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The Family Friend Who Stole Thousands of Dollars From Me (And What You Can Learn From Mistake)

Dec 22, 2017


I was in my mid-twenties, and eager begin my own personal financial planning.


Luckily, a close friend of the family also had a close friend of the family who was a financial planner and was willing to take me on. 


I took my trusted friend's advice and pursued the service.  I arrived at his office and sat across from him. He was a much older, trusted fellow who, I discovered later, was a distant relative to me. He sat back in his leather swivel chair, listening intently as I explained my intention to begin planning my future finances. In those days, financial planners didn't exist, but that's what I wanted help with. 


Once he'd heard me out, he leaned forward to deliver his confident, seasoned advice. “Well, first thing you need when you start is life insurance.”


“Uh... I'm in my twenties. I'm pretty sure I don't need it right now. Especially as a priority. I want to plan my financial future.”


“Being young is a huge advantage when buying life insurance. It will never be cheaper than when you're in your twenties!” He smiled and excitedly explained how, if I would pay up front, the overall cost of the policy was less than it would be on time payments.


I wasn't quite sure how buying thousands of dollars of insurance up front would help kickstart my financial planning, but being trusted and respected and he'd been in business for decades longer than I'd even been alive. He knew what he was talking about. Besides, my trusted friend had referred me here. How could it go wrong? 


That day, sitting across from my new planner, I cut a check for the whole plan, somewhere around $5000.00. 


“Thanks, Jeff,” he smiled as I passed him the cheque and we signed the papers. This initial meeting ended, so we parted ways with smiles and handshakes, and I eagerly awaited the financial planning portion to commence. I had not heard from him for over a week, so I called, and called again and... 


Suddenly he wouldn't return my calls.
Suddenly he was perhaps too busy to talk to me.
I kept calling and he kept ignoring.


A few more weeks past, so. I turned to another family member who referred me to her planner who I met, was more receptive and responsive so I retained his services. The first stage was.... you guessed it.... Life Insurance (where did I hear that before) so I told him of the policy I bought a few weeks earlier and showed him the policy which he responded "this is an outdated policy with little value to me" and went on to explain why.

He said that I can cancel it as Manitoba had a regulation that I had a period of time to do so, so I called the other guy demanding to speak to him and his protege called me back on his behalf. The guy wouldn't even take the time to talk to me personally!  I was a more than slightly annoyed. He was my around my age, and didn't have any answers for me. I was getting nowhere. He apologized for the breakdown and offered to work with me but I said let's get my money back first - then we will talk. 

Well, as it turned out, I missed the provincial timeframe by 3 or 4 days (not from any fault of my own since for weeks my calls were never returned) but he said he could get me some back, and I lost around $2000 of it which was clear was the commission he got. Well, needless to say, I felt taken. Needless to also say I never dealt with the young protege since he was willing to work under such an unethical mentor. 


Back to my new planner, this was sounding too much like my first conversation (starting with life insurance) but in the end I was in good hands. 


Here's the lesson as it applies to real estate (or any service): don't trust anyone, don't trust mere words. Do your due diligence.

Interview your own agent, don't just blindly hire based on referrals.
Read contracts and ask for clarification when unsure of something. 
Get the house inspected by an independent professional, avoid the temptation of having a parent or friend do Su h an important task. Have an arms-length unbiased inspection by a qualified person such as an RHI (Registered Home Inspector) designate of CAHPI (Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors) which are trusted with highly educated requirements. 

Of course, I don't mean you should DIY. Just like I knew I needed help from a professional, I recommend your hiring yourself a REALTOR®️ as your real estate agent. They're your financial body guard. (And boy, do you need one!) Just choose one judiciously. That's all I'm saying.

(Here are some things to watch for when looking for an agent)

Otherwise you might end up like I did.

Spending a whole lot of hard-earned cash on a whole lot of something you don't need or want.




Category: Professionalism

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