A few weeks ago, we posted on the Wisconsin Master Trust and the smaller operator’s need for legislation. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this past week that the Association filed a motion with the court seeking to suspend the investment returns promised to consumers. The Association is quoted as having told the court that the trust in no position to gamble that its real returns will keep up with an artificial rate of return. The artificial rate of return the Association refers to is 1% over the average certificate of deposit return. Worded in another way, the Association is suggesting that the trust cannot be invested so as to provide a gross rate of return of 3.5%, or a net return of 2%. Nonsense.
The Association understands that the legislation that they need to meet the promises made to consumers would have to come at the expense of a compromise on the legislation sought by the cemetery industry (and favored by the consolidators). But, some within the Association are prepared to sacrifice the smaller operators rather than to give on legislation.
We also find this situation ironic in that a Wisconsin based preneed insurance company is precluded from offering its new hybrid trust/insurance product in its own home state. Everyone seems to have something to gain from a legislative compromise, but the fear of increased competition has everyone at an impasse.