NSSTA ELECTIONS : MEET THE CANDIDATES
I am honored to be considered to run for election to NSSTA’s Board of Directors. If elected, I will bring experience, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to the board. I have a long history in the insurance industry in a variety of roles. I started my career at The Travelers right out of college. Prior to structured settlements, I worked in direct sales of Guaranteed Interest Contracts to large 401(k) plans and Funding Agreements to banks and mutual funds. In 1999, I moved over to the structured settlements team where I stayed until 2005, when I moved to AIG in the same capacity.
I have been an active member of NSSTA since joining the industry and have earned both my CSSC and MSSC designations. I am a long-time monthly contributor to NSSTA’s PAC. My experience as chair of NSSTA’s Innovation Committee for the past two years has been a great learning experience and very rewarding. This position has given me the opportunity to help promote ideas that I believe in. It has inspired me to run for a board position to champion those causes.
One of those Innovation Committee causes was the Convertible Lump Sum. At AIG I championed the idea and wrote the business plan for the benefit enhancement that ultimately was approved. This product feature is an industry first, and would not have happened without the support and commitment of a management team that is committed to structured settlements. I mention this team because it is their commitment to our industry which is why I am able to run for this position.
There are two causes that I am most passionate about. The first is getting the structured settlement message out to plaintiff attorneys and judges. We need to find a way to get more people to fully recognize the benefits of a structured settlement. That could be a celebrity endorsement, research papers from respected financial universities or a way to effectively separate our product from the retail annuity world, which has many well- deserved negative connotations. We need to find a way to stop being compared to other investment vehicles and be recognized as the building block for long-term financial security.
When I earned my MSSC designation, my research paper was on dissipation. I used the information from that paper to create a presentation that I have given at a variety of NSSTA and agency meetings. The presentation discusses a number of reasons why structured settlements should be part of a sensible settlement plan. The more this message is told, the more NSSTA professionals will be able to articulate why interest rates do not determine whether a structured settlement is the right choice.
The second cause that inspires me to run for the board is to maintain NSSTA’s mission as an organization committed to structured settlements. I have had discussions with many people in our industry that think that NSSTA should be more of a settlement planning organization. I’ve even heard people say that NSSTA should adjust their mission statement to incorporate settlement planning. I disagree. There is already an organization that does that. There was a time that I thought we would be better off with one, combined organization. I now believe we are better off with two, complimentary organizations. Here is why.
The structured settlement annuity is the least-sexy product that is brought into a settlement conference. If you are talking about commissions, it is also the least profitable product. Settlement planners can and do make a lot more money on products other than structured settlements. Trusts are more profitable to those selling them and for the companies offering the products. Without NSSTA promoting structured settlements and their benefits, structures will lose relevance and market share to more profitable products. Plaintiff attorneys routinely project their risk-profiles onto their clients and deny them the benefit of even hearing about a structured settlement offer. NSSTA is the organization best equipped to combat these issues.
While I am in favor of NSSTA offering a curriculum that educates on alternative and complimentary products, I believe the structured settlement annuity needs an organization dedicated to protect it. I believe most are in agreement that it needs protection on a regulatory basis to make sure that IRC 130c is never compromised. I think that should always be one of its primary goals. In my opinion, we need NSSTA to continue its mission to educate the public about why structuring part of their settlement may be the best financial decision they will ever make.