In the last decade, life settlements were all the rage but, alas, as with so many "hot" products, once we hit full boil, the enthusiasm steamed off, the problems surfaced, and we were left with more than a few burnt pots in the form of customer lawsuits and regulatory cases. Today's BrokeAndBroker.com Blog considers a recent FINRA regulatory settlement involving the legacy of life settlement sales.
SIDE BAR: "Investor Bulletin on Life Settlement" (SEC Investor Alerts and Bulletins) offers some excellent guidance on life settlements. In pertinent part:
What is a life settlement?In a "life settlement" transaction, a life insurance policy owner sells his or her policy to an investor in exchange for a lump sum payment. The amount of the payment from the investor to the policy owner is generally less than the death benefit on the policy, but more than its cash surrender value. The dollar amount offered by the investor usually takes into account the insured's life expectancy (age and health) and the terms and conditions of the insurance policy.Why would a policy owner wish to sell a life insurance policy?Due to changed family or other circumstances, a life insurance policy owner may no longer need the insurance provided by the policy. A spouse may have died, children may have grown up, or a company with life insurance on a key officer may have been sold or gone out of business. Other policy owners may have difficulty making premium payments or simply need cash. In such circumstances, many policy owners surrender their policies or let their policies lapse by ceasing to make premium payments. Selling a policy to an investor may be another alternative. Such sales may be made through life settlement brokers who charge commissions.
In 2009, Calder's wife, who was school teacher by profession and had no prior experience in the securities or insurance industries, became licensed by Life Partners to sell its life settlement products.
[C]alder recommended life settlement investments to the customers, and when they expressed interest in investing, Calder referred them to his wife to make their investments. Calder further facilitated the customers' investments by answering their questions about life settlement investments and providing them with the necessary paperwork to make the investments. The four customers dealt exclusively with Calder, not his wife, in connection with making their Life Partner life settlement investments. During the relevant time period, Life Partners deposited $8,925 in commission payments for life settlement sales into the joint bank account of Calder and his wife.
permitted to resign during Raymond James' internal investigation of his involvement in "selling life settlement to clients."
Violation of Federal Securities Laws, Violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices - Consumer Protection Act, Violation of the Texas Securities Act, Breach of Contract, Common Law Fraud, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Negligence and Gross Negligence.