Fast Food Financial Planning

Welcome back! I haven’t written you in a while, but I promise there’s a few good reasons:

As you see, we’ve revamped our site!

Check out our new complexity based flat- fee structure (for current clients, nothing is changing for now). We’ve also added the story behind MARGIN in our homepage video.


Your typical robo-advisory firm/big-box financial call-center model is reminiscent to a fast-food experience. You know. Where you pick a number off the dollar menu while fries are sizzling in the back. As a line starts developing, you’re forced to hastily order from the drive thru mic.

So as your eyes roll through MARGIN’s parody at what financial planning is like at McSchwab’s, I hope you laugh—but also, I hope you think: Do you really trust these financial fast food chains? You sure?

More importantly, do you really trust their process and employees to design your family’s financial future?


(Somewhere in a financial planning drive thru line near you)

 

Welcome to McSchwab’s.

 

McSchwab’s: Welcome to McSchwab’s. This is Chelsea Astank, can I take your order? You’re on a recorded line. Whom do I have the pleasure of pretending to listen to?

You (The client. Of course we gave you a cool name): This is Devon Ford.

McSchwab’s: *Yawn* What do you need help with?

You: Well…

  • I need help with my taxes in retirement
  • Can I do back-door Roth contributions in my situation?
  • I’ve got questions about my stock options at work
  • Some Colorado 529 specific questions
  • Whether I should keep the whole life insurance policy I got sold from KFCMutual
  • And is this the right time to buy a rental in Colorado?

McSchwab’s: *crickets*

You: We’re also getting killed on taxes. Our CPA never calls us back. It’s just a whirlwind of him asking for more documents at tax time.

McSchwab’s: I’m so, so, so, sorry, sir…We don’t serve that at McSchwab’s. Please look at the dollar-menu calculator fields in front of you. Just tell me the number. What about a number three?

*giggles like a teenage girl*

Please hold.. I need to transfer you…

You: Hold on…Wait…


McSchwab’s: Hi, this is Matt Nevergold. Welcome to McSchwab’s, where billions and billions are served under management. Can I take your order?

You: Wait, didn’t I just do this?

McSchwab’s: Listen. Mr. Devon. Can I call you that? I work with thousands of “clients” just like you whose relationships I “manage” for 15 minutes every 5½ years. Didn’t you use our financial planning advice tool and answer 12 questions about your risk tolerance? Or, like we joke, investment spice level?

By the way, watch out for those emerging markets. You might want a glass of skim milk handy.

You: The calculator on a screen?

McSchwab’s: No, that’s “comprehensive” planning, Devon. That’s where I get paid. By you. To repeat back what you read on the screen. Then, I’ll just stare at my desk intensely, but it looks like I’m working really really hard. It’s how we get promoted.

You: Ahhhhhh. You mean that plug-and-chug screen where the fields include a little more than my age and income? The pie graph with only YOUR investment funds, and the probability of “success” from a black box if I reach my goal?

McSchwab’s: It’s so, so, so much more than that! We have one of the lowest of the low dollar menus you’ve ever tasted since…

Sub-angard…

Fidelity Bell…

…and all the Robomeals.

*whispers* Well, I’m not even supposed to talk about competitors on this recorded line, but we do serve the fastest and cheapest financial planning food. EVER.

Oh, wait… Hold on… All these microwaves of plans are beeping. Damn stock market. So confusing. And noisy.

*daydreaming under his breath* It was so much easier when I just took inbound sales calls at Comcast. At least these pesky customers knew how we were ripping them off.

You: Hello? Are you there?

McSchwab’s: Oh, sorry, Suzie Orman personal financial jokes are swirling around the office this Friday.

She’s so amazing…Get’s me hot and bothered! My ex-wife’s jacuzzi bathtub superstore regional manager turned me on to her advice.

McSchwab’s: Besides, Devon. We can only give you “implications,” not recommendations. You initialed that in the 300 pages of two point font disclosures about our advice, right?

Please hold the phone I need to transfer you…


McSchwab’s: Hi! I’m lovin’ it! This is Brooke Lopez. Welcome to McSchwab’s, home of the original two lowest cost ETFs, and nothing-special sauce 20 pages on a sesame seed bun. Have it your way! As long as it’s on the dollar menu!

…Is this Dennis? Larry? Steve? No, it’s Tom, right?

…Sorry, I’m browsing fake Persian rugs from Wal-Mart. It’s black Friday. Art of the deal!!! Cheaper the better. I love employing children throughout the world, it’s how I give back.

You: Sorry, I just keep getting transferred… I’m just not so sure you actually give advice. I feel like I’ve gotten zero real specific written recommendations, tax advice, direct guidance on my insurance, or help with my family business…My real financial life. Where I really need help.

McSchwab’s: Don’t worry, Devon! We serve supersized amounts of overconfidence daily. Millions and millions served. Don’t you feel confident? Look at our logo on all these downtown buildings, stadiums, and your local synagogue confessional. Holy moly. We. Are. Everywhere.

You: Now, how is a calculator and call center script “comprehensive” planning? …Let me read you the definition of “comprehensive.” It means “Complete; including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something.”

You didn’t answer ANY of my questions about:

  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • My 401(k)
  • My state 529 plan
  • Roth conversion analysis
  • Whether I should pay off the mortgage on my house
  • The marriage issues I brought up around money

I feel like your setting me up for a future financial heart attack. This is really misleading marketing. I’m worried…If I digest this, what will it do to my wealth?

How is fast food financial planning going to make me wealthy if we don’t address my unique needs?

How is your business model different from your main competitors: McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Subway, and Pizza Hut?

Where is the organic personalized well-seasoned advice?!


McSchwab’s: *soothing fake empathy* Mr. Devon….Miiissstttteeer. Devon. Please. I understand you’re upset. Please. Calm down. Please. Lower your voice. I might need to get my supervisor’s supervisor’s supervisor, and he’s on his 17 minute smoke break according to our group chat, besides, I really need you to take a survey at the end of this call, so I can win the $10 Starbucks gift card competition for outstanding “financial planner of the week.”

While you wait, please enjoy some “free” asset allocation apple pies! They always fill me up.

Please hold…*Click*

Don’t worry, they still make plenty of money on you. You just don’t know how. You also don’t know what’s really in your fast food financial planning…

Do you?

See you in 5 1/2 years.