There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch



No free food seminars

That’s not the way we do it. It’s not professional and it’s costly. Instead, here’s a bright idea, how about on demand podcasts and videos. Now that makes sense.

Five Independent Views on Free Food Seminars

North American Securities Administrators Association - Senior Investor Alert: Meal Seminars

State and federal securities regulators are increasingly concerned about the possibility of unscrupulous and abusive sales practices and investment fraud targeted towards senior investors. While people age 60 and older make up 15 percent of the U.S. population, they also account for about 30 percent of fraud victims, estimates Consumer Action, a consumer-advocacy group.

Many individuals over the age of 50 have received an invitation in the mail offering a free lunch or dinner investment seminar. There’s a certain consistency to the invitations enticements: a free gourmet meal, tips on how to earn excellent returns on your investments, eliminate market risk, grow your retirement funds, and, spouses are urged to attend. These words should be red flags for investors.

Financial Industry Regulatory Association - No Seriously - There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch - May 1, 2015

Many free investing lunches and events are also sales opportunities, according to a 2007 joint study by FINRA, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA). If an insurance company or mutual fund sponsored a given event, that fact was often unclear, with invitations and advertisements promoting the name of the investment advisor brought in to conduct the session, rather than the sponsor.

Sixty-four percent of people over the age of 40 said in a 2013 FINRA survey that they had been invited to a meeting that offered a free meal and “educational” investment information that turned out to be a sales pitch — and 32 percent of all respondents reported attending.

As for Bradshaw, when she arrived at the seminar a few months ago, she found that she was one of only two out of 45 people under the age of 55. She sat patiently through a two-hour presentation before her steak arrived, and the brokers questioned her heavily because she was outside their target age range.

The brokers tried to persuade the attendees to invest with their company and pushed a particular annuity that Bradshaw did find interesting. To date, she has not purchased the annuity.

Gerald Rome Colorado Securities Commissioner, March 2, 2018

Have you received an invitation or seen an ad offering you a free lunch or dinner at a nice restaurant if you attend a seminar about financial, retirement, or estate planning?  If you are like me, you have.  I get them all the time.  And it always seems they are at nice restaurants, places where I would like to eat.  And best of all, I don’t have to pay for it!  Sounds like a no-lose situation, doesn’t it.

But know this – when regulators examined firms that offered free lunch seminars, they found that every seminar was a sales presentation.

Steven A. Meyerowitz, October 22, 2998, LexisNexis -

Over the past three years, the Securities and Exchange Commission has brought nearly 70 enforcement actions against alleged fraudsters targeting elderly investors. There have been a variety of alleged schemes challenged by the government, but today we hear of one apparently involving that old standby: the free lunch.

Carolyn Rosenblatt, February 2, 2015 - Forbes - Beware the Free Lunch or Dinner Investment Seminar

FINRA, the SEC and state regulators conducted more than 100 examinations involving free-meal seminars. They found that in half of the cases, the sales materials contained claims that appeared to be exaggerated, misleading or otherwise unwarranted. And fully 13 percent of the seminars appeared to involve fraud. For people age 65 or above, the fraudulent claims and promises are nothing more than elder abuse when the senior falls for it. For every consumer, note these points FINRA wants you to keep in mind before you attend any “investment” or “financial education” seminar, especially with a free meal.