ASIS 30% Membership Price Increase

Author: IPVM Team, Published on Jul 02, 2013

ASIS announced that is would be increasing its annual dues, starting in 2014, from $150 annually to $195, a 30% increase, noting that "this is necessary if ASIS is to continue to provide the scope, breadth, and quality of current services, while also building offerings for future generations in the profession."

Small Impact Overall Financially

We know from 2011 financials membership dues bring in about $4 million annually. Assuming every current member renews, the increased dues will add $1.2 million per year.

ASIS makes ~$29 million a year in revenue overall, so the 30% membership price increase, at best, would only increase overall revenue by ~4%.

Membership Risks

However, membership growth for the last 10 years has already been nominal, despite membership fees staying the same. ASIS says membership increased from 33,000 to 38,000 since 2003. That’s a compounded annual growth rate of just over one percent (1.42%). It seems risky to put further pressure on a low margin by increasing membership dues and likely losing some of those members who were on the fence about signing up or renewing.

As one member noted in our discussion:

"No way am I going to pay more for what basically equates to nothing. When the ASIS CEO makes 650K a year I am thinking they really don't need an extra $45 a year from all my crew. So right there is a loss of $1,950 a year for them and $1,950 savings a year for me."

Unclear Cost Drivers?

Worse, from its correspondence with members on Monday, it is not clear whether the increase in dues coincides with any increase in services for members. All of the “membership-related developments” are programs that have already been ongoing, some since 2003. Others, like the digital edition of the magazine, were done to cut costs rather than increase benefits to membership. The ASIS magazine, Security Management, has published digital magazines instead of print issues four times in the last year, all containing less content than print editions.

Executive Pay

As we noted in our report, The Rich Gets Richer, total compensation for the 7 ASIS executives was just under $3 million for 2011 (averaging $402,000). It seems it could easily raise $1 million by reducing that number instead of raising member dues.

UPDATE: ASIS LinkedIn Discussion

Many ASIS members are expressing dissatisfaction with the fee increase and ASIS efforts.

1 report cite this report:

ASIS CEO To Exit on Jun 22, 2015
Amid declining exhibitor attendance and membership troubles, the richest man in security management is leaving. Michael Stack, ASIS CEO, famous...

Comments (48)

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I am confused by this. ASIS seems to make most of its money from selling the attention of and access to its members (advertising, exhibits, etc.). They are a like print newspaper or magazine, where the 'user' is offered a subsidized / discounted price to maximize the number of them that can be sold to marketers. Increasing membership prices is likely to decrease overall revenue, as it will certainly lead to less members who can be sold to manufacturers.

I got the email announcement too since I'm a member and CPP.

Rare, large increases are never as adaptable as frequent, small increases. Though 30% over the last 10 years is a bit high, given many of us have gotten 0-1% annual raises.

They could have done 3% per year every year and advertised what the did, and what they are doing and everyone would be happier.

I'd drop the membership if I had to pay personally. Thankfully, my company pays it.

I may drop my ASIS membership. I am in 3 other organizations where yearly dues for the national/international (not including local membership fees) are:

$185 for a group with 415,000 members

$129 group of 700,000

$165 group of 23,000

I have to look at the benefits of all of these before I continue shelling out almost $1,000 a year including local fees.

I remember a slogan I once heard made about people who use Facebook "You are not the customer, you are the product...". Sometimes I feel this way about ASIS, I am the "product' that the organization sells to its advertisers, and I pay handsomely for the privilege.

In addition to annual dues, I pay dues to my local chapter, pay to attend individual meetings, and pay to attend the annual conference (now nearly $1000). Considering that most of the actual work is done by non-paid volunteers, and that advertisers and exhibitors pay through the nose, I sometimes wonder where all the money is going.

I do value many of the things that ASIS does, but at some point you have to question whether the organization is being operated in the most cost effective manner.

Outside of the magazine, what tangible benefits does ASIS membership deliver?

I do understand it makes you eligible for discounts on other things ASIS sells but that's an indirect benefit.

For instance, the Protection of Assets Manual looks interesting, but even if I am an ASIS member, I still need to pay an additional $399 for it.

I am genuinely curious what the tangible benefits of ASIS membership are?

Well until I hear back from them, here is the list of benefits on the website, but it would be nice to hear from a member how much of those they take advantage of.

Most of the things on the list of benefits cost additional payments (educational programs, seminars, credentials, etc.).

I am curious about their library. Anyone with experience or recommendations on that?

For me, some of the benefits offered by ASIS include:

  • Opportunity to network with other security professionals on both a local and national level.
  • Use of ASIS directory to obtain contact information on security representatives at a given company or organization (not always easy to do otherwise)
  • ASIS standards and guidelines.
  • ASIS lobbying and advocacy (recently repelled an attempt by NFPA to create a mandatory security standard, for example.)
  • ASIS placement bureau (have used to locate potential employees)

Michael, how does the placement bureau work? Is that a different name for their Career Center?

Btw, I do know a number of manufacturers who use the directory for sales prospecting and find great value in it. That said, I've always found it weird that ASIS discloses their member's names and sells it as a feature.

Career Center is what I was referring to. I have used it only as an employer but it has worked well for me.

In the old days, they issued an actual printed membership directory, which I loved. They then went to an online only directory, and limited you to 40 inquiries a day in an attempt to prevent the directory from being harvested as a mailing list.

As of the last time I looked, member names and phone numbers were no longer listed - you have to contact members using a direct messaging feature built into the directory. Not my preference, but still better than nothing.

Michael, good feedback! Sounds like a prudent move for ASIS to change it to a messaging feature. Sharing emails and phone numbers opened up real risks for abuse.

Btw, with the Career Center, it seems employers need to still pay. Is there some sort of discount for members?

No member discount that I am aware of. I consider their job posting fees to be very reasonable when compared to other advertising options and the process in itself does some amount of prescreening of potential candidates. (If the candidate knows enough to go to ASIS to look at a listing, at least that's a start...:)

How do the executives justify their pay to its members? Seems like its prime for a competitive group to offer better services for a less fee .. oh wait John does that already for $99/year for me ;)

Paul, in fairness, ASIS and IPVM are not really direct competitors. We are focused on technology and appeal most to integrators where ASIS is focused on security management and appeals mostly to end users. We have no interest nor plans to go into security management.

Btw, $99/year is the old rate. We've grandfathered in long standing personal accounts. For the past 2+ years, the personal rate for new signups has been $199. We have no interest nor plans to raise the membership rate.

Overall, I think ASIS would have a stronger position if they offered more direct member only benefits. For example, the job posting may be useful but it's not a benefit of membership, just another service they offer.

As a long-time ASIS member, I am angered by the increase and question where the money is headed. Not only do I need to pay to keep my CPP certification, my ASIS membership and chapter dues and pay to get in to whatever event they have. I'm also the local Chapter Chair and I still don't get free or reduced entry into the ASIS conferences. For the amount of work that we put in while the president of ASIS is paid $650k is ridiculous. We need to seriously question what is going on with ASIS.

I'm questioning it's worth... and that's pretty bad.

Michael brings up some great points and also some benefits of ASIS. I think his best point though is “you have to question whether the organization is being operated in the most cost effective manner” and the answer to that is absolutely not.

When I do the math my company (which is really my department budget, which is really money that could be spent for uniforms, fuel, equipment, raises, etc.) spends around $8,000 a year on memberships, local meetings, trainings, publications, conferences and seminars. For a LONG time I have questioned this expense. Now that the expense is rising I will no longer be questioning it because the question has been answered. It is not worth the money.

I've only been in the security industry for a short while but have been slowly learning and going to the local ASIS chapter events.

At the annual lunches we have some great speakers with interesting topics, some are manufacturer reps, some are 'thought leaders' (always love hearing people use that self proclamation), and some who happen to have the spot open on their calendar.

What I find most intriguing is that after each speaker is done, rarely if ever, does anyone ask a question or comment on the 45 minute presentation, present company included.

Is it because in this industry we are more valuable when we have knowledge that we believe few others have (and don't want to share it). Could it be that asking questions shows weakness amongst a group comprised of CSO's, FBI, corporate investigators, etc.? OR is it that we are all just going through the motions and now realizing that we are supporting HUGE salaries who in turn allow manufacturers to market their wares (and inflated marketing claims :) )?

Just a thought...thoughts are things

Mark, we have no issue with people asking questions during and after the presentation. And some of these guys have been around the block a few times so they are very experienced. It could be that since our attendance is low (about 18ppl) that the comfort level is greater and therefore, asking questions are not as daunting? Thinking back with attendance around 60 members, I believe questions just kept coming... so not sure whats going on at your location.

John,

I deal heavily in transportation / logistics security. One of the main benefits some investigators have is to be able to find security contacts easily at a company. For example, from one of my groups I regularly get emails that go something like, "Hey, I work for XXXX online retailer and we have having supply chain security issues with a lot of XYZ and ZZY products, does anyone have a security contact at XYZ or ZZY?"

I never get those emails from ASIS members / security managers, because they can almost always go in the database, search by company, and at least find a starting point in security.

Other than that... they have good cheesecake at the local meetings in the Dallas area?

Nick

I became an ASIS member back in 1995 I also became Certified as a CPP in 2004 (at great personal financial cost for the 'required' study books and testing). I proudly maintained my CPP Certification for 5 years until ASIS raised the number of annual CEU's required (16 I think it was) to maintain the Certification. The cost for attending CEU classes and the time lost from work sitting through totally irrelevant classes became untenable. 1/2 a CEU Credit for an 8 hour class on glass break technology in another City? Ridiculous.

These days I occasionally attend local ASIS Chapter meeting and don't mind paying the extra $5-$10 to attend as a non-member. Even when I do give in and attend a local Chapter meeting it's the same tired old security directors/managers and local Integrator Sales staff sitting around a table enjoying half a day off of work talking about their favorite sports team or their granddaughter's upcoming graduation than actually discussing or learning anything interesting or related to Physical Security. Every presentation I have seen from a vendor/sponsor at a Chapter meeting has been related to IT data security as opposed to anything relevant to physical security (Surveillance, Access Control, etc).

Benefits? You're having a laugh! The only usable benefit I EVER received/took advantage of from ASIS was access to their Membership Database when I was prospecting for leads and looking for contact information for cold calls. I will say that announcing myself as CPP Certified did provide some measure of instant credibility with other ASIS Members outside of that? Nothing.

I let my CPP Certification lapse in 2009 because I couldn't justify the return on investment. I also ceased paying membership fees because I just didn't see the point. My business did not suffer as a result of dropping my membership. If anything it INCREASED because I spent more time working on my business!

One last comment about CPP Certification since I'm on a tear. 99% of the 400+ questions on the CPP test had NOTHING to do with physical security and EVERYTHING to do with Human Resource Management (think security guard), the Law and oddly enough the ability to be able to recognize if someone that worked for you was under the influence of illegal drugs.

My opinion? Like it's leadership; ASIS is a mouldy old toothless dinosaur and doesn't appear to offer anything substantial or meaningful to it's members... unless you count the 4 CEU Credits for attending the Annual Show and the 'free' CPP tie pin for achieving the credential which incidentally is now (along with other retired hooks & lures) is pinned to the cap I use when I go fishing - at least the $35 annual fishing license gets me FISH!

"I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members."

- Groucho Marx

There's a discussion, largely negative, inside the ASIS LinkedIn group. One interesting theory was that, "Very few chapters meet in the summer so this was they way to slip this past the membership." It's obviously speculation but the first week of July is one of the slowest in the year, with so many people on vacation (around the world) and the 4th of July holiday splitting up the week for people in the USA.

If they choose this time on purpose to minimize attention, than at least kudos to them for being PR savvy!

I actually find getting credits to re-up CPP pretty easy. Take an online class from a community college for $99 for about 8 weeks, related to business, and get a huge number of credits. 1/2 credit for an 8 hour class, something is wrong there. CPP study class in our chapter is free, run by volunteers, and the study guide is only $25. I do think, though, that ASIS is mainly around to make money. CPP is required for some bids, but it doesn't really mean much to me. I'm in mainly for networking, otherwise I could take it or leave it.

As for the credits, you can get them even by sitting in on a webinar, where you get the added benefit of a thinly veiled sales pitch. Here's one later this one with a vendor educating pitching analytics (you get 2 credits). It's free too because it's being sponsored by another manufacturer!

I just took a PSP certification test prep class, which is frankly why I got my ASIS membership (paying for membership let me pay the member rate for the class and the member rate to take the test, eventually, and I save about $500 this way, I think).

The class had some good info, the instructors running the class were knowledgable and interesting, and I made good contacts I wouldn't have otherwise made, but I don't know how valuable or relevant the knowledge base the questions are drawn from are. The surveillance video knowledge we are required to know is enormously outdated, and the intrusion and access control stuff isn't much better (athough the basics of access control hasn't changed all that much).

There was also a huge module on project management, and a lot of emphasis on human resources management. Interesting but I think the PSP should have more focus on up to date technical information.

The risk assesment module was a little long but I think useful.

But, overall, I think that a lot of the information a PSP candidate is expected to know is still stuck in 2003. Maybe that kind of thing is acceptable for an industry that doesn't change much in a decade, I don't know. But I do know that the surveillance industry, at least, changes so fast and so dramatically that the test and the knowledge base needs to be reevaluated, at the very least, once every other year. I don't think new PSPs should still be learning that the usefulness of an image depends on how much of the screen a subject takes up, and so forth.

Ari, I though they said the PSP was just updated like a year or two ago, no? Ethan didn't you mention that?

Btw, back in 2009, ASIS was working on, or at least investigating, creating a new certification on "Integrated Physical Security Systems." Does anyone know the current status of it? I presume it's not released but is it still in development or was there a decision not to move forward?

The PSP may have been revamped overall, but the surveillance video knowledge is outdated. Most of it is pulled from Garcia's Design and Evaluation of Physical Protection Systems, written in 2007. Do you remember what IP video was like six years ago? Of course you do.

I have sat on committees responsible for the creation of questions for a couple of types of professional tests. The general rule is that all questions and answers must be traceable back to a published, industry-recognized source, such as a professional reference book. Questions and answers based solely on the test writer's personal knowledge are generally not considered valid, regardless of the test writer's credentials.

The challenge with rapidly changing technology is that published reference books cannot keep up. At best, there is typically a 2-3 year cycle between when a book is written and when it is published. You then have to wait until the next revision of the test questions, which could in itself be on a 2-3 year cycle. So, having test questions that are at least five years old is not at all unusual.

Don't know the answer to this problem but do know that it is a valid concern.

Well, in 2013, does it have to be physical books only?

For our IPVM courses/certifications, it's all online and if something is unclear or becomes out of date, we simply change it.

Can't ASIS do the same thing? Put all the relevant course material online (It's the Internet so it does not matter if it's 1,000 or 10,000 pages long) and test off that. If it gets out of date, have the committee review and update it online.

It doesn't necessarily have to be a physical book, but does have to be a source that is published and widely-used outside of the context of the test.

There is an issue of credibility when the certification issuer is also the sole source of content for the test. Just because the test writer/certificate issuer thinks it's true doesn't make it true. A credible professional test must be based on a body of knowledge that is generally recognized in the industry, and one way to do this is to base test questions on multiple published sources.

ASIS could aggregate all test reference material on its website, but as you well know, there are copyright issues involved. Something like the CPP test covers a wide span of topics and dozens of different reference texts. To put something like this online would require the permission of (and very likley payment to) each of the various copyright holders.

This is one of those things that seems easy until you are actually tasked with doing it...

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