As the National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA) prepares for its 2016 Annual Meeting this week in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the primary structured settlement market faces many challenges - perhaps none greater than succession. What new generation of distributors, or distribution channel(s), will emerge (and when) to replace and build upon the accomplishments of the pioneering generation (now in their 60s and 70s) who originated the structured settlement market in the late 1970s?
One of several NSSTA strategies for attracting and educating "Next Generation" structured settlement participants is NSSTA's Structures 202 conference. Structures 202 targets new industry participants providing attendees a day and one half program explaining case management fundamentals and identifying business development opportunities. It replaces and expands NSSTA's previous Structures 101 program which was directed more narrowly toward structured settlement case analysts and administrators.
To provide one attendee's perspective on structured settlements plus his evaluation of NSSTA's Structures 202 conference, S2KM interviewed Patrick Williams. Williams does not currently work in the structured settlement industry and Structures 202 was his first-ever structured settlement conference.
S2KM: Thank you, Patrick, for agreeing to participate in this interview. How and when did you first learn about structured settlements?
WILLIAMS: I first heard about structured settlements through Cincinnati attorney Joe Dehner. Joe, who co-authors "Structured Settlements and Periodic Payment Judgments" and is also my soon-to-be father in law, knew I was working toward getting my Texas All-Lines adjuster license. He described the industry to me and explained the benefits to the various parties.
S2KM: What first interested you about a possible career in structured settlements?
WILLIAMS: What most attracted me to structured settlements was the overwhelming benefit to injury victims. We all hear financial horror stories about lottery winners and pro-athletes, as well as injury victims, who receive lump sums of money and are broke in just a handful of years. Feeling good about what I do is paramount to the type of person I was raised to be. Structured settlements seemingly is a win-win for both client and broker.
S2KM: How did you learn about the National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA) and the NSSTA Structures 202 Conference?
WILLIAMS: During my preliminary structured settlement research, I learned about NSSTA. Structures 202 seemed like the right place to begin more detailed education.
S2KM: What preparation or study, if any, did you engage in to prepare yourself for the NSSTA Conference?
WILLIAMS: I primarily continued to study my adjuster study materials, as I thought having a good basis of knowledge in claims and claims management would be beneficial to anything I might learn at the conference. I also reviewed resources I found via "Google" searches.
S2KM: Were you initially confused by the existence of a primary and secondary structured settlement market?
WILLIAMS: The idea of the secondary market was actually something I was more familiar with at first than the primary market - due to JG Wentworth's aggressive ad campaigns.
S2KM: What were your objectives in attending the NSSTA Conference?
WILLIAMS: I wanted to more fully understand the history and function of periodic payments. In that respect, Toni Warbington provided the best introductory information of the seminar in my opinion. Some of the other presentations contained information that I feel would be more beneficial if I had more experience in the industry at the time of my attendence. I also wanted to identify different qualifications and certifications that might make me a more attractive candidate for structured settlement brokering.
S2KM: Did you accomplish those objectives?
WILLIAMS: Yes, I believe I established a good base of knowledge on how the industry operates. I also gathered information on different backgrounds some of the attendees had prior to getting involved in the industry.
S2KM: What, if anything, surprised you most about the NSSTA Conference?
WILLIAMS: What surprised me most about the conference was the number of attendees who had only one year of less in the industry. It was very comforting to know the structured settlement industry appears to embrace a "youth movement" of sorts.
S2KM: What was the most important information you learned about structured settlements at the NSSTA Conference - as far as:
- Case management fundamentals? WILLIAMS: Identifying the type of claimant you are working with seems the most crucial. There appears to be a variety of ways to help a claimant depending on whether he/she is mentally incompetent or a minor who is not qualified to directly receive settlement funds.
- Business development opportunities? WILLIAMS: The rising importance of technology. Specifically, the implementation and usage of CRM technology for brokers.
- Career opportunities? WILLIAMS: Going into the conference I was already aware of the opportunities of working as an approved broker for either a defendant or plaintiff attorney. However, I was unaware that career opportunities might also exist with a life company or an assignment company.
S2KM: Did the NSSTA Conference increase or decrease your career interest in structured settlements?
WILLIAMS: It definitely furthered my interest. The mix of experience and youth in "202" made for a very comfortable environment. The conference also provided me with the base knowledge that I was seeking. The inside look into the industry gave me insight into how the industry works.
S2KM: Does the structured settlement market appear to offer attractive career opportunities for someone like yourself? Why or why not?
WILLIAMS: As someone interested in the fields of claim management and adjustment, structured settlements naturally interests me. The cross-over from claims adjustment was very apparent during the "202" seminars. Structured settlements appears to provide a rewarding career as well as a valuable service.
S2KM: What appear to be the most difficult challenges for someone like yourself thinking about entering the structured settlement market?
WILLIAMS: The most difficult challenge appears to be the lack of introductory knowledge available. There is not really a set education or training course available specifically for people like me who are interested in learning about structured settlements. Other career alternatives provide better introductory educational opportunities.
S2KM: What skill sets do you believe are important for achieving career success in the structured settlement market?
WILLIAMS: Without being directly involved in the industry, my perspective is limited to what I saw in the conference. However, with the insight I acquired during the "202" conference, I would say that a strong background in sales, claims, finance, and legal matters would be very helpful.
S2KM: What structured settlement sub-markets, if any, most interest you?
WILLIAMS: Probably non-qualified structured settlements. The potential for structuring claims other than physical, personal injuries appears to have a lot of potential.
S2KM: How do you intend to follow-up your NSSTA Conference experience?
WILLIAMS: I would like to attend more NSSTA conferences and identify employment opportunities within the structured settlement market.