Regarding the recent Dateline expos? titled “Tricks of the Trade,” I have two fundamental observations.
First of all, the incidents and allegations stated or implied should come as no surprise. The media almost always focuses on the negative, which for the most part are exceptions to the rule. Or, as one analyst once stated, “We don’t report on the safe landings at O’Hare Airport.” This, I believe, makes a point that should always be kept in mind; the news for the most part is about what is not normal and not happening to most people. If it were not exceptional, it would not be news, any more than safe landings at O’Hare are newsworthy.
Consumers do not always recognize the foregoing and that is why it is so important for the business to maintain a vigorous public relations effort. Programs such as “LIFE” are important in providing a counterbalance to such broadcasts. Sometimes I think the media provokes attacks on business to stimulate advertising sales that rebut the claims. I guess that is the cynic in me manifesting itself.
The second fundamental observation regarding “Tricks of the Trade” that I have, and this may be the more important, is that there are some scalawags out there and we need to help rid the marketplace of them so that all consumers will have a “safe landing.” Two primary points made by “Tricks” is that there are people using doubtful designations that imply an unwarranted expertise (Alphabet Soup) and misrepresentations (Gobbledygook).
A recent incident in our area, I believe, will serve to underscore the issue. About a year ago a person ran a series of full-page ads in a local magazine holding himself out as some sort of financial guru. Behind the name of the person were letters comprising almost half the alphabet. There was not a single designation in the lot that I was able to recognize. After 52 years in the business I believe that I would have been able to spot any designation that carried real substance.
I inquired within our business to see if anyone knew or had even heard of this person–no one had. And yet, there were exorbitant claims of expertise in estate planning, insurance and wealth management contained in the ads. I am surprised that Dateline did not latch on to this person as another horrible example.