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Advocacy in action blog

NAIFA’s Congressional Conference kicked off Tuesday with a Day-on-the-Hill meetings preparation session and legislative issues briefing. The sessions gave attendees information, insights, and tips they will use today, as nearly 600 insurance and financial advisors present a unified voice on Capitol Hill, advocating on behalf of their industry, practices, and clients in meetings with their senators and representatives.

Advisors from all 50 states will talk with lawmakers about the crucial products and services they provide individuals, families, and small businesses. They will ask Congress to support legislation to promote retirement savings – the SECURE Act (H.R. 1994) and RESA (S.972) – and to join or continue to participate in the Financial Security Caucus.

NAIFA President Jill Judd led off Tuesday’s meeting with a message to attendees on the importance of advocacy and advisors’ active participation in NAIFA. She told them that their personal stories make them uniquely qualified to be effective advocates. Their stories are also important for elected officials to hear.

For those who might be wondering if they have a story relevant to members of Congress, she said: “If you have one client, you have a story to tell. If you have talked to one client about retirement, financial security, or life insurance, you have a story.”

NAIFA CEO Kevin Mayeux spoke on the power of NAIFA’s membership promise and its key concepts – “Advocate. Educate. Differentiate” – and how they relate to the advisors’ meetings on Capitol Hill.

“Advocate on behalf of yourselves and your businesses, your colleagues, and your clients,” he said. “Educate lawmakers about the crucial ways you serve your clients and communities and how their decisions can help or hinder your efforts. Differentiate yourself from others promoting opposing interests to ours and those of our clients. Provide a unified message with personal stories that set you and your clients apart. Wear your NAIFA pins, so our elected officials relate to this symbol of our collective power.”

Featured speakers Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) reinforced that NAIFA members have an impact when they meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“If you want to be a resource for me,” Grassley said, “don’t wait for me to call you, you call me.”

Walorski told advisors who have come to Washington from across the country: “The power of your message is ten times more coming from you than it is coming from your professional advocates, because you made a real effort to be here.”

“I’ll work with whoever will work with me,” she added, speaking on the SECURE Act. “One of the biggest bipartisan victories this session is going to be on your issue.”

Grassley reminded NAIFA members that citizen advocates are an important part of the legislative process. “You have a right to talk to your elected representatives, and we have a responsibility to consider what you say,” he said. “If we are going to have a representative government, we have to have dialog.”

And that dialog, when it involves NAIFA members, has an impact, because of the power of the message and because of the large number of NAIFA Day-on-the-Hill participants, who attract notice within congressional office buildings. “When NAIFA is in the House, we listen,” she said. “You fill a lot of elevators.”