S2KM has received both positive and negative private feedback about S2KM's coverage of the National Association of Settlement Purchasers (NASP) 2011 Annual Meeting. Although S2KM welcomes any feedback, private or public, negative feedback generally provides greater focus and incentive for afterthoughts.
Among the private criticisms S2KM has received:
- S2KM is biased toward (or has an affinity for) the secondary market at the expense of the primary market.
- S2KM criticizes primary market business conduct without reporting secondary market bad business behavior.
- S2KM should be more of a positive voice for change and not a muckraker.
Bias Toward the Secondary Market
S2KM believes that IRC 5891 and the state protection statutes have radically changed and improved both the structured settlement product and the structured settlement market. To paraphrase NASP President Matt Bracy: structured settlement recipients, in compliance with federal and state laws, now have the right to sell their asset (payment rights) provided a state judge approves the sale in advance as being in the "best interest" of the transferor/payee taking into account the welfare and support of the payee's dependents. Instead of the "grey" secondary structured market that existed from 1986 to 2000, the secondary market is now regulated by state judges and the Internal Revenue Service with substantial penalties for transfer companies who do not comply with federal and state statutes.
Many primary market participants will disagree with portions of the above paragraph. They do not view structured settlements transfers either as a product improvement or as a recipient's "right" however that right may be qualified by statute. In S2KM's opinion, the primary market's general attitude toward and perspective of the secondary market since 2001 represent a serious strategic mistake that has caused considerable harm to the primary structured settlement market. Instead of improving their own products by adding commutation or transfer features, and re-learning how to sell their product in a statutorily re-defined market, the primary market continues to criticize and shun the secondary market.
By comparison, NASP regularly invites and welcomes critics to speak at its educational conferences. These critics have included blogger John Darer, two current co-chairpersons of the NSSTA Legal Committee Peter Vodola and Stephen Harris, and current SSP President Jack Meligan, as well as judges from states where structured settlement transfers are viewed most negatively. Among NASP presentations by S2KM author Patrick Hindert (Hindert), see "How the Primary Market Views Factoring".
Criticizing Business Conduct
Beginning in 2004, S2KM has reported and discussed both primary and secondary structured settlement market business practices and business models. For compilations of S2KM's reporting about secondary market business practices (good and bad), see the Secondary Market page on the structured settlement wiki. For detailed information about pre-2001 secondary market business practices and issues, see section 16.02 of "Structured Settlements and Periodic Payment Judgments" (S2P2J) of which Hindert is a co-author.
For S2KM reporting and commentary about primary market business standards and practices, see also the structured settlement wiki:
- Business Standards and Practices .
- Primary Market - includes IRC 468B Qualified Settlement Funds.
- Spencer v. Hartford .
Readers can judge for themselves whether S2KM criticizes primary market business conduct without reporting secondary market bad business behavior.
Positive Voice for Change vs. Muckraker
Wikipedia defines the contemporary use of the term "muckraker" to mean "a journalist who writes in the adversarial or alternative tradition or a non-journalist whose purpose in publication is to advocate reform and change." When S2KM began publishing in 2004, social media (including blogs, wikis and podcasts) represented an "alternative" to traditional print media and educational conferences. Social media provides an opportunity for unpopular or minority ideas and viewpoints to gain an audience not otherwise available. Unfortunately, social media also has a dark side which can include personal attacks and bullying.
In advocating for improved structured settlement business practices and business models, S2KM has attempted (with a few exceptions which S2KM regrets), to follow the lessons taught in "Getting to Yes" which at one time represented a guidebook of sorts for the primary structured settlement market. Perhaps the "Getting to Yes" method can still be useful to help a divided structured settlement industry improve and grow:
- Separate the people from the problem.
- Focus on interests not positions.
- Invent options for mutual gain.
- Insist on using objective criteria.
Without more strategic conversations that include all structured settlement stakeholders and perspectives, the structured settlement industry will never achieve its full potential. To the extent possible, S2KM intends to encourage and to be part of those strategic industry conversations. Some of S2KM's preliminary contributions appear on the following pages of the structured settlement wiki: