In the March 2009 NSSTA newsletter, The Structure, one news item includes a missive mocking The Halpern Group's Common Trust Fund, entitled Halpern's "Superior Results". The slap, which was bastardized from an EPS Settlements newsletter, shamefully misquotes The Halpern Group en route to a major toe stubbing by saying that
"The Halpern Group recently issued a press release (available HERE) claiming "superior results" because investments using the firm's software lost 17 percent of their value during 2008"
What Halpern DID say, among other things, is
"that investment return results for assets managed by its patented software consistently beat S&P 500 returns by more than 50 percent in 2008. While the S&P 500 lost 37 percent of its overall market value last year, Halpern's software showed a decline of just over 17 percent The company credits these superior results on its patented Recovery Management (RM) Software, which is proven to provide investment returns comparable to the S&P 500 in the best markets, with historically demonstrated loss reduction in the worst markets".
NSSTA got it right when it says that sometimes "truth is stranger than fiction", but not what was intended. By misquoting they merely have mocked themselves and its membership in this case. Furthermore The NSSTA missive also features a link to a press release (see above) issued by the Halpern Group which, if anyone took the time to read it all, also discusses superior results over longer time periods compared to the S&P 500.
It seems reasonable to be able to pull and critique selectively provided that the information or claim being critiqued stands on its own. But in the case of "The Structure" the cited rate of return dealt with a single year and the same press release referred to returns in other years (in which there was a surge in investment returns) is a half assed way of doing things. Frankly I am "surprised" that NSSTA would get tripped up on this knowing that its members might actually use the information. I am embarrassed as an NSSTA member that the industry trade association DOES NOT tell the whole story in this widely disseminated piece.
Those responsible may not realize it but apparently a number of settlement planners are making buffoons of themselves at mediation and in competition as a result of an apparent "incomplete read". As the headline suggests such buffoonery simply enriches their competition.
Clearly stable value products such as structured settlements have a place in recovery management. Yet each case needs to be evaluated independently. Not every plaintiff is risk averse. Some may have the appetite to accept a modicum of risk for long term reward with a portion of their settlement recovery. The EPS newsletter discussed what one has to earn to recover from a market loss. Some of the buffoonery may involve those who might be known recommend trust products or vendors for liquidity, that offer an alternative to Halpern. Care must be taken to avoid becoming "hypocritical buffoons". What the settlement planners should be doing, in my opinion is seeing how THOSE products compete. What did THEY do in 2008? What have they done over a period of time?
Every product and solution has its pluses and minuses and those are what should be highlighted in competition.