FIRE.064 “Financial Planning Education’”

{These are my personal observations and opinions of the events that took place.  I may be wrong}

I attended a meeting for a family financial planning education group.  I could tell from the pictures this would be some kind of recruitment or sales-y meeting.  I had no idea it would make me physically sick to my stomach!

I love learning more and more about financial planning.  I love the feeling of gaining new skills that are applicable to my life.

I’ve been to some great financial meetings (ChooseFI locals & Bogleheads) over time and find them amazingly rewarding.  I decided to try and find more meetings to gain knowledge so of course, I looked for some meeting opportunities.

There have been many financial meet groups that were available over the years, but one popped up last week that was located less than one mile from where I was staying.  PERFECT.

The meeting was titled “Financial Education.” The details: “Too many families are being overlooked because most financial service firms focus primarily on the wealhty.
Our focus is to provide households with information, tools, and strategies to help them make good and informed financial decisions.”  (the typo is not me, it’s in the description—maybe to not be liable, but isn’t that the most important word in the description?)

I hoped the meeting was going to explain household finances 101.  In actuality, it did explain IRAs/Roths, stocks, taxes, etc…insurances…but with a slight slant.

EEERRRK, then things changed to the attendees going from learning about financial planning, to becoming “financial planners” just as the presenter (“co-owner of the presenting business”) is now, just 5 months after quitting her waitressing career.  WTF?!

I could tell from the meeting photos that this could be a recruiting meeting instead of a learning environment (“learning to sell financial products…”) but I hoped for the best.

As I said, the first half of the beginner meeting was explaining finances with a slant.  The second half of the meeting was how much money you could make IC’ing for this company.  How much money was out there in baby boomer qualified accounts “that had to be withdrawn at 70 ½.”  Not “minimum” required distributions, but “withdrawn,” implying ALL.  With a 3-7% commission for the financial company…all while protecting the family from high 1.5% YEARLY fees from other companies.  Slanted facts in many cases.

At this point, my skin is crawling slightly because I can feel their sights on 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 and then 70 each and every day.  Those lovely seniors with a large percentage of the “25 trillion dollars” in retirement accounts.

As this explanation of “protecting families” money from the stock market waves (ups/downs) is going on, I’m thinking how the almost-to-take-effect fiduciary law for retirement accounts would most likely have stopped this business from selling 70-year-old people products that lock up their money for five to ten years.  The sale of those products may be “suitable” but I can’t imagine the lock-up is in their best interest.

 

The beginner meeting ends and we’re told if we’re interested we can go sit in on the end of the “intermediate or advanced” meetings.  I jumped to the intermediate meeting.  Everyone was dressed in their suits and dresses and fancy shoes (at 9pm on a Tuesday).

I catch the earning power potential section.  …If someone saves $300/mo into the insurance product, that is 300*12mos=3600 points.  From what I recall, a handful of these sales each month equal $3999/mo in income.

Continuing up the levels of the ladder…the top “financial planner” who has 20 people selling 20,000 points per month would make 1,020,000/yr if I recall correctly.  One million per year doing NOTHING because their “team” is selling.  I’ve never been to any multi-level anythings, but this sure looks like each level above makes money from the lower levels selling the products, AND bringing in more team members below.

Here’s the horrible part.  This could simply be my personality and not any fault of the business.  The end of the intermediate meeting had a leaderboard update.  Who met with the most clients, who brought in the most prospects (meeting attendees/sales), who signed up the most new team members, who earned the most sales points…Each “winner” being cheered louder and louder by the dozens assembled.

I swear this to be 100% truth.  During this competition update, my stomach started flipping out.  I felt queasy and then worse, I had to smoothly exit the room (during one of the standing/clapping celebrations) because I thought I would going to lose it and vomit immediately.  This is NOT a metaphor. I was becoming physically sick at that moment.

I went into the hallway, leaned against the 2nd-floor railing and breathed deeply for a few moments until everything settled down.  Nothing like this had ever happened to me before unless I was on a roller coaster, super windy road or bumpy airplane…all of which evoke some fear of danger or death.

I hate to say this, but it turns out the government may have had a good idea to get even bigger in order to help people protect their money.  Of course, I’m assuming my feelings are correct, that this is not the best thing for most people.  Remember, I’m not a professional.  However, I have completed have my 10,000 hours of working with my family’s finances.

 

Another thought I had along the way.  There were multiple business names used throughout the evening.  I’m not sure what this company was actually called.  I did see the Avery label stuck on the suite’s nameplate—which was using a different name than the powerpoint slides, the posters on the walls and the trophy’s for top salesman going back at least five years…  Warning: Danger Will Robinson.

 

*** Nothing in this article is to be construed as financial advice.  I am not a financial planner, nor do I pretend to be.  You should always consult your own professional when seeking advice.

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