I took the hit for all of you
A couple of years ago my wife and I had a free consultation with some independent financial advisors. That consultation was a bit underwhelming, but overall was useful and they gave us knowledgeable, concrete advice.
Last month my wife heard about a free lecture on personal finance in Sendai, so she figured it might make a good date for us (we lead exciting lives).
For anyone who is going to stop reading here, in my opinion this lecture was not worth attending, proving once again the old adage that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
The full title was 「女性のためのマネープラン」and my wife claimed it was okay for her to bring her husband along. I ended up being the only male there other than the speaker, but either because it was okay, or because they were polite or scared, no one said anything.
There were only ten spaces for the lecture, and nine people turned up. It was held in a very fancy office belonging to a financial advisory company specializing in insurance.
The speaker was a man, which I thought was slightly suboptimal given the topic matter, but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. A couple of the participants were talking about how they were hoping to learn about iDeCo and NISA before the lecture started, and I was looking forward to seeing how someone introduced the concepts in Japanese.
The speaker actually spoke quite well, but he spent the first fifteen minutes or so talking about himself and how wonderful he was (grew up poor, became the best salesman in Japan in his company, quit to spend more time with his family, and now he does 100 free lectures a year about personal finance to various groups).
Then he talked about the way Japanese society is changing (mainly marriage/divorce trends and longevity trends), making life plans, three ways to use money (spend it, invest it, use it to buy insurance), buying versus renting a home, paying for children's education, and how much income/savings you might need in retirement.
He then touched upon a few elements of personal finance: the importance of time/interest, and diversification. He spent quite a long time trying to explain compound interest by comparing it to driving to Tokyo(?). And then we ran out of time, and he skipped the last 1/3 of his slide deck. From the slides, that seems to have been where all the useful information was.
We were then given the chance to sign up for free individual consultations (he was completely overbooked but might be able to fit us in at the end of September).
I was a bit disappointed with the lecture, and I think some of the other participants were too. The speaker spent too much time talking about himself and not enough time talking about practical aspects of investing. He didn't mention any relevant qualifications. I felt he misjudged the audience, who seemed fairly savvy professional women. And I felt uneasy because I couldn't see the catch.
I presume he was going to use the private consultation to evaluate everyone's insurance situation and suggest improvements (ie products he was selling). Still, it wasn't clear what his purpose was or what he got out of it. Nor was it clear what the hosting company would get (he was an invited speaker).
It felt a bit sleazy.
So that was a bit of a waste of time. I think it can be worth talking to a financial planner, just make sure they are an independent one and are working for you.
Any financial planner that works for a bank, a construction company, or an insurance company is not working for you, and you should not trust them to act in your interest. Either consult an independent advisor or do your own research after talking to a financial advisor with a conflict of interest.
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