SILA’s Annual Education Conference: An Insider’s View
SILA (Securities and Insurance Licensing Association) has existed for over twenty-five years. It has grown and developed over the years to be “the” insurance licensing conference to attend; actually no others exist that cover licensing for all lines of authority, licensing compliance, and interaction among attendees and departments of insurance (DOI) regulators.
When I attended my first annual SILA conference in 1995, it was attended by a small group of insurance company licensing administrators, and several state regulators. At that time the regulators had limited understanding and knowledge of the actual interworking of the insurance companies’ side of the business, and the insurance companies did not understand exactly how DOIs ran their businesses. Insurers just knew that the DOIs were the insurance licensing regulatory bodies for each state. Also, very few agencies attended, as the SILA conference wasn’t geared to their side of the business. As time passed, licensing administrators and regulators shared information and now understand each other’s roles, helping both to interact successfully as they now see each other as allies rather than enemies.
Throughout the years SILA has grown to provide direct interactions among DOIs, insurance companies, and agencies. The best part of SILA is access to information that would not be readily available elsewhere. Informative breakout sessions provide learning on just about anything from line of authority to details about background investigations, continuing education, product-specific training, and commissions hot topics. You can also listen as state regulators give updates on the latest happenings and new and proposed regulations and statutes. It is an excellent platform to network among your peers and talk one-on-one with state regulators. The best part is, you don’t have to worry about a regulator going back to the office and taking actions against your company because of what you told them. It is kind of an unwritten law that what happens at SILA stays at SILA.
The first time I attended my first annual SILA conference, I felt completely lost. I didn’t know what to do, where to go, what sessions I should take, or who to ask. But on the first day I met someone who had attended regularly and she became my mentor. Regardless of who I asked for suggestions, directions, or even where to go for breakfast or lunch, everyone, and I repeat everyone, went out of their way to help me. Now as SILA has grown, and over eight hundred people and vendors attend, they have a session on Sunday afternoon for “first timers.” Although that session is specifically for “newbies,” veterans also attend to give advice on what to expect and how to get the most from the conference.
I can’t say enough about SILA as a conference and as an organization. I have worked in insurance licensing for over twenty years, and I owe much of my success to SILA. I know many regulators personally and they know me (because I attend the annual conferences), and that has been invaluable. If you are concerned you will not fit in or that you will feel lost or out of place, do not fear. It will be the best experience in your career in insurance licensing.