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Old 09-19-2008, 10:50 PM   #1
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Financial Planner

So I went to this continuing education class on Retirement Planning and Live 5 years for Free (the prospect of living five years for free really interested me), and it was supposed to come with a free financial plan if you wanted one. Today I went for the appointment for my free financial plan. This is the list of documents he wanted:

Brokerage/Investment statements and transactions year to date and for last year
checking, savings, money market and CD statements
Retirement plan statements - pension, profit sharing, 401K, 430B,etc.
IRA statements
SS Benefits statements
Mortgage statement showing current balance and monthly payment
Documents showing ownership interest of real estate, partnerships, LLCs, vehicles.
Details on purchases of major assets and their current values
CC statements, showing current balances and monthly payments
Income tax returns - two most recent years
two most recent pay stubs
Individual Life insurance policies, disability income policies, long term care policies, homeowners, vehicle and umbrella insurance policies
Will and trusts, durable power of attorney, Living Will

Does this seem a little extreme?

Well I brought the items relevant to me - but not the title to my car or the deed to my house and blacked out the account numbers and my name and address, because I could see the risk to myself and could not see why he would need that information. The numbers should have been all that was important.

When I sat down, I did tell him that he shouldn't count on a big sale from me, as I was pretty cheap.

What was supposed to be a 90 minute consultation turned into him looking at my pension and social security statement and telling I should be good to go if I worked till 66. He added them together. I told him I really didn't want to work until 66.

Then he asks me if I have always been single and says "Yeah, he thought so, because I am the type who doesn't take help from anyone, he could tell" - which actually sounded very insulting in the manner that he said it.

He got rid of me in 20 minutes - was it my initial statement about the big sale? The fact that my income was only $43,000? The fact that I blacked out the account numbers and my name and address? And why the insult?
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Old 09-19-2008, 10:55 PM   #2
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My guess is you were asked to bring all those things so they could

a) Assess how much money they could take you for and
b) See which things you didnt have that they could sell you, like life insurance, will & trust (etc) and
c) Maybe slap you into a nice annuity or at least some funds with a 5.75% front end load and miserable performance

I'd call whoever organizes that continuing ed class and let them know how it went for you. Although the class may have been specifically set up to funnel lots of people in for a free sales call plan.

And had he said that to me, I'd have told him all sorts of naughty words that Gabe isnt allowed to repeat.
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Old 09-19-2008, 11:13 PM   #3
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Pretty much sounds like the list of documents I had to provide to my financial adviser when he prepared my first financial plan. I thought it was a bit much but in retrospect I can see why he needed all that stuff. A lot of it has to do with net worth computation, some of it has to do with tax planning, some of it has to do with estate planning... But I have to say that when he requested a new pay stub every year, it felt like he was checking out how much more he could charge me for his services...
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Old 09-19-2008, 11:52 PM   #4
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These guys are looking for coconuts and if you don't fit the bill they move on, simple as that. They want someone whose not paying attention.
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Old 09-20-2008, 07:31 AM   #5
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Those are also the documents you would request to complete a thorough analysis and complete financial plan. The people you need to avoid are those who only ask for brokerage statements.
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Old 09-20-2008, 07:52 AM   #6
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DW and I went to something similar about 10 years ago. A 6 week series of evening classes (cost $75 for the 2 of us) with an optional free session with a financial planner afterwards. The course and free session was obviously the way they made their money, but the course was excellent and we did opt for the free session afterwards.

They didn't ask for all the documents you mentioned but they asked for all the information pertaining to it. We ended up with 2 long sessions and a pretty good assessment of where we were - they (2 planners) said we were "golden" with all our ducks in a row and should be able to RE at 55.

They did ask us to think about a variable annuity to shelter more money as we were already maxing out IRA's and 401(k)'s but didn't offer any, also suggested Life Insurance to maximize pension as we could take out a $500K life insurance and take the larger pension with reduced survivor benefits.

No pressure whatsoever and we walked away to think about their 2 recommendations - we did the life insurance but not the annuity and we did it ourselves, not through them. We were also impressed enough by the course and the no-pressure free session that I was happy enough to recommend the course to others - which is the same way I found out about it myself.

I think our experience was an exception to what I hear others go through. I think you had a very brief session because the planner could quickly see he wasn't likely to make any money out of you but that means you will never recommend him to anyone else, which is very short-sighted.
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Old 09-20-2008, 07:58 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ohfrugalone View Post
...it was supposed to come with a free financial plan if you wanted one.
The documents they asked for would be needed for a complete financial plan, not extreme. But what were you expecting for "free?" You got what you paid for...
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Old 09-20-2008, 08:09 AM   #8
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So I guess I insulted him right off the bat, because I let him know that I wouldn't be buying; then insulted him again when I blacked out the account numbers and my social security number.

I really don't understand the need for the deed to my house and the title to my car, though.

I do admit I was distrusting of him when I realized the point of the class was to get you in for the personal financial plan. The information presented was very basic and he only gave you 1/2 the book at the first class (which you had to pay an additional $20 for) and the other 1/2 at the 2nd class. Then he didn't address the live 5 years for free portion until after the break in the 2nd class - and it was not about living for free - it was minimizing taxes, and he raced through that in five minutes. (Though the types of places to put your cash in took 10 minutes - (checking, savings, CD's, money markets) Then he "forgot" to put in the handouts describing that - except for a few people (who I assumed had signed up for the financial plan in the first class). So you had to provide your e-mail and address to have it sent to you.

Tell me, would he have done a credit check on me if I had provided my social security number on the tax returns? Otherwise, why would that be needed for a complete plan? Why would the other account numbers be needed, exactly?
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Old 09-20-2008, 08:15 AM   #9
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OFO: What did you pay for this class, etc.?
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Old 09-20-2008, 08:20 AM   #10
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Did you pay for this class? If so, I would definitely complain. His comment about you not being married and unwilling to accept help from others was way out of line.

I don't know why the "teacher" couldn't have given you a form to fill out with the information from the documents for this level of a free financial plan.

Our community college offers classes like this--three sessions for $90, taught by outside financial planners, not staff, with their own mailings separate from the community colleges but with registration through the college.
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Old 09-20-2008, 08:23 AM   #11
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The Class was $50 - the text - which was a copy of the slide presentation (except for that addressing live 5 years for free), was $20.

The information was very basic, though I am sure some people wouldn't know the three sources of retirement income are pensions, social security and your personal investments, for instance.

Best Wife - Yes, the continuing education program is through the University - they have short fun type classes to take, and it is pretty acceptable for all of them to make more money by charging for a "text" that they put together. I can't tell you my disappointment in the fung shui class I took - the person was just someone interested in fung shui and I would rather have bought a real book for $20 then what she provided.

I should add that other classes I have taken were excellent.
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Old 09-20-2008, 08:34 AM   #12
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$50-$70 isn't a great deal of money for a class and financial plan, and I mean no ill-will, but what kind of financial plan were you hoping to get?
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Old 09-20-2008, 08:40 AM   #13
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I guess I was expecting more than him adding up my pension and expected social security check and saying - work till your 66 and your there. After all I brought all that information. I told him by the time I was 66 my pension would no longer add up to that and he just kind of shrugged his shoulders.
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Old 09-20-2008, 08:45 AM   #14
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$50-$70 isn't a great deal of money for a class and financial plan, and I mean no ill-will, but what kind of financial plan were you hoping to get?
I think OFO could have saved the cost of the class/financial plan and enjoyed a free meal and "seminar" that would have provided the same level of info....

But I'm sure it was helpful to review where you're at, OFO, and maybe you saw areas where you can make adjustments to help you retire before 66?
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Old 09-20-2008, 08:45 AM   #15
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I guess I was expecting more than him adding up my pension and expected social security check and saying - work till your 66 and your there. After all I brought all that information. I told him by the time I was 66 my pension would no longer add up to that and he just kind of shrugged his shoulders.
What you got was underwhelming and somewhat insulting, but I guess I wouldn't have expected anything very valuable in terms of a financial plan for $50-$70 on top of a class. For example, last time I looked, a comprehensive financial plan at Vanguard was as much as $1,000 - and it's not worth it (and no one pays it, if you have enough assets with them it's free). I am sorry you had a bad experience FWIW...
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Old 09-20-2008, 09:03 AM   #16
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I guess I was expecting more than him adding up my pension and expected social security check and saying - work till your 66 and your there. After all I brought all that information. I told him by the time I was 66 my pension would no longer add up to that and he just kind of shrugged his shoulders.
Just write off the $70 as a learning experience, it could have been much worse. I would definitely write a letter to the college detailing your concerns and disappointment, you may help others in doing so.
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Old 09-20-2008, 09:27 AM   #17
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Next time, play along and make them think you will drop $5,000 into their pockets by buying annuities and life insurance from them. I think you did insult them and deserved what you got. You need to learn the art of insulting folks while making them happy that you insulted them.
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Old 09-20-2008, 09:30 AM   #18
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Those are also the documents you would request to complete a thorough analysis and complete financial plan. The people you need to avoid are those who only ask for brokerage statements.
I agree that if you were going to get a true analysis and plan you'd need most of these items. I agree it's not unrealistic for an individual to black out account numbers and social security numbers for a preliminary review. Unless you are a true client, maintaining a certain amount of confidentiality seems prudent.

I also agree you demonstrated yourself as a non-client by your comments. That certainly earned you the "short version." I don't think you insulted him. Being blunt but polite is never an insult even if they think it is.
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Old 09-20-2008, 09:43 AM   #19
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I also don't think OFO insulted the planner. I often tell people up front in a very nice way that something is not in my budget, especially when the product is an add-on to a service (like cosmetics following a "free" makeover, or dealer upgrades to a new car, or a warranty on a new cell phone). After hearing their presentation I (infrequently) might change my mind, but at least it tells the seller where I'm coming from. And a smart seller doesn't insult the client (which is what OFO was in a sense) but will give the best presentation possible anyway.
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Old 09-20-2008, 09:53 AM   #20
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Let me take one more stab at this...

OP took a class that included a free 90 minute full financial plan.

S/he was asked for a bunch of documents and redacted some personal information irrelevant to the financial plan.

OP stated up front a lack of interest in buying any expensive products.

Salesman cut the plan period short and didnt utilize most of the documents requested, and insulted the OP.

This 'class' sounds like a way to get people greased (at the customers cost) for a "financial plan" designed to sell a range of products and services.

The "financial planners" response sounds to me to be exactly the same as when you go for one of those "free" vacations or lunches and tell the salesman right off the bat that you arent interested in buying the timeshare.

As a former salesman, this ticks me off and should tick off the real pro financial planners. It gives salespeople and financial planners a bad name. If you want to cook up a scheme to sucker in people to sell your products, and charge the customers money in exchange for a set bill of goods, at least deliver the bill of goods whether you're going to get the sale or not. Oh, and be polite to the customer that did nothing other than be careful and honest about their intentions.

You might find that they have some business you can help them with, a friend who does, and at least you've delivered what you promised in a professional manner.
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