It was "Showtime in Las Vegas" last week as the National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA) introduced its newest educational offering ("Structures 202") to a cross-section of 150 association members including many "Next Generation" structured settlement participants.
Preliminary informal reviews were enthusiastic and positive as NSSTA provided its audience with a comprehensive program of case management fundamentals and business development opportunities.
Structures 202 afforded an opportunity for NSSTA to showcase many of its talented professional members and they did not disappoint. Much of the educational program focused appropriately on case administration issues as a significant portion of NSSTA's target audience consisted of structured settlement case managers.
Unlike Structures 101 (a prior NSSTA educational program for case managers), Structures 202 is also designed for structured settlement brokers who are new to the market and therefore included an important, primarily plaintiff-oriented, business development component.
Overall, Structures 202 represents a valuable learning (or re-learning) resource for all structured settlement professionals regardless of experience or role. Attendance currently is limited to NSSTA members.
TOPICS AND SPEAKERS
NSSTA Congressional Activities - Eric Vaughn
Structured Settlement Fundamentals
- Section 104(a)(2) Grey Area Cases - John McCulloch
- Payee Issues - Betty Gregware
- Assignment Documents - Jeanne Ragusa
- Settlement Documents - Toni Warbington
- Resolving Post-Settlement Problems - Andy Prindable
- Post Issuance Service - Sean Alleyne, Scott McGill, Michelle Caine
- Structured Settlement Litigation and Factoring Issues - Peter Vodola
- Long Term Obligation Risk - Geoff Kissel and Ravi Vaswani
- Next Generation Work Flow - Mitch Fish
Structured Settlement Business Development
- Comprehensive Settlement Designs - Joe DiGangi
- QSF Best Practices - Christi Fried
- Special Needs Trusts - Jay Kearns
- Workers Compensation Clients - Pat Law and Anne Davison
- MSA Professional Administration - Joe Anderson and Marques Torbert
- Marketing Attorney Fees - Spooner Phillips and Rebecca Metzger
- Affordable Care Act - Jordan Bossler
Congratulations to NSSTA, conference co-chairpersons Erin Muller and Nolan Robinson, as well as NSSTA conference speakers, for an outstanding educational program. NSSTA's 2015 Annual Meeting is scheduled for April 22-24 in Washington, D.C.
S2KM Observations and Opinions
- Settlement Planning - Although NSSTA has been slow to embrace plaintiff-focused personal injury settlement planning, Structures 202 provided an excellent foundation for future educational programs. Many NSSTA members already are leading practitioners within the developing settlement planning profession. The structured settlement annuity represents a strategic settlement planning product. NSSTA and its members, however, would benefit from greater educational interaction with other professional associations whose members engage in settlement planning. Among the settlement planning issues needing greater educational attention: 1) the role of the structured settlement professional as part of the settlement planning team; 2) how best to market and integrate the structured settlement product into a settlement plan; 3) risks of expanded professional liability when a structured settlement broker engages in settlement planning.
- Defense Business Development - Change always creates opportunities. During 2014, NSSTA commissioned two valuable marketing surveys in which claims executives and managers reported their perceptions about the value of structured settlements and structured settlement consultants. The dramatic changes created by recent Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) compliance requirements, which have greatly complicated the lives of claims professionals, represent a related marketing issue which also deserves NSSTA's educational attention. As more than one defense representative has emphasized at recent NAMSAP conferences: "Medicare compliance is not just about preparing a good Medicare set-aside (MSA). It is about understanding and complying with the MSP statute."
- MSA Education - Workers compensation MSAs (WCMSAs) have become an increasingly important submarket for structured settlements. S2KM has previously estimated that as much as eight (8%) percent of recent structured settlement premium and 24 percent of recent structured settlement annuities are attributable to WCMSAs. Within the past two years, CMS has published both a WCMSA Reference Guide and a WCMSA Self-Administration Toolkit - each of which features extensive rules for structured settlements. In the WCMSA context, structured settlements have one primary advantage (lower cost), which results from one CMS policy memorandum (dated: October 15, 2004) which sets forth the CMS "set-off" approach for calculating present value.Two current legislative proposals (H.R. 1982 and S. 2731) could impact this structured settlement advantage. During the past two years, CMS has submitted and withdrawn a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for liability MSAs. NSSTA's most recent MSA education, however, has ignored all of these developments and "doubled down" instead on professional MSA administration.
- Secondary Market - Structures 202 represented the first NSSTA educational program following NSSTA's 2014 Fall Educational Conference . The Fall Conference symbolically and effectively highlighted the generational succession occurring within the structured settlement primary market by juxtaposing panels featuring past NSSTA Presidents and "Next Generation" brokers. The Fall Conference also represented the first time NSSTA had invited a representative of the National Association of Settlement Purchasers (NASP President Patricia LaBorde) to speak at a members-only educational program. Structures 202 therefore provided the first opportunity for NSSTA to "change the conversation" of its educational programs about the secondary market - as well as other historically controversial topics - and thereby allow the "Next Generation" to form their own opinions. This change occurred successfully with some topics in Las Vegas - for examples: settlement planning generally and Qualified Settlement Funds more specifically. Unfortunately, this conversational change has not yet occurred in NSSTA presentations about the secondary market which retain the same degree of objectivity as Fox News reporting on the Affordable Care Act.
For S2KM reporting on past NSSTA educational conferences, see the structured settlement wiki.