Technology is The Topic at ACLI Legal and Compliance Meeting

Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

As I traveled back from the beautiful city of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho after the ACLI Legal and Compliance Meeting, I was struck by how the topics have changed recently. At this year’s conference, the DOL rule was certainly present as a topic, but not nearly so much in the foreground as it has been in recent years. Technology, on the other hand, was at least part of every session.

Cybersecurity not only had its own session: it also crept into almost all the others in one way or another. Innovation was equally prominent, as the need to innovate made its way into most conversations. Frustrations with the challenges of regulatory efforts to both allow and restrict innovation were also on many lips.

There were no clear solutions to the challenges posed by these issues, but it was clear that internal legal and compliance efforts, as well as regulatory resources, are being pulled and strained by both. It is an interesting and demanding time. So many more meetings and discussions are to be had as we, collectively as an industry, begin to do more than merely identify the issue, but we continue to dig in and do the work.

Spring Conferences - on the road again!

I have been to three different conferences in three weeks. They show me just how diverse our industry is, while also sharing much in common. The three conferences were organized around three different elements: Geographical Location, Product Type, and Organization Type

Geographical Location: New England Chapter of AICP

On May 12, the New England Chapter of AICP held its Education Day (E-day) at the Nathan Hale Inn in Storrs, CT – right on the UConn campus, which is an unusual type venue for an industry event. It has seemed to me that AICP is getting slightly more P & C focused in the last few years, and that appeared to be true at this event as well. Those of us who focus on life, annuity, and health need to attend these programs and the AICP national conference. This year the national conference is in Seattle – who doesn’t want to go to Seattle? That said, back in Storrs, CT there was lively participation in the two sessions I presented: Managing Compliance Risk and Corporate Governance (With Kathy Donovan of Wolters Kluwer) and New York Developments, where we focused on proposed regulation 210, Circular Letter 1 (2017), deferred to immediate annuity replacements and recent policy form filing experience.

The New England Chapter of AICP is holding a joint meeting with the Mid-Atlantic Chapter in August to meet NYSDFS staff – it is sure to be informative and interesting, so if you are a member and want to join us, feel free to contact me.

Product Type: Group Annuity and Pension Compliance Association (GAPCA)

On May 18th and 19th, GAPCA met in Omaha. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate, so I did not do as much exploring of Omaha as I had intended. I was only in Omaha once before and it was also for a conference and I didn’t stray far from the hotel. I love GAPCA conferences and I highly recommend it if you do any group annuity work. I again spoke about developments in NY, however since we were talking about group annuities, this time the developments were primarily of the policy form filing experience type. Many commiserated about experiences of different reviewers providing different reviews. This may be because the group annuity outlines are among the oldest and the most difficult to use. They are organized in a way that does make it easy to determine which applies to what product(s). Perhaps the Life Bureau will reach out to GAPCA for some input when those outlines get picked up for refreshing. GAPCA has tremendous experience to help that effort.

Organization Type: American Fraternal Alliance Spring Symposium

This was the biggest of the conferences I attended and the most different from the typical conferences I attend because it was not limited to compliance. Held in Chicago, the AFA had multiple tracks happening at the same time, so attendees could spend the whole time attending compliance track programming, but they could also pop into a session held by the business operations or investments actuarial tracks. I spoke on cybersecurity from a compliance perspective, not an IT perspective. That said, because of all the different folks that AFA gathered, there were multiple perspectives on the issue and we had a great discussion after we walked through the NY regulation and talked about what might or might not make it into a NY-based NAIC model regulation.

Altogether, these three events reminded me why I love what I do. I met lots of different people in distinct parts of the niche of the industry we occupy. I was able to talk about issues and hear reactions from people who I normally don’t interact with or only communicate with via email or social media. The three weeks I spent at industry events were a bit tiring, but so worth it. Thank you to all the great folks who put these events on – I know it is a lot of work! Thank you to all who spent a few moments with me and shared your wisdom and experience. It is one of the best parts of this work and I value it tremendously.

NAFA’s 2015 Annuity Distribution Summit - A Great Event!

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend NAFA’s Annuity Distribution Summit in Coral Gables, FL. This event, held annually, is designed to bring together individuals from independent marketing organizations (IMOs), banks, and broker/dealers, as well as carrier and industry representatives to network, share ideas and discuss the unique challenges of the independent distribution channel.

Keynote speaker, Todd Buchholz, a leading economist and an energizing speaker, opened this year’s event, held at the beautiful Biltmore Hotel near Miami, FL. The sessions that followed included cybersecurity, IMO compliance, and my favorite – an update on the DOL proposed fiduciary rule. I found this session particularly valuable. The presenters (Pam Heinrich, Chris Conroy and Jodi Hyde) were well versed in the intimate details of the proposed rule and the considerable challenges that the industry will face in implementation if it is passed.

A special thanks to NAFA for their continued efforts to lobby the DOL, urging them to carefully consider how the proposal in its most recent form will significantly affect the industry’s ability to comply with the final rule, yet still be able to offer retirement services to consumers at a reasonable cost.

Also worth noting, Eric Thomes, Senior VP of Sales at Allianz Life Insurance Company, was presented with the Bo Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award by NAFA during the event. This award is presented to individuals who demonstrate “…courage, spirit and determination that challenges the status quo, inspires other to achieve, contributes unselfishly to others, and works ethically and conscientiously to improve our industry and our marketplace”, according to NAFA. Congratulations, Eric!

All in all, this was a well-run, well-attended conference. Many thanks to NAFA, the presenters, and the attendees for making it a success!

CEFLI’s inaugural conference – well done!

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend CEFLI's (Compliance and Ethics Forum for Life Insurers) first annual conference in Orlando, FL. The event drew well over 100 compliance professionals from around the country, as well as numerous state and federal regulators.

The sessions offered were very relevant and valuable, and presenters were well versed in their subject matter. I was impressed by the amount of useful information I was able to take away from this event. One of my favorite topics was the opening session on the DOL fiduciary rule proposal. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about this issue, until I attended this session - where I think I learned more than I really want to know. The presenters, and in particular the moderator, David Cowart, a partner with the law firm Dentons, made it more clear to me just how much the proposed rule could affect the insurance business as we know it today. Opinions about whether or not something will pass, what it will look like and how long it will take to implement are all over the place, but this session outlined many key issues that insurance carriers and distributors will likely need to consider and potentially address in order to comply with the ruling.

Other sessions worth noting for their relevancy and useful information included third party vendor management, managing IMO distribution risks (moderated by our own Roger Hayashi), enterprise risk management and corporate governance, cybersecurity, and market conduct examination trends.

Having attended many conferences over more than 25 years in the industry, I was very impressed with this event, for the sheer number of great topics, the expertise of the presenters, and the bang up job CEFLI did with the event. The location was beautiful (at a Disney resort!), the event planners were on top of all the details, and the food was great - well done! I am honored to have been part of this inaugural event, and will definitely attend again next year!