Tuesday, July 10, 2007

LTC Newsletter Rebuts Times' "Yellow" Piece

a friend of mine who subscribes to this LTC newsletter
sent me their rebuttal to the recent NY Times article
on designations. I do agree with the statement that
the Times is not the most trustworthy source of
information and enjoys sensationalizing things.

LTC E-Alert #7-088:

NY Times Attacks CSA

Monday, July 9, 2007

LTC Comment: The New York Times' in-house yellow journalist
has struck again. Front page, above the fold,
in the Sunday paper, yesterday.
Here's the story.

Read the underlying article by Charles Duhigg,
"For Elderly Investors,Instant Experts Abound,"
New York Times, July 8, 2007 at

This time Duhigg smears Ed Pittock's
Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)
program among other short-duration training
and certification programs for
people who market to the elderly.
(Not including, by the way, the
CLTC or LTCP programs for long-term care

All my interactions with Pittock, the CSA
program, and individual CSAs
have been positive, but I don't know enough
to refute any of the accusations made in the article.

What I do know is that the author, Duhigg,
has a history of making broad unfounded
accusations based on little evidence and
a lot of bias against the private sector.

You couldn't ask for a better example
than his attack on private
long-term care insurance published on the
opening day of that industry's
national trade conference.

For a link to that
article and our critique of it, see "LTC E-Alert #7-041:
LTC Embed: Report from the Policy Front
in Chicago, April 2, 2007" in The Zone at
You'll need your user name and password to
access this piece.

I'm reminded of the Biblical admonition: "Why do you see
the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log
in your own eye?" (Luke 6: 41). In other words, when will
we see the New York Times and hit man Duhigg point
their attacks at the public sector's shortcomings?
For example, Medicare's and Social Security's $91
trillion unfunded liabilities or Medicaid's disastrous impact
on the long-term care marketplace.

Those are the big problems facing America's seniors.
And those are the real risks the private sector,
including insurance carriers and their
representatives, are struggling against huge odds to
help clients mitigate with private savings, investment
and insurance products.

Every barrel has some bad apples. Journalists should
search every vessel looking for them. But their
investigations ought to include the public sector,
"social insurance,"Ponzi schemes that predominate
and not just the private financing alternatives
that the public programs crowd out.


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regarding long-term care
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A formatted version of today's LTC E-Alert is available at

1 comment:

Todd V said...


Unlike the person responding to the NY Times article, I do know quite a bit about CSA (and other such designations)... I have a CSA so I can tell you from first hand experience that what you learn from that designation will NOT help you provide better financial services to retirees...

It will help you better understand what it is like to be a senior citizen, but it falls woefully short of providing tools necessary to help them with their financial needs.

That said, the education needed to get a CFP also falls short in this area... I've studied all of the CFP materials in anticipation of getting the designation and I quickly learned that it is severely lacking when it comes to helping people make sure that they have enough $$$ to last... It's great if you want the tools to help people accumulate wealth over their lifetime... Just not quite as good at providing the tools for the distribution phase...

So, I absolutely agree with the NY Times article in that it is painfully clear to me that designations like CSA are being misused to project an image that is intended to give retirees a feeling that they are dealing with an "expert" in their situation.

Is that CSA's fault?? Absolutely not. I think that the 'fault' is that of the insurance companies by offering such rediculously high commissions that life insurance agents try to step into the role of financial advisor armed with only the annuity as a tool...

What do I think should be done about it? Well, I've got a few ideas (that aren't too popular with my annuity selling friends ;-)

1. Increase the free-look period to 12 months for annuities sold to people 60+

2. Require that people 60+ be offered the option of selecting the "no surrender-charge" annuity instead of only being offered the one with the long surrender charge (and highest commissions)

3. Create an industry-wide compliance document that would be required on any annuity sale (similar to what I have to fill out when I sell a Variable Annuity) that spells out things like Liquid Net Worth, Total Net Worth, Total % in annuities, etc and then require the insurance company suitability dept to review every application (this would stop the situations that I see every day where 100% of a retirees liquid cash is placed in an EIA because it is 'safe').

Sorry for being so long winded on this, but having more oversight in the financial services world is something that I feel very strongly about.