Life, health and annuity distributors from around the world gather this week in Dallas for the 35th annual National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies (NAILBA) conference.
During the event, thousands of industry professionals will participate in networking opportunities, informative sessions and keynote presentations.
In anticipation of this year's conference, LifeHealthPro.com interviewed current NAILBA Chairman Chip Van Dusen about his background, his passion for the industry, and what to look for at NAILBA 35.
LHP: How did you get started in the insurance industry?
Chip Van Dusen: The insurance industry is really in the Van Dusen blood. My dad was in this industry, and started Diversified Brokerage Services close to 50 years ago. So my sister and I and our family grew up in this business. Though it wasn’t the first thing I did outside of school from a professional perspective, it was shortly after trying a number of different things that I had an opportunity to come into this agency to work for my dad, and I really started to like it. I bounced around a little and grew through working in multiple departments and positions here. It’s been a phenomenal journey for the last 27 years, and hopefully for many more years to come.
LHP: Why insurance?
CVD: Insurance is an honorable, noble profession. I wish that more Americans felt that way; that more mothers and fathers would tell their children that growing up and choosing to be in the insurance business is something to strive for. The life insurance business directly affects countless families and businesses by protecting them and helping them at a time when they really need it. I am proud to be a part of such a valuable profession.
LHP: What drew you to become involved with NAILBA?
CVD: Our agency is a founding member of NAILBA, so becoming involved in the association was almost a given. From the time I started in the agency, I started going to annual meetings, focus meetings, and other NAILBA-related functions. Over time, I began doing some committee work and participating in various meetings, and was then asked by Mark Rosen to join the board a number of years ago. I was honored to become involved in this capacity. My time on the board has been so fulfilling and exciting with all the constant change we’ve seen in the industry.
My father, George Van Dusen III, is a past NAILBA chairman, past Mooers award winner, and represented NAILBA on the ACORD board. So there are deep ties with NAILBA and giving back. It would be very difficult for someone in our organization or in this position to not be involved in NAILBA, and I’m just grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to be our chair.
LHP: As 2016 chairman of NAILBA, what were some of your most important initiatives for the organization?
CVD: Our initiatives are guided by our strategic plan. Organizations often create strategic plans only to get away from them. But this board and executive committee in particular has kept great focus and has made sure that we stick to achieving some of the goals and objectives that we set forth in our strategic plan. We’ve made great strides in the areas of education, technology and best practices, along with advocacy and collaboration initiatives with other associations.
LHP: Which sessions or events are you most looking forward to at NAILBA 35?
CVD: There are so many things I’m looking forward to from a sessions perspective. I love the sessions on the DOL rule. One is a bit more “nuts and bolts” and covers what it is, and how it impacts the BGA, producers and so on. Another session from Joe Jordan, titled “Adapt or Die,” talks about where the opportunities lie and how to thrive in this hostile environment.
This is the first year that we’ve had so many workshops in a long time — 16 to be exact. We’ve got everything
from how to engage millennials to how to demonstrate effective leadership... Also, our main platform speakers are tremendous and should serve as an inspiration to many. And of course, I really enjoy the social aspects of the NAILBA annual meeting, in particular the Mooers award dinner, which is just a great event honoring the individual most committed to furthering independent life brokerage as a distribution system. From networking to seeing old friends and making new ones, there’s just so much about the meeting that I really, really love.
LHP: For someone who has never been to NAILBA, what would you tell them to NOT miss?
CVD: I’d tell them not to miss a minute. Don’t miss a minute! And with that, remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so that you don’t put yourself in a situation where you feel like you WANT to miss a minute! There’s a lot of fun to be had at the annual meeting, but there’s also a lot that can be learned at it. So, if you’re a first time attendee to the meeting, my advice is to take it all in: the exhibit hall, the workshops, the general session, the opportunities to meet with some carriers or peers. Ask questions. Listen to all the different points of view. Those are all things that I would really encourage someone NOT to miss out on, because that’s, in essence, the NAILBA experience.