Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Discuss all general (i.e. non-personal) investing questions and issues, investing news, and theory.
Badger1754
Posts: 118
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:00 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Badger1754 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:24 am

I’m a target demographic for financial advisors (early career, professional services, married) and in my line of work normally get cold reach outs about once a week. Most of them are via email or LinkedIn where I send a polite “thanks, but no thanks” reply that clearly does not invite a follow up.

Occasionally, I get a more direct approach in that they will actually cold call me. Now I have Nomorobo on my phone and normally don’t pick up on unknown numbers or those I don’t recognize. However, sometimes they will go as far as to call my office’s general switchboard and ask for me by name. My office phone will then forward to my cell phone so it looks like the call is coming from a colleague.

Last Friday, while I was driving from NY to Philly (and stuck in slow traffic on the Turnpike), I got such a call. It was beyond the pale in just how sleazy this guy was. Below, I’ve tried to identify exactly what tactics he pulled.

Me: Hello?
FA: Hey [Name], it’s Max. (Name disguised)
Me: Excuse me?
Max: Yeah, it’s Max from Northwestern Mutual. (Firm not disguised)
Me: Do we have a call scheduled?
Max: No we don’t, but I’m a friend of [other colleague]. (Trying to appeal to familiarity, and I suspect also racial affinity grouping since the other colleague had a surname that was of the same ethnicity as me.)
Me: Who’s that? (This is true. I’ve never heard of him.)
Max: He works with you. He’s a partner at your firm.(Appealing to authority, as I am not a partner.)
Me: And he said you should call me?
Max: Well, my practice partners with your firm colleagues and we offer a complimentary portfolio evaluation as well as a wide variety of wealth management and planning services.(Diversion as he did not answer the question of whether my colleague said he should call me, and “weasel words” as he tried to imply that his firm had an official relationship with mine, which they don’t.)
Me: ...
Max: Yeah, and I talk to [other colleague], [other colleague], [other colleague] all the time. (Name dropping.)
Me: And they use your services?
Max: We have a good professional relationship. (Again, diversion as he did not answer my question.)
Me: Look, I appreciate the call. But I spent several years on Wall Street, and I know what I’m doing, so I don’t..
Max: Hey man, I have lots of clients on Wall Street. People who work at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, a lot of them are smart folks but they use and get a lot of value out of our services. (Appeal to legitimacy, plus potentially suggesting that I am missing out.)
Me: *sigh* What are your fees?
Max: Well, I don’t really think of a good advisory relationship on the basis of fees. It’s more about the value that we deliver. (Again, diversion.)
Me: Well, I do think of it in terms of fees. What are your fees?
Max: We have all sorts of different structures, and what’s most important is what’s right for you. I’ll need to take a look at your portfolio, which I’m happy to do and then give you a sense of what our professional arrangements will look like. (Trying to leverage this into a follow-up meeting.)
Me: *getting annoyed* If you don’t answer my question, I am going to hang up. What are your fees?
Max: We have two structures: a fee per trade, and a wrap structure. (Again, lack of specifics.)
Me: I am not hearing specific numbers.
Max: Well, the fee per trade depends on your account size, but starts at $19.95 and then goes down based on your assets. And the wrap structure is 1-1.25% per year.
Me: All my money is at Vanguard. So... you want me to pay you $19.95 per trade when I currently pay $2 per trade, if I were to trade which I don’t. Or you want me to pay 100-125 bps where I current pay about 7 bps and will not pay more than 25 for advice.
Max: So, yeah, I understand that’s a bit higher than what you have right now. But the beauty of the wrap account is that I can get you access to funds like American Funds that consistently beat the pants off their index benchmark, and you don’t have to pay the front end load fee if you buy it through the wrap account. (Straight up lying.)
Me: Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t do active management. I’ve been a passive investor all my life, and I’m not going to stop doing that now. Besides, what you’ve just described is a mechanism where you divert me from low cost index funds to high cost Class A shares that underperform indexes over the long term.
Max: Oh no no no no, I have special access to funds that are proven to outperform their Vanguard indexes over the long term and I can show you the literature in a follow up meeting. (Again, trying to set up a meeting and somehow selling himself as a gatekeeper to the magic land of alpha.)
Me: My answer is still no.
Max: What about insurance? You all set up for life insurance?
Me: I have a 30 year term which I bought through GEICO and is fairly cheap. I have a last-to-die policy with my wife to take care of estate taxes. But you want to pitch me whole life insurance don’t you?
Max: *chuckles* You know us well. We have very compelling products that allow you to defer taxes indefinitely.
Me: Your products charge something ridiculous like 65 bps for index funds, and your M&E, premium, and admin charges add up to the equivalent of a 15% front end load. If I wanted whole life, which I don’t, I could get an equivalent product from TIAA-CREF or Ameritas Direct for half the fees that use Vanguard. You’re trying to lock me into a decades-long arrangement where I consistently feed you revenue or lose my money.
Max: Wow... all right, two more ideas and then I’ll let you go. First, a structured product that gives you principal protection but also an upside exposure. Second, an annuity that gives you the better of either the S&P 500 or a fixed income benchmark. You’ll find that these really help you manage risk. (I’ve spared you the details.)
Me: Let’s unpack that a bit. First of all, from my time on the street, I’ve had a lot of exposure to structured products and I know for a fact they are designed to benefit the underwriter far more than the buyer. Moreover, I worked on institutional products, so I can only imagine how terrible the fees would be for retail products. Also, as you know, principal protected structure notes are taxed as ordinary income, not as capital gains. Second, annuities require principal surrender and I ain’t doing that.
Max: Well, I would respectfully disagree with that characterization. These products really work out because of the 1035 exchanges that help you compound gains. Happy to explain the details to you. (Obfuscation, throwing out obscure tax provisions, and then trying to get a follow up meeting.)
Me: I know exactly how 1035 exchanges work. And my answer is still no.
Max: Well.. you’re a tough nut to crack. Do you have any friends who might benefit from this conversation? (You’ve got to be kidding me.)
Me: I am not comfortable giving you the names of anyone I am close to, because you may call them up and name-drop just like you did with me.
Max: All right man, take care. *click*

I dropped the partner who he name-dropped a note, who was mortified and apologetic. He cold called this partner, and somehow got my name out of the conversation even though the partner told him to take a hike.

User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
Posts: 37049
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by nisiprius » Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:56 am

Educational, nice annotations.

Not being judgmental, but I notice that your cold caller successfully kept you engaged in a conversation that must have lasted ten minutes, during which you gave him a lot of information about your circumstances and financial philosophy. You engaged in a fencing match, with the unspoken rule that "if you do not succeed in parrying every one of my thrusts then you must buy my product," and fortunately you succeeded in parrying every thrust.

Yeah. I've done that too. But I worry that as time goes on and my cognitive strength declines, someday there will be an irresistible sales force that is stronger than my immovable sales resistance. So I now I try not to engage.

It's pretty darned scary. I get robocalls saying "this is the information you asked for about the back brace you saw on TV." Well, I don't have a bad back, I don't remember seeing anything about a back brace on TV, and I don't remember asking for information about it. But I'm only... 99% sure...
Last edited by nisiprius on Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

User avatar
Alexa9
Posts: 1726
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:41 am

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Alexa9 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:02 am

Well I hope you enjoyed telling him off. You probably just gave him some good ideas to improve his pitch. I prefer to ignore them.

MrNewEngland
Posts: 807
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2014 11:38 am

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by MrNewEngland » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:03 am

nisiprius wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:56 am
Educational, nice annotations.

Not being judgmental, but I notice that your cold caller successfully kept you engaged in a conversation that must have lasted ten minutes, during which you gave him a lot of information about your circumstances and financial philosophy. You engaged in a fencing match, with the unspoken rule that "if you do not succeed in parrying every one of my thrusts then you must buy my product," and fortunately you succeeded in parrying every thrust.

Yeah. I've done that too. But I worry that as time goes on and my cognitive strength declines, someday there will be an irresistible sales force that is stronger than my immovable sales resistance. So I now try not to engage.

It's pretty darned scary. I get robocalls saying "this is the information you asked for about the back brace you saw on TV." Well, I don't have a bad back, I don't remember seeing anything about a back brace on TV, and I don't remember asking for information about it. But I'm only... 99% sure...
To be fair he was on a long drive. I’ve done similar things when I have time to kill.

LarryAllen
Posts: 1131
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:41 am
Location: State of Confusion

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by LarryAllen » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:06 am

On the other hand NML is considered the best, by most, if you want whole life insurance. I know a fair amount of people who work, or used to work, at NML and they generally have high quality people. Not shocked but at least a little surprised by the underhanded cold calling tactics. That's more reserved for lower tier companies in my opinion.

Also, I think whole life (first or second to die), from top rated companies (I advise diversification not one company) is a very easy estate planning tool to employ. It creates liquidity to pay taxes (for the few that still pay estate taxes) and money to work out buy outs between family members.

I don't know everything in the world, like some on here do, but I can't imagine wasting more than 10 seconds on a phone call like that. It seems a polite "no thank you" and hang up would work well!? Does it make one feel superior to belittle the salesperson? Just curious.

J295
Posts: 1718
Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 11:40 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by J295 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:09 am

It seems a polite "no thank you" and hang up would work well!? Does it make one feel superior to belittle the salesperson? Just curious.

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 8069
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:12 am

How this call would have gone if they reached me.....

Max: Hi, this is Max at Nortwestern......
click I hang up.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

Badger1754
Posts: 118
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:00 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Badger1754 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:13 am

nisiprius wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:56 am
Educational, nice annotations.

Not being judgmental, but I notice that your cold caller successfully kept you engaged in a conversation that must have lasted ten minutes, during which you gave him a lot of information about your circumstances and financial philosophy. You engaged in a fencing match, with the unspoken rule that "if you do not succeed in parrying every one of my thrusts then you must buy my product," and fortunately you succeeded in parrying every thrust.
You raise a good point, nisiprius, and 99.999% of the time, I just tell them not interested and hang up. In this case, there were three reasons why I chose to engage.
  1. I was in very slow traffic that wasn’t going anywhere and there was nothing else to do other than listen to traffic radio talking about how the slow traffic isn’t going anywhere or Ariana Grande.
  2. As a fairly new member of this forum, I was aghast and horrified at reading some of the experiences that people have had with the likes of NW, Edward Jones, etc. and wanted to see for myself (and document for posterity) exactly what they try to pull.
  3. I’ve noticed that every once in a while, a new rep from NW tries to call me. I suspect I am on a list somewhere in-house of low-probability prospects that gets farmed to new joiners. I am hoping that by making the experience of calling me not just fruitless, but downright unpleasant, I’ll get added to a blacklist of some sort.
And finally, when all else fails, I simply tell them that I currently pay 7 bps, don’t like paying more than 10 bps, and will never under any circumstances pay more than 25 bps for advice. That usually stops them cold in their track :happy.

Badger1754
Posts: 118
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:00 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Badger1754 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:18 am

LarryAllen wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:06 am
Does it make one feel superior to belittle the salesperson? Just curious.
I have nothing against a guy who is simply trying to hustle and build his practice. I do have a serious issue with how he name dropped. My firm has a very hierarchical culture, and I am a fairly senior non-partner, so I knew to discount the fact that he name dropped a partner that I had never heard of. However, many of our young associates are still in the “you say jump, I ask how high” mindset, which is combined with our fairly ruthless up-or-out culture in the sense that they all hustle to align themselves with a partner as a sponsor early in their careers, and may actually be taken for a ride as a result of that reference.
Last edited by Badger1754 on Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Pajamas
Posts: 6015
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:32 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Pajamas » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:19 am

That's not incredibly sleazy, just the normal sleazy.

Big Dog
Posts: 913
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 4:12 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Big Dog » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:28 am

Perhaps you were stuck in traffic, and had nothing better to do, but why engage at all?

Just a, "sorry, not interested" once, twice or thrice and they'll get the message that they are wasting their time on your phone. My other response is, "sorry, I just don't take cold calls. 'Why not?' is usually the response from the caller. "Because I just don't and I'm trying to save you from wasting anymore of your time."
Last edited by Big Dog on Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

bantam222
Posts: 93
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2014 5:57 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by bantam222 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:28 am

These guys find a way to call my office phone too and are very aggressive.

Your fault for keeping the conversation going that long. I usually cold hang up on them as soon as I hear northwestern mutual as they piss me off. If you want to be polite you can just say a few sentences of why you aren’t not interested and hang up. No reason to get stuck on the phone this long

User avatar
CAsage
Posts: 954
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:25 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by CAsage » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:14 pm

I enjoyed reading this detailed transcription. But I find it frightening - it takes a sharp, very on the ball person to deflect so many misstatements and attacks on someone's personal wealth. I can do it now (though not that well!) but how about in 10 years? I would guess that many less savvy people would be drawn in quickly - and that is a real threat to many people's financial worth. In most cases, not engaging at all is the only way to be safe - kind of like never clicking unknown links online, not believing "special" deals, safeguarding your passwords and freezing your credit. Lock up the family gold and protect the key!

Some years ago, my Megacorp was sold, and that was a huge opportunity for Morgan-Stanley to steal our corporate phonebooks (they used to print them...) and call to offer customized rollover IRA - for a modest .625% per Quarter! For 2.5% per year, they wanted to manage all my money and confuse the heck out of me. I kept my institutional 401k with the tiny basis points and never regretted it.

Dissecting this post would make an excellent training discussion for financial DIY classes!
Last edited by CAsage on Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Salvia Clevelandii "Winifred Gilman" my favorite. YMMV; not a professional advisor.

Badger1754
Posts: 118
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:00 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Badger1754 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:22 pm

CAsage wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:14 pm
I enjoyed reading this detailed transcription. But I find it frightening - it takes a sharp, very on the ball person to deflect so many misstatements and attacks on someone's personal wealth. I can do it now (though not that well!) but how about in 10 years? I would guess that many less savvy people would be drawn in quickly - and that is a real threat to many people's financial safety. In most cases, not engaging at all is the only way to be safe - kind of like never clicking unknown links online, not believing "special" deals, safeguarding your passwords and freezing your credit. Lock up the family gold and protect the key!
My other motive in documenting this is because my wife is starting her career in the same field, is starting to get these calls as well.

You may be amused by John Oliver’s recent segment on financial advisors.

User avatar
nedsaid
Posts: 10644
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:33 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by nedsaid » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:39 pm

nisiprius wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:56 am
Educational, nice annotations.

Not being judgmental, but I notice that your cold caller successfully kept you engaged in a conversation that must have lasted ten minutes, during which you gave him a lot of information about your circumstances and financial philosophy. You engaged in a fencing match, with the unspoken rule that "if you do not succeed in parrying every one of my thrusts then you must buy my product," and fortunately you succeeded in parrying every thrust.

Yeah. I've done that too. But I worry that as time goes on and my cognitive strength declines, someday there will be an irresistible sales force that is stronger than my immovable sales resistance. So I now try not to engage.

It's pretty darned scary. I get robocalls saying "this is the information you asked for about the back brace you saw on TV." Well, I don't have a bad back, I don't remember seeing anything about a back brace on TV, and I don't remember asking for information about it. But I'm only... 99% sure...
Good advice. The problem is that really good salespeople are a force of nature in themselves. I went to timeshare presentation in Las Vegas with my parents many years ago. My folks didn't buy the timeshare but bought a weeks vacation at the resort, Dad cancelled when he got back. He was himself very skilled in sales but even he got worn down by the time share salesman. So to get out of it, Dad "bought" something he knew he could cancel later. This is a good cautionary tale.

I thought what it would be would be a meal and a fun hour or two looking at a nice new resort somebody had built. It turned into taking the entire morning and it was hard getting out of there. The sales people were nice but very persistent.

Years before that, I went to a similar presentation near Disneyworld in Florida. That time, they used the good cop, bad cop technique. The bad cop told basically told me what an idiot I was for turning down their deal and questioned my motive for wanting the $30 in cash. The good cop acted surprised and asked what happened.

So I just won't go on "free" vacations or go to any more timeshare presentations.

Rather than engage a cold caller, just thank them for calling and hang up. Some of these guys are really, really good. Even people trained and experienced in sales themselves have a hard time resisting.

Probably the best advice I ever heard was from Bob Brinker of MoneyTalk fame. He said to always be a buyer and not a sellee. That is, spend your money on things you really need and your really want and not just on things that people sell you.
A fool and his money are good for business.

User avatar
Clever_Username
Posts: 1068
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:24 am
Location: Southern California

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Clever_Username » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:43 pm

Pajamas wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:19 am
That's not incredibly sleazy, just the normal sleazy.
I half disagree. Incredibly sleazy is normal sleazy for Northwestern Mutual.
"What was true then is true now. Have a plan. Stick to it." -- XXXX, _Layer Cake_

pkcrafter
Posts: 13126
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 12:19 pm
Location: CA
Contact:

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by pkcrafter » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:49 pm

Thanks, but now I'm not sure who attacked and who parried. You are far more skillful than the average investor, but ol' Max seemed pretty unabashed by your challenge as he kept trying a new move, ending up finally with one of desperation.

Paul
When times are good, investors tend to forget about risk and focus on opportunity. When times are bad, investors tend to forget about opportunity and focus on risk.

User avatar
nedsaid
Posts: 10644
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:33 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by nedsaid » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:50 pm

I won't defame anyone even in an anonymous internet forum, but I will say that a friend worked for Northwestern Mutual for a short time and I was not impressed.
A fool and his money are good for business.

chevca
Posts: 1935
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:22 am

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by chevca » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:51 pm

Badger1754 wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:22 pm
My other motive in documenting this is because my wife is starting her career in the same field, is starting to get these calls as well.
So, you posted it on Bogleheads to get the lesson across to her? Do you guys not talk in person? :D

Badger1754
Posts: 118
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:00 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Badger1754 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:57 pm

Oh we picked it apart all right, as I walked her through each sales tactic. When I finished, we figured — why not share? So she sent it to her parents, and now I’ve put it on Bogleheads.

NotWhoYouThink
Posts: 2097
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:19 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:04 pm

Wow, some posters are pretty harsh on the fact that you engaged.

You were confident and well-armed with facts, and not an easy sell, so no harm done. And documenting the subtext behind his comments and techniques is helpful to others reading this, so thank you for that.

On another recent post, a poster complained that some of the responses he got sounded just like rote repetition, not really addressing his question. Your post is a good reference for people asking "why not just talk to an advisor to see what s/he has to say?" The why-not is that they have a bottomless container of sales techniques, and they'll keep trying different ones until you crack. So for someone new, or weak, or tired, it's best not to engage.

Glad it worked out to you. But for me the cringeworthy part was that you used up this much of your brainpower on the phone call while driving. I know, traffic wasn't moving fast. I hope you didn't get more than a couple hundred feet during the call, because it's not your hand on the phone that creates danger, it's your brain on the person you are talking to.

User avatar
TxAg
Posts: 1316
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:09 am

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by TxAg » Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:05 pm

I enjoyed the read. Thanks for posting

Badger1754
Posts: 118
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:00 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Badger1754 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:10 pm

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:04 pm
Glad it worked out to you. But for me the cringeworthy part was that you used up this much of your brainpower on the phone call while driving. I know, traffic wasn't moving fast. I hope you didn't get more than a couple hundred feet during the call, because it's not your hand on the phone that creates danger, it's your brain on the person you are talking to.
I appreciate the concern and I agree, I shouldn’t take phone calls while driving. I hook up my phone via Bluetooth to my car audio system so it’s a handsfree arrangement. The NJ Turnpike can be a fast-moving deathtrap so it’s usually not a good idea. Good push.

gotester2000
Posts: 594
Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:59 am

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by gotester2000 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:51 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:12 am
How this call would have gone if they reached me.....

Max: Hi, this is Max at Nortwestern......
click I hang up.
+1.
When I receive any such call I just say - No,thank you and hang up - saves time and energy - I block the unknown caller number as well.

GCD
Posts: 574
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:11 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by GCD » Sun Mar 18, 2018 2:06 pm

I wouldn't waste 10 seconds if I had something better to do.

But if I were stuck in a car, sure. Why all the resistance to toying with this guy? The salesman isn't "just doing his job", unless you define that as calling me on my private number to intrude on my time and take my money. People like this deserve to be toyed with. The OP did a service to humanity by sucking up the salesman's time so he couldn't hurt someone else's financial situation.

If I need a service I seek it out. If you come to me unsolicited the likelihood is that you are a shyster and there is a good chance you are an actual criminal scoping me out for fraud. This includes door-to-door solicitors who I assume are burglars in disguise. I always ask for ID and then tell them I am reporting them to the police in case there are any burglaries in the area.

Rock on OP! Good work! :sharebeer

delamer
Posts: 6387
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:13 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by delamer » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:22 pm

Every minute you spent with Max is a minute that he couldn’t harass another person who may not be as well informed or as sales resistant as you.

So “good on you.” Think of your conversation as community service.

We are currently dealing with a sales person for a new home community that we may buy in. Not a sleaze, but trying to push us to the next stage without addressing the issues that we have concerns about first. I hope that we don’t have to walk away based on poor communication because so far there are more pluses than minuses. But we aren’t committing to a home purchase based on one community tour and one short meeting.

User avatar
alpine_boglehead
Posts: 241
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:51 am
Location: Austria

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by alpine_boglehead » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:05 pm

Thanks for posting your conversation, it's a very interesting read (especially for me because of my acute allergic reaction to salespeople, I don't have this kind of experience very often).

For you, it was a mostly one-off 10 minute phone call. For the sales guy, it was one iteration of "groundhog day", allowing him to refine his tactics, which will then be used on the next victim.

I wonder how "normal" people stand a chance against this onslaught of subtle or less subtle tactics.

User avatar
flamesabers
Posts: 1757
Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2017 12:05 pm
Location: Rochester, MN

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by flamesabers » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:34 pm

Big Dog wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:28 am
Perhaps you were stuck in traffic, and had nothing better to do, but why engage at all?
+1.

I see no reason to try to justify my financial decisions to a salesperson, much less a cold caller. I would rather not abruptly hang up on someone, but when cold callers refuse to take no for an answer, I won't hesitate to exercise that option.

livesoft
Posts: 62862
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by livesoft » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:45 pm

@Badger1754, since you wanted to talk, why didn't you try to sell this guy something?
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

SGM
Posts: 2762
Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:46 am

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by SGM » Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:08 pm

I don't respond to cold calls. I would need to know the caller had a legitimate reason to call before I call back.

sport
Posts: 7480
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by sport » Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:10 pm

I have two reactions to such calls:
1. I hang up.
2. I tell them my phone number is on the "do not call list' and ask why I would want to do business with someone who breaks the law. The result of this is that they hang up.

Badger1754
Posts: 118
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:00 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Badger1754 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:42 pm

livesoft wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:45 pm
@Badger1754, since you wanted to talk, why didn't you try to sell this guy something?
:D

Now that you mention it, I’ve harbored a secret fantasy to pull off something like this for a few years now.

“You don’t want to sell me high-fee, actively managed products.” *hand waving motion*
“I dont want to sell you high-fee, actively managed products.”
“You want to go home and rethink your life.”
“I want to go home and rethink my life.”
“...and join Bogleheads.”

User avatar
mhadden1
Posts: 409
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 8:14 pm
Location: North Alabama

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by mhadden1 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:08 pm

nisiprius wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:56 am
But I worry that as time goes on and my cognitive strength declines, someday there will be an irresistible sales force that is stronger than my immovable sales resistance. So I now I try not to engage.
Same here. I am afraid that even though I am the hardest of hard sells, one day I might buy something. I never go for the free steak dinners either.
Oh I can't, can I? That's what they said to Thomas Edison, mighty inventor, Thomas Lindberg, mighty flyer,and Thomas Shefsky, mighty like a rose.

trueblueky
Posts: 1376
Joined: Tue May 27, 2014 3:50 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by trueblueky » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:30 pm

sport wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:10 pm
I have two reactions to such calls:
1. I hang up.
2. I tell them my phone number is on the "do not call list' and ask why I would want to do business with someone who breaks the law. The result of this is that they hang up.
+1
I've taken to saying, "I love you. You probably didn't know it was illegal to call this number." Click. Block.

or "How is the weather in Bangalore today?" Click. Block.

Badger1754
Posts: 118
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:00 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Badger1754 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:45 pm

mhadden1 wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:08 pm
nisiprius wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:56 am
But I worry that as time goes on and my cognitive strength declines, someday there will be an irresistible sales force that is stronger than my immovable sales resistance. So I now I try not to engage.
Same here. I am afraid that even though I am the hardest of hard sells, one day I might buy something. I never go for the free steak dinners either.
+1

My parents and my in-laws are in good health but getting older. I worry that one day they will become susceptible to this nonsense.

A few years ago, my mom offhandedly mentioned to me that a financial advisor had given a presentation to her (non-English speaking) community organization (using the exact ethnic/cultural affinity tactic I described above) about an amazing product that would always protect her money and guarantee a solid return that was at least as good as the market. It was.. an annuity. And had she not mentioned it to me offhandedly, she would have probably plunked her nest egg into it.

So of course I walked through the paperwork and realized what a horrible scam it was and warned my mom off. She was so aghast she called her friends and warned them off too. The FA had helpfully not even mentioned that annuities require principal surrender. Somewhere in the middle, the FA realized what was going on and requested another meeting with the community organization. At that meeting, she began aggressively berating my mom and the other people in the room about taking advice “from someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about” and that she “wasn’t going to waste her time with people who get their financial advice off Google.” My mom was mortified to have been called out in front of her friends in public.

I promptly filed complaints against that FA to her employer, FINRA, the SEC, the CFP Board. And I’ve been on the warpath against these people ever since.

User avatar
dodecahedron
Posts: 3799
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:28 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by dodecahedron » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:00 pm

Badger1754 wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:10 pm
NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:04 pm
Glad it worked out to you. But for me the cringeworthy part was that you used up this much of your brainpower on the phone call while driving. I know, traffic wasn't moving fast. I hope you didn't get more than a couple hundred feet during the call, because it's not your hand on the phone that creates danger, it's your brain on the person you are talking to.
I appreciate the concern and I agree, I shouldn’t take phone calls while driving. I hook up my phone via Bluetooth to my car audio system so it’s a handsfree arrangement. The NJ Turnpike can be a fast-moving deathtrap so it’s usually not a good idea. Good push.
Slow traffic or not, it is distressing that you chose to engage in a telephone conversation debate while driving on a highway. The social cost expected value net benefit of answering the phone while driving and engaging in a protracted unnecessary conversation is negative. The evidence is that hands-free does not reduce the danger.

User avatar
munemaker
Posts: 3562
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:14 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by munemaker » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:17 pm

We are all trying to get through life the best way we know how.

Nate79
Posts: 3710
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:24 pm
Location: Delaware

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Nate79 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:18 pm

Wow, this insurance salesman was really peddling the worst of the worst financial products (high fee mutual funds, WL junk, etc). All in one call and then had the nerve to ask if you had any friends who he could call. Would you really want your friends to buy this junk? I wouldn't wish that on my enemies!

User avatar
cfs
Posts: 4154
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:22 am
Location: ~ Mi Propio Camino ~

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by cfs » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:20 pm

I don't answer the phone when anyone NOT in my contacts call, they will hear my "por favor deje su mensaje" in perfect Spanish and that's the end, never leaving a message and never calling back! Good luck y gracias por leer / cfs
~ Member of the Active Retired Force since 2014 ~

User avatar
EyeYield
Posts: 648
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:43 pm
Location: Extremistan

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by EyeYield » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:22 pm

I can appreciate the OP’s willingness to spar with a financial sales person. I will usually hang up, but sometimes I just have the time to spare or I’m bored and need the entertainment.

Rather than respond to a salesperson’s pitch, I find it more entertaining to immediately begin my sales pitch for something else.

Me: Max, can I get your last name?

Max: Blabberwanker

Me: Ahh yes, I see you are singed up for our free trial, how do you like our service so far?


Max: No, I’m Max from Northwestern Mutual.

Me: Yes, that’s in our records as part of your profile.

Max: Profile for what?

Me: Ok, for verification purposes, can I get the the last four of your SS number?

Max: I think you might have me confused with someone else, I’m here to help you with managing your finances.

Me: Also, can you verify your street address?

Max: I can’t….who are you with?

Me: I’m your account manager, Max, and I hope you’ve been successful using our free trial service, but I see your trial period is about to expire and I have a very exclusive deal to offer you if you extend your trial to a full year. Interested?

Max: I am not signed up for a free trial…….what is it for?

Me: Ok, I just need to verify your account. Can I get the last 4 of your SS number?

Max: <click>

Me: (whatever dude, if you don’t want to meet single Ukrainian women, that’s your biz)

This can go on forever, never giving any details, just like they do.



Oh, I see livesoft beat me to it.
livesoft wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:45 pm
@Badger1754, since you wanted to talk, why didn't you try to sell this guy something?
"The stock market is a giant distraction from the business of investing." - Jack Bogle

User avatar
DaftInvestor
Posts: 4081
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:11 am

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by DaftInvestor » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:25 pm

I'm surprised you wasted so much time speaking with him and equally surprised you answer linked-in and email queries. If I answered every linked-in question I would never get any thing else done.

MrMojoRisin
Posts: 142
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2015 7:25 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by MrMojoRisin » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:34 pm

Thank you for noting the techniques he was using. I've never worked in sales, always been a tradesman, and seeing this dissected the way you did was very enlightening. Learned something today because of your efforts. Again, thanks.

User avatar
ThereAreNoGurus
Posts: 135
Joined: Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:41 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by ThereAreNoGurus » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:48 pm

Enjoyed the back and forth... very entertaining. Thanks for posting.

User avatar
abuss368
Posts: 13015
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Where the water is warm, the drinks are cold, and I don't know the names of the players!

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by abuss368 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:02 pm

That is amazing and just details the power and hype of the Wall Street marketing machine. Unfortunately that may work on many folks who don't know any better.
John C. Bogle: "You simply do not need to put your money into 8 different mutual funds!" | | Disclosure: Three Fund Portfolio + U.S. & International REITs

Badger1754
Posts: 118
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:00 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Badger1754 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:10 pm

abuss368 wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:02 pm
That is amazing and just details the power and hype of the Wall Street marketing machine. Unfortunately that may work on many folks who don't know any better.
I actually used to be part of this Wall Street marketing machine earlier in my career (pre-crisis). You don't know half of it.. :|

The infamous oversubscribed company during the South Seas Bubble ("for carrying-on an undertaking of great advantage but no-one to know what it is") actually had quite a few modern day counterparts. I saw it when the Street was hawking CDOs in the mid-2000s (I had the temerity to ask one of my Managing Directors to explain how a synthetic CDO wouldn't collapse on itself, and was yelled at), and I see it again today during this whole cryptocurrency insanity. The only silver lining is that ordinary mom and pop investors aren't mortgaging their homes to buy Bitcoin (yet).

JBTX
Posts: 4231
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:46 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by JBTX » Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:30 pm

Badger1754 wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:22 pm
CAsage wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:14 pm
I enjoyed reading this detailed transcription. But I find it frightening - it takes a sharp, very on the ball person to deflect so many misstatements and attacks on someone's personal wealth. I can do it now (though not that well!) but how about in 10 years? I would guess that many less savvy people would be drawn in quickly - and that is a real threat to many people's financial safety. In most cases, not engaging at all is the only way to be safe - kind of like never clicking unknown links online, not believing "special" deals, safeguarding your passwords and freezing your credit. Lock up the family gold and protect the key!
My other motive in documenting this is because my wife is starting her career in the same field, is starting to get these calls as well.

You may be amused by John Oliver’s recent segment on financial advisors.
I think I've seen that before, but that is outstanding. Ironic thing is my wife also is in John Hancock small company 401k plan and I've told her about the high fees. This may be motivation enough to bring that issue up again to reevaluate alternatives.

Realistically, are there cheaper 401k alternatives for very small company's, with only 20-25 participants with low rates of participation? My perception is there weren't.

Allixi
Posts: 162
Joined: Sat May 09, 2015 4:01 am

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Allixi » Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:47 pm

This seems like a Bogleheadian version of scambaiting
I'm impressed you remembered the conversation in such detail though :D , did you record it on your phone?

Badger1754
Posts: 118
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:00 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by Badger1754 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:50 pm

Allixi wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:47 pm
This seems like a Bogleheadian version of scambaiting
I'm impressed you remembered the conversation in such detail though :D , did you record it on your phone?
No, I just wrote it all down when I arrived in Philly, because I knew I was going to talk to my wife about it over the weekend.

User avatar
sergeant
Posts: 943
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:13 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by sergeant » Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:05 pm

Thanks for sharing. I sometimes entertain "irs agents" and "Microsoft tech support" scammers for as long as possible. Getting them upset somehow makes me feel good.
Lincoln 3 EOW!

raisinsaregrapes
Posts: 127
Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2017 4:24 pm

Re: Incredibly sleazy Northwestern Mutual cold caller

Post by raisinsaregrapes » Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:12 pm

I once had a 20 min conversation with a door to door cable salesman. The conversation went all over the place and he seemed like a good dude. In the end he couldn't beat the month to month price of an attic antenna (free).

Locked