Not Everyone Who Offers Help is There to Help

Pinnacle Personnel Services LLC  |  Debbie Hatch

And so it continues.

Warning  *  Warning  *  Warning  *  Warning  *  Warning

When I tell you there are people out there taking advantage of federal employees, I’m telling you the truth.

I’m glad to see the SEC cracking down on these people.  I’m sad this is what’s required.

On 31 July 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged four former brokers with swindling older federal employees out of their Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) retirement accounts.

According to the SEC, the Atlanta-area brokers were a part of an entity called, Federal Employee Benefits Counselors, and urged employees to roll over holdings from their TSP accounts into higher-fee, variable annuity products by using misleading information.

The group specifically targeted employees nearing retirement and had large amounts of money in their TSP accounts. They also gave the false impression that their funds were being invested in a product that was offered by the TSP and vetted by the federal government.

My personal comment: they also frequently misrepresent themselves as being “from the government” “your agency” and/or “your human resources office”.

“As alleged in our complaint, these brokers were motivated by the prospects of higher commissions as they targeted federal employees age 59½ and over and intentionally obscured important details when recommending variable annuity purchases,” Aaron W. Lipson, Associate Director of the SEC’s Atlanta Regional Office, said in an SEC statement. “They even allegedly excluded the words ‘variable annuity’ from some materials they shared with TSP account holders,” Lipson added.

The brokers sold about 200 variable annuities valued at approximately $40 million to federal employees, who used monies rolled over from their TSP accounts to fund their purchases.  The brokers, themselves, made $1.7 million in commissions on the sales.

This is a BIG reason I refuse to bring financial counselors into my retirement classes.  I have turned down jobs when agencies told me this was a requirement.  Financial planners are NOT all bad. I’ve worked with some very good ones on my personal business, but I went looking for them, not vice versa AND i did a lot of research before I started working with either of them.

If you are an employee, be leery of people that contact you about your financial matters.  If you attend one of the “free” or very low cost seminars where these people are providing retirement information, be incredibly cautious.  If you work for a federal agency and are in the business of scheduling retirement training, I would also warn you that by bringing in financial planners/counselors, you could be putting your agency in a potential liability situation by making it appear that the agency supports these companies.

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