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Jul 23, 2008 6:35 pm

I know there have been occassional threads on this topic, but I don’t know that my question has really been ansewered…I am considering doing a series of several retirement planning seminars.  Based on how I am going to get people there, and the number of people I would invite, I think I would be able to get enough people to them to make it meaningful.  My concern is the cost.  I don’t really want to have a wholesaler there, but I guess I will if I need to.  My question would be, how much have people spent on semianrs, and do you typically see a large enough return to make it worthwhile?  Between food and postage, I am looking at several thousand dollars. 

  I have taught several classes before, but the attendance came from the program catalog distribution, thus there was no cost to me.  But those were effective (but their scope and flexibility is limited, as people have to pay to attend).   Thoughts?
Jul 23, 2008 7:35 pm

Just an idea, since I’m not even in the biz yet, but if you don’t want a wholesaler there maybe you could get a CPA to go in on it with you.  That way they could give advice on how to minimize taxes in retirement and other issues that would add to your presentation.

Jul 23, 2008 7:50 pm

That’s a very good idea.  However, the few good CPA’s in my area don’t need any more business (nice problem to have).

  Although, I may talk to them and see if some of their clients could benefit from attending.
Jul 23, 2008 9:26 pm

I've never given a seminar with a wholesaler or product pusher involved.  I felt that it took away from my expertise.  I want to be the star    Plus I always prefer my seminars to be more educational and without actual products being presented.  If I do use a flyer or informational piece from a fund family or other named brand company, I always made it clear that the piece was for informational purposes only and not to recommend THAT particular investment.

My seminars are usually fairly small with at most 20 people attending.  No big dinners, maybe a casual luncheon at a local restaurant, meeting room or the golf club.   I also found that big events (besides costing an arm and a leg) tended to keep people from participating.  A smaller event....people are more apt to be interactive and ask questions.   I figured that out of 20 people if I got 2 clients, I was doing really good.

Jul 23, 2008 10:24 pm

B24 -

  I have tried numerous seminars with limited success.  IMO you don't need to spend a lot of money.  Might try cocktails and apps this way getting rid of professional seminar attendees.  Also I would make topic extremely focused.  For example - stock option planning for employees of XYZ co.  The more focused the topic the better the audience.  Good luck
Jul 23, 2008 10:29 pm

In follow up with Cv’s comment, what is your topic besides “retirement planning”?

  I am looking to host an event that centers around these three ideas: 1.  Sequence of Returns 2.  Inflation 3.  Outliving your Income   Also, is it purely for new prospects, or are you going to have clients invite their friends/co-workers?
Jul 24, 2008 12:11 am

[quote=snaggletooth]In follow up with Cv’s comment, what is your topic besides “retirement planning”?

  I am looking to host an event that centers around these three ideas: 1.  Sequence of Returns 2.  Inflation 3.  Outliving your Income   Also, is it purely for new prospects, or are you going to have clients invite their friends/co-workers?[/quote]   Thanks for everyone's feedback.  Couple things:   1. I am trying to go the less-expensive route, and not include wholesalers, for the same reason Babs mentioned.  I only like using them whenthey have a specific topic or expertise that would really help (i.e. Long Term Care, Insurance, estate planning, etc.)   2. My concern on the cost more relates to the cost of getting new prospects there.  I have tried seminars in the past where I invite clients to bring guests, but it ends up being 95% clients (which is nice for them, but doesn't help me get new clients).  I have considered very targeted mailings (age, location, income, etc.).  I am fairly certain it would work, but the cost to get enough people there is excessive.  I will also invite clients, but my focus is on getting new clients.   3. There is actually more than one retirement seminar I will offer, each with specific purpose, which will target a specific audience.   Again, my biggest focus is on getting new blood to the table.  I am also trying to leverage my clients by sending them seminar schedules, asking them to e-mail to co-workers (part of this is targeting specific employers), and hopefully growing the "web" of influence.   Has anyone ever asked CPA's if they thinkg their clients would have interest?  Also, anyone ever consider trying to get seminar schedules in the ahnds of local employers?  I am going to try, but not sure how receptive they will be.  The couple of REAL big employers in my area are very hands-off to that (do now want to "endorse" any one firm or advisor).   Thanks again.      
Jul 24, 2008 12:51 pm

Well, I do at least one dinner seminar a month, and I too like to keep it under 20 people. Clients that return for another dinner are really pressed by me to bring guests. They know I’m happy to buy them dinner and give them a good show, but they also know that I am really pleased when they bring a new face or two. I never turn anyone away because any client that has been to one of my seminars knows how valuable they are and is a walking, talking referral source.

I like having wholesalers present simply to share the dinner tab. I introduce them as a “Subject Matter Expert” (or SME for those of you familiar with that acronym) whose experience and training can bring particular insights that are of value to my guests. (Sort of like they’re a focused specialist in that particular field, while I’m a generalist).

As for getting the public to attend, I’ve heard of FA’s that have advertised in the paper or used mailings, and then when people call in, the FA speaks with them and tries to qualify them over the phone (as good prospects/bad prospects) to see if there’s a true interest and some potential in having them attend. Then use some phrase like “Well it’s been great chatting with you Mr. Chen. We’ll be happy to save a seat for you and your guest” or “Well Mr. Chen, we’ve filled up fast. I’ll put you on the stand-by list and call you if we have a cancellation”.

I always send my invitations and 3-month calendars of events to my CPA’s. I’ve tried to have the CPA’s attend at least one seminar so they understand it’s an entertaining, educational evening rather than a sales-presentation. That way, they can better encourage their clients to attend my events. I try to farm my CPA’s for their SBO’s. Have you considered adding a seminar focused on business owners? ie, Retirement Considerations for Business Owners aka exit strategies? I think something that specific would garner good prospects, and would make it easier for your CPA’s and other KRC’s to send their clients to your event. Perhaps invite your primary CPA to attend and speak for 15 minutes on tax-specific issues relevant to the seminar topic and the audience present that evening.

I do try to put my invitations in the hands of local employers but haven’t had much success. As you have seen, employers don’t want to be ‘supporting’ a particular firm. I have had success in getting into companies to do quarterly employee education Lunch & Learns. This has resulted in several individual clients as well as granting access to the HR manager & CEO. (Who have recently asked “How’s our 401k stand up to our competitors? Would you take a look and see if we could do better?” You betcha!)

Hope that helps.

Jul 24, 2008 1:29 pm


Great insight.  Thank you.  Yes, I have thought about the SBO thing, but much of what we have in our area is struggling retail businesses.  But I am going to talk to my CPA network and see if that would be of interest to some of their clients.   Thanks again.
Jul 25, 2008 3:03 pm

B24…I’m soon going to be giving a seminar for a local non profit group to their pool of donors on the benefits of charitable giving.  This is a group of fairly wealthy people who like to give to this and other charities.   I’m going to cover the generalities of appreciated assets and how they can be donated, taxation, charitiable trusts, gift annuities, donor advised funds, estate planning issues and lots of other things.  My goal is to help the charity raise money and get in front of a bunch of highly qualified prospects and hopefully garner some of their business by showing them how I can help them accomplish their charitable giving goals.   

  You might see if any of your local non-profits would like a similar seminar. 
Jul 25, 2008 7:26 pm

Babs, I like it.  The only problem I run into, is there are a lot of veteran advisors and attorneys in my area that focus on estate planning, and are board members of all those non-profits.  Being on non-profit boards is sort of the “thing” in my area (I’m on a few myself).  That and having a boat (they don’t call them “yachts”, though that’s what they are).  In your world they debate hot-rods versus exotic cars, in my world they debate “motor” versus “sails”.