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2009 Winter Meeting -- Tuesday, March 3

The LOMA Society of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul held its Winter Meeting on March 3 at Edinburgh USA in Brooklyn Park. Following a buffet dinner, Society President Genevieve Stadtler welcomed the attendees and conducted a brief business meeting.

The evening’s keynote speaker was Bill Gould, Second Vice President, Individual Actuarial & Finance, from the Minnesota Life Insurance Company, who delivered a presentation entitled, “Challenges & Opportunities for 2009.” Mr. Gould’s talk began with a recap of the dramatic financial downturn in 2008. It was noted that the equity markets declined from 30-50% and the market capitalization of public insurers plunged. Many companies experienced substantial losses. Yet, the life insurance industry fared better than most. Investments are generally of a higher quality and there is often a longer duration on liabilities. Additionally, cash flows remain strong and there has been far less leverage in the industry. However, Bill noted that we could clearly expect more government involvement as a result of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) and the Capital Purchase Program (CPP), the new federal assistance programs. However, insurance companies must form or buy a bank holding company in order to be eligible for TARP/CPP assistance. Many major companies have applied for assistance, including Hartford and Prudential. The insurance industry can also expect additional regulations from the various regulatory agencies such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the state insurance departments. Yet, there may be opportunities for regulations to become more focused, which could improve certain aspects of the regulatory process. Mr. Gould also noted that one overriding issue is consumer trust, which is paramount to our industry. Rating agencies will take a hard look at the industry and greater emphasis will be placed on liquidity, solvency, and diversification. More companies may find themselves in financial distress and there may be additional consolidations and acquisition opportunities. Bill concluded his insightful and engaging talk by commenting that insurance products did not drive these current problems. A “flight to quality” is occurring and prudent companies will be rewarded even in these difficult times.

At the conclusion of the meeting, door prizes were awarded and the Society’s upcoming Spring Seminar on May 19, 2009 was announced.