In this week's edition of Speaking of Settlements, national structured settlement expert, Mark Wahlstrom, looks at some of the empirical data on structured settlement premium written, interest rate trends and the shrinking number of life markets involved in the structured settlement market.
Mark's conclusion is that there are some fundamental problems in the structured settlement profession as evidenced by shrinking premium, diminished interest from life markets and an aging and static based of structured settlement brokers actively engaged in the profession.
The myth that structured settlement annuity sales have shrunk as a result of lower interest rates is exposed to some degree by the fact that fixed annuity and income annuity sales for the rest of the financial planning industry are up, even at record levels, for certain lines, all with the same interest rate levels the structured settlement profession use as an excuse for poor results. It begs the question as to why structured settlement sales have declined 20% over the last two years, when the rest of the financial service industry is seeing gains of 6% to 15% on similar lines over the same time period.
If interest rates can not be blamed for this drastic decline, then what is at work in the structured settlement profession to cause such severe drops in premium?
Mark's answer is that the structured settlement brand name has been taken over by the factoring profession and that it is now going to be almost impossible to salvage the integrity of the product in the minds of consumers. The steady drum beat and message that implies that a structured settlement is something to be rid of, ( "It's your money, and you want it NOW!") has polluted the minds of NEW potential clients to a degree that they all wonder why they would ever want to be in a structured settlement when it appears that everyone is trying to get out of one.
Obviously, those in the structured settlement profession are well versed on the value, importance and integrity of the structured settlement, but as Mark Wahlstrom warned repeatedly over the last five years, the settlement profession's pathetic budget to counter this adverse message from factoring companies has doomed the profession to the loss of it's brand identity with potential newclients.
Listen to this week's edition of Speaking of Settlements and watch for next week's discussion on the implications of the lost battle for the mind's of new customers and what brokers, planners and attorney's can do to manage their professional practice going forward.