January 12, 2015Every so often there will be an occurrence – in business, in politics, in athletics – that may not only affect the outcome of an individual contest, but actually fundamentally re-structure the way the game is played. Think about the impact of the Internet on retailing, the emergence of the Tea Party on political races, the three-point shot in basketball. I consider all of these to be “game changers.” This week, the Alliance and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) are announcing another game changer – a shared services agreement that promises to not only make new products and services available to the members of both trade groups, but may also create an entirely new way for trade groups to work cooperatively to develop and deliver benefits to members. Under the terms of the shared services agreement, Alliance members will have immediate access to NAMIC’s web design and hosting services and the Mutual Career Center. In addition, the agreement calls for the Alliance and NAMIC to develop Board of Director educational programs – an issue that’s critical to both fraternal and mutual insurers. From my perspective, this is just the tip of what I hope will become a very large iceberg of shared products, programs, and services that will benefit both Alliance and NAMIC members. What’s a NAMIC? NAMIC is the nation’s largest property/casualty trade association, representing hundreds of mutual insurers ranging from large, national companies to small county mutuals. Like the Alliance, NAMIC has members domiciled in both the U.S. and Canada. And also like the Alliance, NAMIC is committed to providing its members with the finest advocacy, policy, public affairs, and education services. NAMIC President and CEO Chuck Chamness said, “Mutual insurers and fraternals share many values and operating characteristics. Both have a singular focus on members and both have rich histories based on neighbor helping neighbor.” In essence, NAMIC members and Alliance members are kindred spirits. Not surprisingly, that translates to many NAMIC products and services being almost perfectly suited for fraternals. Partnering with NAMIC to offer these services means that Alliance members can access proven programs that can add value to your society TODAY – not next week, next month, or next year. Where’s the beef? NAMIC WEB Services and the NAMIC Mutual Career Center are the initial offerings available to Alliance members under the shared services agreement. NAMIC’s web team has helped hundreds of NAMIC member companies design, develop, upgrade and maintain the quality of their web sites at incredibly affordable prices. This service may be an ideal way for small and mid-size Alliance members to dramatically and cost-effectively improve their web presence. Moreover, larger fraternals may also be able to assist their local chapters and field agents with the design and development of a cohesive network of sites that tie in to a society’s home page. The Mutual Career Center allows Alliance members to post job openings at their societies that can be accessed by thousands of qualified insurance professionals across the country. The Alliance routinely receives inquiries from fraternal leaders about how and where they can post their important openings. We are excited to have a perfect solution that is affordable and easy – and similar to other types of successful online career centers Transforming a relationship into a partnership… You may remember from a recent posting that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to “transform relationships into partnerships.” The shared services agreement with NAMIC is an example of what I meant. The Alliance and NAMIC have been informally working together for years – on policy issues like corporate governance and financial solvency regulation, and on simply sharing ideas on how to better serve our respective members. After a while it became clear that our organizations shared similar missions and visions, and that our members shared common cultures. That revelation paved the way for the “game changer” – the development of a formal shared services agreement in which both organizations make an investment in the effort to deliver greater value to their respective members. I hope you’ll take advantage of this new partnership and put the NAMIC services now available to Alliance members to work in your society right away. Please read about the details on our website. The Alliance will be hosting a webinar with NAMIC executives in the next few weeks to give you more information about how your society can benefit from this program. Webinar registration details will be made available soon What are your “game changer” opportunities? I’ve got a hunch that there are Alliance members out there that have long-standing relationships with their fraternal peers – relationships that with a little courage and creativity could be transformed into partnerships that deliver greater value to the members of both societies. Fraternal leaders have been proselytizing about this “cooperative concept” for years – certainly as long as I’ve served as the Alliance’s CEO. Seems like a good time to practice what we preach. Comments? Add them here or email me at email@example.com.