Kempthorne Addresses NAIFA’s Congressional Conference

During NAIFA’s Congressional Conference currently under way in Washington, D.C., the President and CEO of ACLI, Governor Dirk Kempthorne, highlighted the great work agents and advisors do each day as they help their clients work toward a secure financial future. Kempthorne’s riveting speech was a source of inspiration to many in the audience as they prepared for meetings with their lawmakers.
 
“You speak for the aspirations of people who work hard, who protect their families and hope for a good life beyond their working years,” he told the NAIFA members who had come from all over the nation. “You speak for the sound judgment and commonsense of America. You speak for a great profession with a vital mission. You’re in the business of clarifying the obvious, and helping men and women to keep command over their own fate.” 
 
It’s not a leap in logic to say that the more people who make that decision, the more people who make provisions for their future and their family, the better off our whole country will be, he said. And he advised members of the audience to let this truth be the starting point when they meet with lawmakers and make their case on Capitol Hill.
 
The products and services agents sell help America solve some major problems, he continued. Just consider the state of the country’s major entitlement programs. For generations, the government has committed to taking care of people in times of need and in old age. Yet, all of us know that the liabilities are there, but not always the assets. 
 
But many young people are still willing to pay in to Social Security, for example, even though they expect to receive pretty much nothing later in life. There is a lack of confidence in the fiscal integrity of the system.
 
You won’t find anything like that among the people who do business with you, he told the audience. No purchaser of life insurance or an annuity ever says, “Yes, I keep paying in, but I doubt the company will ever really pay out when needed.” Instead, customers know that they are covered and that their families will be taken care of, no matter what happens.
 
Their minds are at ease because your word is as good as it gets in any business, he said. “We in this industry do not deal in the world of the wishful or the speculative. We deal in the world of guarantees … of assets kept in reserve … of promises kept to the letter, no matter how distant the day.” 
 
For longer than any federal entitlement program has existed, the life insurance and annuity business has thrived by keeping the numbers straight and making good on contracts. Some 75 million families have turned to our products, he said, and they know they can count on them. That’s 75 million families that will never have to depend solely on the government or on a run of good luck.
 
This might lead one to think that the value of the industry and its work are obvious. But that is not the case, he said. Some critics say that the products are too complex and that the industry should be taxed more heavily and regulated more strictly.
 
These critics, he pointed out, can be found on the sidelines, questioning your motives for being in the arena. President Roosevelt addressed those critics, he said, noting that people who spend their lives “in a worthy cause,” who at the best know in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if they fail, at least they fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. “I’ve met many of you through my years in the industry,” he said. “There’s not a cold or timid soul among you.”
 
And that is why NAIFA members who are in D.C. today are needed. “We need your leadership in our upcoming battles … one of those battles involves industry taxes,” he said.
 
And while some proposals might want to change the tax treatment of the industry’s products, the industry again has the advantage of being in a straightforward position. “We support economic growth and fiscal responsibility and are ready to work with Congress to help make that happen so that more Americans can work and live out their dreams.”
 
For the same reason, he added, we would not support tax changes that are just tax increases by another name, especially if they make our products more difficult for people to afford.  
 
Taxing life insurance

The idea of taxing life insurance was proposed during the Civil War but failed because there was an unanswerable argument against it. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts said it made no sense for the federal government to tax people who had in essence taxed themselves. “The principle of not taxing life insurance has stood from that day to this. And if it needs further defending, we are ready,” he said. 
 
If the goal is to help people escape or avoid poverty, this industry has been on the case from the earliest days of the Republic. “And the more we succeed in our work today, the less government will have to do,” he said.
 
Industry traits

Certain traits of character underlie the financial-services industry, he pointed out. Whether it’s prudence, discipline, responsibility or self-reliance, they also happen to be the virtues of a free people. Not every business is designed to bring out the finer qualities of its customers, but that’s what this business does every day, he added.
 
When a job involves stakes so high, so long-lasting and so personal, it’s really more than a job, he said. It is a calling. “When people do their most serious thinking, you’re the ones they turn to,” he said. “When people confide their deepest concerns and wishes alike, you’re the ones who do the listening. When hope and fear come together in a person’s mind, inspiring that all-important decision to provide for those they love, you’re the ones they trust to get it done.” 
 
And while others go to the Hill in search of a solution, NAIFA members are a solution--The Main Street, private-sector solution, to augment the government safety net so that declarations of independence can be declared by millions of Americans for themselves and their loved ones time and time again.
 
Telling the NAIFA story

Although the industry has lots of data to support its huge financial contribution to the nation, it needs more than data. “Sure, it wins us allies,” he said. “But it is the personal stories that you own … of Americans from all walks of life, from all levels of income, whose families have escaped the tyranny of dependence through our products … that turn allies … into champions.”
 
“Win their minds,” he told the audience, “and they’ll applaud you. Win their hearts, and they’ll fight for you.”
 
He also asked the attendees to imagine the word “insure” over the doorway of every member of Congress before they enter their office. “When you meet with them, explain exactly why it should be written not just over the member’s door, but over every doorway in America,” he said. It should be written:
  • For financial independence
  • For personal responsibility
  • For a lifetime of dignity for yourself and your family
“This is a great and noble cause,” Kempthorne concluded. “You, my friends, are not the problem. You are the solution.” 
  • Posted May 20, 2015 IN


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