In the mid – 1990’s, Monumental Life Insurance Company of Baltimore hosted a major gathering of its insurance agencies that marketed the company’s insurance products to financial institutions. Called the “Winners Circle,” it was attended by approximately 85 client-agencies. That meeting provided the fertile grounds for certain old and new friends to gather again later to share common interests.
In June 1995, that meeting list, and also names from other similar membership lists, were passed around by Roger Johnson and William Mills. In November 1996, letters went out to agencies inquiring about a new meeting. The result was a group of seven agencies, who agreed to attend the first meeting on February 3rd, 1997 at the Atlanta Airport Marriott. That group was to become the nucleus of AFIB. The attendees were Dan Heidenreich, Ed Spriegel, Jerry Yurick, Larry Rovens, Roger Johnson, Wayne Dupuis, William Mills, Greg Mills, and William Mills, Jr.
The topics discussed at the first meeting could be characterized as, as one attendee put it, a little “short.” The attendees were then (and still are), very opinionated business owners and agency owners. Looking forward, the attendees also discussed speakers for their next meeting and assigned the various duties to arrange for the hotel and food accommodations.
At the Atlanta meeting, it was decided to name the group, “Associates of Financial Institution Brokers,” a change from the earlier “Associates of Insurance Brokers”. Prior to the next meeting, scheduled for Chicago in June of the same year, the name mysteriously changed to the current, “Association of Financial Insurance Brokers.”
At the Chicago meeting, AFIB took shape. The group began creating ByLaws, and voted in its first Officers. The purposes of the Association emerged. To network with fellow agents. To share product knowledge, market intelligence, and ethics. To develop a meeting environment that would be attractive to insurance providers (vendors) to attend and present their products and services. In short – to assist in agency sales.
Some topics were complicated, and took time and cooperation to resolve. One topic was the ultimate size and scope of AFIB. For example, how many members should it have? Guidelines to these, and other issues inherent to any Association, would not be immediately agreed to.
In the following years, as AFIB grew, it adopted a smooth methodology to invite and approve new members, to handle the officer selection, and to provide an attractive environment for the vendors (now called Affiliate Members).
The cost of membership changed often to reflect the growing and evolving makeup of the association. Meetings became regular. AFIB met in another country, on a cruise ship, and in almost every part of the continental U.S., so all members would have their home region introduced to all.
AFIB has established itself as a leading, influential resource for those agents and insurance providers who serve the insurance and fee income needs of financial institutions. This has been accomplished in only a few short, remarkable years.
AFIB has not yet met its peak, and the prospects of learning about new, innovative products and solutions at each meeting are still great!