You are here:HomeNews CenterNews About PIA2004For Len Brevik, PIA National's New Executive VP and CEO, the Future is Bright

For Len Brevik, PIA National's New Executive VP and CEO, the Future is Bright

Len Brevik is a man in a hurry. The future is bright, and he can't wait to get there and bring everybody with him....
June 3, 2004

By Ted Besesparis
Vice President, Communications
PIA National

Len Brevik is a man in a hurry. The future is bright, and he can't wait to get there and bring everybody with him.

The new executive vice president of PIA National and CEO of PIA Services, Inc. learns from the past, but his focus is always on the future. And the future Brevik sees, both for the American Agency System and PIA's role in it, is one of growth and prosperity.

Len Brevik assumed his new responsibilities on April 1, 2004 at PIA's national headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia just outside Washington, D.C.

"You can't quite see the Capitol Dome from the PIA building, but if you hop in your car and the traffic isn't bad, you're there in about eight minutes," said Brevik. "We always say PIA is headquartered in Washington, D.C. People think the Academy Awards are presented in Hollywood, but the ceremony is actually a few miles away, in Century City. The point is, we're where we need to be."

Len Brevik

Len Brevik, executive vice president of PIA National and CEO of PIA Services, Inc.,  at the association's Alexandria, VA headquarters

Brevik was appointed to lead PIA following an extensive, nationwide search process. The PIA National Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve his selection.

From 2000-2003, Brevik served as chief marketing officer and vice president of business development for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisers (NAIFA).

Previously, from 1989 to 2000, he held executive positions with the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA) and its subsidiary organizations. During that time, Brevik was executive director of two subsidiaries, the Agents Council for Technology (ACT) and Future One. Brevik also served stints as that association's director of state government affairs, vice president of state government affairs, chief information officer and senior vice president of association affairs.

"PIA, and the organizational culture of PIA, is a much better fit with my own personal philosophy and the way I like to do things," he said.

Brevik said PIA is a much more nimble, focused and dynamic organization. He also noted that PIA's organizational structure puts the real power in the hands of agents across the country, rather than concentrating it at the top of what can become a cumbersome bureaucracy.

"PIA is a bottom-up organization, a grassroots driven organization," Brevik said. "We believe that decisions are best made at the local level, where people live, work and conduct their business."

"When an agent becomes a member of PIA, he or she is not just another cog in the wheel," he said. "Our members truly determine our association's policy and direction. That's one of the big reasons PIA's views are highly respected - by legislators, by regulators, and by our carriers. When an agent joins PIA they become PIA, because our members are PIA.  It's our culture as an association, and our culture is very different than that of other associations."

The Goal is Growth

Ask Len Brevik what he wants to accomplish as the executive in charge of PIA National, and you hear many individual goals, but one overall priority: growth. Growth in products and services. Growth in membership, in every state. Growth in PIA's influence. In Brevik's view, the only direction to take is up.

One thing Brevik cares a bit less about is the past.

"It's important to be fully aware of where you have been to guide you as you go forward," he says. "PIA has a depth of experience and a body of knowledge that far surpasses that of any other organization that attempts to serve professional insurance agents.  The trick is not to get mired in the past. I intend to spread the word that PIA is open for business - and PIA is going to be growing, and doing a lot more. I am focused on right now, and on the future of PIA. And the future of PIA is bright."

Brevik sees his role as helping to grow the pie, to look at programs and services that agents need and bring them to fruition. "One of our senior vice presidents, Pat Borowski, talks about how the 21st century is the time when agents are going to flower," he said. "There are so many great things that are happening. PIA is here to lead."

State Regulatory Reform

One of the areas where Brevik sees PIA taking the lead is in the ongoing fight to preserve the principle of state regulation of insurance, while at the same time encouraging the industry and state regulators to implement the reforms needed to ensure that the system works efficiently.

"On this issue, there's both good news and potentially bad news," Brevik observed. "The good news is that the key players in Congress have made it clear that the issues of optional federal charters and a federal insurance 'czar' are non-starters. PIA is vehemently opposed to both of those ideas. But the bad news is, if the states fail to enact a sufficient level of modernization quickly enough, Congress may try to move toward federal regulation."

Brevik said that's why it is important that the reform agenda go from the states to Congress, not vice versa. "PIA is firmly committed to functional state regulation of insurance. At the same time, there also needs to be coordination. We realize that each state cannot be a fiefdom unto itself, because our agents write business in multiple states."

"We are at a crossroads right now. That's why PIA's strategy is to work the reform agenda up through the states to Congress," he said.

Future of the Agency System

One area where Brevik says things are not at a crossroads is on the future of the independent agency distribution system. He notes that predictions of the demise of independent agents seem to occur in cycles, with such predictions never coming true.

"One of the first days I was in the office, I pulled out of our library some of the back issues of PIA's publications," he said. "We have an archive that goes back to when we were founded in 1931. I decided to take out one year from each decade, to get a feel for the history of PIA."

"One thing I discovered was the amazing regularity with which such predictions were made. It seemed to happen every 10 years or so. Literally, the so-called industry 'experts' were saying that agents were going the way of the horse-and buggy," he said. "The thing is, this was said in the 1930's, then in the 1940's, then the 1950's, continuing on up to today."

Brevik said he suspects if you could do a forensic trace on the source of such rumors, the trail would lead back to the banking community.

"The fact is, the agency system is growing. That's because consumers want choices and independent agents offer choice," Brevik said. "PIA agents are Main Street, not Wall Street. They're able to tailor their products and services to the individual and that's a fundamental difference from other financial services providers in the marketplace."

The Future of PIA

The can-do attitude that permeates everything Len Brevik says and does extends to his goals for growth in PIA membership.

PIA is going to grow. He states it flat-out. There's no doubt about it, it's just the way it's going to be. He points out that in the past year, 14 of PIA's state affiliates experienced membership growth, and one state in particular, Florida, recorded 33 months of consecutive membership growth.

"The key to the long term success of PIA as an association goes right back to the members of PIA," Brevik says. "We are here to help our members grow and succeed. The better we do this, the more members we will attract. It's a cause-and-effect relationship," Brevik said.

"PIA is the best association for agents. We are better than any other organization. That's why PIA is going to be here for a long, long time."

This article originally appeared in the May 2004 PIA Connection.

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