On a regular basis, invitations to seminars with an accompanying free dinner fall through the mail slot. Naming popular restaurants and offering various dates, these seminars propose to inform the attendees all about a variety of topics. Most often they focus on retirement finances but can also address subjects such as Medicare and other health related issues. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? You get to enjoy a free dinner at a nice restaurant and listen to experts tell you about things that you are not sure about as well as are important to you and your family.
Of course, when you read the flyer carefully – if you bother to look past the dinner choices and dates – you will see the disclosures and disclaimers about financial products (or other services). This will allow you to understand that you will not only receive educational information but an opportunity to purchase products and services to address the issues covered in the seminar program.
How can these experts afford to provide groups of folks with free meals while providing education on relevant topics? One attorney put this best when he said (and I paraphrase) “if you sign up for the services offered by the expert speakers, you will be paying for everyone’s dinner that night.” This opinion is not far from the truth as the financial products and services will always involve a cost to the purchaser. The question, of course, is whether the offerings are the best course for you to take and whether the seminar experts are the best sources of products and services you may need.
Best bet, if you want to enjoy the dinner, go ahead and make sure to pay attention to the presentation and retain any materials offered. Don’t make a decision on the spot. Then, get a second opinion or at least do your own online research. If the offering appears to be something you want to pursue, then ask for a meeting and ask questions about the experts’ proposals. That should give you some confidence that you are making the right choice.