Highlights of the 2016 “Renaissance at the Renaissance” Hotel

It was a success!  From May 15 to 17, 2016 the new NAIFA-NYS brought together an array of honored guests and industry experts to discuss cutting-edge issues facing our industry—and made Day on the Hill a priority again.  Here’s a quick round-up…

Senator Neil Breslin (D-Albany), the Ranking Member of the Senate Insurance Committee, joined us to give warm welcoming remarks—and much to be hopeful about, saying that legislators should “get out of the way” and let agents do their jobs, among other heartening comments.

Assem. Kevin Cahill (D-Kingston), Chair of the Assembly Insurance Committee, gave his straightforward (and sometimes controversial) opinions on insurance issues this session—including rebating, long-term care, Health Republic, and fiduciary responsibilities.

The Honorable Kathy Sheehan, Mayor of Albany, offered a historical glimpse into the city where NYS laws are made.

The second highest official in NYS—Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul—made a special trip to be at our Annual Conference and open our awards dinner with thoughts on what “renaissance” means, to both New York and to our newly re-energized NAIFA-NYS.

We then paid tribute to two distinguished agents, giving Alex Tronco of Northwestern Mutual the Spencer L. McCarty award and Albert Brodbeck of Prudential Financial the Ben Brewster Government Relations award.  We also gave honorary recognition to Ben himself.

The new DOL rule is a sea change in how agents can serve their clients—so we kicked things off with a panel of expert speakers, featuring NAIFA CEO Kevin Mayeux and Paul Richman of the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), who gave in’s and out’s of the decision and its consequences.  What, we asked, have the Feds just done to the life insurance market?

NYS may be diverse, but the life insurance world certainly is not.  So how can we shift our industry to be more attractive to emerging demographics—as agents and customers?  Vince Vitiello of Global Diversity Marketing and Raul Rivera of National Benefit Life Insurance Company told us about the groups we need to appeal to, and just how to do it.

Is this a time of change for the industry and NAIFA?  Definitely, said NAIFA President Jules Gaudreau, our keynote luncheon speaker.  In fire-and-brimstone remarks, he talked about where NAIFA is at and about the great strides it’s taking to protect agents and consumers.

We held a special session—featuring the Honorable James Regalbuto, who heads up the life insurance division at the Department of Financial Services, Lou Medina of New York Life, and Diane Stuto of LICONY—to learn what’s happening with a new DFS effort to set guidelines for the life insurance industry so it can spot and prevent elder financial abuse.  We also asked insurer and agency reps, “What are you doing?”

Googling may be good if you want to buy shoes—but it comes with big risk when buying life insurance, said NAIFA-NYS Treasurer Joe Tavernite of Principal Financial and Steve Lobel of Anchor Agency, who offered their predictions on what the market will look like in five, 10, and 20 years.  There may be ways that agents can take advantage of the online revolution, we learned.

So why can’t we sell some products in NY that are okay in other states?  There are some definite (and surprising) reasons, said the DFS deputy superintendent of life insurance James Regalbuto and its chief life actuary, Bill Carmello.  Their answers sparked discussion long after the session ended.

Are agents being sacrificed to bolster insurer bottom lines?  We asked industry and regulator representatives what MetLife’s decision to turn its sales force over to MassMutual will mean—and how it relates to other insurer behavior.  This may be part of a pattern, cautioned Greg Serio, NAIFA-NYS Executive Director and former NYS insurance superintendent, and Jason Lurie of Wealth Advisory Group.

Day On The Hill

We brought it back!  After a six-year absence, Day on the Hill returned with opening keynote remarks from the Honorable Alfonse D’Amato, an 18-year veteran of the U.S. Senate, who offered “A Tale of Two Capitol Hills”—his no-holds-barred view of the Federal and State political landscapes.

Next up … a legislative briefing from key NYS Senate and NAIFA-NYS staff, and words of wisdom on NAIFA-NYS priority bills and how to discuss them.  Then, members were off to the Capitol and to the Legislative Office Building for more than 40 meetings with senators, assemblypersons, and key legislative aides.