As I end my term as INTA Treasurer, I am pleased to report that our Association is in sound financial standing. The 2018 budget, adopted by the Board of Directors last November, projected a net loss (total revenue minus total expenses) of US $0.8 million. We expect to end the year close to $1.0 million better than budget and with a net gain of approximately US $0.1 million.
We maintained an 87 percent membership retention rate in 2018, added more than 1,000 new members, and now have close to 7,200 members around the world. Our primary source of revenue continues to be our Annual Meeting, which consistently accounts for more than 50 percent of our gross revenue. When we prepared the 2018 budget, we assumed that attendance at the 2018 Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, would be approximately 10,300 and I am pleased to report that we exceeded that threshold and hosted more than 10,900 trademark professionals in May. As a result of membership dues and Annual Meeting results primarily, the Association’s gross revenue for 2018 is forecast to be approximately US $22.8 million, which is $0.2 million more than the original budget.
This year marks the first year of the 2018–2021 Strategic Plan. In implementing that Strategic Plan, INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo and his management team developed a detailed roadmap to promote the value of trademarks and brands, reinforce consumer trust, and embrace innovation and change. I believe the team has had a successful start to accomplishing these goals.
Conferences and meetings in 2018 will generate revenue of US $2.6 million. We held a Designs Conference in London, a Brands and Innovation Conference in New York, our first conference in Australia in more than 10 years, and we will be hosting a Middle East conference in Dubai in December. We led delegations to India, Canada, Latin America, China, and other Asian jurisdictions in 2018. We continue to convey an important set of messages to our members, prospective members, and government agencies around the globe of our commitment to education, advocacy, and public policy in all regions. U.S.-based events continued to draw strong interest, as evidenced by the number of attendees at the Brands and Innovation Conference in New York, the TMAP Meeting in Orlando, and at this Leadership Meeting where we are hosting more than 1,500 volunteers.
Our Association’s staff continued to demonstrate their ability to manage operating expenses during 2018. The forecasted favorable variance of total expenses vs. budget is 3 percent and almost US $0.8 million. The noteworthy variances vs. budget were a result of the Annual Meeting costs which were less than budgeted; lower staff costs resulting from vacancies and delayed hiring; and a delay with the Website Redesign project.
As of September 30, the Reserve Fund balance was US $24.7 million, US $1.6 million more than when we met at this meeting one year ago. During 2018, the Finance Committee has been diligently monitoring and reviewing performance with our investment advisors at JPMorgan. Although global markets are volatile and there are many factors impacting investment returns, we believe the portfolio is appropriately diversified and the expectation is that the portfolio will continue to move with the relevant market indices and marginally gain value in the near term.
The 2019 budget will be presented to the Board of Directors today. Membership retention is budgeted to be slightly better than 2018 and consistent with prior year trends, and as a result Membership revenue is budgeted to increase 5 percent above 2018. For conservative budgeting purposes, we are projecting 2019 Annual Meeting attendance in Boston, Massachusetts, will be flat to attendance in Seattle. In addition to the unique programming that will be provided at the Annual Meeting in May, we have an ambitious offering of meetings and other programs scheduled around the globe throughout 2019, including programs in Paris, Berlin, and Kuala Lumpur. Revenue from our other meetings, conferences, and programs next year is expected to generate US $2.4 million.
We continue to invest in the Association with regard to our legal resources, public policy, and advocacy. INTA’s representative office’s staff now total 12 with estimated expense of approximately US $2.5 million. Staff in Europe, Latin America, China, and Asia Pacific continue their advocacy, membership development, and communications. Our Washington, D.C., office will continue to enhance our presence and effectiveness in Washington, D.C., with the support of staff supplemented by expert lobbying and consulting support. We continue to be well served by our consultants in Geneva and Delhi. Underlying all of these activities is the dedication to grow our membership base globally and consistently enhance our member benefits.
2019 will prove to be a very exciting time and an important year for INTA as we have two major projects which are already underway, including the relocation of the New York office to new space in midtown New York City and the digital transformation project, which will result in a new INTA website and the enhancement of related custom applications used by our members.
As Treasurer, it has been an honor to work with the officers, committee members, the general membership, the staff—especially the staff—and the Chief Executive Officer, and I am confident in the continuing progress and growth of our Association.
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© 2018 International Trademark Association