For those not already aware I have accepted an invitation to run for the Board of Directors of the National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA). Voting will take place at the NSSTA Annual Meeting in Toronto April 22-25 2007.
I am a centrist, believing that we are an industry of specialized experts. This is where the structured settlement industry is at and, in my opinion, it should stay on this heading. While I respect people's points of view and welcome debate, I believe too much focus has been placed on the extremes.
Over the past year I have been actively involved as co-chair of the NSSTA Technology committee. Together with co-chair Cam Mears I have been heavily involved with a massive overhaul of the NSSTA website and communication platform, which is in the final stages and the results of which members will see within the next 3 months. In addition to the services it will provide its members, the website will also be positioned as a public web portal. The first stages of that process are the reciprocal linking project which started last summer with NSSTA member brokerage firms, annuity issuers. This ongoing project will soon expand to other members.
My experience and familiarity with Web 2.0 tools, such as blogging, will serve members and the new board well. When you write you learn! I don't think anyone would question that I have both an opinion and a voice with respect to industry matters. Over the past 17 months I have published over 600 posts and articles, commentary, analysis and opinion concerning important industry issues and public education on my 4 blogs while still being able to produce at a high level. Clearly I am not afraid to take on any subject or anyone in this medium, for the benefit of our industry and the people it serves. Virtually every day I field calls from consumers who express their gratitude to have a resource like Structured Settlements 4Real blog available to them.
Among the many issues raised:
- Defining pertinent industry terms
- Factoring industry advertising and business practices in general
- Factoring company advertising on the Internet
- The need for greater front end consumer protection in factoring solicitation as opposed to simply the disclosure required
- The relevancy of factoring to the settlement planning process
- Ethics of factoring participation by structured settlement brokers and settlement planners in relation to confidentiality agreements.
- Ethics of factoring participation by structured settlement brokers and settlement planners in relation to Privacy statements issued by Annuity Issuers.
- Best practices and ethics issues in Advertising, Testimonials and Charitable Contributions and Declarations to the USDOJ under the Federal perjury statute.
- How the SEC, NASD and Insurance Department rules interplay with the latter two items
With respect to factoring, my blogging on Structured Settlements 4Real has raised awareness both in our industry and the factoring industry. In the last 16 months, a number of factoring companies have altered their advertising practices, particularly on the Internet. While there still is penetration on some key search terms, the breadth has been significantly reduced. Some companies have wisely sought to differentiate themselves from our industry (and their competitors) and actually refer to themselves as factoring companies.
I hope to initiate and help develop a best practices education resource for NSSTA members to help brokerages and individual members in their business. Knowledge of, and compliance with, federal and state laws governing business practice and is a common issue that's critical to consumers and the health of all of our business.
Those who have worked with me on commitees within NSSTA know about my energy and commitment to industry issues. I look forward to the opportunity to serve.