January 18, 2017
My Year as SILA President
featuring Sam Meyer
Q: Can you please describe the SILA organization?
A: SILA is an organization of licensing and compliance professionals from the securities and insurance industries. Currently, the organization consists of a little over 1800 members nationally.
Licensing is complicated, so SILA members are given the opportunity to share best practices, network with industry contacts, and many other valuable tools that SILA offers. One of the fastest growing and more hands on opportunities includes participation in the SILA subgroups. These subgroups are an excellent opportunity for people to become involved directly in the organization and work with their peers on a committee level on topics most relevant to them. Here is a quick list of the 7 current groups.
- SILA Agency & Carrier Subgroup (SACS)
- SILDA Adjuster Licensing Subgroup (SALS)
- SILA Call Center Subgroup (SCCS) ← SILA's newest subgroup
- SILA Education & Training Subgroup (SETS)
- SILA Regulatory Impacts Subgroup (SRIS)
- SILA Securities Industry Subgroup (SSIS)
- SILA Surplus Lines Subgroup (SSLS)
SILA members consist of not only licensing professionals, but state insurance regulators are involved as well, allowing members to speak with them directly. The SILA National education conference, for example, is a major event that attracts nearly 800 license and compliance professionals across the country. It is a 3.5 day event not only for education, but for the opportunity to speak with the over 40 state regulators about state compliance.
With so many resources— to both people and material— and the opportunity to influence and get involved in the industry, membership is important for every industry professional no matter their experience.
Q: Why did you run for SILA president? What inspired you to become involved in the organization?
A: I started involvement with SILA in 1992 as a state insurance regulator. I learned early on that among all other organizations I was involved with throughout my insurance career, I had never been involved with one that provided such an immense amount of benefit for the members. So, I decided very early on that I wanted to become more involved when the time permitted. Ultimately, I established a goal in 1992 to one day become SILA president.
As the years went by, I served on various committees and in every capacity on the board. Then finally, the opportunity to serve as president became a goal accomplished. Accepting the position as SILA president was not only a dream come true, but it also gave me the opportunity to give back to an organization that gave so much to me.
Q: What was it like balancing your work at Vertafore and your work with SILA?
A: Throughout my career I've always worked very long days. So, I scheduled my Vertafore work during daytime hours when I could maintain contact with our clients, and performed my SILA responsibilities at nights and on weekends. I did, of course, participate in conference calls and meetings for SILA when necessary.
It was my goal to set a new standard by not conflicting my Vertafore business with SILA. Although everybody knew who I worked for, I made sure to keep them separate. I would strongly urge not only Vertafore employees, but others who are not involved in SILA to get involved. It's a wonderful networking opportunity.
I will always be thankful to Vertafore for the support they gave me throughout my term because you can't accomplish something like this without the support of your employer.
Q: What was the time and travel commitment?
A: As president, I attended two national board meetings, the SILA National Conference, four chapter meetings, and additional board, finance, and executive committee meetings on a monthly basis. I also served on SILA subgroups and tried to attend as many of their calls and meetings as possible to stay in touch with all aspects of the organization.
For my travel requirements though, the organization did not fund board member travel, so I was lucky to have such great support and sponsorship from Vertafore. I combined SILA trips with Vertafore customer meetings. For example, during some of the chapter meetings I visited state and industry clients on the same trip. It was a pretty serious time commitment and I couldn't have done it without the support of Vertafore.
Q: What were the greatest accomplishments during your tenure?
A: Since funding was not provided by the organization for executive board member travel, I wanted to change that for 2017 and beyond. I'm happy to say that we accomplished that goal and in moving forward the SILA president, president elect, and executive director travel to national and chapter meetings is now funded by SILA. This was a huge accomplishment because I knew moving forward that if we did not have funding in place for travel, several qualified individuals would not have the opportunity to serve. Now that we've accomplished that, companies can permit the time for meetings without having the burden of the expense. We can truly get the best candidates for the job without any restrictions or conflicts of interest.
We had several additional goals that we accomplished this year including:
- Increase SILA digest subscriptions
- Grow chapter participation
- Work with our partners to promote SILA via their websites — Several organizations are currently participating
- Reinvent a method in which we deliver state updates during the SILA National Conference during sessions — Robert Commodore of Minnesota made a major change in how we deliver
Personally, I had a few goals to ensure I served the organization as best as possible including:
- Attendance of at least 1 chapter meeting for each chapter to stay involved and provide SILA updates
- Assist Diana Ivey and the new communications committee
- Address the PLWG at 2016's two NAIC meetings to provide SILA reports and updates
Q: What was the highlight of the year for you?
A: The highlight was having the opportunity to represent Vertafore and give back to the SILA organization.
Q: What lessons did you learn?
A: I have been in the industry for a very long time. As such, I have been given the great opportunity to work with a lot of individuals and organizations— none as talented, accomplished, and professional as Diana Capes. In my involvement with SILA before being elected president, I didn't realize how much Diana and her staff do. They do an incredible amount of work on behalf of this organization and I was able to see that in working directly with her and her team. I am truly impressed.
Q: What was your experience working with other SILA leaders and/or members?
A: In my position, I became close with the executive committee because they were alongside me driving the entire train. I got to work with past president Dierdre Patton; incoming president, Donna Robinson from Physicians Mutual; and president-elect Jeff Lehman from Nationwide. Serving with these individuals and the entire board was a great experience because it takes a high level of commitment to take on these positions and each of them excelled.
Q: What advice would you give to the new SILA President, Donna Robinson?
A: I would tell her to serve with an extremely high degree of integrity and professionalism, which I truly believe she will. And to always keep in mind the reputation of the organization. I would also tell her to attend as many national and chapter meetings as her schedule permits to deliver the SILA message wherever possible.
Q: Now that you've retired from Vertafore and passed the torch to Donna Robinson, what's next?
A: This year, I will serve as past president on the executive committee and participate in the February board meeting in Orlando along with continued involvement in SILA subgroups. I will also attend chapter meetings and this region and of course, the 2017 SILA National Conference in September. I will continue promoting SILA at every opportunity whatever that happens to be because it is a great organization.
I strongly encourage participation in the SILA organization for regulators and all in the securities and/or insurance industry— it is the best opportunity to socialize and work with your peers. In speaking with SILA members, they would tell you that their best professional relationships were made through SILA and the SILA events. Once you're involved, you can pick up the phone for advice or any information regarding compliance. The networking is truly valuable.
I want to thank Vertafore and the SILA organization again for the opportunity to serve. I am truly lucky to have had the support of my company and to represent such a great organization.
Sam recently retired from his nearly 15 year tenure as a National Account Director for Vertafore Sircon solutions of East Lansing, MI. Sam's responsibilities included government software sales, account management and customer relations. Sam also coordinated software implementations with national insurance education providers. From 1992 to 2003 Sam served as Assistant Director of the South Dakota Division of Insurance. During his term as Assistant Director of Insurance he served as a member of numerous NAIC Working Groups including Co-Chair of the Producer Licensing Working Group. Prior to his state insurance regulatory experience, Sam was an Independent Insurance Agent in South Dakota and actively involved in both the IIAB State and National Associations. Sam most recently served as the 2016 National President of the Securities and Insurance Licensing Association (SILA) and is actively involved in the SILA Adjuster Licensing Subgroup (SALS) and the SILA Education and Training Subgroup (SETS). Sam and his wife Libby, who currently works for Vertafore, reside in New Braunfels, TX.