Message from the President

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These are unprecedented times in America. The number of retirees is increasing exponentially year after year and seniors are living longer. There’s a continued volatile and soft stock market and a sustained low-interest environment. Despite these economic and demographic realities, in addition to other challenges, the outlook for the annuity marketplace is shining with unlimited opportunities.

As a participant in this industry for almost three decades, I have seen many boom and bust markets. Periods of high interest and periods of low interest. New regulations and legislation. However, I have never witnessed such a shackled economy or regulatory and litigious fever. Nonetheless, our industry has always met challenges with innovation and creativity. The fixed indexed annuity, for example, was the answer to a sustained soft bond market. Meeting challenges with innovation is the story of our industry and a story in which we can all take pride.

At the NAFA Annuity Leadership Forum, held June 19-21, we announced the launch of SAFE, the Society for Annuity Facts and Education whose mission is to provide accurate, easy-to-understand information about annuities and their role in insuring retirement saving and retirement income. SAFE has been a NAFA dream for many years and together with our strategic partner, Insurance Insight Group, we have made it a reality. In May we filed it with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) charitable education organization and developed the SAFE website at SAFE will provide consumers unbiased and fact-based information about fixed annuities and a platform to inform and promote their value in a financial or retirement plan.

NAFA has much more in store for our members and our industry in 2012 and continuing in 2013, including this second edition of NAFA Annuity Outlook Magazine and the launch of an iPad app for digital content and selling tools. Stay tuned for more from NAFA with new market research and analysis to help you grow your annuity business. Included in this is a new behavioral study from Jack Marrion that will help increase your annuity sales opportunities.

On the meeting front, we head into fall with our third annual IMO Summit, to be held October 17 – 19, 2012 in Scottsdale, AZ, where we will bring the nation’s insurance marketing organizations together to network and share information about the challenges and opportunities their businesses face. Initial topics include debit balance management, IMO compliance and one-source solutions to help IMOs access agent licensing, appointment, product training and CE status as well as the status of submitted, pending and issued annuity business. IMAC, the Insurance Marketers Advisory Committee, is utilizing NAFA’s unique membership of carriers, vendors and insurance marketers to leverage development resources, company and product aggregation and cost efficiencies to bring to NAFA IMO members.

Finally, our industry faces another challenge with the loss of Wendy Carlson Waugaman who died of cancer June 18, 2012. I was given the unique opportunity to work closely with Wendy through NAFA’s participation on the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council; a dream of Wendy’s that began immediately after our victory over 151A. Wendy was a thought-leader, a cheerleader, an astute legal and business groundbreaker, and a mentor to everyone she touched. Wendy took the time to help guide me and transition my professional and personal skills learned in the corporate world to apply them differently and strategically in the association world. I am very grateful for the opportunity given to work with Wendy. She will be sorely missed by the association, its members and me. From all of us at NAFA, thank you Wendy and may you rest in peace.

Kim O’Brien
President and CEO, NAFA

Kim O’Brien is NAFA President & CEO. NAFA membership represents over 85% of all premium for fixed indexed, declared rate and income annuities written through the independent distribution system. Kim has over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry beginning as in 1981 as office manager for an insurance agency. In 2002 Kim developed and ran her own marketing organization and received the 2002 Entrepreneur Award from Sun Life. In between, Kim worked as a marketing executive for major insurance companies and was responsible for their annuity and term life insurance product line development, marketing, and training processes. In 1993, Kim served as interim deputy director of the Wisconsin Department of Insurance under Governor Tommy Thomson and served Governor Thompson until a permanent replacement could be found. In July 1992, Kim was the first women in Wisconsin to pass the CFP exam established in 1991 by the CFP Board as a single comprehensive examination modeled after the licensing examinations given to attorneys or Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Kim O'Brien received her BA from Ripon College, her MFA from the University of Northern Colorado, and an MBA with an emphasis in Economics from Edgewood College, Madison, Wisconsin. In 2008, Kim was accepted into the Juris Doctorate program at the William H. Taft Law School and completed her first year and passed the preliminary California Bar as required before continuing her degree. She has recently re-instituted her studies to begin this summer after a hiatus due to her NAFA workload. As an avid musical theater fan and dancer, Kim has directed or choreographed over 60 shows in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin. She lives with her husband and college sweetheart of 39 years, Kelly, in Phoenix nestled in the Thunderbird Conservatory she enjoys hiking the mountains with their Irish setters.

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