An annual tradition at the MAIA’s Big Event, the Arbella Gourmet Luncheon this year honored outgoing MAIA President & CEO Francis A. Mancini, Esq.
Massachusetts insurance professionals turned out in full force to pay homage to Mr. Mancini’s legacy both at the MAIA and in the Massachusetts insurance industry.
Mass. agent and current Big “I” Vice-Chairman Joseph Leahy led the tributes and introductions prior to Mr. Mancini’s keynote address. Mr. Leahy highlighted the work Mr. Mancini has done over the years to help turn around the MAIA and to make it the successful association that it is today. Following Mr. Leahy, Big “I” Chairman Bob Rusbuldt, Mass. agent and National Director of the IIABA as well as friend, Raymond D. Gallant and Massachusetts Senator Thomas McGee also gave warm words and thanks to Mr. Mancini for his work on behalf of independent agents over the years.
In his own speech, Mr. Mancini spoke of the contributions that the past and present members of the association’s board of directors, and predicts that the association will be in good hands with its incoming CEO designate, Nick Fyntrilakis. Looking forward, Mr. Mancini said the he was confident the association would have a successful and relevant future for Massachusetts independent insurance agents because of the backbone of the association and its dedicated staff.
For those agents who were unable to attend the sold-out event, Mr. Mancini was kind enough to allow us to reprint his thoughtful remarks at the luncheon summing up of the state of the MAIA before he retires on December 31.
After introductions and a standing ovation, Mr. Mancini began:
For those of you who are here every year, you know we are always on a tight schedule. [Laughter]. This is Heather’s first convention and she’s looking at me now telling me to move this, move this thing along. We’ll just try to do that. Thank you very much. I appreciate everyone being here this afternoon.
I didn’t know who was going to be speaking here before sitting down here at the table. Joe, Bob, Ray, Sen. McGee, thank you very much for your kind words.
You talked a little bit about my success as the CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents, but I can tell you that really a great deal of the credit for any success that I have can be attributed to the individuals who have served on the Board of Directors over the last many years, many of you who are here today, and to the professional staff of the Association.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of independent insurance agents who has served on the Association’s Board of Directors. The volunteer efforts of these individuals have had a significant impact on me and my career and on the strength of the agency system in Massachusetts. These are committed professionals who give of their time, talent and experience on behalf of their fellow independent insurance agents. They deserve the gratitude of all of us for their efforts in maintaining the agency system as the distribution channel of choice for Massachusetts consumers.
The MAIA staff is its lifeblood. They make the Association work. No problem that a member has is too small for the MAIA staff to do all it can to solve that problem. Regardless of the time or effort necessary. We call it ‘retail association work.’ They accomplish a great deal more. The tremendous training session, this wonderful convention each year. Legislative and regulatory advocacy among much more. I can’t say enough about the professionalism and dedication of the MAIA staff. I am very proud of what MAIA accomplishes on behalf of our members and the credit goes to the twenty-nine individuals who make the MAIA staff.
It has been my privilege to represent Massachusetts independent insurance agents for four decades. I am a true believer in the men and women I represent and continue to be the biggest supporter of the American Agency System in the Commonwealth.
Since my start in this business I have heard so many times about the demise of the independent insurance agent. Currently, both nationally and here in Massachusetts, the word is out that this is a last stand for the independent agent. Recently, I saw a headline that read, “MIT Spin-Out Raises Two Million Dollars to Replace Human Insurance Agents with a Robot.” So, it seems that independent insurance agencies have evolved from being replaced by a cave man [GEICO 2004 ad campaign] to being replaced by robots. So, I hope that robot can help the insured when she has her ice dam claim. [Aside by Mr. Mancini sotto voce: “I know that’s not funny” followed by rich audience laughter].
Regardless of the death-knell claims, independent insurance agents are still here and continue to play a significant role in the Massachusetts economy and marketplace. MAIA’s most recent economic impact study shows that independent insurance agents contribute over one billion dollars to the Massachusetts economy annually, employ over 10,000 insurance professionals, and provide wages and benefits of over 800 million dollars.
Massachusetts independent insurance agents’ share in the market place is impressive as well: controlling 74% of the personal lines and 83% of the commercial lines.
While I truly believe independent insurance agents will continue to play a significant role in the Massachusetts marketplace. But, we must be realistic that the current assault on the American Agency System is unprecedented. The American Agency System will survive. No buggy-whip makers are among us. But independent insurance agents and their company partners cannot remain stationary, but must be aggressive and embrace the tools and technologies that will assure survival in the insurance marketplace of tomorrow. As Massachusetts independent insurance agents navigate the terrain of the evolving marketplace, I can assure you that the MAIA will be there to assist in preserving the role of the independent insurance agent in this marketplace.
So let me finish with a look at the future. My successor as CEO, Nick Fyntrilakis, has been on board now for a few months and has been a keen learner of everything MAIA. His background in the insurance industry, his experience with the legislature and regulatory agencies, and his good grasp of community and public relations will all serve him well in his new position. Nick is the right person for this job and I’m extremely confident that he and the accomplished staff at MAIA together will continue to provide the independent insurance agents of Massachusetts the advocacy they expect and deserve.
The Big Event, each year, brings together hundreds of professionals and others who serve the industry in various capacities. One of the most significant aspects of this event for me is that it is evidence of the close-knit community Massachusetts independent insurance agents have and that MAIA has a great deal to do with that. I am very proud of the organization, that is MAIA. So, it’s been my privilege to represent Massachusetts independent insurance agents for almost four decades. As I end my career at the close of this year, I will leave behind what I hope will be viewed as an association that fulfilled its obligation to its members and is in a place just a little bit better than I found it.
[Second prolonged standing ovation]
 Agency Checklists, November 15, 2015, “Independent Agents: A Billion Dollar Force in the Bay State”