole life sold through an agent, but as our products get increasingly “commoditized” we have to consider offering consumers the type of protection they want (simple, low cost term coverage) in the way they want to buy it (online).  Wouldn’t it be better – and easier – to “upgrade” the coverage for these new members if they purchased their first policy – even a simplified term policy – through the fraternal’s online portal?

A final thought – don’t forget to register for the March 24 webinar on annuities. I have been privy to the planning process between our two presenters and can attest they really know their stuff.  I have heard Tony Minopoli of Knights of Columbus speak and he is excellent. Chuck Ritzke of Problem Solving Enterprises brings his actuarial knowledge and will provide some great case studies.  Click here to register.

A little something for everyone…

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a blog, and I’ve been collecting items that I just know you’ll love.  I’ll save the big thought pieces on the future of fraternalism and the procedure for rolling out the association’s new name for later in the month.  In the meantime, I hope these interesting bits of tid will whet your holiday appetite for making a difference in your society, in your community, and in the nation…

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Keystone State Sets Example for Regulatory Relationships

Fraternal leaders in the Keystone State – led by the Pennsylvania Fraternal Congress (soon to become the Pennsylvania Fraternal Alliance!) – set the standard for developing positive relationships with state insurance regulators.  I had the privilege of attending my third PFC meeting this week and the highlight of the session was the three-hour presentation by four representatives from the state Department of Insurance (DOI), including Deputy Insurance Commissioner Steve Johnson and Director of the Bureau of Financial Examinations Dave DelBiondo.  Here are links to the PowerPoint presentations:  Update on Regulatory Topics and Market Analysis – September Series.

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Enhance Your Society’s Board Performance with New NFCA Tool

I’ve been invited to address a number of NFCA member-society conventions this year, and in virtually every case, the CEO has asked me to focus my remarks on the need for fraternals to modernize their governance structure and enhance the performance of their boards.  That’s a good sign, because of the three major challenges we face as a system – governance, solvency, and relevance – it’s governance over which we have the most control.  In fact, you can make a good case that we can’t effectively address the solvency and relevance issues without first modernizing how our organizations are governed.  The bottom line is that you can’t create the fraternal of the future on the chassis of the past.

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Won’t you please come to Chicago…

Believe it or not, the opening session of the 2010 NFCA Annual Meeting is just 11 weeks away.  And this year’s conference is in the association’s back yard – sweet home, Chicago.  (Test your knowledge of the Windy City by taking the Chicago trivia test below.)

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Financial Exams, Ft. Hood Memorial, and a Father’s Wisdom…

NAIC Plans Review of RBC System – Don’t know if you’ve seen the article in today’s National Underwriter, but the NAIC is planning to conduct the first thorough review of the risk-based capital (RBC) system in nearly two decades.  Regulators use the RBC ratio to adjust the value of an insurer’s holding to reflect the estimated level of risk and, after the adjustments are made, to determine whether the insurer has enough capital to meet its obligations.  Regulators may step in when an insurer’s RBC ratio falls sharply or falls below a “regulatory intervention” level – typically 300% or lower.  The NFCA provides members a worksheet to calculate their RBC ratio and submit it to those state regulators who require fraternals to file such data.

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Joe’s Special

Here is a grab bag of items I’ve been meaning to share with you – some monumental, others less so.  Hope you find them interesting…

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Bits of tid…

Section meetings are coming up and you need to be there…

Section Mid-Year Meeting season kicks off in March with the Fraternal & Communications Sections meeting in Charlotte, NC.  The Secretaries & Human Resources Sections and the Presidents Section follow right behind with April sessions in Hollywood, FL.  Later that month, the Investment Section meets in San Antonio, TX.  The Actuaries Section wraps up the schedule with a June meeting in Milwaukee.  Programs are set for many of these meetings and online registration is also available on the NFCA Web site.

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Joe’s Special

A little of this and a little of that with hopefully something that you might find interesting, enlightening, or outrageous.  As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.  Let’s keep the conversation going…

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