What a year. Congress first overhauls healthcare insurance with crazy quilt regulations, and now financial services regulatory reform has arrived. While you have heard Joel Wood, our senior vice president of Government Affairs, lament the healthcare changes, financial services is another matter, at least as far as insurance brokers go. 

After too many years to count, we finally have surplus lines reform. Insurance brokers will save money simply because less than a year from now convoluted state regulation will have been streamlined. Everything will be regulated at the home-state level, adding some sanity to our often nonsensical regulatory system (for more details, read our cover story, “Brokers Without Borders.”) Brianne Mallaghan, The Council’s new communications director, and a new contributor, wrote it.

A lot of the success on surplus lines reform is due to Joel’s years and years of building coalitions on Capitol Hill. As he has told you many times in his column in this magazine, it is much easier to kill something in Congress than to actually get something passed. It takes an average of seven years to get a new idea passed into law by Congress. Of course, our founding fathers wanted to make it difficult so only the most important ideas were actually enacted—and that says a lot about this particular provision in the financial reform legislation.

The House of Representatives realized the import of surplus lines reform years ago and voted in favor of it during the last several sessions. But the Senate, with its arcane rules and turtle-like pace, was much more difficult. Perhaps they need a little help with some surplus-lines-like energizing of the Senate rules and procedures.

I can’t imagine the relief Joel must feel to win a big one for our industry after so many years, but he will quickly tell you there is always more to be done. A case in point—although healthcare reform has been passed by Congress, we now face eight years of initial rule making. And then, no doubt, Congress will pass new laws to tweak the system again.

Rob Lieblein is as concerned about healthcare reform as Wood. In this issue Rob takes another look at where he believes the healthcare market is going and sounds the alarm. A lot of folks don’t like what he is saying, but frankly, our job is to keep on saying it. We can’t close our eyes to what the Health and Human Services Department is likely to do. We have to learn and change with the future. Part of our mission at Leader’s Edge is to explain things before they happen, which is a lot of what this issue is about. Use this information to improve your business. 

One guy who understands change is broker Johnny Pitts of Memphis, Tenn. He took a small, family-run firm and built it into a powerhouse using a unique marketing tool.

I’ve talked with Johnny for many years, and we are finally getting around to uncovering his gem of an idea for the rest of you.

After you read Louise Lague’s story about Pitts’s “Breakfast Club,” if you don’t steal his idea and run with it, well, you’re just not the marketing wizards I thought you were. Johnny has put together a monthly breakfast program that not only attracts other businesses under his firm’s umbrella, but enables them to network with guest businesses in a very aggressive, yet passive, way. And all the while, he is bringing in new business.