Gay Man Again Takes Helm of Life Settlement Association

Wed. May 19, 2004 12:00 AM

Orlando, FL - The Viatical & Life Settlement Association of America, based in Orlando, Florida, convened its two-day spring meeting last week in Philadelphia. The theme of the May 13-14 meeting was "Raising the Bar," which reflects the Association's work pursuing new levels of accountability for the industry, including standardized best practices.

At the meeting, VLSAA members elected four board members, three of whom were standing for re-election, to the nine-member board of directors. One of those re-elected to the board for a two-year term was M. Bryan Freeman, founder of Benefits America NA, Inc., an Atlanta-based viatical and life settlement firm, which he says is the oldest and largest gay-owned company in the industry.

The VLSAA's new board then elected officers for 2004-2005, once again voting Freeman as board president. This is his third one-year term as VLSAA president, which is unprecedented. He previously served as board secretary and, later, its treasurer.

"The continued growth of the viatical and life settlement industry - growth which can only benefit the consumer by providing greater options - is due to the strong leadership and commitment of individuals like Bryan," says Doug Head, executive director of the Association. "He is an excellent example of the individuals who are pursuing the high standards of the VLSAA. Bryan will be of great service in continuing our industry's positive evolution."

"At our November meeting, our members agreed to proceed with the basic premise of a Business Operating Standards Program introduced by the VLSAA board in a special session last August," says Head. "So this meeting focused quite a bit on the work done since November to develop those standards and ensure we have adequately accounted for a rapidly changing and growing industry. We vetted a board-approved draft of the new ethics standards, then went in to breakout sessions by type of Association member (brokers, providers, service providers and financial entities)."

"The feedback garnered from the breakout groups at our meeting is invaluable," says Freeman, who was re-elected to the board for a fourth (two-year) term. "These expert committees made substantive changes to our draft Operating Standards, helping put in place not just what they think they can do, but what they believe we must all do to strengthen and further the industry."

Freeman says he expects the Association to adopt at least preliminary Business Operating Standards within the year.

The mainstream viatical and life settlement industry came into being to meet the crisis of the AIDS pandemic, having existed previously in limited form. Viatical settlements enable people who are seriously ill to sell their life insurance policies for an immediate cash settlement. That practice soon made way for life settlements, which also enable people to sell their life insurance policies; rather than being based on serious illness, life settlements are usually transacted by seniors and other high-net-worth individuals for estate and financial-planning purposes.