The age of the internet has taken its toll on the industry’s trade associations. Instead of attending the state association convention, operators can now surf the net for what’s new in the industry. Providing new and unique content is difficult. Another challenge is that the 3 day convention. It is asking alot to have smaller operators leave their businesses for three to four days to attend a conference. When I received an invitation to the North American Death Care Regulators convention I gave serious thought to attending. Like so many of my clients, two or three days away from the office requires planning. But, the DCRA invitation came so late that I already had conflicting commitments. So I began reviewing the agenda to evaluate the sessions in terms of value to the intended audience, and the value to me.
Josh Slocum and Consumer Issues – The Funeral Consumer Alliance will probably try to remind the regulators that their duty is to protect the consumer, and that there is plenty of work to be done. Regulators are the front line when it comes to consumer issues, so I doubt they need reminding of their mission. The challenge is to fulfill their mission with limited resources. To increase efficiency, regulators need an understanding of their licensees’ business.
Missouri Division of Finance and Trust Fund Examinations – This one is at the epicenter of the Missouri/NPS problems. NPS bootstrapped their expansion into insurance states by converting the Missouri trusts to insurance investments. Knowing how the Division is adapting their examination process is worth the price of admission. (So far, the Division is advising ‘no tickee, no laundry’.)
CANA Panel and Cremation Trends – The cremation trend is rising, and revenues are declining. Tell me something we don’t already know. This description has no hooks for me.
Bill Williams and the Model Preneed Trust – I love models. I like Bill. FSI’s operations impress me. But, I already have my own opinions of how those other master trusts ran off the rails.
A St. Louis Cardinals baseball game – How much did you say I have to pay for a nose bleed seat? I don’t even know why I’m asking. If the Kansas regulators would play hokey, I would too. This is the only agenda item I would rank higher than Geno.
Attending the Wednesday agenda sessions were never an option because of my schedule conflict: the Kansas Cemetery Association Convention/Membership Meeting. The same was true for the Kansas Secretary of State staff. The Kansas Cemetery Association went dormant several years ago, at a time when the KSOS staff needed a unified industry voice the most. The Kansas legislature passed a cemetery law in the absence of an active KCA, and a handful of industry representatives stepped forward a year ago to revive the KCA.
Getting the word out to the hundreds of cemeteries subject to the Kansas cemetery law is a challenge. The KCA turned to the internet by posting a website. Email correspondence has also been crucial to engaging operators. The KCA chose a one day format to control costs to all attendees: operators, vendors and regulators. When a prospective attendee evaluates the agenda for valuable content, there is only one suspect session: the 11:00 slot.
To beef up that session, we are going to discuss four legal issues that relate to the cemetery’s trusts and invite the attending fiduciaries to participate on a panel. The four issues can be viewed by following the hyperlink, and to avoid blindsiding my panel members, this author’s answers are:
1) All of the above
2) The cemetery operator
4) (Sorry, no tickee, no laundry)
Attendance is recommended.