We are back from the 2005 ICPA Annual Meeting in New York City at the amazing New York Marriott Marquis and what an outstanding meeting! We celebrated a record number of planners in attendance. Congratulations to the Design Team led by Debbie Boschee, the Hospitality Partner Committee led by Tina Strauss, and all of the staff at the Marriott Marquis for putting on one heck of a show.

FICP has experienced many positive changes this year and one is the impact of increasing our membership. Please consider the phrase “FICP membership is strong,” and allow me to dissect a few key words:

FICP stands for Financial & Insurance Conference Planners. It's the same organization as the former Insurance Conference Planners Association (ICPA) and the same organization that has published a newsletter in this magazine since its inception. Association members voted overwhelmingly last fall to accept restated bylaws that gave their association its new name.

Membership is the lifeblood of our association, for without members, FICP could not exist. Members include meeting, conference, and event planners who work for an insurance or financial services organization, or who work under contract for an insurance or financial services company. Closely affiliated with our association are our many hospitality partners representing hotels; convention bureaus and tourism offices; destination management companies; cruise lines, airlines, and rail trains; and audiovisual production and entertainment companies.

Strong represents recent growth. For the past several years, largely due to industry mergers and acquisitions as well as other uncontrollable factors, membership in this association was stagnant. Three years ago, the membership voted to include planners who work for financial services companies.

However, the decision to accept planners from the financial services community was not enough to convince them to join. The association needed to demonstrate a deeper strategic commitment to this segment. After exploring the issues in depth and developing a strategic plan that committed to rebranding the association, building value in membership, and enhancing education, the association was prepared to take the next steps.

In the meantime, industry consolidations continued and many insurance companies became insurance and financial services companies. Many of our members who used to work strictly in insurance are now finding themselves planning meetings for their financial services divisions as well.

During the past year, FICP has experienced a net membership growth of 13.6 percent. Much of this growth is attributed to increased confidence from former members who have rejoined, and to the emergence of those from the financial services sector. Admittedly, holding the annual conference in a mega-financial center like New York City had a lot to do with our recent growth! And I should not fail to mention the great partnership our association has with our hospitality partners and what they contribute in building our membership. They are a tremendous asset in recruiting new members to our association, and I applaud them.

Sustained Growth

The foundation has been laid for a promising future. As of November 30, 2005, there were 449 active planner members — the most in the association's history. But the association can become only as large as the insurance and financial services niche allows. Sustained and controlled growth will allow FICP to offer enhanced educational opportunities, conduct industry research, partner with other organizations, and carry more clout within the meetings profession. Everyone will benefit.

In the coming months, FICP will start to market the association in different ways as part of its rebranding efforts. The Web site will receive a new look in 2006, and a brand positioning statement will be developed to help communicate who we are and what we do

Our theme in 2005 was, “Be a Part of It.” If you or a colleague have thoughts on how to improve the association, please call or send headquarters an e-mail, or contact a board member. We remain committed to improving the association and ask for your feedback in the form of constructive ideas that will help your elected board members continue to shape the future of FICP.

We at FICP realize that you have a choice in your professional affiliations and value the support and confidence that members have shown over the years. Our members really are our greatest asset!
Vice President,