Life settlement brokers said here at the Life Settlement Summit that their business is poised for increased sales, despite the poor economy and recent revisions of mortality tables.
Jon Mendelsohn, president of Ashar Group L.L.C., Orlando, Fla., said capital is once again returning to the settlement market.
“We saw double and triple the number of offers in the last month as we did 3 months ago,” Mendelsohn told participants at the meeting.
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The meeting was sponsored by National Underwriter and National Underwriter’s parent company, Summit Business Media L.L.C., New York.
Despite the general sense of optimism, panelists agreed that the industry needs to improve on a number of fronts.
Brokers and others that facilitate settlement deals should become more consumer-friendly to sellers, Mendelsohn said.
“No one likes to be hard closed,” Mendelsohn said of the sales tactics of some settlement firms. “The days of playing poker are done.”
Vincent Pellegrino, a director at Credit Suisse Life Settlements L.L.C., New York, a unit of Credit Suisse A.G., Zurich, said managing the seller’s expectations about a settlement would make sellers more likely to accept offers.
Jordana Balsam, president of Balsam Settlement Management L.L.C., New York, said a policy sales deal needs to be justified with strong reasons, and that every interested party, from the seller’s accountant to the seller’s family members, should have a say.
“Life settlements must be pro-consumer,” Balsam said. “The consumer should be able to take time to make a decision.”
A settlement is a very personal transaction to the consumer, Mendelsohn said. “We don’t say, ‘You have to sell this policy.’ The numbers have to make sense.”