I never set out to be an insurance and financial advisor. But after a stint as a corporate lawyer, I made the auspicious decision to join Northwestern Mutual as an agent. That was about 30 years ago and I’ve never looked back. I love what I do, helping my clients secure their financial futures and leave legacies for their loved ones. I can honestly say that I found my dream job.
I’m proud to say that NAIFA has been with me, helping me protect and grow my business, every step of the way. NAIFA Past President Dick Koob was my insurance agent before I changed careers, and he soon became a good friend and mentor. Over the years, NAIFA has introduced me to innumerable colleagues who have helped me in my career and provided valuable support and friendship.
But that’s the tip of the iceberg. I am a proud graduate of NAIFA’s Leadership in Life Institute. LILI helped me improve myself as a person, a business owner and a leader. It is one of the best things to come out of NAIFA. And I cannot say enough about the importance of NAIFA’s political advocacy work.
I’m also proud to work for a company that has provided such broad support for NAIFA, its members and its mission. Northwestern Mutual has encouraged its agents to be NAIFA members and provided support and sponsorship for NAIFA’s advocacy efforts.
Advocacy is an area where NAIFA excels. NAIFA’s work promoting positive legislative and regulatory outcomes for advisors and their clients is a benefit to members and the industry at large that cannot be overstated.
Two of the highlights of my tenure as NAIFA president were when I testified before the House Ways and Means Committee Financial Working Group on the importance of preserving the existing tax treatment of insurance and retirement products and when I presided over the first annual NAIFA Congressional Conference in 2013.
The Congressional Conference has become the financial sector’s premier grassroots fly-in, where insurance and financial advisors educate their lawmakers on issues that directly impact our industry, businesses and clients. Northwestern Mutual agents have been well represented among the upwards of 800 NAIFA members who visit Washington each spring for the event.
I am gratified that my company has supported the Congressional Conference, as well as other NAIFA advocacy efforts, in the past and will urge them to continue doing so. The strong ties between my company and my professional association have bolstered the industry and have been a huge factor in helping me achieve the success I have been fortunate enough to realize in my career.
During my three decades in the industry, I have become acquainted with hundreds, maybe thousands of advisors. The one piece of blanket advice I give to every one of them, no matter where they are in their career or what their practice specialty, is to be an active member of NAIFA. It is no coincidence that the smartest, most dedicated and most successful advisors I know are NAIFA members. NAIFA is indispensable. The investment in membership pays off many fold. That is why the top advisors are members.
That is why companies like Northwestern Mutual have been so supportive of NAIFA through the years, and that’s why they say they will find more opportunities to invest in NAIFA to ensure success for years to come.
By Robert O. Smith, CLU, ChFC, JD
NAIFA President, 2012-2013