Message from the C-Suite: Incentives Work!
Dan Young, CLU, ChFC, LLIF, CMP
Director, Event Planning and Field Recognition, Thrivent Financial
What has FICP membership meant to you?
A: I joined FICP in 1995 just after getting responsibility for the major incentive conferences of Lutheran Brotherhood (which later merged with Aid Association for Lutherans to become Thrivent Financial). That was the beginning of my mentor relationship with Tom Joyal, who taught me about event planning and caring for the customer. Through FICP, I have developed relationships with meeting professionals all over the world. It's an extraordinary career that allows me the opportunity to show how much our company appreciates the hard work and dedication of our financial representatives as they serve our customers and members. FICP programs and resources have helped me to build a team of professional event planners who have an amazing career opportunity.
What are your priorities for your term as FICP president?
Our association's top priorities are being identified now through our annual planning process. My role will be to make sure we stay focused on those plans for the benefit of the membership and HP community. As president, my job is to make sure plans are in place, resources are allocated and aligned, and goals are achieved. With SmithBucklin as our partner, we are one of the most successful associations operating today. We are financially strong, connected to our members and the industry, and in spite of some difficult economic times, delivering value and services to our membership. Though we have seen a drop in total membership, we have not seen a significant drop in companies represented. And we welcomed 51 new members this year (through August).
This is a challenging time to be taking the gavel. How can FICP provide the most value to members?
We can provide the most value to our members by helping them provide the most value to their companies. With education and development opportunities provided by the association that are specific to our industry, we can help planners position themselves as invaluable resources for their corporations. Our department proves on a daily basis that we deliver more value than we consume, to the point that we can prove that with actual event expense savings and delivering quality events that have impact, we cover our department's costs to the organization. Every corporate event-planning department should be able to demonstrate that kind of value. We need to teach our members how to do that. And our hospitality partners need to help us in that quest.
What is your perspective on the future of meetings and incentives in the financial and insurance industry?
I recently surveyed our company's top executives and asked them this same question. The answer came back: “Incentives work!” In light of the economic crisis and perception issues regarding corporate meetings and events, we have had to make adjustments. We have to deliver our meetings and events with the same perceived value, but at a lower cost. I think that is true for everyone. We have to be better stewards of our corporate resources. But we also have to remember that our most important asset is our sales force. We need to reward, recognize, and compensate them well as they take care of our most precious asset — our members and customers. So, we have more to balance these days and more people to answer to as we design meetings and incentives.
We have just been given the green light to start planning incentive events in 2012 and 2013. We have a major annual development event scheduled out to 2014. So, the future for meetings and incentives is bright. Events like these build culture and morale, improve retention, and deliver experiences that become part of the lives of the participants. Is there really an alternative?
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