Knowledge: A Strategic Factor in Structured Settlement Growth

He has demonstrated “how knowledge can function as a driver of long-term economic growth” – The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in awarding Paul Romer a 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics.

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During the most recent annual meeting of the National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA), which occurred April 3-5, 2019 in Charleston, South Carolina, NSSTA President Michelle Caine identified three strategic 2019 objectives in her inaugural NSSTA address: federal lobbying, innovation and a special emphasis on education.

“We promote growth, establishment, and preservation of structured settlements in order to provide long-term financial security to personal injury claimants and their families through periodic payments,” Caine stated, quoting from NSSTA’s Mission. “I believe that raising the awareness and educating on the benefits of structured settlements is a key component of our mission and is critical to our future success,” she continued. “For this reason, our association’s focus over the next year will be on education.”

Citing an aspirational goal of $7 billion of structured settlement premium in 2020, Caine also made clear the focus of her NSSTA educational priority would be external – aimed primarily on those stakeholders who influence decisions whether to purchase structured settlement annuities - including the legal community, judges, mediators and claims professionals.

Independent Life congratulates Michelle Caine on her new position as NSSTA President and we fully support her focus on education to promote the growth of the structured settlement market. In fact, we introduced The Knowledge Network on our website to provide educational resources for the structured settlement community.

Significant for knowledge and industry education, however, the structured settlement market has recently experienced a series of developments that have dramatically changed our market. We highlighted some of those developments in this preliminary article of the Independent Life Chronicle.

NSSTA’s most recent newsletter also spotlighted industry change in announcing the election of Michael Goodman as NSSTA President-elect stating:

“As a former NSSTA President and Board member, Goodman continues in a leadership role focused on what settlement professionals need to do as the industry changes.”

In his own conference remarks, acknowledging the scope of industry changes impacting structured settlements, Goodman suggested (not in jest) that NSSTA might consider changing its name to the National Settlement Solution Trade Association.

As further evidence of industry change, for the first time in its history, NSSTA’s 2019 Annual Meeting featured an educational panel discussing settlement planning – a term adopted by many NSSTA brokers, and encompassing structured settlements, but heretofore avoided by NSSTA itself.

Therefore, from Independent Life’s perspective, expanding the existing structured settlement market requires more than just external education of traditional clients about traditional structured settlement benefits.

That strategy has resulted in a regressive sales cycle – as Independent Life summarized and analyzed in its five-part Chronicle blog series, The 2018 Structured Settlement Production Report.

The problem preventing structured settlement growth is not the structured settlement product. However, it may be that current industry knowledge does not effectively match the current and developing market.

Therefore, to successfully develop a foundation for future growth in the context of industry change, NSSTA may need to rethink and redesign its educational programming and marketing to strategically position structured settlements as the core product within personal injury settlement planning.

This article begins a new Independent Chronicle series, supplemented by articles in the Knowledge Network, exploring that premise.  The series will review basic industry issues, discuss agendas from recent industry educational conferences, and offer suggestions to improve current educational programming and educational marketing.

The objective of this new Chronicle series is to generate interest and focus industry discussion on Independent Life’s belief that more timely and relevant education is needed to increase knowledge that will drive structured settlement growth.