"Protect and Preserve" or "Improve and Grow".
These polar-opposite imperatives for the structured settlement industry represent S2KM's two strategic lenses for reporting and analyzing simultaneous educational programs this week in Las Vegas sponsored by the National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA) and the National Association of Settlement Purchasers (NASP).
S2KM's Managing Director, Patrick Hindert, will attend portions of the NSSTA conference (as a NSSTA member and former NSSTA President) and participate in NASP's Friday morning "Industry Analysis" program (as a moderator and speaker). S2KM's continued reporting and commentary about the NSSTA and NASP conferences will appear on this S2KM blog ("Beyond Structured Settlements") as well as S2KM's structured settlement wiki.
NSSTA's strategic mandate is to "protect and preserve".
Question: what exactly does NSSTA want to "protect and preserve"?
The simple answer: Internal Revenue Code sections 104(a) and 130.
More strategically, what NSSTA wants to "protect and preserve" (to the extent possible) are business models and business practices ("good old days") that existed prior to:
- 1986 - Jim Lokey completed the first structured settlement transfer;
- 1991 - Executive Life insolvency;
- 1993 - Congress enacted IRC 468B and introduced qualified settlement funds;
- 1994 - Weil lawsuit settlement permitting structured settlement agents to work directly with claimants and plaintiff attorneys;
- 2001 - Congress adopted IRC 5891 and defined "structured settlement" as well as rules for structured settlement transfers;
- 2010 - Hartford settled the Spencer class action lawsuit (and departed the structured settlement business) following allegations of civil RICO and state fraud violations by Hartford, its agents, brokers and attorneys.
One result of NSSTA's "protect and preserve" mandate has been a "dumbing down" of NSSTA's educational programs - at least from a strategic perspective. Some of NSSTA's technical discussions are excellent. For example, NSSTA's legal committee has re-emerged as a leading structured settlement educational resource. And NSSTA's CSSC certification program continues to receive positive reviews despite low attendance and the lack of a continuing education (CLE) requirement.
NSSTA's primary educational problem is the application of its narrow and political strategic framework ("protect and preserve" as opposed to "improve and grow") for its educational programs. For example, NSSTA never invites knowledge leaders from NASP or SSP (or anyone critical of NSSTA political objectives) to participate in NSSTA's educational programs. For another related example, NSSTA educational programs never provide strategic discussions ("Industry Analysis") with alternative perspectives.
Bottom line: NSSTA's educational programs have fallen behind NASP and SSP who now represent the benchmarks for structured settlement educational excellence. For further S2KM reporting about NSSTA's educational demise, see: S2KM's analysis of NSSTA's 2009 educational program. Unfortunately, NSSTA's announced 2010 educational program looks like "the same old, same old" - at least from S2KM's strategic perspective.
By comparison with NSSTA, NASP will devote three hours of its 2010 educational program this week in Las Vegas specifically to "Structured Settlement Industry Analysis". This portion of the NASP program is subtitled: "How to Improve and Grow the Structured Settlement Industry".
Announced participants for this strategic discussion include industry knowledge experts who are members of NASP, SSP and NSSTA plus Jeremy Babener as an independent writer and analyst. Other participants include: Robin Shapiro, Earl Nesbitt, Matt Bracy, Andrew Savysky, Peter Vodola, Richard Risk, John Darer and Patrick Hindert - and continues prior NASP strategic discussions that featured: Stephen Harris, Jack Meligan and Michael Upchurch among others.