FINANCIAL SERVICES PLANNERS CAN JOIN ICPA In recognition of the converging world of financial services and its own need to grow its membership, the Insurance Conference Planners Association is now welcoming members from financial services companies in addition to traditional insurance companies.

"The marketplace is changing," says Brett Barrowman, director of travel, conference, and corporate events, American Fidelity Group, and ICPA's vice president, membership. "We needed a framework for accepting new members who fall outside traditional insurance companies." In fact, he notes, the companies of existing members are going through so many changes that ICPA was well-advised to amend its bylaws so as not to exclude any of them.

Members overwhelmingly passed the bylaw change at ICPA's November annual meeting. (For more on the meeting, see the ICPA Newsletter, page 33.)

"Some members think financial services companies are the competition. Yes, they're the competition: Let's try to learn from them," says Barrowman, adding, "This is not going to greatly expand our membership, but we needed to have this mechanism in place."

ICPA President Lynn Averill, director of travel and conferences at National Life of Vermont, makes a similar point: "We're not throwing it wide open. Members still need a connection to insurance. But we have to grow. There are existing members who are not renewing. Our attendance at the annual meeting is staying steady." To some extent, this stagnation in membership is not surprising, given the number of mergers in the industry, which often finds meeting departments being consolidated.

Both Averill and Barrowman say that membership retention is a goal for the coming year.