Does the structured settlement profession need a brand make over?

The June 7th weekly commentary from The Settlement Channel, discussing the branding and image problems facing the structured settlement and settlement planning professions. 

Seed, time and harvest, why you should join the structured settlement expert directory

As you look to expand your marketing and professional planning practice in 2013, one of the tools you need to consider is the use of video, which is still the single most powerful advertising and branding tool known to man. 

You have to plant a seed in order to get a harvest.

You have to plant a seed in order to get a harvest.

In this 9 minute tutorial, Mark Wahlstrom, the founder of The Structured Settlement Expert Directory, reviews the upgrades in the directory, but also the proven results it has returned for the majority of it's members. Even if you are not a member of the structured settlement profession, this examination of how to effectively couple video, social media and a coherent marketing campaign together, will be invaluable in discovering why video works and why being part of a network or directory is so essential.

This video, entitled "Seed, time and harvest", looks at the concept of planting your seed, i.e. your financial resources, in fertile ground, and then what it takes in on going effort to successfully tend to the crop's growth and eventual harvest. You can not engage in a video or social media campaign by throwing dollars at it and not also have a steadfast and logical commitment to use it as part of your on going networking and branding tools. Neglect, once the money is spent on videos, only leads to your field being infested with weeds and your crop dying, wasting the time and money spent on the front end. 

Additionally it takes patience, something few of us have anymore, to allow an effective campaign to achieve powerful results. Nothing is cheap and nothing is fast in marketing and branding programs, although the relative cost for this video directory is LESS than you would spend to shoot even one video, let along multiple broadcast. Regardless, it is vital people have realistic and reasonable expectations as to what these sort of social media tools can offer, as well as the additional commitment to integrate them into your existing campaigns so as to insure success. 

If you want to know more about how to become part of The Structured Settlement Expert Directory, go to our contact page here on the site and we will be happy to assist you.

Allstate Financial provides "divorce structured settlements", what are the tax issues?

Sure it's an arcane topic and a very niche product, but Allstate Financial continued its legacy of product innovation in structured settlements by rolling out in greater detail it's structured divorce annuity product. At first blush most structured settlement planners and divorce attorney's are going to get all excited about this, but at the end of the day it has some limitations in it's current form and format that will make it a strategic planning tool vs a broad market sales opportunity.

To work out these difference in what people think this is and what it actually will be used for I asked noted tax law attorney Rob Wood to join me on Settlement Expert TV. Our discussion focused on exactly what IRC section 1041 defines as taxable and non-taxable marital transfers, why alimony and child support payments may NOT be sued with this product, ( thus curtailing a huge segment of the potential market) as well as the importance of planners and divorce attorneys to clearly and carefully define in settlements what is marital assets, alimony and child supports. 

Yet even with these limitations it is my opinion that there are some very important potential uses for this product in divorce settlements and planning. While it might seem a simple split of assets would make it unlikely that any party to the settlement might want to spread out payments over time as there is no clear tax benefit to doing so, the uses for deferred planning are not really tax driven but in this case event or personality driven.

For instance, imagine a spouse with a noted history of drug or alcohol abuse that it is agreed by all parties is not capable or responsible in handling assets. Or what if the dissolution is caused by a criminal event and you have a partner in prison? In this case you could push payments into the future. Or more likely, what if the spouse is looking to qualify for medicaid or other benefits and needs to be under an asset or income limit? Obviously each case is unique but there are many reason's I could see why this could be used and I expect it will get traction in the legal and planning community if the structured settlement profession makes an effort to train and educate family law and divorce attorney's as to it's best possible application.