"Free Lunches" Being Watched by FINRA

"Free Lunches" Being Watched by FINRA

There is nothing wrong with putting on a dinner or lunch for prospects while you give them a pitch about a product you like. But unfortunately, a free meal brings people out, especially older folks and they become sales targets for unscrupulous people. FINRA, in seeing how these seminars are too often a vehicle for fraud and exaggeration preying on unsuspecting elders, has issued a warning to seniors. You can be the messenger to provide a heads-up for your own clients about this.

Too many unethical people are using the setting of a free lunch to sell inappropriate investments.  The annuity scams are notorious for this. And the scammers love impaired elders who are so easy to fool.

As people age, about a third of them will develop Alzheimer’s Disease. Most of the victims of this insidious disease are women.  When the earliest signs of the disease emerge, research tells us that impairment of financial judgment is already underway. The predators have no trouble talking a senior who lacks the ability to see a scam coming into buying whatever they’re selling. It happens every day, not just in the free lunch seminar.

FINRA’s alert for investors about “free lunch” investment seminars is specific. Your older clients might not get that alert unless it comes through you. Here’s the gist of what FINRA wants seniors to know.

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation researched people over 40 to find out how many have been solicited with offers for a free meal seminar.  64 percent of respondents had been solicited, which means that the odds are, your clients will be among them. What the research also showed was that half of the sales materials contained claims that were apparently exaggerated, misleading or otherwise unwarranted. 13 percent of these seminars appeared to involve fraud, such as unfounded projections of returns and sales of nonexistent products

Slick and unscrupulous “advisors” and sellers have been at this for years, pitching unsuitable products. They’ve stepped up their game as the population ages. They want every target they can get. An easy way to warn your clients is to give them a one-sheet Client Update we have created for you. Get yours here or by clicking below and send it out to everyone in your book of business. Some of them are older clients and some have aging parents or grandparents who need to know about this.

You’ll look good by showing that you care about what happens to your clients and they’ll appreciate the message.

Dr. Mikol Davis. Ed.D
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Dr. Mikol Davis, Ed.D, is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in geriatrics and the emotional challenges of aging. He has been a mental health provider for 40 years, ... Click for full bio

Advisors: How to Prepare Before Calling an Agency

Advisors: How to Prepare Before Calling an Agency

Written by: 

You’ve read my other posts:

Related: Should You Work with a Marketing or PR Agency, or Neither?

Related: There's No Point in Paying for Outside Advice If You Have No Intention of Listening to It

And you’re finally ready to talk to a marketing or PR agency.

Or are you?

I’m amazed how many prospects contact an agency without any advance preparation whatsoever. It’s not just that they don’t know what services the agency offers. The real issue is, they can’t even explain why they’re calling in the first place.

You might be raising an eyebrow at my suggestion that you actually need to prepare before calling a vendor. Don’t. I want to help you maximize your time, and potential investment.

Here’s why: The best way to use a vendor’s time during an initial call is to conduct a mini-discovery session. At FiComm, we will ask: What is your vision for your business? How do your services address your market’s needs? Where are you headed as a company? What will get you to the next level? What marketing obstacles do you face? That information shapes our remarks, ensuring that everything we say will be directly relevant to you.

Many advisors find those initial conversations enormously valuable in their own right. They help clarify their thinking. But others feel put on the spot. They freeze. They respond in standard brochure-speak: “We were founded in 1984, we have four advisors, we serve 200 households with an average account size of $400,000.”

Or they say, “We were hoping you would tell us the answers to those questions.”

Well, that’s helpful.

Imagine you’re meeting a potential wealth management client for the first time. They have $700,000 in a brokerage account, $400,000 in a retirement account, two kids, a dog and a house in L.A. Great. You start by asking their goals for themselves, their money, and their family.

Puzzled, they tilt their heads and say, “We were hoping you would tell us.”

See what I mean? How can you possibly come up with a solution for clients who can’t even articulate their goals, or speak to their financial pain points?

The same is true for us vendors. Before we can help you, we need to know where your business is going and how you think marketing can help you get there. The answers don’t have to be “right” (and we’ll help you get there), but it you come prepared to participate, our conversations can be very fruitful. If you don’t—well, it’s hard to deliver value for you. We know we’ll constantly have to prove ourselves and remind you why you hired us.

“But, Megan,” some advisors say, “we’re not ready for that. We’re just trying to understand the basics. How will we learn if you don’t tell us?”

If you’re calling an agency just to get a general marketing education, then that’s what you’ll get—general information, most of it irrelevant to you, and lacking the specifics you’re really looking for.

So, don’t call an agency to be your marketing tutor. Instead, read. Advisors have never had better access to self-help insights and information—through trade pubs, custodian relationships, blogs, podcasts, other advisors and industry pundits. Be curious. Be inquisitive. If you hear something on a podcast that intrigues you, follow the host back to LinkedIn. Read what they write there. Email your questions. Attend a webinar. Be an active participant at industry events.

At some point, you’ll understand the basics. You’ll have identified your own issues. And narrowed down your questions. Then, finally, you’ll be ready to call an agency.

Instead of saying, “Tell us what we need,” you’ll say, “We need help with this.

Megan Carpenter
Marketing
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Megan is CEO & Co-Founder at FiComm Partners, LLC. Her team develops winning communications strategies for entrepreneurs in the independent advisory community, and busines ... Click for full bio