The setting for IAdCA 2017 could not have been more beautiful – the Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Montelucia in Scottsdale, Arizona. The scenery was simply spectacular and we all had rooms that gave us perfect views – if not of Camelback Mountain, of scenery equally magnificent. The conference was definitely fun, but there was also a lot of fantastic content presented by talented speakers.
For me personally, it was an honor to start our time at the Montelucia by being elected as president of the organization – a role in which I will serve for the next two years, finishing my term at the close of the 2019 conference.
As is the IAdCA custom, we opened Wednesday night with a wonderful welcome reception on the Kasbah Patio next to one of the stunning pools throughout the property. Because I was still on crutches due to a weightlifting injury, I happily sat still and enjoyed talking to those who made their way to where I was sitting. The food and drinks were appreciated and it was both a relaxing and pleasant way to start the conference.
We kicked off on Thursday with the opening keynote speaker, Joseph Jordan, who spoke on the topic of Living a Life of Significance. As a former life insurance agent and executive turned motivational speaker, he provided great content, which included an introduction to a concept that was repeated throughout the conference. I think one of the measures of a good motivational speaker is the ability to do what Joseph did: plant a seed that stays with the audience. What he talked about was the importance in our industry to share stories about how our products have touched peoples’ lives. He did so in a way that moved several people to share their personal or family stories about life insurance.
Joseph’s session was followed by two more general sessions before we moved on to the breakouts: one in which Rod Perkins, VP at ACLI was the speaker and the other was David Bolton of the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation and John Reilly of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation where they shared hands-on information about how to make clean advertising and product submissions to their respective states. Rod had the dubious distinction of being asked to speak in two consecutive years on the DOL Fiduciary Rule – last year it was the sole topic of his general session and this year it was an obvious part of his more general “ACLI Update” session. Last year he spoke just days after the rule was finalized and everyone’s head was spinning. He did a great job last year giving us one of the first overviews and this year he brought us up-to-date on the current confusion about what it actually means to have April 10, 2017 come and go. He did a superb job in a very difficult situation two years in a row with the timing of the conference and the regulatory activity. We are certainly hopeful that he will not let that dissuade him from giving future conferences a chance to prove that the third time’s the charm!
CCS staff was busy during the Thursday afternoon breakout session schedule! Rod and I spoke on Regulatory Shifts in Standards of Care, while Glenda Bean, newly elected IAdCA vice president, spoke with Debby Paris of First Consulting on Effective Communication Tips & Tricks. In the standards of care session, Rod and I decided to broaden our discussion to more than the DOL Fiduciary Rule by including a discussion of the NAIC’s new working group on this topic and getting a bit into the weeds of how a transactional suitability standard may end up moving to a more transactional best interest standard that takes pieces of traditional insurance regulation as a transaction at a moment in time and the DOL’s fiduciary standard that changed the nature of the relationship well beyond any individual transaction. At this early stage of the NAIC effort and the ongoing uncertainty about DOL and SEC action, there are more questions than answers and we had a lively and entertaining discussion about how it could all play out – both the positive and negative outcomes that we could collectively foresee. Glenda and Debby presented on a topic that is one of Glenda’s passions. She has presented it many times and is also in the process of developing a course for our online platform that addresses this soft, but vital skill in compliance – effective communication.
Being the trooper that Glenda is, she rushed right into the second breakout session to substitute for Heidi Gabel of GamePlan Financial who was suffering from a terrible case of laryngitis. Heidi was completely unable to speak on Tuesday so Glenda agreed to take over the moderation of the Mobile Advertising breakout session. It was an easy fit for her since she is hosting a full CCS symposium (CICS) on advertising compliance around social media May 11-12 in Cincinnati, OH. She rounded out the afternoon with a session on Stories from the Trenches that she co-presented with Gary Romo of Allianz. They offered cautionary tales of recent market conduct and disciplinary actions related to sales practices and advertising compliance. While she was spinning scary yarns, our expert researcher, Kaycie Tyll, was presenting with Judith Villareal of CoreCap Investments on gifts and rebates. Kaycie has a 50-state research chart on this topic available on our educational platform (CICEd), so this session was a perfect fit for her expertise!
By the end of Thursday, the CCS team was exhausted, but exhilarated! Glenda and Kaycie went out on the town with local clients, while I hobbled to the resort’s restaurant with a group of eight for a very nice meal with great company. Friday always arrives so quickly at IAdCA and this year we all had to leave on the early side to make connections to Albany. At the last minute, Margaret Jones was added to our list of travelers because my injury made things much more difficult, both at our booth and in transit. Sadly for her that meant cross-country travel in middle seats! I must admit to feeling guilty as I upgraded to first class so that I could prop my bad leg up and move around more easily. The doctor had warned me that deep vein thrombosis is correlated to crush injuries of the type I suffered, so I felt compelled to take his warning seriously, wear compression socks, and sit in upgraded seats.
Fortunately, no adverse consequences happened and we all arrived home very late and exhausted, but feeling great about another fabulous IAdCA conference! Just like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the IAdCA officers are already working on making next year’s event – in Austin, Texas – even better! If you have never been to IAdCA, think about coming to Austin in 2018! If you have been once or all 16 times, make sure to put it on your schedule for April 2018 and check the website regularly for updates.