Guest speakers at LISA’s 24th Annual Spring Life Settlement Conference, held last week at the Willard Intercontinental Washington in Washington, D.C., spotlighted the retirement savings shortfall in the U.S. and the need for “innovative solutions” to this growing problem.
Lori Prater, policy director and tax counsel for Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), provided a briefing on how Congress plans to address retirement security for Americans with legislation designed to encourage individual savings. “Retirement security is a very important topic on the Hill,” she said. “As the workforce dynamics change, we have to think about how we deal with the retirement savings shortfall in America and how we address that for future generations.”
Heather Eilers-Bowser, financial policy and legislative counsel for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), provided an update on key initiatives underway at the NAIC, focused around the central themes of promoting stable insurance markets, consumer protection and superior member services. “The NAIC is working to help consumers understand the importance of retirement security and identify innovative solutions to this challenge,” said Eilers-Bowser.
LISA’s annual meeting was one of the first professional gatherings of professionals in the life settlements industry when it debuted in 1995 and continues to bring together a wide range of industry participants each spring, including life settlement providers, brokers, service providers and institutional investors. This year’s meeting focused on regulatory developments surrounding life insurance and retirement security issues affecting seniors and also included LISA’s annual members meeting.
On Monday, May 7th, the LISA membership elected three individuals to new three-year terms on the board:
* Christopher Conway, Managing Director of Longevity Asset Advisors (new board member)
* James W. Maxson, Partner at Edwards Maxson Mago & Macaulay, (re-elected to new term)
* John Welcom, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Welcome Funds Inc. (re-elected to new term)
These members join the other six individuals who continue in their current terms to form the complete nine-person board: Alan Buerger, Executive Chairman of Coventry; John Dallas, Chief Executive Officer of Berkshire Settlements, Inc.; Vince Granieri, Chief Executive Officer of Predictive Resources, LLC; John McFarland, Chief Executive Officer of NorthStar Life Services, LLC; Sheri Townsend, Chief Operating Officer of Asset Servicing Group, LLC; and Dan Young, Senior Managing Director of Asset Management at Vida Capital Inc.
Then on Thursday, May 10th, the LISA Board of Directors elected four officers for the 2018-2019 year:
* Sheri Townsend, Chair
* Christopher Conway, Vice Chair
* John McFarland, Secretary (re-elected)
* Vince Granieri, Treasurer (re-elected)
Conference Sessions Recap
“The presentations in Washington illustrated that recent developments in technology, underwriting, consumer awareness and the regulatory climate have all converged to create excellent market conditions for life settlement industry in the U.S.,” said Darwin M. Bayston, CFA, president and chief executive officer of LISA. “LISA will remain focused on our mission of educating seniors about all of the options available to them if they own a life insurance policy they no longer need or can afford.”
One featured session at the conference included a panel discussion with three executives from the industry’s leading life settlement brokerage firms — Rob Haynie, managing director of Life Insurance Settlements; Jon Mendelsohn, chief executive officer of Ashar Group; and John Welcom, founder and chief executive officer of Welcome Funds Inc. — who addressed the role of brokers in the industry.
Mendelsohn provided an overview of the way that life settlement brokers work with consumers and their advisors by serving as a trusted resource, guiding them through each step of the process to ensure their best interests are always protected. Haynie shared an historical perspective of how brokers have been intertwined with the growth of the life settlement industry by making the process as easy and simple as possible for seniors and their advisors. “Neither consumers nor their advisors inherently know what a life insurance policy is worth,” said Welcom. “The only way to truly find out that value is to take that policy to multiple potential buyers and let the market determine how much it’s worth.”
Some of the other highlights from this year’s Spring Life Settlement conference included:
- Traci Davis, chief underwriting officer at ISC Services, LLC, informed attendees about the emergence of Electronic Health Records (EHR) and how they will revolutionize the underwriting of risk assessment in both the primary and secondary markets for life insurance. “The emergence of EHR is the biggest disruptor to hit the life settlement market since 2008,” said Davis. “EHR will replace traditional medical records and they’re likely to be the most critical driver behind understanding insureds and managing mortality risk in the future. EHR will not only reduce costs and allow us to provide faster underwriting, most importantly they will facilitate better risk assessment.”
- Gregg Gottlieb, CFP, a financial advisor with Regal Wealth Advisors, shared his professional experience with life settlements from the unique perspective of a wealth advisor. Gottlieb described client perceptions of the life settlement transaction and urged industry participants to strive for clarity, simplicity and consistency in its interactions with consumers and their professional advisors.
- Derek Wooley, co-president of Nelson Taplin Goldwater, discussed LISA’s pro-active legislative relations strategy designed to improve the life settlement marketplace and the protections it affords consumers. “Over the past two years, we’ve been able to interact with every state in the U.S. with information regarding options that consumers have for a life insurance policy they no longer need or can afford,” said Wooley.
- Chris Conway, managing director of Longevity Asset Advisors, LLC, moderated a panel discussion featuring industry experts — John Collins, vice president of Lyric Services, Inc.; Michael Fasano, president of Fasano Associates; Vince Granieri, chief executive officer of Predictive Resources, LLC; and Steven Shapiro, president and chief executive officer of Q Capital Strategies, LLC — that tackled the increasing role of “short-form life expectancies” in underwriting potential life settlements. “The business factor driving this trend in underwriting is speed,” said Shapiro. “In an environment where we’re all trying to bring more policies to the market, it’s important to get faster answers to potential buyers and sellers of life insurance policies that will help both parties make a good decision about whether to proceed with a transaction.”
- Tom Sherman, of counsel at Locke Lord LLP, and Mark Leeds, partner at Mayer Brown LLP, provided attendees with an update on federal tax provision changes. The speakers walked through the new reporting requirements laid out in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) request for comments on the specific final regulations to implement those requirements.
- R. Scott Harris, chief marketing officer of Magna Life Settlements, addressed the unique confluence of demographic changes and retirement savings needs among American seniors, then explored some pointers and pitfalls of life settlement marketing. Harris encouraged life settlement providers and brokers to make sure their consumer marketing efforts are compliant with all appropriate regulations, to treat seniors with fairness and impartiality in all interactions, and to focus on operational excellence in the way they treat consumers throughout the life settlement transaction workflow.
- Paul Tyers, president of Canadian Life Settlements, provided an update on the emerging life settlement market in Canada. Tyers delivered an overview of the regulatory environment, the seniors market in Canada and unique elements of Canadian-issued life insurance policies.
The next LISA conference will take place from October 21-23, 2018, at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn in Orlando, Fla. For more information, please go to www.lisa.org/events.