As LIMRA celebrates its 100th year in in the industry in 2016, the association will renew its focus on the increased retirement research, education and training needs of its membership and continue to keep tabs on the Department of Labor’s pending fiduciary rule, according to the trade group’s new chair.

Last month, Deanna Strable, president of U.S. Insurance Solutions, Principal Financial Group, was named the chair of the LL Global Board of Directors for 2016. In January 2010, LIMRA and LOMA merged under the umbrella of LL Global Inc.

Strable, in an interview with EBA, says both organizations have tall agendas in 2016 as the associations continue to adapt to emerging trends within the industry and prepare their memberships for new regulatory challenges.

What are some of your goals as the new chair of the LL Global Board of Directors?

My goal is to support and work with Robert Kerzner, president and CEO of LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global, with his management team, and our board to provide guidance and leadership to ensure we can continue with the success we’ve had over the past few years. LIMRA will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2016. That’s a great milestone for this type of organization. It’s exciting to be chair in a year that has such a special milestone for the organization.

LIMRA and LOMA have a number of conferences throughout the year, including the annual conference. In 2016 it will be held in Chicago from Oct. 23-25. We had about 750 attendees at our 2015 conference in Boston. One of the things we have been talking about is increasing the attendance and representation at the 2016 event. We’re hoping to get 1,000 attendees to commemorate the 100th year. It will be our mantra to commemorate that event with 1,000.

What will LIMRA and LOMA be focusing on in 2016?

There are so many projects to list, so I’ll just highlight a few of the more critical items. LIMRA and LOMA are combined into one organization, but their focuses are a little bit different. LIMRA is focused on research and being the trusted source of industry knowledge, whereas LOMA remains focused on providing education to associates of its member companies. Our goals continue to be under those two main missions of the organizations.

One of the things LIMRA has been very focused on is working on is making sure its research program continues to expand and improve to remain relevant to the member companies. One of the things we’ve really worked on is recognizing our member companies and the industry need more data and insight to stay competitive. We’re not just competing against each other, but competing against how our customers think about us relative to the other organizations they interact with on a day to day basis, such as Amazon, Google and Apple. So if member companies can have good insight and data it can be helpful and supportive of their strategic initiatives.

LIMRA has a number of initiatives planned for 2016 to better help member companies understand and be successful in the marketplace. These include a new customer service benchmarking program, a new source of competitive intelligence data, and new tools to help companies understand exactly who is buying, what they are buying and where and how they are buying our products.

Two years ago, we launched the Secured Retirement Institute under LIMRA and LOMA. Insurance remains a critical part of our member companies, but as baby boomers have begun to work their way into the demographics, retirement is becoming more and more important within our member companies’ business strategies. So LIMRA and LOMA recognize that and they understand they need to focus on that effort. That has expanded our research into retirement and also our focus on making sure our services are broadened out to be more encompassing to that retirement sector of the marketplace.

LOMA has launched a designation relative to that and in 2016 we will be launching the last course in that designation.

What are some upcoming issues the industry should be paying attention to in 2016?

There are two that come to mind.

First, the DOL’s proposed fiduciary rule. There is a lot of emphasis and talk and activity about this. Current indications are the DOL will finalize that rule in March or April of 2016. That rule will have broad implications across the spectrum, whether it be retirement plans, roll overs, or IRAs. Companies are focused on how that will impact the industry and the end consumers that actually need the products and solutions that we provide. Every company in the industry is paying a lot of attention to it and very active in making sure the DOL and the government understand the implications. Hopefully we’ll get a final rule that ultimately doesn’t hinder the U.S. population to save for retirement.

LIMRA and LOMA have been very active with this in the last year, primarily being a resource for industry and member companies so that not only do they understand what the new rule may be, but giving them real data on how some of this can impact that customer that needs retirement solutions.

The second trend worth noting is there are just too many individuals in the United States that are under-saved, under-protected and under-advised. As proof to that, individual life insurance ownership is at a 50-year low in this country. Many of us in this industry are focused on what we can do to reverse that trend. Reaching and remaining relevant to those individuals is a significant challenge, but is something the industry will be and needs to be focused on as we go into 2016 and beyond.

 

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