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Case Study: Thinking Critically About Membership Structure

AMS client, the Association of Home Office Underwriters (AHOU) was founded in 2002 through a merger of the Home Office Life Underwriters Association (HOLUA) and Institute of Home Office Underwriters (IHOU). AHOU is dedicated to advancing the underwriting profession, the education that helps support it, as well as the careers of those who work within our industry. AHOU believes in helping underwriters further their understanding of mortality, morbidity and risk management in order to advance their careers.

In 2018 the AHOU’s Board of directors began to see a need to think critically about AHOU’s membership structure. Individuals would reach out to staff saying their company was already a member when a company membership level was not part of AHOU’s membership structure. The challenge faced by the board was how to change the membership structure effectively to make meet the shifting needs and expectations of the industry.

Meanwhile in early 2019, AHOU launched company plans for its education program, Advance360 which allowed companies to grant access to all of its employees. The success of this program helped shape the vision for a new way to approach membership, eventually named the Company Access Plan Membership. The Company Access Plan included four different sized membership levels that allowed for companies to engage with AHOU based on their needs. Access to the Advance360 educational program, then became a benefit of the company membership. The Executive Counciland staff anticipated that this new structure would help to engage the industry and reach a greater number of underwriting professionals.

AHOU launched its new membership structure in December 2019. Over the last six months, it has exceeded expectations. Three of the four plans have exceeded the 2020 budget. There has been positive feedback from members that find the new structure to be cost effective and easier to manage. Currently, AHOU plans to keep the same structure for the next few years, evaluating for future improvements. At the end of the year, AHOU will analyze company member engagement. The effectiveness of the new structure will be put to the test when companies are asked to renew their membership for 2021.

As can be clearly seen from the example of AHOU, periodic review of an association’s value proposition and funding structures allows the association to evolve and remain relevant in a rapidly changing world. When engaged to conduct a value proposition or membership program analysis, AMS’s expert staff use a variety of research methods to solicit feedback from internal and external stakeholders and conduct environmental scans of comparable organizations. AMS’s analyses are presented to clients with recommendation for action which AMS can execute upon the client’s approval.

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