Five Tangible Takeaways from the Presidents Section Meeting
The leaders of 41 NFCA member societies gathered in Las Vegas last week for the annual Presidents Section meeting. While the setting may seem a bit incongruous – executives of fraternal societies, many with religious bonds, meeting in Sin City at the beginning of Holy Week – the combination of location, agenda topics and timing contributed to one of the best attended and most productive Section meetings in recent memory.
Here are just five of the tangible takeaways from that session:
Presidents got a better understanding of how a “cooperative” works and, through a variety of roundtable breakout sessions, society presidents identified over a dozen potential services that a fraternal cooperative could provide NFCA members. These services focused on using the combined resources and buying power of association members to generate better data and cost savings in the areas of compliance, reinsurance, and groups benefits.
Eight member society presidents volunteered to serve on an association task force to determine the feasibility of offering commercial banking services to NFCA fraternals through member-owned banks and to provide private-labeled banking services to members of individual societies.
Presidents reviewed the results of the association’s financial evaluation projects and got a glimpse of the challenges facing the fraternal system. Six member society presidents volunteered to serve on an association task force to identify backroom consolidation opportunities either through the existing resources of member societies or through third-party administrators in an effort to streamline efficiency, control overhead expenses, and preserve the individual identity of member fraternals.
Presidents walked away from the meeting with valuable insight on the ongoing debates over modernizing the insurance regulatory system, the looming battle over the overhaul of the tax system, and the forecast for economic recovery.
Presidents learned much more about the liability pitfalls facing not-for-profit Boards, the insurance coverage they need to protect themselves from such exposure, and other NFCA-endorsed programs that can enhance their visibility with members and boost their bottom line.
Here’s what members said they liked most about the meeting:
“Increased attendance at the meeting gave each of us a better opportunity to network with our peers – to share ideas and engage in meaningful discussions about potential mergers and other strategic alliances.”
- “Roundtable discussions allowed us the opportunity to share our views – pro and con – on the topics covered. We had a much bigger investment in the outcome of the meeting. It wasn’t just a series of lectures from so-called experts.”
- “The agenda covered the right topics and allowed us to ask tough questions on the most important issues. It was fast-paced and informative.”
- "We walked away with tangible results of our efforts – things we can put to work in our individual societies and things we worked on as a group that can benefit the system.”
Here’s what I like about the meeting:
Presidents came with the right attitude. They were open-minded and willing to discuss approaches to problems that would not have been considered as little as one year ago.
- People came to the meeting to get something out of it individually, but more importantly, to contribute ideas that can help the system survive and prosper.
- The cocktail hour and post-session discussions were meaningful. Presidents told me after the meeting that they had a chance to talk to folks about strategic mergers that could take place before financial conditions at a society leave them with only a “shotgun wedding” alternative.
Now comes the tough part – taking what we talked about and turning it into results. They won’t happen overnight, but I’m convinced that the commitment of the presidents who attended the meeting was not an idle promise. I’ll keep you all posted on our progress and invite you to join in the effort that was initiated at the Section meeting. I’d also like to invite the folks that were at the meeting to add their take on the session so that when we gather in 2010 every NFCA member will be represented. Please post any comments you have below.
P.S. If you were unable to attend this year's meeting, you can view most of the PowerPoint presentations on the NFCA's Social Network site in the Presidents group. You also can see some photos taken at the meeting. Be sure to take advantage of this site to interact with your fellow presidents.