by John Darer® CLU ChFC MSSC RSP CLTC
The National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA) hosted its 2008 Annual Meeting at the Hilton Torrey Pines Resort La Jolla, California on April 16-19. Approximately 250 persons attended.
Those that attended were treated to an interesting program which included:
- The release of the Structured Settlement Survey Report by AIG. The results of the study, which sampled 1,000 Americans, suggest that more education is needed for plaintiff attorneys and tort victims on the subject of structured settlements (and settlement planning, by extrapolation). Those offered or made aware of the big picture were more likely to favor structured settlements, according to the study. Click the following blue title above to link to the Structured Settlement Survey Report.
- NSSTA Lobbyist Eric Vaughn's report provided an analysis of the 2008 election, developments in Washington and their potential impact from a structured settlement perspective. The NSSTA will make efforts to ally with other trade associations in the coming year to achieve its legislative objectives.
- A discussion on factoring by Mike Miller of Philadelphia's Drinker Biddle which included a study of cases handled by his law firm since the beginning of the year. Miller included the discount rates in each case and characterized them as excessive. I found it interesting that no mention was made of factoring exchanges and Miller's presentation highlights the fact that the instant gratification culture is being exploited by the big factoring advertisers. Shopping around will likely get consumers better rates and factoring exchanges make it easier to shop. No mention was made about structured settlement factoring vig problem.
- Ringler's Pat Farber was center stage for two presentations on Mediation Etiquette and Insiders of Mass Tort.
- NSSTA counsel Craig Ullman delivered a primer on State Guaranty Funds
- Peter Montoya, whose practice specializes in marketing for financial services industry, delivered an excellent and entertaining presentation on Personal Branding.
- A discussion on Medicare Set Aside market potential by Jim Logan of Logan Associates and Leah Jamison, a senior adjuster with the Hartford.
A good reason to attend these events is the networking, to see old friends and foes, exchange ideas and, to put a face on the voice with whom you connect (or do battle) with on the phone. I had a problem with a case that was resolved between dinner and the next morning in part because I met with annuity issuer decision makers on site. A similar scenario happened at the Winter Regional in January. I was also able to take advantage of a valuable opportunity to personally express my concerns to a Vice President at an annuity issuer whose service I have been dissatisfied with. If you attend you get a boatload of CE credits in one shot! The increasing complexity of the business requires a more diverse skill set. Convergence is here! Settlement professionals should avail themselves of every opportunity they can by attending these meetings and taking industry sponsored courses like CSSC and RSP as well as related courses such as MSCC, ChFC , CFP, MSFS, CLTC
This author experienced one of his personal "highlights" during the first coffee break-the opportunity for a live "carve up" of DealFlow Media reporter, Alex Horvath, who actually is not a bad chap. Apparently he has a cat that resembles the remote clicking, beer swilling feline from my pre-meeting post about the candidates for the recent election to the NSSTA Board of Directors. His writing and the DFM publication might be more valuable if he'd spend a little more time on his research. He has given me alot to write about. I mentioned to Horvath that DFM would get more respect by using Business Insurance, Business Week, or the Wall Street Journal as a role model.When reminded that I use steaming piles of drek in critique. i replied that I use them because what I am critiquing often is. In addition to reporting facts and providing education and information understand that this blog is meant to be provocative, intends to upset the status quo, to keep people thinking in different ways and to promote change. I'm still not convinced that the hefty price for DFM's Structured Settlements Report justifies the content but that's the bailiwick of DFM editor Brett "Goat Cheese".
Unfortunately the last day of the meeting conflicted with the start of the Passover holiday and a number of potential attendees stayed home to be with their families. In addition the venue, while lovely, involved a two leg trip each way for many. As much as I enjoy resorts such as Torrey Pines and the Westin Rio Mar (location of the 2006 meeting) having a venue at a resort which is at or close to a major airport gateway, with a ample amount of non stop flights, would likely increase the numbers. Some of the missing might have flown in for a day if it were more convenient.