When you hear a commercial about precious metals and the advertiser claims they will beat any price at any time, and they are advertising on a successful station (FOX) and their ads run at least 25 times a day and night, and in competition with 3 other companies selling almost the same thing – what do you think?

How about the thinking that the markup involved is obscene and something neither you nor the regulators would allow in the securities industry?

How about that the whole financial picture is not transparent and more than opaque? How about the claims of precious metals hedging inflation when in fact they have no significant statistical correlations to inflation?

How about the old saying that if you’re in a poker game and you can’t identify the “suckers” it is you?

When you hear the commercial from an on-line insurance sales company that states that rates have come down, and you find out that most of that decrease is attributable to the adoption of new and updated mortality tables (and we’re living longer), and they don’t tell you that – what do you think?

What do you think you get when you call to speak to one of their “insurance experts”? Will you get one? Not likely. You will get a recently, not so recently or completely re-cycled person with an insurance license licensed in your state – licensed to sell you something in a way that covers their butts but does not necessarily solve your problems.

Why should you care about a “cheap rate” for 10 year level term? Are you likely to die in ten years, or in twenty, thirty or fifty? Why should you care about $500,000 of insurance? You may not really need that much of term insurance. To be properly insured you may need more or less and may be able to afford two or three different types of insurance combined. After all, will your beneficiaries need insurance proceeds when you’re alive or when you’re dead?

Why does your bank send you offers to buy insurance? Some ridiculous types like accident and dismemberment policies or mortgage life or disability insurance. Did you know that data strongly suggests banks tend to sell the worst, most unneeded, and most expensive insurance on the planet?

This people represents ways you are victimized because of your lack of knowledge and experience. It consists of some downright lies, (IMHO), many half-truths, and IMHO many misleading statements and innuendo. It seems to be what “marketing passes for these days. It seems to emulate, for example, the incredulous body of plausible deniability statements of our highest government officials. The whole purpose is to sell you something you probably don’t need, at a highly profitable price to the seller, on a specious “pitch” or theme.

One of IMHO the worst areas this takes place is in 401(k) plan default accounts and in alleged “target date” funds (TDF’s) and the whole herd of them. Upon close examination they provide an excuse for the plan sponsor, an easy way out for a broker handling the plan and an “easy” choice for participants. All companies creating these accounts are staffed with highly trained professionals yet none of these whiz kids agree on asset allocation over time, asset allocation at retirement age and beyond, or expected risk and volatility of the portfolios they create and manage. Yet more and more unsuspecting participant cattle stampede into them either voluntarily or by default. I predict that many plan participants going down that road may end up with a valid lawsuit against the plan sponsor Fiduciaries in the not so distant future. These products are really designed to sneakily capture the “sticky” money of retirement dollars for the creator of the funds – typically a mutual fund company and to make it harder for the plan sponsor to appropriately analyze and vet the funds as well as to get rid of them.

Remember, “Expert” is really two words. An “EX” is a has been and a “SPURT” is a drip under pressure.

You bite, you’re screwed. And it will happen every day to the general public a million times over.