Eight benefits of joining a professional association
We celebrate the start of the month of May with Worker’s Day. Whilst we may have taken the day to relax and spend some well-deserved time with our families, we may also use this day (and month!) to reflect on our professional development as workers.
Membership to a professional association is often viewed as a key contributor to the development of workers in a particular industry. We recently asked Marisa Grundling, lecturer in the School of Financial Planning and Insurance about the importance of professional associations and the benefits it holds for workers in the insurance fields.
Firstly, what is a professional association and what is its purpose?
Marisa explains, “A professional association is an association that seeks to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession, and the public interest. Being part of an association provides members with a competitive advantage, because they become active and informed members of their industry. In the South African insurance industry, we have many different associations distributed by type of insurance, area of expertise, type of company, geographical area of operation and even gender. “
What are some of the benefits of joining a professional association?
Marisa says that networking is probably one of the main benefits of joining a professional association - you get to meet leaders and specialists in the field.
For students, Marisa points out, joining a professional association is a win-win situation, because they will be networking with professionals who are eager to mentor incoming workers as they transition into the corporate world.
2. Professional development
Secondly she notes that in terms of the Fit and Proper requirements of the FAIS Act, a professional needs to keep up to date with all the latest developments in the financial services industry. The Act implemented the requirement for Continuous Professional Development (CPD). These CPD hours need to be accredited and serve as an ongoing education for all professionals. Professional associations host these events for free or at a minimal cost to their members.
Professional associations also play a large part in the higher education arena. Marisa explains, “They have designated committees, learnerships, workshops and senior management courses that they arrange in association with Higher Education Institutions.”
Professional associations also offer bursaries and internships for students and people wishing to enter this field of study.
4. Keeping up to date with legislative developments
Adding on to the benefits already mentioned, Marisa notes that a professional association will send out regular newsletters noting the latest developments and prospective legislation. This ensures that you and your company will stay up to date with compliance regulations and can implement prospective legislation in time.
5. Codes of conduct
In the highly regulated sphere that we work in, ethics plays a major role. Most professional associations have codes of conduct noting best practices that their members live by. Marisa stresses the importance of these, “This in return professionalizes the industry, giving it and the people credibility and trustworthiness. “
One of the key goals for professional development is often the attainment of a particular designation. Marisa explains that professional associations also hold special designations for members with specific educational and experience levels. It is a way of seeing your career evolve, climbing the corporate ladder. It also brings the pride that comes with the notation of a designated title.
7. Social responsibility
An aspect that is equally as important is giving back. Marisa notes that professional associations provide members with a means to give back to the community via outreaches, sponsorships and fundraisers. She adds that you can also offer your time to assist your community.
Last but not least, is the opportunity to connect with prospective employers. Particularly in today’s economic environment with unemployment at an all-time high, Marisa highlights this as a very important benefit.
In conclusion, Marisa says, “Joining a professional organisation is beneficial for your own professional development and the future of your company. The connections you will make, the resources available to you and the ideas and advice you will get, represent an outstanding return. It could turn out to be one of the best things you could do for yourself!”
We thank Marisa for her time and the key insights she has shared about the importance of joining a professional association, and the difference it can make in our professional lives!
Interview with Marisa Grundling, Lecturer - School of Financial Planning and Insurance
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04 May 2020