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PHOENIX-While still digesting the considerable changes in their industry, insurance brokers also must play an active role in government and community affairs, a brokerage executive says.
In welcoming attendees to what he jokingly called the National Assn. of Insurance "Broker" annual conference in Phoenix earlier this month, outgoing NAIB Chairman Graham S. Anderson, a director of Acordia/Pettit-Morry Co. in Seattle, reflected on the NAIB's accomplishments in 1996.
"As we all are well aware, change in our industry has manifested itself in a record pace of consolidation with the resultant elevation of our firm from seventh-largest at the beginning of my term to fifth at the end," said Mr. Anderson, referring to his firm's parent company, Acordia Inc.
"Were I a politician, I would probably be taking credit for that accomplishment," he quipped. "But I know you will agree with me that David Holbrook and Pat Ryan have more to do with Acordia's elevation than I did," referring to top executives with J&H Marsh & McLennan Inc. and Aon Group Inc., respectively.
Anytime change manifests itself as dramatically as it has in the past year, one must reflect on the past and on the future, Mr. Anderson said.
In highlighting some of the NAIB's recent accomplishments, he noted the association was "at long last" successful in winning repeal of a provision of the 1993 Clinton Tax Act. By rescinding section 956A of the Tax Code-which governed the tax treatment of goodwill for U.S.-owned foreign brokers-NAIB members saved more than $200 million, he said.
In addition, a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down a challenge to Lloyd's of London's restructuring (BI, Sept. 2, 1996) commended the NAIB and cited provisions of the association's amicus brief in rendering its opinion in favor of Lloyd's, he said.
What Mr. Anderson described as the NAIB's "most significant activity" over the past year was the development and launch of the NAIB's Academy of Insurance Education.
The academy proposes to deliver educational material to NAIB members and others at low cost. If the program is successful, "we believe we can satisfy the various state requirements for continuing education far more efficiently than has previously been the case," he said.
In looking to the future, Mr. Anderson said it is not enough in today's world for brokers to just take care of their clients and conduct their business in an honest and efficient way. "We must also contend with the government, which has very little clue as to what our function is or, for that matter, the function of the industry we serve."
Mr. Anderson pondered whether the benefits of such inventions as the telephone and radio, and advancements in the electrical, aircraft and automobile industries would be as universally available in the country today if government had played as pervasive a role in the early 20th century as it does today.
"We must enhance our ability to educate our elected officials," Mr. Anderson continued. He encouraged the member brokers to participate in the NAIB's political action committee.
In addition to educating the government, Mr. Anderson urged brokers to become more involved in community affairs and "most especially, to help improve the basic education system in this country."