Kevin Mayeux, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) (naifa.org) started as an association management professional with a legal background who transitioned to the financial services field in the late 1990s, driven by a desire to engage different aspects of his skills. NAIFA marks his fourth executive-level affiliation with an association.
NAIFA’s primary goal is to provide individuals with the tools and guidance needed for financial success and security. This includes financial planning, access to protection products, life insurance, disability insurance, long-term care insurance, college savings, retirement plans, and investments for financial security.
A Journey Through Diverse Experiences and Lifelong Affiliations On The Path To Leadership
Before his tenure at NAIFA, Kevin’s career journey was marked by diverse experiences. He holds a BA and JD from the University of Florida, and his strong personal affiliation with institutions and organizations is rooted in his educational background. His connection with the University of Florida remains active, as he serves on the University of Florida Alumni Board.
After a brief stint as an attorney, Kevin transitioned into the role of Executive Director for the Florida Student Association. Subsequently, he took on the position of CEO at Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, Inc. During this time, he gained a profound appreciation for membership associations, drawing from his own experiences as a fraternity member.
Kevin’s career shift from law to finance was not without its risks, but he saw it as an opportunity to utilize his talents in a way that would have a significant impact on people’s lives. He views advocating for trusted financial advisors and comprehensive financial planning as an admirable pursuit, making the transition worthwhile.
Kevin also served as the Executive Vice President, Chief of North American Operations, and General Counsel for the Institute of Internal Auditors. In this role, he honed his leadership skills while overseeing a full-time staff of 80 and managing operating revenues of $32 million in North America.
Before joining NAIFA, Kevin garnered expertise working with nonprofits, gaining a deep understanding of how associations function, which differs from for-profit entities. He learned to build productive partnerships between elected volunteers, professional staff, and field volunteers to meet members’ needs. He believes in recruiting quality individuals, sharing a common vision, fostering unity, ensuring transparency, and celebrating successes.
Over his eight-year tenure with NAIFA, Kevin found inspiration in their mission within the financial services industry. His motivation to join NAIFA stemmed from their dedication to helping everyday Americans, including school teachers and police officers, achieve financial security through tailored financial planning. Leading an organization that empowers individuals to make a meaningful contribution to society deeply resonated with him.
In addition to his role at NAIFA, Kevin’s approach to life is guided by a belief in the brevity of existence, motivating him to explore various business opportunities and experiences. He’s an entrepreneur with multiple business ventures that include record labels, restaurants, and film production.
Empowering the Next Generation of Leaders in Financial Services
The insurance industry has undergone significant consolidation and continues to be highly dynamic since Kevin’s involvement. His leadership style is centered around the identification and promotion of the next generation of talent. His most significant achievements stem from creating an environment that fosters individual growth by offering support and encouraging ideation and collaboration.
Kevin firmly believes that trust is essential within a team, regardless of members’ seniority or positions, and that providing a space where everyone’s opinions are valued and new ideas are welcomed is crucial for an organization’s well-being. He’s committed to maintaining open lines of communication, which he believes allows people to achieve more together and navigate the inevitable challenges that come with any business. Kevin is convinced that organizational success is not the result of a single individual’s efforts but rather the collaborative work of a team that shares a common goal and a unified commitment.
Kevin observes that the United States boasts a rich history of associations playing pivotal roles in various industries, and NAIFA’s history dates back to 1890. The enduring legacy of NAIFA, having persevered for over 130 years through wars, pandemics, civil rights changes, and more, instilled in him the confidence that the organization can and will continue to adapt to societal changes while remaining steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding the financial security of Americans — a truly inspiring prospect.
Kevin firmly believes that every American deserves the opportunity to attain financial security and independence. Thus, it is a profound honor for him to work on behalf of the professionals who provide these opportunities. NAIFA members play an indispensable role in assisting individuals, families, and businesses in managing financial risks and achieving significant goals, such as securing retirements, funding their children’s education, building generational wealth, and helping employers offer valuable workplace benefits.
With a career in association management and a strong belief in the financial services sector, Kevin found that assuming the role of CEO at NAIFA was a perfect fit. Each day, he draws inspiration from NAIFA members who continually motivate him to strive for excellence. Their unwavering passion for their profession and their profound pride in both their country and the work they do are infectious, serving as a constant source of motivation.
Navigating Challenges, Transforming Tradition, and Thriving Through Adversity
Kevin thrives on challenges, finding them both fulfilling and motivating. Challenges validate the meaningfulness of his work and stoke his unyielding desire to tackle even greater hurdles. In the dynamic realm of the insurance industry, Kevin confronted a continuous stream of obstacles, always striving to stay ahead by anticipating future trends. His core mission revolves around creating a favorable policy environment, accommodating new groups without losing sight of the organization’s essence, and enhancing operational efficiency.
One of Kevin’s major undertakings involved transforming NAIFA, a 128-year-old organization, with a rich history. Organizations can sometimes become entrenched in outdated practices, adapting to evolving societal, communication, and business landscapes an intricate task. Restructuring NAIFA, dissolving century-old bylaws, and shifting from a 128-year-old federated model to a top-down structure presented formidable challenges. Kevin’s leadership ensured member involvement in the transformation, with volunteer leaders collaborating to drive this monumental change.
Navigating the emotionally charged process was no small feat. Some members perceived the modernization as an attempt to erase their organization’s history. Kevin’s resolute commitment and careful decision-making led to a successful implementation of the transformation. Despite resistance and initial setbacks, many skeptics later embraced the new direction with enthusiasm. NAIFA experienced growth and increasing strength, attracting interest from other associations seeking mergers.
The COVID-19 pandemic added another layer of adversity, but Kevin and NAIFA’s leadership persevered. Their prior technology modernization efforts allowed for seamless operations using tools like Zoom. The organization had already embraced virtual professional development sessions, which accelerated their adaptation to the pandemic’s challenges.
Despite being traditionally reliant on in-person interactions, NAIFA’s resilience, technology-savvy approach, and unwavering determination helped them not only weather the storm but thrive. These experiences have enriched Kevin’s leadership skills and provided valuable lessons.
NAIFA’s Vital Role in Financial Services and a Vision for Success
NAIFA, the United States’ largest and most venerable professional association for financial services experts, stands firmly on the foundation of advocacy. Their collaborative efforts with legislators nationwide aim to champion NAIFA members’ critical work, securing tax-free death benefits, expanding access to risk protection products, and cultivating a retirement-friendly financial environment.
Founded in 1890, NAIFA underwent a significant transformation during Kevin’s 2019 tenure as CEO. Under a five-year strategic plan, Kevin and NAIFA’s volunteer leaders secured membership approval for bylaws changes that modernized the association. This restructuring ensures seamless coordination between NAIFA’s national headquarters, state and local chapters, and community-based affiliates. This harmonious operation allows them to provide consistent advocacy, education, and professional support to members across the country.
Kevin’s extensive background in association management, particularly chapter-based models, played a pivotal role in leading NAIFA’s transformation. His prior experiences and expertise proved invaluable, with strategies tailored to NAIFA’s unique requirements. Recognizing the deep connection between NAIFA members and their association, stemming from their unwavering commitment to financial security, Kevin upholds the values that set NAIFA apart. His focus on maintaining a culture of integrity and innovation within the team ensures that NAIFA’s core values of advocacy, education, and differentiation remain at the forefront.
In a shifting insurance industry landscape that increasingly favors independent advisors, NAIFA fills the crucial role of providing education, training, and a supportive community. This is particularly vital for smaller independent advisors who may not have access to comprehensive training from larger corporations. While technology offers convenient direct-to-consumer options, many individuals still seek personalized guidance from advisors to address their unique financial needs.
Through education and differentiation, NAIFA ensures its members are well-prepared ethical professionals committed to their clients’ financial security. Every year, Kevin and his management team set comprehensive goals and monitored from the CEO to entry-level staff, emphasizing continuous improvement and maintaining strong relationships through regular surveys.
A Bold Future for NAIFA in Financial Services
Kevin’s ambitious vision for NAIFA’s future is founded on key objectives, with a strong focus on driving membership growth, enhancing the organization’s brand, and elevating the overall membership experience. This vision is being realized through the implementation of the NAIFA 2025 Strategic Plan, which gives prominence to these core areas.
At the heart of Kevin’s vision is the broadening of NAIFA’s community to encompass diverse financial services professionals, including financial advisors, insurance agents, attorneys, accountants, administrative experts, product specialists, and corporate executives. These individuals converge under the NAIFA banner to collectively advocate, educate, and distinguish themselves through NAIFA’s professional development, grassroots initiatives, and leadership programs.
In parallel, NAIFA is on the verge of finalizing a merger with the Society of Financial Service Professionals. This strategic move bolsters NAIFA’s position in the financial services industry, cementing its leadership in the sector. A significant aspect of Kevin’s vision is the reinvigoration of the LUTCF designation. The redesigned LUTCF program is set to relaunch, serving both American and international markets. This revitalization aims to equip agents and advisors for success in their careers and the establishment of their own practices.
Through these initiatives, complemented by the array of professional development products and services from the Society of Financial Service Professionals (FSP), NAIFA is securing its place as the premier professional association in the financial services realm. The primary focus remains on ensuring that NAIFA members are not only the most ethical but also the most educated professionals in the industry.
Nurturing the Next Generation in Insurance and Financial Services
Being a thriving leader in the insurance industry comes with its fair share of challenges, but Kevin recognizes that an exceptional team can make it more manageable. The insurance and financial services sector is home to many brilliant and motivated professionals, and Kevin has had the privilege of closely collaborating with numerous of them.
While the industry undoubtedly presents its own set of obstacles, from the ever-evolving laws and regulations to economic uncertainties and an aging workforce, Kevin views these challenges as opportunities to make the work more vital and rewarding. In 2023, his exceptional leadership was acknowledged by the US Chamber of Commerce’s Association Committee of 100, solidifying his status as one of the top leaders in his field.
For Kevin, a crucial aspect of effective leadership is nurturing the next generation of leaders. His role as a Board Member of the University of Florida Alumni Association has provided him with opportunities to mentor recent college graduates, guiding them in developing their leadership skills.
At NAIFA, Kevin actively encourages younger members to take on leadership roles within their association. NAIFA has also developed programs tailored to help students and young professionals evolve into influential leaders. The Future Leaders Program, for instance, introduces college students to the financial services profession, educating them on how to become leaders within the industry, the association, and their communities.
Kevin underscores the urgent need to address the shortage of professionals in the financial services field, a challenge that rivals the shortage of nurses and doctors. High schools and universities across the country are actively working to rectify this by introducing financial literacy requirements and offering financial planning and insurance tracks. NAIFA is at the forefront of these efforts, making students aware of the rewarding career opportunities in financial services, especially for those who are passionate about making a positive impact and wish to pursue entrepreneurial paths.
A Driven Leader Balancing Work, Life, and Advocacy
If Kevin were to define himself in one word, it would be “driven.” As the CEO of NAIFA, his role is multifaceted and demanding. His typical workday commences early with a meeting of the Executive Committee, consisting of the Immediate Past President, President, President-Elect, Secretary, and Treasurer. This early gathering is dedicated to addressing emerging issues in near real-time.
Following the Executive Committee meeting, Kevin engages in regular calls with senior staff, industry leaders, other association executives, key partners, and media outlets. These interactions ensure transparency and accountability to the stakeholders who invest their time and resources in NAIFA.
Kevin and his team prioritize maintaining an agile organizational structure, avoiding excessive bureaucracy and red tape. They understand that swift decision-making, based on available information, is crucial for innovation, and they are willing to adapt their decisions as new information emerges. This adaptability has proven highly beneficial for NAIFA.
Identifying as a servant leader, Kevin underscores the importance of looking after others and inspiring people through service-oriented leadership, reflecting his commitment to a higher ethical standard. During the pandemic, NAIFA smoothly transitioned to a virtual environment, maintaining strong member retention and satisfaction. The pandemic provided an opportunity to reevaluate business practices and enhance their blend of virtual and in-person operations. Their adaptable approach and investment in technology helped them not only survive but also grow.
Regarding work-life balance, Kevin finds a way to balance his driven work ethic with personal life and encourages his team to do the same. In his view, a balanced life is essential, and every day should be cherished. Maintaining this balance is crucial for Kevin and his team, who are motivated by the awareness that their success is directly tied to the success of thousands of insurance and financial advisors. Advocating on their behalf and helping them thrive is their core mission.
Kevin derives motivation from knowing that his work contributes to Americans preparing for retirement, funding their children’s education, overcoming financial challenges, and achieving the American Dream. He is a strong advocate for taking downtime to recharge and encourages his staff to do the same. Travel is one of his preferred ways to refresh and energize, and he advises his team to ensure they take their vacation time and pace themselves to avoid burnout.
Outside of work, Kevin cherishes the companionship of his loyal dog, Maximus, with whom he enjoys taking long walks in his home in Orlando. He also maintains a vast network of friends throughout the country and delights in attending football and soccer games, concerts, and socializing with new acquaintances, all while staying connected to family.
Inspiring Progress, Genuine Impact, and Leaving a Lasting Legacy
As a leader, Kevin’s primary goals are to contribute to the success of any organization he’s affiliated with, help individuals associated with these organizations, and lead fulfilling personal and professional lives. He aims to inspire progress, make a positive impact, and leave a lasting legacy. While he acknowledges progress, he believes there is more work ahead to continue uplifting and inspiring success.
When asked about personal achievements, Kevin recognizes that there’s still much to accomplish on the journey. He believes in consistently working towards making a difference in various aspects of life. When asked about the one word that defines him best as a leader, Kevin chooses “genuine.” In conclusion, his message for aspiring leaders is to be genuine, strive to make a difference, and make the most of the limited time on this planet by being a good parent, spouse, and member of their community.