Under the leadership of IAFF Financial Corporation (IAFF-FC) Chief Executive Officer Ed Kelly and the Board of Directors, Kurt Becker has been appointed Chief Operating Officer of the IAFF-FC. A wholly owned subsidiary of the IAFF, the IAFF-FC provides financial services and investment and insurance products to members and their families.
Becker, a 22-year veteran fire fighter and affiliate leader with the Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri, began his new role on June 1 and immediately began a thorough analysis of the IAFF-FC and its programs. The first order of business is to determine gaps in financial offerings.
Becker expects to relaunch and re-introduce the IAFF-FC to IAFF members with more financial offerings targeted to the specific needs of members, particularly those approaching retirement. A dedication to best practices and an attention to the needs of IAFF members will drive all decisions.
“We are pleased to have Kurt Becker as the new COO of our Financial Corporation,” says General President Ed Kelly. “He has the managerial experience and strong work ethic needed to get this job done and our members can trust that he will always work for them.”
Becker served for more than 22 years as a fire fighter for the Clayton Fire Department, just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. He joined the ranks of the Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri and served as shop steward and later as District Vice President. Becker also served as District Field Service Representative for the 2nd District, a role that allowed him to work with and get to know other affiliate and IAFF leaders.
As a union leader, Becker took on numerous complex projects, including educating members on retirement planning and representing the 2nd District on the IAFF Standing Committee on Occupational Safety and Health.
“This is an important role and Kurt is bringing fresh eyes and energy to the IAFF-FC. We appreciate him stepping up for this assignment,” says General Secretary-Treasurer Frank Líma.
Becker says his primary goal will be to make sure IAFF-FC offerings are fully serving the interests of members and to introduce new programs with a special emphasis on members approaching or in retirement. He also intends to explore new financial programs targeted to the specific needs of fire fighters, such as supplemental insurance to help cover occupational diseases.
“Retirement can be an extremely stressful time for fire fighters who have spent their entire career doing one thing and then their whole life changes,” say Becker. “Many members are not as prepared as they should be to confront important personal financial matters. This leaves them vulnerable to profit-centered enterprises that want to prey on them.”
Founded nearly 20 years ago, the IAFF-FC provides members alternatives to financial products, such as defined benefit retirement plans and supplemental insurance offered by for-profit organizations. At the time, many IAFF members were enrolled in defined benefit plans provided in the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), an organization that was fighting against the IAFF on numerous labor issues. The ICMA was taking fees on the products provided to IAFF members and using that money to promote anti-labor legislation. The IAFF established the IAFF-FC to provide members a financial entity they can trust to work only for them. Over time, the IAFF-FC has added a variety of financial products, from mortgages to insurance.
“We believe there is a great story that is not being told about the IAFF-FC,” says Becker. “This is a service specifically designed for our members. While a traditional financial advisor may charge unnecessary fees and may not represent the best interests of the customer, we will only work with advisors with fiduciary responsibility to the client.”
Once the IAFF-FC is retooled, Becker intends to embark on a face-to-face member education tour.