With Name Change, ICPA Welcomes Financial Services Meeting Planners - 2005-10-24

The Insurance Conference Planners Association anticipates that its membership will approve a name change this fall that officially welcomes financial services meeting planners into its fold.

The 48-year-old organization is expected to unveil its new name — Financial & Insurance Conference Planners — at its annual meeting Nov. 6-10 in New York City.

"We have said in the past that we'd like to embrace planners in the financial services sector, and the old name has always been a stumbling block," said Michael Burke, manager for conference and travel services with Allmerica Financial in Worcester, Mass., and the current president of ICPA.

"We had incorporated financial services in the tag line, but not the name of the organization, and that wasn't enough," Burke said. "Incorporating financial services in our name is important, especially in selling the concept to corporate decision-makers who approve the organizations their planners join."

ICPA has been moving for some time to expand its membership to included industries synergistic with insurance. In 2004, the organization, citing a desire to reach out more aggressively to United States-based financial services members, moved its headquarters from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Chicago. Association management firm SmithBucklin now manages the organization there.

"And then there's the changing nature of our business," said SmithBucklin's Steve Bova, who serves as ICPA's executive director. "Mergers and consolidations in the business show that a lot of our meeting planner members work for companies that do financial services, or that do both insurance and financial services."

The name change is part of an overall rebranding of the organization, noted Burke. While the needs of insurance and financial services meeting planners overlap, the organization plans to develop educational programs specifically targeted to serve the financial services meeting planning sector.

In addition, Burke said the organization will work to bring in as members hospitality partners that heretofore have worked solely with financial services firms.

Two-thirds of ICPA's membership must approve the name change to Financial & Insurance Conference Planners. Burke said he expects it to gain approval "overwhelmingly."