"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

Choose a Client Portal as Wisely as Choosing Your Dog

Choose a Client Portal as Wisely as Choosing Your Dog

People tell me that dogs are a sign of how the dog owner feels about him or herself and what they value. I agree.

The 6'9" man with the tiny dog tells me that he values love, being cuddled and protected. The scruffy 5'9" man with the two greyhounds tells me he values the feeling of being stately and proper. And the woman with the fancy white poodle values feeling sharp and noticed.

A consumer portal is no different.


The portal and contents send a clear message on what the business values the most and wants its clients to value. If the portal showcases investment performance, the advisory firm is telling the client that investment performance matters the most.

If the portal accentuates a person's net worth or probability of reaching their financial goals (2nd home, college, retirement), the advisor is telling the client to care most about achieving their goals and watching their bottom line.

Related: Avoiding the Integration of Technology Can Mean the Death of Your Business

So before your business chooses a consumer portal, think about the message you want to send to the public and clients. It is no different than the message that your dog is publicly sharing about you. What you choose tells others what you value. And just like a dog, you can't return the portal so easily. So choose wisely.

If you seek help, don’t hesitate to click HERE to schedule a one-time Boost Call or HERE to inquire into our lean, business operations strategy services.

Jennifer Goldman
Operational Excellence
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Jennifer Goldman is founder of My Virtual COO and comes to us with 20 years' experience optimizing the use of tech and people to improve RIA firms' productivity and profitabil ... Click for full bio