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American Fraternal Alliance Annual Meeting and the Next Generation of Compliance Professionals

The book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson was required reading for many employees, myself included, a few years ago. It describes how change IS going to happen and how to adjust your attitude to deal with it. The book came to mind last week when I attended the AFA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. There is change in the works for Fraternal Benefit Societies (“Societies”) and they appear to be addressing it head on!

Last week was the first time I had attended the AFA Annual Meeting and it was impressive. Over 350 attendees, two outstanding keynote speakers, and an aggressive leadership approach to ensure that Societies will be able to thrive in the future. Societies are facing many challenges in the short term – Corporate Governance Annual Disclosure, Principle-Based Reserving, and attracting new, younger members and employees, just to name a few. This last challenge appears to be a priority for many Societies as their members and employees age and they seek to attract millennials.

While I enjoyed every session, the Innovation Forum was a highlight for me. The description of the Forum read, in part, “…a group of fraternal young professionals dedicated to helping societies attract younger members and employees, this session is designed to ignite new concepts and ideas in your society.” The talent and energy exhibited by each of these bright, articulate individuals was inspiring. As promised by the session name, innovative ideas and research findings were on display and presented by “young professionals” from several different Societies. I found all of the presentations to be fascinating.

Two things occurred to me as I spoke with several of these young professionals. First, these individuals, with their analytical and creative minds, would make outstanding compliance professionals; and secondly, what are those of us in the compliance industry doing to attract and develop the next generation of compliance professionals? There will be an increasing need for robust compliance programs as regulatory pressures continue to grow. How will people with decades of compliance experience pass along their knowledge? And finally, wouldn’t we all benefit from the fresh perspective and innovative ideas to address compliance risks that younger people can offer? Solid compliance training is, of course, a requirement for success for newer compliance professionals. However, what else should we be doing to prepare the next generation to handle the compliance challenges of tomorrow? After all, ‘tomorrow’ isn’t that far away.