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Conventus is momentous…

August 26, 2019

Think back on the number of times you’ve participated in discussions about “shared services” at American Fraternal Alliance meetings. We have brought in more outside experts on the topic and arranged more roundtable discussions among fraternal CEOs than I can remember.

There were a few minor victories along the way. The investment cooperative where fraternals pool their bond and equity portfolios with one asset manager has certainly yielded positive results for its participants. And I think some of those roundtables resulted in mergers when, after the CEOs took a hard look at what it would take to develop and implement a meaningful shared services platform, they decided that combining their operations made more economic sense.

I’ll be totally honest and tell you that I had serious doubts that a true shared services initiative could ever take hold within the fraternal community.

And then came…Conventus Now.

Early last week Bill O’Toole, president and CEO of Catholic Financial Life, and Harald Borrmann, president and CEO of Catholic United Financial, announced the establishment of Conventus Now LLC. You can read the complete news release HERE but suffice to say that this is a development that may not only rock the fraternal world, but the entire life insurance sector. Describing it as a “breakthrough in collaboration formed and wholly-owned by two leading fraternal benefit insurers,” Conventus will serve as the vehicle through which the two insurers develop and operate state-of-the-art technology solutions used by both organizations. Boom!

What did it take for two societies to come together (FYI, Conventus means just that) and create this innovative partnership? There is a long list of factors, but to me it comes down to this: courage and cash. The leadership of these societies – their management teams and boards – had the courage to take an honest look at the future and realize that half-measures would not get either society where it wanted to be. Equally important, they had the financial resources to invest in the technology that holds the promise of greater efficiency, greater member service, and greater opportunities for growth for both organizations.

Want to learn more about Conventus? We’ve added a special presentation at the upcoming Executive Summit where Bill, Harald, and an executive from the technology firm they are working with will share more information about this project and what it means to these two societies and the fraternal system. Fraternal CEOs and their top executives can still register for the Executive Summit HERE.

In the meantime, I’d like to congratulate Bill and Harald for this incredible accomplishment. I know and respect both gentlemen for their business acumen and for their commitment to their members and the fraternal business model. More importantly, I consider them friends and mentors – both are former Board Chairs of the Alliance – who have helped me deal with the sometimes complex and contentious issues that arise within a trade association. I couldn’t be happier for them and their societies, or more optimistic about the future of the fraternal system.