Dr. Waters: de Tocqueville’s appreciation for ‘community’ is at heart of associations today

NAIFA CEO Dr. Susan B. Waters took members on a trip through time today, describing the travels of Alexis de Tocqueville’s voyage to America in 1830 on a quest to find what drove the hearts and souls of the American people. His conclusion: America’s genius for community.

In her CEO Report to NAIFA members at the Career Conference and Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Dr. Waters summed up Tocqueville’s opinion of associations nearly 200 years ago.

“Voluntary associations sprang up everywhere to solve practical problems, to persuade Americans
to take action, and to work for political change,” she said. Through associating, or coming together for a mutual purpose, Americans were able to overcome selfish desires, and create an active and vibrant civil society.

Today, associations like NAIFA function in much the same way as in Tocqueville’s time. In 1890, the founding members of NAIFA “reflected the desire of concerned, like-minded individuals to create an organization that would serve field underwriters and further the cause of life insurance,” Dr. Waters said.

NAIFA also has a tradition of influencing proposed legislation affecting the life insurance business, dating back nearly 100 years ago when the government was about to adopt the federal income tax. In 1913, members visited legislators on Capitol Hill and President Woodrow Wilson to educate them
about life insurance products, and the result: Congress modified the income tax bill at the last moment, “underscoring the critical role we played in influencing the outcome and protecting America’s policyholders,” Dr. Waters said.

In 2013, tax reform will return as another major item on the NAIFA government affairs agenda, among other challenges on the Hill and within the association, including:

• Defining a workable fiduciary duty.
• Seeking improvements to the Affordable Health Care Act.
• Recruiting vibrant members into the NAIFA community.
• Attracting a younger and more diverse demographic into the ranks of the agent field force, and
• Promoting the value of life insurance and financial products to the public.

Dr. Waters also praised NAIFA’s past and present leaders, as well as the NAIFA staff for their dedication and work to advance the industry.

“Believe me, the miracle of life insurance does not go unnoticed by the NAIFA staff,” Dr. Waters said. “They have been inspired by what you do!”

But, like family members, Dr. Waters said that while NAIFA members “may not always agree on a particular course of action, we must, and will, come together as professionals and family to achieve our common goals.

“Let’s join together … as we write the next chapter in our association’s history!”