For those individuals in retirement as well as those approaching retirement (target market of persons over age 50), you undoubtedly have received the offer of a free lunch or dinner at a local restaurant. I personally receive such an invitation at least monthly, if not more often. Sometimes these “educational” presentations are on such topics such as how to make the most of your retirement income, protecting your assets from stock market crashes, and when to begin taking social security benefits. The advisor’s invitation will often state that he is a “senior specialist”, a title that may have little or no meaning.
Typically the speaker will talk for an hour or 90 minutes providing you with information on the topic of the seminar. The speaker will typically pose questions throughout the presentation that will call for a response from the attendees. I have heard some describe these presentations as revival meetings where the audience finds itself nodding in agreement or verbally agreeing with the statements of the presenter. While the information provided is often correct, it is also not rocket science. At the conclusion of the presentation, the attendees will be asked to make an appointment to meet with the advisor for a free consultation. The presenter is hoping that group pressure will compel you to make an appointment as you don’t want to be the only person at your table who does not make an appointment.
There are generally two types of individuals who attend these presentations. The first group is called “plate lickers” by those who conduct these presentations. These are attendees who have no interest in working with the advisor but are merely attending because of the free meal, especially if the event is held at a pricey restaurant. The second group is those who may have emotionally bonded with the presenter and may feel a need to reciprocate for the free meal by agreeing to the free consultation.
So what is the purpose of this blog posting? There is nothing wrong with attending these presentations to learn more. In fact, we think that individuals need to educate themselves using any means available to them, including attending these presentations. However, attendees need to be cautious when meeting with the advisor for the free, personal consultation. These presentations are often sponsored by companies that have a stake in selling you their products—including investments that can be risky or inappropriate for your personal situation. At some of the seminars I have attended, I have heard incorrect tax advice being given at these seminars. While you were not “sold” anything at the presentation, chances are it will come during your personal consultation. So what do you do? Don’t commit to anything until you have completed your due diligence. First, we suggest that you check to see if there are any complaints that have filed against the financial advisor. You can do this by visiting FINRA Broker Check. If you currently working with a financial advisor, solicit that person’s thoughts about the advice you received. You should also speak with the tax professional who handles your tax preparation and tax planning. One very important financial consideration is not how much money you make from an investment, but how much you get to keep after paying fees and taxes.
To learn more about how to do your due diligence, we invite you to call 610-594-2601 today to make an appointment at our Exton PA CPA office to discuss your personal situation with an experienced tax professional. You can also schedule a consultation at Click Here.