"Is it necessary for one or the other business model to prevail or could each side benefit by recognizing the role of the other?" says Charlie Schell, a principal of Forge Consulting out of Hartwell, GA and incoming President of the Society of Settlement Planners in response to Patrick Hindert's recent missive "Alternative Business Models".
Hindert, an officer of TSSG, which is owned by Forge Consulting, opines that "the future of structured settlements depends upon which of two alternative business models ultimately prevails - the traditional (defense-controlled) claim management model or the emerging (claimant centric) settlement planning model". Hindert has continued down this diplopic path of Claims Management Model vs Settlement Planning Model since he "bathed" in the "magical waters" of the "DiGanges River" in the first decade of The Millennium
Schell's poignant response recognizes that there is far more to the limited scope of Hindert's frame. Even as someone who believes in settlement planning, who is a Registered Settlement Planner and Certified Structured Settlement Consultant, I submit that there are more than two ways to operate successfully in the structured settlement business going forward. There are opportunities in multiple business models if one has the vision to see them. Why fight over the same wooden nickel?
Hindert criticizes of insurance companies for "proactive case identification and negotiation participation by defendants designed to sell structured settlements". Hindert's statement demonstrates a shocking naivete for someone of with 30 years in the industry. Judging by his previous and ongoing commentary Hindert appears to operate in a narrow personal injury big case context and fails to recognize significant growth opportunities not available to the "radical left". I don't think that claims departments identify cases to sell structured settlement annuities. I think the ones that are proactive recognize that structured settlements, and/or the resources provided by structured settlement experts (and settlement planning experts), are a tool that helps to settle cases. Moreover, as hard as it may be for some zealots to believe, some defendants and insurers even participate in structured settlements because it's the right thing to do.
Hindert's comeback would surely be the Spencer case v Hartford and Macomber v Travelers, but in my opinion the industry has learned and moved on. Why break more wind on those cases?
I continue to question Hindert's motivations as he criticizes "de minimus regulation of sales conduct" while NEVER appearing to advocate similar standards for the secondary market.
Hindert incredibly blasts what he calls the hostility towards the secondary structured settlement market when he himself wrote commentary on the performance of "Chairman MAU" and others criticizing that industry at a National Association of Settlement Purchasers annual meeting. He offers no current commentary on the structured settlement secondary market practices even though the Society of Settlement Planners has had a Director for the period 2010-2012 who simultaneously places structured settlements and has ties to factoring company Rescue Capital, a company which asks structured settlement annuitants "Why Wait?". What business model does THAT fall under?
It is worth highlighting that the advertising message of the latter is a practice appealing to immediate gratification and greed that was condemned as one of the "worst business business practices" by an industry panel (that included that now former SSP Director) as reported by Hindert at the November 2009 meeting of the National Association of Settlement Purchasers, which Hindert assisted in organizing. The secondary market is critical of itself although it is not critical enough.
Is there a company in the primary structured settlement market that operates a re-direct scheme that competes by diverting search traffic on a massive scale by appropriating the trademarks of others, as Sovereign Funding Group and its CEO David Springer have been alleged to have done in two law suits?
Oops, I almost forgot about the Delta Settlements StructureBroker.com scheme of 2011, which involved the former SSP director Delta publishing an online "directory " that providing tailored and sometimes utterly false descriptions of the business practices of its competitors framed by its logo and an offer of a second opinion. Not exactly the same but questionable nevertheless. Mea culpa.