Greetings from the Great White North! I have just experienced my first ICPA board meeting and have quite a to-do list in front of me. One of my more exciting to-do's will be to pick up where my predecessor left off in growing our membership, with a special focus on our associates in the financial services sector.

Each year, ICPA members are asked to renew their membership. In these times of mergers and consolidations, budget constraints, and positions being eliminated, we are not guaranteed that a member will be able to automatically renew. So while in essence we go back to the starting point each year, now it is more important than ever to gain access to potential new members through referrals, either from other planners or our hospitality partners.

One of the questions I have been asked recently is, “How much are you looking to grow the numbers?” I know that some people fear that growth will cause us to lose some of the intimacy for which ICPA has always been noted. But growth is important to sustain our membership, particularly in these changing times. I truly believe that we will never lose the sense of camaraderie that comes from participating in the regional meetings, the summer forum, or the annual meeting. Individuals who join this association tend to be a passionate group who are willing to share ideas freely and give of their talent willingly. That's one of the key benefits of being a member of ICPA.

Speaking of sharing information, another topic that we'll be focusing on as a board is ensuring that our members update their online profiles regularly. In fact, this topic was discussed at this year's annual meeting during the Planner Exchange. A motion was made from the floor (and agreed to by those in attendance) to include a step in the renewal process where we complete the online profile at the time of renewal. For most of you, this will only be a matter of updating the information already in place. For those of you who haven't taken the time to fill out your profiles in the past, it may take up to 10 minutes, but it will be well worth it. Over and over I hear planners complaining about the amount of unsolicited e-mail and mail that they get. We all need to take responsibility by having our information updated online. This way our hospitality partners will be able to ensure that you receive the information that is pertinent to the type of business that you do and that the information is delivered in a timely manner.

I encourage each of you to continue to participate in your ongoing education by attending your chapter meetings, the summer educational forum, and the annual meeting. For more details on ICPA or any of these events, please visit www.icpanet.com.

With kindest personal regards,

Catherine K. Wittke, CMP
Senior Conference Consultant
Manulife Financial

Save the Dates!

July 22-24: Summer Educational Forum, Park Hyatt, Washington, D.C.

Nov. 14-18: Annual Meeting, The Grand Wailea, Maui, Hawaii

For more information on all ICPA national and regional meetings, go to www.icpanet.com.

March/April 2004

The Official Newsletter of the ICPA, an association of insurance and financial services conference planners