If you are like most meeting planners I know, you want to be recognized for your strategic contributions to your company. I urge you to understand more about the industry you work in. It's easy to get so inundated with your ever-increasing daily workload that you don't take the time to read beyond the stock-market ticker. While every company operates differently, keeping current about the insurance or financial services niche your company falls within will help you to understand the big picture—and may help you to get a seat at the table with the C-suite. I am reminded of this when having conversations with senior-level meeting planners who have a direct line to their execs and are invited to attend internal business meetings. They are well-respected because they take the time to stay educated and up-to-date not just on the details of meeting planning, but also on their industry.
For example, a topic that came up recently is the importance of understanding the implications of industry ratings, because this is one way that your execs—and your company's customers—filter their perceptions of the company. Ratings have a more subtle influence on the future of meetings than do the perception problems caused by the "AIG effect," but they are closely monitored by the C-suite. When company ratings are downgraded, there's a snowball effect that can cause revenue to plummet and meetings to be canceled. Conversely, if ratings are upgraded, execs will expect bottom-line improvement and greater consumer confidence—and they will feel more positive about moving forward with meetings and incentive programs.
Here are a few of my favorite Web sites for industry intelligence:
• For insurance and banking industry news and ratings, visit www.ambest.com/about. This content-rich site includes A.M. Best Co. ratings for seven insurance sectors and for the banking industry.
• For financial services industry news, check out www.smartbrief.com/signup/index.jsp. Go to the "finance" heading and select from a variety of free e-newsletters called "SmartBriefs" from various sources, including The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the Financial Services Roundtable.
• For the point of view of your company reps, try registeredrep.com. This site of our sister publication Registered Rep is a good source for news and commentary on securities and employment law, wealth management, and other financial-management issues.
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