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What I've Learned From Dinner Seminar Invititations


The people we bought our house from were selling this home to move to their “retirement home” out west.   The first year most of their mail was forwarded to them.  After the one-year period we now receive a lot of their junk mail.  One of my favorite items we receive are the invitations to “free” dinners at local restaurants put on by financial advisors.   Something arrives about once a week and I have learned so much from these invitations.  I figured it was worth sharing some of the key items I’ve learned.

  • Did you know there are new rules to investing, especially when it comes to retirement?   Unfortunately, I don’t know what theses new rules are as I need to attend the dinner to be educated.
  • Apparently, I can “crash-proof” my assets and my retirement.  Again, not sure how, but I feel as though I need to purchase some expensive insurance product that provides a healthy commission to the salesman.
  • Also, I can protect myself from market losses while still participating in the rise of the market.  Talk about having your cake and eating it too!  Again, my guess is this involves the sale of some product.
  • You must slap the word “fiduciary” all over the invitation.  This seems to be key to establishing trustworthiness.  I’m sure there is no reason to do a broker check on FINRA’s website to make sure this salesperson has no complaints against them.
  • Only after I sit through a 60-90 minute presentation will I be allowed to eat.  The seminars usually start at 6:30 and I’m going to be starving by the time the presentation finishes.  Hopefully I can bring a snack.  Otherwise, I may be so weak and bored I may fall prey to one of their sales pitches.
  • My bad, these dinners are never “sales pitches” and “nothing will be sold.”  Well, at least not at the dinner itself.  I have a feeling there will be a lot of fear-inducing statements shared and pressure to set an individual, follow-up appointment.

Alright, enough of picking on these invitations.  I probably should be careful with karma as I will be doing my first ever seminars this fall, although I won’t be providing food and they will be held at a local university, not a restaurant.  The goal for mine is to educate and not scare people into buying products.  Think of mine as being the opposite of these dinner seminars.  

I personally do not know anyone who has ever attended one of these events.  Someone must otherwise advisors wouldn’t take the time and spend the money on them.  I have heard stories the average dinner costs $5,000 for an advisor and 10-20 people attend.   No wonder there is pressure to sell a product with a fat commission.

There are articles on a regular basis sharing stories from financial writers who have attended these dinners.  It often is accompanying a parent or other loved one.  The results are always the same – the writer is shown the door because they ask real questions at these presentations.  One thing you often see on these invitations is financial professionals are not welcome to attend.  I’m not enough of a jerk to show up at one, however, I do enjoy stories from my peers who do.

Now, if you attend these dinners just remember a few key things.  If a product has to be sold instead of being bought, is it a good product?   It may be cheaper for you to hit the all-you-can-eat night at the local wing restaurant than attend a “free” dinner at a nice restaurant.  Finally, nothing’s more expensive than free.