"The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

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BolderBoy
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"The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by BolderBoy » Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:27 pm

To make this actionable, rather than just "newsy", was what the article's author did ethical (tongue firmly in cheek)? He harpooned the presenter and apparently knew he would when he took the invitation.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/savinga ... li=BBnb7Kz

It is an amusing read, in any event.

(PS - I used to attend free dinners like this until I was finally reeled in, learned my lesson [the hard way] and swore off!)
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by tennisplyr » Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:31 pm

Did it once, never again. No such thing as a free lunch.
Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:45 pm

Umm, the author didn't actually confront the presenter during the session, he did it the next day 1:1.

Maybe he should have said something during the session and saved some old folks some money, why wouldn't that be the ethical thing to do?

Also, it sounds like the steak was poorly cooked. That's the real tragedy!

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by Random Musings » Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:18 pm

I throw that type of junk mail in the trash. No free dinner is worth wasting my time driving to and listening to a sales pitch that I have no interest in. Far better to enjoy an adult beverage, hit the BH site, and keep abreast on a variety of financial topics.

RM
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by 3504PIR » Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:49 pm

Recent thread on this very topic, most thought it was a good idea to get a free meal. I view it at 100% unethical.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by CedarWaxWing » Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:20 am

3504PIR wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:49 pm
Recent thread on this very topic, most thought it was a good idea to get a free meal. I view it at 100% unethical.

Before retirement... it would not be worth my time to go because I was too busy.

Post retirement... not worth my time because I know I won't likely learn anything I cannot learn in a more interesting way at Boglehead.org, and for the time I would be spending at a sales pitch I can get a better jointly cooked meal at home with people I know and like. :)

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by FIREchief » Sat Dec 01, 2018 1:28 am

Don't get me started!!!.... LOL

Nothing new here. Same as it ever was.

And.... you can bet your bippy that I'll jump on the next high end steak house invite that shows up. Dinner and a show!! :sharebeer
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by SlowMovingInvestor » Sat Dec 01, 2018 7:43 am

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:45 pm
Umm, the author didn't actually confront the presenter during the session, he did it the next day 1:1.

Maybe he should have said something during the session and saved some old folks some money, why wouldn't that be the ethical thing to do?
The author is a reporter, not a financial crusader (at least not directly). He's not supposed to be part of the story.

Plus I gather he wanted to check some of the materials (like the chart) -- indexed annuities are pretty hard to analyze.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by MikeG62 » Sat Dec 01, 2018 8:47 am

Random Musings wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:18 pm
I throw that type of junk mail in the trash. No free dinner is worth wasting my time driving to and listening to a sales pitch that I have no interest in. Far better to enjoy an adult beverage, hit the BH site, and keep abreast on a variety of financial topics.

RM
^This
CedarWaxWing wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:20 am

Before retirement... it would not be worth my time to go because I was too busy.

Post retirement... not worth my time because I know I won't likely learn anything I cannot learn in a more interesting way at Boglehead.org, and for the time I would be spending at a sales pitch I can get a better jointly cooked meal at home with people I know and like. :)
and ^This.

I cannot imagine a scenario under which I would attend anything like this (even if it were a free steak dinner at Morton's). Basically like one those timeshare free vacation sales pitches (worse, even if that is possible). Waste of time and I'd only leave aggravated and wondering why in the world I put myself through such nonsense.
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(NY Times) We Went to a Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch

Post by Barkingsparrow » Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:21 am

[merged into existing topic - moderator prudent]

I get about 3-4 of these pitches per month, then toss them. Are about all these dinners nothing but pitches for dubious annuity products?

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/30/your ... inner.html

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by mickeyd » Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:02 pm

Enjoy the steak dinner, but don't drink the Kool-Aid.
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by stoptothink » Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:11 pm

Just a few minutes before logging on here, I saw several pictures of one of my best friend's "events" at Ruth's Chris last night. He probably does 100 of these a year, it was the 4th event of the week for him, so I am pretty sure they are quite fruitful. I am not privy to the details of his finances, but he does very well; I wouldn't doubt if his annual income has two commas. Not bad for a guy with a bachelor's degree in English who sells annuities and life insurance to seniors. He knows better than to ever invite me to one of these dinners.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by mickeyd » Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:33 pm

3504PIR wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:49 pm
Recent thread on this very topic, most thought it was a good idea to get a free meal. I view it at 100% unethical.
How is it unethical? Have you ever viewed a TV show that was sponsored by Ford Motor Company and not purchased a Ford? Same thing.
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by RickBoglehead » Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:53 pm

mickeyd wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:33 pm
3504PIR wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:49 pm
Recent thread on this very topic, most thought it was a good idea to get a free meal. I view it at 100% unethical.
How is it unethical? Have you ever viewed a TV show that was sponsored by Ford Motor Company and not purchased a Ford? Same thing.
Similar thread already debated this topic, but your analogy is way, way off.

Ford is a multi-national company with Billions in sales. They run ads to generate business. The ads are on TV, which whether I watch the ad or not costs them the same.

The same analogy would be going into your Ford dealership, which is an independent business, and taking a demo on a vehicle that you had no intention to ever buy. Wasting his gas, putting wear and tear on the vehicle. Maybe you use the pickup to haul lumber home from Home Depot during your demo?

Fred Smith is a financial adviser. Let's say he works for himself, Fred Smith Annuities-For-Live, LLC. He runs a dinner, where he pays say $40 for each attendee, hoping to generate his livelihood. You go, knowing you won't buy even if Fred shows you how he can make green beans turn into gold. Fred has wasted $40 on you, and you have potentially taken a space from someone that might buy Fred's products. Fred is now $40 poorer, and has to work harder to pay his bills. Is your behavior ethical?

Would you go get estimates from every house painter that you could if they all promised you a $10 meal certificate, knowing that house painters are usually independent business people, and that you were never going to paint your house?

If you were in sales, would you want every potential customer to let you make your sales call, go through your pitch, follow up regularly, and then never buy because they never had any interest?

I actually contact these firms and request politely that they remove me from their mailing lists and try to find out where they got my name from.
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Sat Dec 01, 2018 4:03 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:53 pm
mickeyd wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:33 pm
3504PIR wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:49 pm
Recent thread on this very topic, most thought it was a good idea to get a free meal. I view it at 100% unethical.
How is it unethical? Have you ever viewed a TV show that was sponsored by Ford Motor Company and not purchased a Ford? Same thing.
Similar thread already debated this topic, but your analogy is way, way off.

Ford is a multi-national company with Billions in sales. They run ads to generate business. The ads are on TV, which whether I watch the ad or not costs them the same.

The same analogy would be going into your Ford dealership, which is an independent business, and taking a demo on a vehicle that you had no intention to ever buy. Wasting his gas, putting wear and tear on the vehicle. Maybe you use the pickup to haul lumber home from Home Depot during your demo?

Fred Smith is a financial adviser. Let's say he works for himself, Fred Smith Annuities-For-Live, LLC. He runs a dinner, where he pays say $40 for each attendee, hoping to generate his livelihood. You go, knowing you won't buy even if Fred shows you how he can make green beans turn into gold. Fred has wasted $40 on you, and you have potentially taken a space from someone that might buy Fred's products. Fred is now $40 poorer, and has to work harder to pay his bills. Is your behavior ethical?

Would you go get estimates from every house painter that you could if they all promised you a $10 meal certificate, knowing that house painters are usually independent business people, and that you were never going to paint your house?

If you were in sales, would you want every potential customer to let you make your sales call, go through your pitch, follow up regularly, and then never buy because they never had any interest?

I actually contact these firms and request politely that they remove me from their mailing lists and try to find out where they got my name from.
Your analogy is off as well. Pickup trucks and house painters generally don’t have the potential to ruin your long term financial well being.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by arcticpineapplecorp. » Sat Dec 01, 2018 4:07 pm

This is the misrepresentation which is why these presentations should be illegal, but I guess it's buyer beware, free speech, and all that:
It showed an equity indexed annuity performing 8.29 percent better, after an 18-year period from 1998 to 2016, than the S&P 500 stock market index.

But the pamphlet’s chart has some fine print — so small that my 47-year-old eyes could barely make it out — that disclosed the following: The index it was using was not accounting for the reinvestment of dividends from all those stocks.

A quick email the next morning to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices, confirmed the following: When you do reinvest dividends, that basket of stocks does 33.72 percent better than the annuity.
The author did attempt to meet with the insurance salesman after the presentation, but he was gone (find that hard to believe, but whatever):
I had hoped to ask our host some questions after the steak, which was cooked medium unwell (no one asked how I wanted it prepared). But by then, Mr. Halaby, who has an active license to sell insurance, including annuities, was gone.
This was interesting:
I asked Steven D. Schwartz, vice president of investor relations for the company, why the chart doesn’t show the returns for the S&P 500 with reinvested dividends. He said it was because the point of the chart is to show the lack of volatility of an equity indexed annuity compared with the S&P 500.

Of course, showing the S&P 500 with reinvested dividends would also do that...

American Equity’s updated chart, which it sent me Thursday, shows the S&P 500 — still with no reinvested dividends — doing a bit better than a hypothetical indexed annuity for a period starting in 2006 and ending in 2017.
This is the part that makes this post actionable:
First, conduct a quick online search about the host, including a check of the central database for stockbrokers’ black marks and the similar ones that state insurance departments maintain (https://brokercheck.finra.org/). Mr. Halaby’s run-in with the state is right there on the first page of his Google search results.

Then, read any and all fine print, even if it requires a magnifying glass. Ask lots of questions. AARP published a good list several years ago(https://assets.aarp.org/www.aarp.org_/a ... inars.html),though I’d add another one: Why aren’t referrals from happy customers alone enough to keep you in business?
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by nisiprius » Sat Dec 01, 2018 4:12 pm

BolderBoy wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:27 pm
...(PS - I used to attend free dinners like this until I was finally reeled in, learned my lesson [the hard way] and swore off!)...
This.

And thank you so much for saying this, BolderBoy. I hope someday you'll give us the details if you haven't, already.

Salespeople are not stupid. They know that there are people, I think they call them "platelickers," who just come for the free dinner. Salespeople are very good at what they do. By being a platelicker, you, basically, are trying to scam them (in a small way), and they are trying to scam you (in a bigger way). It's a test of wills. You go in confident that you will win, but they are pros and they do this all the time. I've read that rodeo riders have a slogan "There ain't a horse that can't be rode, and there ain't a rider that can't be throwed." Keep doing it, and sooner or later they will win.

I had a friend who went to time-share presentations for the free dinner, and insisted there was no problem. She said, "When they come around, I say 'I'm just here for the free dinner' and they leave me alone." One day she mentioned that she was having trouble getting rid of a time-share. She'd finally bought one, hardly ever used it, etc. etc.

If you think someone is trying to scam you, your best defense is to avoid engaging with them, not to try to outwit them.

And, by the way, if you start looking into scams and con games, one of the universal elements is getting the mark to believe that they are cheating someone else. In this case, the cheating element is small, but it's there: you are encouraged to believe that you are cheating the annuity salesman out of a dinner.
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by midareff » Sat Dec 01, 2018 4:17 pm

I've gone to 2 of these dinners. At the first I asked what was for dinner and they said Chicken so Idecided not to stay... at the second it was a good meal, a nonsense presentation and a closing pitch, to which I am immune. A rep called the next day to schedule an appointment and I asked why she thought they could outperformd the S&P500 Index with less risk... she admitted they couldn't so I said I wasn't interested. She saiud if that was my position why did I go... "To see what you had to put on the table" was my reply. LOL, I must be blackballed as I haven't had another invite in years.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by GCD » Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:05 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:53 pm
Fred Smith is a financial adviser. Let's say he works for himself, Fred Smith Annuities-For-Live, LLC. He runs a dinner, where he pays say $40 for each attendee, hoping to generate his livelihood. You go, knowing you won't buy even if Fred shows you how he can make green beans turn into gold. Fred has wasted $40 on you, and you have potentially taken a space from someone that might buy Fred's products. Fred is now $40 poorer, and has to work harder to pay his bills. Is your behavior ethical?

Would you go get estimates from every house painter that you could if they all promised you a $10 meal certificate, knowing that house painters are usually independent business people, and that you were never going to paint your house?
I think you have to consider the summary of events in the OP's link. The behavior of the salesman was legal, but borderline fraud and unethical in itself. These are not legitimate financial advisers. These are scam artists who are only successful if their deliberate misrepresentations are not detected by an unsophisticated investor. Contrary to your position that platelicking is unethical, it is actually a public service. Every seat taken up by a platelicker is one less rube that can be defrauded by the shyster.

House painters are different. The vast majority are legitimate businessmen. The appropriate analogy would be if a painter offered a $10 certificate with every estimate, but they gave a technically complicated and misleading explanation of the superiority of their paint. In reality the paint they use is nothing more than colored water which will wash off within a year, leaving ugly streaks in the process. However, people without a chemistry background are taken in by their complicated pitch, which they lack the background to comprehend. In that circumstance, yes, it would be ethical to take the free certificate.

What your rebutal lacks is a recognition of the fact that the people selling the financial product aren't presenting their product fairly and are actually predators. Your rebuttal proceeds from the assumption that these salesmen are behaving ethically, which they are not.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by CedarWaxWing » Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:42 pm

GCD wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:05 pm
RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:53 pm
Fred Smith is a financial adviser. Let's say he works for himself, Fred Smith Annuities-For-Live, LLC. He runs a dinner, where he pays say $40 for each attendee, hoping to generate his livelihood. You go, knowing you won't buy even if Fred shows you how he can make green beans turn into gold. Fred has wasted $40 on you, and you have potentially taken a space from someone that might buy Fred's products. Fred is now $40 poorer, and has to work harder to pay his bills. Is your behavior ethical?

Would you go get estimates from every house painter that you could if they all promised you a $10 meal certificate, knowing that house painters are usually independent business people, and that you were never going to paint your house?
I think you have to consider the summary of events in the OP's link. The behavior of the salesman was legal, but borderline fraud and unethical in itself. These are not legitimate financial advisers. These are scam artists who are only successful if their deliberate misrepresentations are not detected by an unsophisticated investor. Contrary to your position that platelicking is unethical, it is actually a public service. Every seat taken up by a platelicker is one less rube that can be defrauded by the shyster.

House painters are different. The vast majority are legitimate businessmen. The appropriate analogy would be if a painter offered a $10 certificate with every estimate, but they gave a technically complicated and misleading explanation of the superiority of their paint. In reality the paint they use is nothing more than colored water which will wash off within a year, leaving ugly streaks in the process. However, people without a chemistry background are taken in by their complicated pitch, which they lack the background to comprehend. In that circumstance, yes, it would be ethical to take the free certificate.

What your rebutal lacks is a recognition of the fact that the people selling the financial product aren't presenting their product fairly and are actually predators. Your rebuttal proceeds from the assumption that these salesmen are behaving ethically, which they are not.
In my experience very few "professional" painters know little or nothing about why they pick the paints they pick, the brand of paints they use, nor the subcategories of paints they use. Nor do most of the people selling the paint they wholesale to these painters.

If you really want to find out about paints it takes some time to find and read the materials. Most of those who paint for a living do not do that...

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Re: (NY Times) We Went to a Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch

Post by j0nnyg1984 » Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:50 pm

Does anyone know of a “master list” of these free meal meetings? I would love to take advantage of this :twisted:

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by bsteiner » Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:55 pm

If you go to the free dinner seminar, and you buy the annuity, the living trust, the timeshare, or the bridge, you paid for the free dinners for everyone else in the room.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by lostdog » Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:29 pm

My brother in law is an annuity salesman. One year he won an African Safari trip for top sales. He owns a luxury car and 700K+ home. In my eyes he is a thief but I have to be nice to him during the holidays.
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by Fallible » Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:46 pm

bsteiner wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:55 pm
If you go to the free dinner seminar, and you buy the annuity, the living trust, the timeshare, or the bridge, you paid for the free dinners for everyone else in the room.
Which explains the last line in the NYT article: "If these meals didn’t catch lots of people, salespeople wouldn’t keep paying for them."

OP, thanks for a good article that shows the need for investor skepticism and how and who to question before attending these things.
Last edited by Fallible on Sat Dec 01, 2018 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by The Wizard » Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:49 pm

If I go to one of these steak dinners, I hope I can order my steak the way I like it.
If it comes overcooked, I'm leaving...
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by fortyofforty » Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:53 pm

bsteiner wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:55 pm
If you go to the free dinner seminar, and you buy the annuity, the living trust, the timeshare, or the bridge, you paid for the free dinners for everyone else in the room.
Which is sad, but true. The profit margin on the products pitched by these sharks is enormous. If you are strong-willed enough to go, eat, and leave without spending a dime then I think it's a win for the little guy: you've filled a seat that could have been filled by a gullible person. If the products were good, they wouldn't have to hard-sell them, and entice middle class people with a free this-or-that. They don't pitch to poor people, since they don't have enough money to shear. They don't pitch to sophisticated, wealthy investors with financial advisers of their own, since advisers don't like competition and would stamp out the salesman's ideas. No, it's only the relatively unsophisticated, middle class person who is too polite to refuse and walk away, and too naive to realize that they should run for their (financial) lives.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by GCD » Sat Dec 01, 2018 8:53 pm

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Last edited by GCD on Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by GCD » Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:47 pm

CedarWaxWing wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:42 pm
GCD wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:05 pm
RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:53 pm
Would you go get estimates from every house painter that you could if they all promised you a $10 meal certificate, knowing that house painters are usually independent business people, and that you were never going to paint your house?
House painters are different. The vast majority are legitimate businessmen. The appropriate analogy would be if a painter offered a $10 certificate with every estimate, but they gave a technically complicated and misleading explanation of the superiority of their paint. In reality the paint they use is nothing more than colored water which will wash off within a year, leaving ugly streaks in the process. However, people without a chemistry background are taken in by their complicated pitch, which they lack the background to comprehend. In that circumstance, yes, it would be ethical to take the free certificate.
In my experience very few "professional" painters know little or nothing about why they pick the paints they pick, the brand of paints they use, nor the subcategories of paints they use. Nor do most of the people selling the paint they wholesale to these painters.

If you really want to find out about paints it takes some time to find and read the materials. Most of those who paint for a living do not do that...
I wasn't trying to describe the typical painter. I was discussing the absurd length one would need to go to make the analogy of the painter be applicable to the annuity shark.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by Nestegg_User » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:42 pm

I would view it as ethical if I was accompanying someone who was going to one, so as to give a counterpoint to their claims. I’ve done that for someone who was going to one of those “buyer club” type seminars. They had fell for the salesman’s claims; when I showed them how much they would have to purchase to make up for the fees, much less their captive shipping costs or their restrictive list of suppliers, they immediately thanked me for preventing a disastrous mistake. BH’s could help others from a similar mistake by accompanying another and I don’t think that would be unethical; just going to take a seat to prevent others attendance doesn’t rise to the same level.

for the record, I haven’t attended any as I won’t be purchasing, but still get a lot of mail solicitations... retirement, solar panel, hearing aid,...

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by Ron » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:51 pm

FWIW, here's an old article (even if it will show the current date) on the thread subject:

http://www.philly.com/philly/business/F ... table.html

- Ron

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by cheese_breath » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:59 pm

Ron wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:51 pm
FWIW, here's an old article (even if it will show the current date) on the thread subject:

http://www.philly.com/philly/business/F ... table.html

- Ron
Sorry, but I've already reached my article limit on December 1st. I guess my limit was zero. But that presenter in the picture looks scary enough to keep me away.
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by BolderBoy » Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:08 pm

nisiprius wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 4:12 pm
BolderBoy wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:27 pm
...(PS - I used to attend free dinners like this until I was finally reeled in, learned my lesson [the hard way] and swore off!)...
This.

And thank you so much for saying this, BolderBoy. I hope someday you'll give us the details if you haven't, already.
Sure, the details: The invitation was actually received by a friend who suggested that I call the presenter's office and self-invite. They were "happy to add me" [to the list of suckers, I guess]. I went with the intention of enjoying the steak at one of our good, local restaurants. My girlfriend went with me (and years later said that she took an instant dislike to the guy - wish she had told me then; it might have given me pause...nah.)

I largely ignored what the two presenters were saying until they put up a chart showing the typical ups/downs of the market over time and asked if anyone was interested in the technique "used by the rich" in which they enjoyed only riding the peaks and avoiding the valleys. I was too ignorant at the time to realize that the game was afoot. He even said that his 1.2% fee was really going to be worth it to me, since he will provide such out sized results! Of course the insult was magnified by his using investment vehicles boasting 2-3% expense ratios and taking LARGE extra risks (so large that there was a class action lawsuit against one fund company settled in favor of us dumb clients - I got a check for about $55 to compensate me for my large losses :(. The lawyers made a bit more :).)

Handed him most of my money in 2007 and over the next 3 years of market timing he lost about 50% of it at which point I fired him, started Googling, found the Boglehead's forum, had my "aha!" moment and have never looked back.*** Fortunately I earned it all back and quite a bit more, so I have BH teaching and discipline to thank for it. In the process of firing him I asked to see "the chart" that he used at the presentation and described it in detail. He flatly denied there was ever such a chart or depiction or that he or his co-presenter would ever guarantee anything besides only losing money by investing. My buddy was at the firing meeting and chimed in with me wanting to see the chart.

My buddy who originally pointed me to this guy also fired him but refused to adopt the BH way for an additional 3 years, trying to do the market timing himself and to this day his 10 year returns have lagged mine significantly and he is quite bummed that he waited. He is now completely on-board (went to a BH Conference a couple of years ago to solidify his commitment.)

*** Before folks point out that 2007-2010 was a tough time in the market for everyone, let me say that I didn't give this deadbeat all my money. About 10% I held back and invested / added to it during the same 2007-2010 time period in a way that turned out to be sort of BHish and while the portion he controlled went down 50%, the 10% I managed went up by 40%.

(as an aside, putting on dinners to hawk products, techniques, new "findings", etc, is commonly done by medical reps, too. I regularly ate the dinners and claimed that I never fell for any of the pitches, but in retrospect I have to wonder. In the last year of my career I swore off attending those dinners, too.)
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by FBN2014 » Sun Dec 02, 2018 9:02 am

FIREchief wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 1:28 am
Don't get me started!!!.... LOL

Nothing new here. Same as it ever was.

And.... you can bet your bippy that I'll jump on the next high end steak house invite that shows up. Dinner and a show!! :sharebeer
November and December are usually slow for the free dinner hucksters. I only attended one in November. I imagine in January the mailings will show up at my house again. Eat and be merry!
"October is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May March, June, December, August and February." - M. Twain

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by FBN2014 » Sun Dec 02, 2018 9:19 am

bsteiner wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:55 pm
If you go to the free dinner seminar, and you buy the annuity, the living trust, the timeshare, or the bridge, you paid for the free dinners for everyone else in the room.
Absolutely correct. The commission is typically 6-10% on indexed annuities. The dinner cost is $40-50 per head. The mailings to prospects would be for 5,000 households at around $1 per mailing. Don't cry for the annuity salesman, he is doing quite well.
"October is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May March, June, December, August and February." - M. Twain

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by vested1 » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:43 am

3504PIR wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:49 pm
Recent thread on this very topic, most thought it was a good idea to get a free meal. I view it at 100% unethical.
It's ethical to attend when you are doing so in order to protect vulnerable seniors by disputing the lies told by the presenter. IMHO if you are only going for the free meal you should find another hobby that has some sort of purpose.

I've attended a handful of these events with no intention of buying into their scam, and every one of them was just that. They are invariably put on by insurance salesmen with impressive charts who misstate facts about SS and the markets, relying on fear and ignorance to make their living. I have no sympathy for anyone who would use deception rob seniors of their retirement savings, so I am usually the one who asks the most questions, framing them in a way that exposes the lie, or outright correcting the presenters when the lies become overly blatant.

I don't eat much, so usually pick at the food anyway, if I even touch it. This "industry" is in dire need of regulation that punishes those who abuse the trust placed in them.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by bberris » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:44 am

Even an article critical of FIAs can make a word slip that is misleading. The author says that the insurance company "adds money to your account" according to a formula. They don't add any money. They change a number on a computer. (OK, that's also what a bank does when they give you a loan). But the difference is you can pay someone with your bank account. The account value is related to an amount that you can later annuitize or withdraw, but if you have no liquidity, it is not money and is not readily convertible to it.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by moehoward » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:48 am

We were at a Money show and attended one of the free seminars. They loaded us up with brochures, pads and a nice pen. The presentation started with a short movie with none other then Joe Namath pitching their product. My wife and I burst out laughing to horror of the salesman at the front of the room. We were politely escorted out of the room but I kept the pen.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by willthrill81 » Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:40 am

vested1 wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:43 am
3504PIR wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:49 pm
Recent thread on this very topic, most thought it was a good idea to get a free meal. I view it at 100% unethical.
It's ethical to attend when you are doing so in order to protect vulnerable seniors by disputing the lies told by the presenter. IMHO if you are only going for the free meal you should find another hobby that has some sort of purpose.

I've attended a handful of these events with no intention of buying into their scam, and every one of them was just that. They are invariably put on by insurance salesmen with impressive charts who misstate facts about SS and the markets, relying on fear and ignorance to make their living. I have no sympathy for anyone who would use deception rob seniors of their retirement savings, so I am usually the one who asks the most questions, framing them in a way that exposes the lie, or outright correcting the presenters when the lies become overly blatant.

I don't eat much, so usually pick at the food anyway, if I even touch it. This "industry" is in dire need of regulation that punishes those who abuse the trust placed in them.
:thumbsup

If there were an explicit understanding that such dinners are only for those truly interested in buying the products beforehand, I suspect that no one would go. The whole point of these dinners is to sell people products that at least 99.9% of the people don't need at all.

What you've done is no different IMHO than someone who goes to a store to buy a loss leader and walks out with nothing else. It's well understood that retailers do this because they know that most people won't do that, but some do. In the same vein, those putting on these dinners should understand that some of the people going are, as they put it, 'platelickers'. If they don't like that, then they should try a different venue to pitch their scams.
Last edited by willthrill81 on Thu Jul 30, 2020 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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New York Times--We Went to a Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch. The Salesman Wasn’t Pleased.

Post by MFInvestor » Sun Dec 02, 2018 12:48 pm

[merged into existing thread - moderator prudent]

"We Went to a Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch. The Salesman Wasn’t Pleased."


Has anyone ever attended one of these meetings? I seem to get an offer every week.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/30/you ... inner.html


"LOS ANGELES — The pitch arrived in my aunt’s mailbox, just after her 80th birthday and in the wake of a few frightening weeks for retirement investors.


Mr. Halaby’s staff distributed material before dinner that included a chart that looked like the one at the front of the room. It showed an equity indexed annuity performing 8.29 percent better, after an 18-year period from 1998 to 2016, than the S&P 500 stock market index.

But the pamphlet’s chart has some fine print — so small that my 47-year-old eyes could barely make it out — that disclosed the following: The index it was using was not accounting for the reinvestment of dividends from all those stocks.


To learn more about the chart in the pamphlet, I contacted the annuity company that created it, American Equity Investment Life Holding Company.

I asked Steven D. Schwartz, vice president of investor relations for the company, why the chart doesn’t show the returns for the S&P 500 with reinvested dividends. He said it was because the point of the chart is to show the lack of volatility of an equity indexed annuity compared with the S&P 500."

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by arcticpineapplecorp. » Sun Dec 02, 2018 12:56 pm

on Talking Real Money Podcast with Tom Cock and Don MacDonald (they're fiduciary advisors) they talk about invites to these things. Don had gone to some in the past and attempted to call out the lies with the S&P500 price chart (not growth chart) at one such dinner. Later on he said they started sending out the same offers with a disclaimer that current advisors are prohibited from attending. Telling.
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by TravelforFun » Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:19 pm

I got invited to a presentation at a nice steakhouse (Ruth Chris) by a local financial adviser I've heard of. After an hour and a half of presentation which I thought was engaging, they started serving dinner but it was too late for me then so I left. I got a call the next day from the adviser apologizing for running the meeting late and wanting to meet and I agreed. We met at his office near my office a couple of weeks later and he handed me a $50 Ruth Chris gift card because I didn't get to eat. I told him I came to the presentation mainly for the information, not the foods and he was so shocked. He told me he knows and expects most people come for the foods (part of the cost of doing business) and that about 10% of people who attend sign up with him.

We discussed some annuities options which I'm looking to get anyway and I am now waiting for him to send me some SPIA quotes. I will get more quotes from other people before I sign up.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by Whakamole » Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:05 pm

arcticpineapplecorp. wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 12:56 pm
on Talking Real Money Podcast with Tom Cock and Don MacDonald (they're fiduciary advisors) they talk about invites to these things. Don had gone to some in the past and attempted to call out the lies with the S&P500 price chart (not growth chart) at one such dinner. Later on he said they started sending out the same offers with a disclaimer that current advisors are prohibited from attending. Telling.
Not an advisor, but if I were, I'd put in the same clause. Who wants other advisors coming to a steak dinner full of leads and risking them saying "I can give you that annuity for less"?

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by Sockpuppet » Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:24 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:53 pm
mickeyd wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:33 pm
3504PIR wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:49 pm
Recent thread on this very topic, most thought it was a good idea to get a free meal. I view it at 100% unethical.
How is it unethical? Have you ever viewed a TV show that was sponsored by Ford Motor Company and not purchased a Ford? Same thing.
Similar thread already debated this topic, but your analogy is way, way off.

Ford is a multi-national company with Billions in sales. They run ads to generate business. The ads are on TV, which whether I watch the ad or not costs them the same.

The same analogy would be going into your Ford dealership, which is an independent business, and taking a demo on a vehicle that you had no intention to ever buy. Wasting his gas, putting wear and tear on the vehicle. Maybe you use the pickup to haul lumber home from Home Depot during your demo?

Fred Smith is a financial adviser. Let's say he works for himself, Fred Smith Annuities-For-Live, LLC. He runs a dinner, where he pays say $40 for each attendee, hoping to generate his livelihood. You go, knowing you won't buy even if Fred shows you how he can make green beans turn into gold. Fred has wasted $40 on you, and you have potentially taken a space from someone that might buy Fred's products. Fred is now $40 poorer, and has to work harder to pay his bills. Is your behavior ethical?

Would you go get estimates from every house painter that you could if they all promised you a $10 meal certificate, knowing that house painters are usually independent business people, and that you were never going to paint your house?

If you were in sales, would you want every potential customer to let you make your sales call, go through your pitch, follow up regularly, and then never buy because they never had any interest?

I actually contact these firms and request politely that they remove me from their mailing lists and try to find out where they got my name from.
I once was offered an insanely cheap vacation (actually two) for attending a timeshare presentation.

I literally told the initial salesmen that I’d love to take the near free vacations but there was no way in hell I was getting a timeshare so wouldn’t be ethical.

He told me everyone has that attitude and they have these incentives to get you in and change your mind. No one would attend if there was a disclaimer that only people seriously thinking of getting a timeshare should attend. If they don’t convince you to get a timeshare, that’s on them.

Couldn’t argue with that. Gladly went. Didn’t get a timeshare. Did get two insanely cheap vacations out of it.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by mickeyd » Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:42 pm

I attended such a presentation a few years ago. The invitation that I received in the mail indicated that no competing salesmen could attend, no products would be sold and there was no obligation if I attended.

When I arrived @ the eatery they had a table with name tags displayed. After viewing my name tag and reaching for it I told the beautiful young girl at the table that I was there only for the steak dinner and I had no intent on buying anything. Was that ok? She said sure, enjoy the meal and presentation.

I enjoyed their advertisement.
Last edited by mickeyd on Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by texasdiver » Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:56 pm

This notion that people who attend these steak dinners without intending to buy are somehow "cheating" the salesman is ridiculous.

I, for one, don't eat red meat anyway so these events don't interest me. Life is too short to deal with this sort of aggrevation and I tend to follow Nisiprius' advice. However I am always happy to listen to anyone who thinks they can offer me a better investment strategy then our current portfolio, which is divided roughly equally between my TSP account and my wife's rollover Vanguard index funds, and her current 401k with Fidelity.

If they can show me in writing a portfolio that: (1) is lower fees than our current one, (2) is equally or more liquid than our current one, and (3) that has higher historical performance than our current one, then I might start to listen. I'm willing to give anyone a chance to beat what we currently do. Who wouldn't?

My assumption (and I expect for everyone here) is that there is no annuity salesman who can come remotely close to beating a boglehead portfolio in terms of fees, liquidity, and long-term performance. But hey, if there really is something better out there, feel free to explain it to me.
  • Show me in writing your complete fee structure (if you can't or won't then conversation over)
  • Show me in writing the process and fees involved with pulling my money out at any time (if it is more difficult than Vanguard, conversation over)
  • Show me the exact composition of the portfolios that I would be buying, how it is determined, and how it might change over time (if you can't conversation over)
  • Show me how this exact product compares in performance over the pasts 10 or 20 years to my portfolio (can't do that? conversation over)

My most recent encounter with annuity salesmen was last year during my school district's back to school benefits fair. I went to a 403(b) annuity "informational lunch" on campus for kicks and to stir up trouble. They were careful to pitch it as an informational meeting not a sales meeting. I was happy to point out that the state provides its own low fee deferred compensation plan (similar to the TSP) that is much lower fee and more flexible than any of the private 403(b) annuities they were selling that they had somehow "forgotten" to cover in their presentation. The fact that the state's plan doesn't contain actively managed funds was given as a disadvantage and a reason to put your money into higher-fee insurance company products. Imagine that. After that they started to call me "the Vanguard guy" as in "Oh look, it's the Vanguard guy" every time I would walk up to their table at one of the benefits fairs that happen on campus.

If these guys wanted to actually make the free dinner contingent on annuity purchase they could easily do so. They could offer $50 steak dinners with your money back if you buy annuities. Lots of other businesses do that kind of promotion.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by unclescrooge » Sun Dec 02, 2018 4:13 pm

GCD wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:05 pm
RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:53 pm
Fred Smith is a financial adviser. Let's say he works for himself, Fred Smith Annuities-For-Live, LLC. He runs a dinner, where he pays say $40 for each attendee, hoping to generate his livelihood. You go, knowing you won't buy even if Fred shows you how he can make green beans turn into gold. Fred has wasted $40 on you, and you have potentially taken a space from someone that might buy Fred's products. Fred is now $40 poorer, and has to work harder to pay his bills. Is your behavior ethical?

Would you go get estimates from every house painter that you could if they all promised you a $10 meal certificate, knowing that house painters are usually independent business people, and that you were never going to paint your house?
I think you have to consider the summary of events in the OP's link. The behavior of the salesman was legal, but borderline fraud and unethical in itself. These are not legitimate financial advisers. These are scam artists who are only successful if their deliberate misrepresentations are not detected by an unsophisticated investor. Contrary to your position that platelicking is unethical, it is actually a public service. Every seat taken up by a platelicker is one less rube that can be defrauded by the shyster.

House painters are different. The vast majority are legitimate businessmen. The appropriate analogy would be if a painter offered a $10 certificate with every estimate, but they gave a technically complicated and misleading explanation of the superiority of their paint. In reality the paint they use is nothing more than colored water which will wash off within a year, leaving ugly streaks in the process. However, people without a chemistry background are taken in by their complicated pitch, which they lack the background to comprehend. In that circumstance, yes, it would be ethical to take the free certificate.

What your rebutal lacks is a recognition of the fact that the people selling the financial product aren't presenting their product fairly and are actually predators. Your rebuttal proceeds from the assumption that these salesmen are behaving ethically, which they are not.
Actually I think a better analogy is that the house painters aren't actually painters at all. They are just trying to scope out your house in order to rob you later.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by Turbo29 » Sun Dec 02, 2018 4:41 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:40 am

What you've done is no different IMHO than someone who goes to a store to buy a loss leader and walks out with nothing else. It's well understood that retailers do this because they no that most people won't do that, but some do. In the same vein, those putting on these dinners should understand that some of the people going are, as they put it, 'platelickers'. If they don't like that, then they should try a different venue to pitch their scams.
Or no different than those who go after credit card, bank account, and brokerage sign-up bonuses and then close the account as soon as they have satisfied the terms of the bonus. It's well understood that banks/brokerages do this because they know that most people won't do that, but some do.
It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them. --M. Twain

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by FIREchief » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:00 pm

I'm sure that many on the forum fit the following description: Educated Boglehead with DH/DW who is not as savvy in financial matters.

There is a real concern in such situations that the Boglehead predeceases the spouse, and that the spouse later falls for one of these pitches. I see value in attending a variety of these pitches so as to expose DW to the tactics and to later explain why they are not good ways to invest or manage money. This only works if DW believes that the educated Boglehead knows what they are doing.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by nisiprius » Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:24 pm

Bolderboy, thank you so much for the story you told above, here.
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Re: "The Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch"

Post by lostdog » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:26 am

Was it a win for this industry when the fudiciary rule was pretty much set aside? Was it a sigh of relief for these thieves?
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