In an email to NSSTA members and settlement brokers today Symetra announced their intention to withdraw from NSSTA, The National Structured Settlement Trade Association.
The email, authored by Kim McSheridan, the Vice President in charge of the settlement annuity division for Symetra Financial, laid out the reasoning in a short, to the point fashion, observing that the recent change in the NSSTA by laws created a situation where it was no longer practical for Symetra to continue their membership, despite being a founding member of the industry and over 20 years of service to the organization, primarily under their former corporate name of Safeco Life.
Obviously, a tough decision for Symetra, but as we have observed here on our blog, and other commentators such as Pat Hindert and John Darer have pointed out, the by law change to prohibit membership by organizations and individuals actively working in the factoring industry was going to result in their eventual removal so Symetra took the initiative and left before it became an issue.
I'm conflicted on this one as I understand NSSTA's reasoning for the by law change, as it was becoming apparent that more brokers and companies were looking at factoring structured settlements as an increasingly common and lucrative aspect of our industry, and they as an association have every right to outline the terms of membership and the goals of the organization. However, as many of you know I have a channel featuring Matt Bracy and the commentary of Settlement Capital as part of what I and LBN are doing in discussing issues of interest in our industry, precisely because factoring has become a common and legal practice, and legal, financial and settlement professionals are confronted with tough decisions on when to factor, how to get it done, how to avoid ethical and legal pitfalls. If you don't discuss it and talk about it your going to make mistakes or not know where to turn for advice so I'm a proponent of keeping factoring firms in the mix and building bridges to the firms which market and operate in a professionally responsible fashion.
I think this decision was inevitable but regrettable as more life markets are going to look at the factoring business, it's margins and potential and desire to be part of it. By creating an either or decision NSSTA is going to push some of these firms and brokers into the arms of less desirable marketing entities in order to promote their products, and I wish there would have been some sort of non-voting classification or sub category created for firms such as Symetra who clearly have a long history of supporting structured settlements, but who have elected to provide liquidity options for annuitants in a legal and responsible fashion.