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President's Message

Posted By Heather Steffans, 2020/21 UPPO President, Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Updated: Monday, May 25, 2020

I am truly honored to serve UPPO as this year’s president, and I am excited to lead the organization as we work through the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and build on our past successes.

 

As you know, in March 2020, we had to cancel the UPPO Annual Conference due to the pandemic. The conference is the organization’s largest source of revenue. Fortunately, UPPO has done a fantastic job investing and has reserves in place. As stewards of members’ investment in UPPO, your board of directors put together the Financial Impact Task Force to evaluate the overall effect of the cancellation and recommend initiatives to increase revenues or decrease expenses to minimize the impact.

 

The board has also instituted the UPPO Patron Program, which recognizes member companies that contribute to UPPO above and beyond membership dues. This assistance may come in the form of monetary donation or a product/service with monetary value that saves the organization money. Several companies have already qualified by donating all or part of their annual conference fees to UPPO.

 

In addition to the unexpected challenges we are currently facing, UPPO continues to work on four key areas of our strategic plan.

 

Advocacy

Legislative and regulatory action defines what we as unclaimed property professionals do. Since the development of RUUPA, activity in statehouses across the country that affects us has accelerated, making our advocacy work more important than ever. Our important initiatives to continue building our advocacy platform include:

  • Encouraging members to use their second seat to provide UPPO with their companies’ government relations contact for expanded grassroots efforts.
  • Publishing frequent blog posts highlighting our advocacy work.
  • Continual fine-tuning of our GRAC’s work groups for peak effectiveness, focusing on the five priority issues as identified by you, the members of our association. 
  • GRAC member participation on industry focus conference calls, monitoring trends and listening to the industry specific challenges for consideration.
  • The development of a charter for the Holders Coalition, which identifies legislative, regulatory and policy issues of interest to holders of unclaimed property and communicate their positions to appropriate stakeholders.

 

Public Perception

Misperceptions about unclaimed property persist. We will continue to work on our strategic plan objectives to clarify our role as holders, explain the role of claimant representatives and build a better understanding of unclaimed property among owners, holders and stakeholders. Some of the steps to achieve this include:

  • Promoting increased member use of our LinkedIn group, expanding the knowledge footprint and overall perception of unclaimed property.
  • Leveraging the Claimant Representative Committee’s work, such as its recent research about state unclaimed property return rates, to improve understanding of their role.
  • Considering additional methods of communication, such as podcasts, to expand our outreach.

 

State Relations

Building constructive relationships with the states helps us all do our jobs better. We continue to work toward strengthening these relationships in pursuit of fair standards and greater uniformity. Initiatives to achieve this include:

  • Looking for opportunities where our communications can benefit members and the states alike, such as our recent blog post about unclaimed property extensions in light of COVID-19 disruptions.
  • Develop and carry out enhanced marketing efforts for promoting future conference attendance to state administrators.
  • Working together to help ensure a successful implementation of the NAUPA III format once completed.
  • Continue to refine our proactive outreach to legislators and stakeholders regarding our five priority issues and to promote consumer and compliance friendly laws.

 

Education

UPPO continues to be the best source of education for unclaimed property professionals. UPPO took the feedback of our members into consideration and, under our new membership structure, we are opening all our live webinars throughout the year to members with no additional registration fees, which is a huge benefit. Other education-related projects include:

  • Exploring the viability of developing an accredited certification program.
  • Analyzing alternative guidelines for the certificate program for increased participation.
  • Seeking additional feedback about member preferences and ability to use various education delivery platforms, such as virtual learning.
  • Developing an on-demand library of past webinars.
  • Refining our content development process to ensure webinars and industry focus conference calls address top priority issues.
  • And, finally, leverage surveys to gain a better understanding about your needs to better serve the membership.

As you can see, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Fortunately, this organization is filled with passionate, talented professionals who consistently step up to share that passion and talent for the greater good of our organization.

 

I’ve been a part of this wonderful association for 22 years participating in just about every committee possible and have formed lifelong relationships. I am excited to be your UPPO president this year, and I look forward to the progress we’ll make together.

 

Heather Steffans

2020/21 UPPO President

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