by John Darer CLU ChFC MSSC RSP CLTC
I've had multiple callers tell me that I've done more for them by pulling the figurative thorn out of their foot, sorting through the noise, listening to what they're really saying that they need and helping them sort it out. Sometimes it takes minutes, sometimes it takes a half hour and sometimes it takes hours, or even more. It's an investment not only in your business but in the industry. Most in the industry consider our work to be noble, so consider it a form of "noblesse oblige".
Today I received a call from a highly stressed Allstate structured settlement annuitant from Indiana with a voice of frustration because he didn't receive his check. I took the time to ask him if he moved, if he tried calling Allstate, making sure he had the right number, making sure he wasn't at the end of a guarantee period and at the beginning of a life contingent period (Allstate oddly issued two contracts). I asked him if he had previously sold any payments. He said no. Then I found out he was thinking about selling and I said if you really have no alternatives then your first port of call must be Allstate's AFEN unit. There's more than enough anecdotal evidence that a number of cash now reprobates come in with numbers higher than Allstate's AFEN exchange and feel no obligation to tell annuitants that it is even available. Do not contact anyone else until you have a written quote from Allstate for reference. Use it to force companies to pay you more. If you feel like you're getting value out of paying more that's one thing, but don't just pay it without shopping. I told him that he was welcome to call me back if he ran into any hurdles or wasn't satisfied with the answers he got.
By the end of the call his demeanor was calm and he told me that I gave him more helpful information than all the other companies he had spoken to in the last 4 years. I thought what he said was pretty pathetic, not for him, but for the industry.
For years my colleagues in the primary market have been concerned with "brand hijacking" by the structured settlement secondary market. However what I observe today is that they are doing what they do best, to each other. Today the structured settlement secondary market is imploding on its own false narrative. It's largest and most well known company has a stock price that wouldn't even buy a stick of bubble gum. The radar is now on companies that advertise the best or maximum buyouts and pay anything but. The false narrative is driven by affiliate marketers serving the secondary market who lack the fundamental knowledge or perspective to serve people and the unethical bastards that feast on the false narrative and tolerate the behavior, who when confronted, deliver an Oscar worthy imitation of someone who blames the family dog for his/her own malodorous emission at the dinner table. Clueless DRB Capital had someone send me an email and phone me to see if I wanted to sell them deals only weeks after I exposed DRB Capital's tactic of attempting to scare a Bridgeport woman with specious claims about insurer insolvency to get business in CT.
Two weeks ago I received a very late afternoon call from someone who sold some structured settlement payments to a company and he didn't get paid, was going ballistic and wanted to sue the factoring originator. He called the watchdog because he thought he was getting ripped off. Can't say I blame him given what he perceived was a lack of response from the originator. So I pulled the court documents, identified the investor from those public documents and contacted them. The investor, from New York was grateful for the call and the issue was chased down. The investor took the issue seriously enough to contact me from an overseas trip. It turned out what happened was that there was an error in the original paperwork submitted by the factoring company originator in that it did not have proper titling for the assignee so an amendment was necessary and THAT caused the delay. The whole tempest was caused by the error and compounded by the perceived lack of communication by the originator.
A few pro bono good deeds for annuitants each week (even if you were not the original writing agent) can help change the narrative.