The 2010 Life Insurance Conference - Washington, DC

How ironic to be in Washington, DC on April 15 - TAX DAY! Fortunately, I avoided IRS offices and attended the much more enjoyable 2010 Life Insurance Conference, presented by LIMRA, LOMA SOA and ACLI.

This year's conference offered a variety of tracks focused on the Life Industry including Distribution/Marketing Marketing, Administration, Actuarial/Product Development, Regulatory, Reinsurance and Strategic Management. President and CEO of the ACLI, Frank Keating, opened the event by moderating a session titled "Executive Viewpoint on new Opportunities." Guest speakers included Ted Mathas, President and CEO of NY Life, and John Walters, President and CEO of Hartford Life. Both speakers were insightful as they shared the challenges and opportunities each company faces and the key role life insurance companies play in our society and the global economy.

There were several key themes that were reiterated in multiple sessions throughout the conference - the economy is on the rebound, optimism is growing, consumer spending is up and an uptick in employment is likely to follow. The threat of a double dip recession has seemed to passed. Good news for our industry, and welcomed by all in attendance.

Of special interest to me, given my background, was some research shared by both The Nolan Group and Novarica in separate sessions. Both firms indicate that policy administration upgrades/replacement projects remain a top priority in 2010. Carriers continue to invest in modern technology. Modern ultra-configurable systems enable carriers to switch from a waterfall to an agile project methodology, which often entails a "culture change" within an organization.

Other themes heard throughout the two-day event:

  • Virtually all sessions focused on People, Process and Technology! Product innovation, agility and speed to market are as important as ever.
  • Social Networks and Twitter are becoming more popular ways of communicating with both field and dispersed staff.
  • Several sessions focused on the application, new business and underwriting process. Companies continue looking for ways to increase market agility, accelerate speed to market, address cost issues and improve service levels across the process. They recognize the need to ease the way to do business with both producers and consumers.

Author and economic futurist Jeff Thredgold presented an entertaining, informative and humorous general session on Wednesday afternoon that focused on the US and global economies, financial markets and retirement outlook. Thredgold did not disappoint anyone with his message!

The Thursday morning general session was keynoted by Therese Vaughan (CEO - NAIC) and Thomas Crawford (President of C2 Group). Both speakers gave a poignant view of the recent financial crisis and discussed "Putting the Pieces Back Together." Therese spoke of the recent financial turmoil and likely changes to regulations to the financial services sector. Tom's topics focused on economic recovery and the political environment in Washington, and how that impacts our industry.

Next year's event will be April 11-13, 2011 in Las Vegas.

Roger A.Soppe, CLU, LUTCF, is the Senior Director of Insurance Strategy, Oracle Insurance.

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