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AALU targets growth, diversity as priorities during 2018 annual meeting

Brian Anderson

A focus on growth and diversity was evident during the recent 2018 Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

New CEO Marc Cadin (shown, left), who will be taking over later this year for David Stertzer (shown, right) after Stertzer’s 33-year run as the organization’s CEO, stressed the need for growth and depth within AALU in an address to the meeting’s roughly 1,000 attendees.

“Growing our membership is the single most important objective for AALU,” Cadin said. “We will broaden our mission so that we represent not just the advanced planner, but also the next generation of holistic advisors. That mission, and everything we do, will make it clear that diversity and inclusion are important to us.”

Cadin is an 18-year veteran of AALU who currently serves as Chief Operating Officer. He will officially step into the CEO role on Sept. 1, 2018, when Stertzer transitions to an advisory role for AALU.

As part of AALU’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, six major carriers (AXA, Lincoln Financial Group, NFP, Northwestern Mutual, Pacific Life Insurance Group, and Penn Mutual) became AALU Diversity Scholarship investors for the 2018 meeting. These groups collectively sponsored attendance and participation for more than 70 producers from diverse gender, ethnic, and age demographic backgrounds. AALU also hosted its third annual Diversity Summit on April 29, bringing together diversity and inclusion leaders from throughout the profession to discuss how the financial services industry can better address the issue.

Another big topic at the organization’s 61st annual meeting, held April 29-May 1, was AALU’s recent successes in protecting its members and the value of life insurance during in the 2017 federal tax reform debate.

“The AALU board and the government affairs team worked around the clock,” said Immediate Past President Rich DeVita, Principal in The Todd Organization. “AALU members generated over 12,000 letters to elected officials during the height of tax reform, and held over 1,000 meetings with legislators in 2017. None of this would have been successful if not for the years of relationship building that many of them have done.”

The meeting attracts top life insurance sales professionals, attorneys, CPAs, trust officers, and other financial and legal professionals. A good example of member involvement in the meeting comes from the attendance of senior leadership from Fulcrum Partners LLC, one of the nation’s largest executive benefits consultancies.

Representing Fulcrum Partners at the meeting were Managing Directors: Bruce Brownell, (Ponte Vedra Beach); G. Scott Cahill, (Orlando); Steve Broadbent (Atlanta) and Andrew Hart, (Washington D.C.).

“The opportunity to participate in professional development workshops, to meet and network with our peers, and to gain and share critical insights on how tax reform has impacted products such as corporate owned life insurance (COLI) are only a few of the reasons we participate in AALU conferences,” Hart said. “Fulcrum Partners values the role the AALU plays addressing key issues of life insurance and tax reform, estate and gift tax reform, and industry regulation.”

During the conference, Steve Broadbent spent an afternoon on Capitol Hill discussing the impact of the recent tax reform legislation on the life insurance industry and sharing ideas with staff members of Georgia’s Senate and House delegations.

Scott Cahill conducted one of the conference breakout session workshops, covering the topic of business succession/continuity as explored through a case study of a medium-sized family business. He showed his peers how to structure a buy-sell agreement to skip one generation of estate taxes and how to develop incentive-based long-term incentive plans (LTIP) to retain and recruit professional (non-family) management without using company equity.

The theme of this year’s annual meeting was “E4,” which represents the insurance professional’s commitment to “educate, engage, execute, and evolve.” Keynote speakers included leadership, diversity and inclusion consultant Ritu Bhasin, former NBA player and current Food Network host Walter Bond, social psychologist and bestselling author Amy Cuddy, film and television producer and CEO of Not Impossible Mick Ebeling and research scientist Andrew McAfee.

The annual meeting also marked the beginning of terms for AALU’s Board of Directors. David Byers of Capital Wealth Strategies succeeded Rich DeVita as President, Raymond Bening of Bening Financial was named President-Elect, and Jeri Turley of BCG Companies was named Vice-President, Treasurer & Secretary. Turley will become AALU’s first female President in the 2020-2021 Board year.

The organization also welcomed three new directors for 2018-2019: Mike James, President at PartnersFinancial, Tom Love, agent at Encore Financial Group, and Marguerite Rangel, Wealth Management Advisor at Park Avenue Securities. AALU also honored departing directors Chris Foster, advisor at CSI Wealth Management and former AALU President, Jason O’Dell, Principal & Managing Partner at OJM Group, and John Watson, CEO at 221B Advisory Services.

At the April 30 President’s Dinner, the AALU membership honored Forest Hills Financial Group President & CEO Nat Perlmutter with the Gerald H. Sherman Service Award, bestowed each year on a member who exhibits the organization’s core tenets of strengthening, growing, promoting, and advocating for the life insurance community.

The next AALU Annual Meeting will take place April 28-30, 2019. To view photographs from this year’s event, visit http://www.aalu2018.org.



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