Dan Young, CLU, ChFC, LLIF, CMP, is director of event planning and field recognition at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, where he manages a nine-person department. He has been anmember for 13 years and volunteered to serve on the board in 2006, with his term ending in 2009. He serves as FICP's vice president, membership.
What aspects of meetings management do you find the most satisfying?
A: Designing our incentive conferences — they are so important in developing field morale and retention. Our team gets tremendous satisfaction from producing great conferences with high qualifier satisfaction levels. Also, I look forward to coming to work every day because of the great people on our event team.
What are the biggest changes you've seen in the industry in the past five years?
The attitude of our incentive qualifiers toward travel — the travel experience has gotten so difficult these days that many people are really starting to ask themselves if making a trip is even worth the effort. Once they get on site, we try to help them forget about that and we work harder to make sure the on-site experience is superb.
Today, what are the greatest challenges for financial and insurance meeting managers?
Creating more with less and providing unique experiences every year for our incentive conferences. We carefully invest in the right conference elements to get the most return on our spend. One technique is working with our entertainment companies and speakers bureaus to find talent that has not come on to everyone's radar screen and booking them before their fees go up.
You showed a hidden talent as an emcee for the Education Forum this year. How has this ability — and the sense of humor you showed — come in handy in your meeting planning career?
There are a lot of people who wish it had remained a hidden talent! I actually changed majors in college to get out of a public speaking class. My first job at Lutheran Brotherhood, sales training, required that I be up in front of a class of sales reps teaching almost 30 hours a week. With four years of that, I got experience speaking in front of a group and had to develop a sense of humor to keep the material interesting. I also started doing emcee work at our conferences when I was a regional sales manager and I continue to do that.
What has membership in FICP meant to you?
A lot. I can literally go anywhere in the civilized world, pick up the phone, and meet with someone I know in this industry. I really can't imagine another industry where people care about each other's success so much.
What are the responsibilities of FICP's vice president,membership?
Grow membership! Our goal this year is 600 planner members after our new high last year of 525. If I don't reach that goal, President Kerr is going to have me drawn and quartered by Canadian Mounties on horseback. Then she'll post it on You Tube as a warning to the next VP membership! She's a tough Canadian and a great president!
What are other membership goals for 2008 and beyond?
Tapping into the financial services planner opportunity has been a recruiting focus this year. We have discovered that it's hard to define what “financial services” is, so we are coming out with a definition this fall that will give us better direction in financial planner recruitment.
Where do you believe FICP should put its focus going forward?
Four areas: First, a strong and viable chapter system. It could be the key to member recruitment and retention. Second, a Web site second to none in supporting the needs of planners and hospitality partners in idea sharing, research, and learning. Third, developing strong leadership teams. We have a lot of untapped talent in this organization. Fourth, helping our planner members learn ways to deliver greater value to their companies and prove their value to their organizations.