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Thinking of Investing with First Command?? 


Here are a few articles to consider before you dump one dime with them.

Keep in mind, the first is written in a PROMINENT financial magazine and quotes brokers from a well-renowned stock/fund adviser.

Second, BEFORE dropping your HARD earned cash with these clowns just do ONE THING.  Listen to their garbage and then take the amount of MONEY they want you to hand them over in FEES and INVEST it yourself with one of many companies who don't consider a PRIVILEGE to TAKE your money.  Try or if you have USAA (USAA.COM) use their site.  Both are very easy to invest with and DO NOT have a 50% surcharge for the first year!  Really - use your head - THEIR sales tactics are worse than a RECRUITERS.  Ask anyone who has had the misfortune of having their name given out.  First Command folks will LITTERALLY bug you to death until you go to their siminars.  USE YOUR HEAD - if their product is THAT GOOD - why are they pushing harder than a used car saleman or a recruiter...THINK ABOUT IT!!!  If you CAN'T BELIEVE it - call all three companies and you will see that ONLY ONE of the three PRESSURES you...I will give you a hint which one will BUG YOU TO DEATH and the first 2 don't count.  BTW - DON'T give them your name - they will use it to BUG THE CRAP OUT OF YOU AT HOME AND AT WORK!

page 53   |  Investing  KIPLINGERíS | SEPTEMBER 2003

FUNDS | A marketer is selling funds with SKY-HIGH FEES to military personnel. By Steven T. Goldberg
      Our armed forces are being shot at and ambushed in Iraq, and may soon be quelling genocidal warfare in Liberia. The last thing they need is to be sold overpriced investments by the financial-services industry back home. Just ask Air Force Sgt. Michael Proulx. He attended a First Command financial-planning seminar two years ago near Ramstein Air Base in Germany. After a steak-and-schnitzel buffet, the 35-year-old noncom signed up to invest $166 monthly in a Roth IRA with Templeton Capital Accumulator fund. The first yearís sales charge: 50%.
      Little-known outside the military, First Command sells a class of mutual funds that levy huge upfront commissions. Some in the military are susceptible to First Commandís pitch, says Richard Ferri, a money manager and retired Marine major, because they have "zero experience" with funds. "What theyíre doing is totally legal," says Ferri. "Is it ethical? No." Replies Ivy McLemore of AIM Investments, whose funds are sold by First Command: "Itís a highly principled product."
      Wide reach. First Command, which provides financial planning to clients and sells them life insurance, has been in business since 1958. Called United Services Planning Association until 2001, it counts 290,000 active and former military families as clients. The firmís 221 offices around the globe boast many former service personnel among their representatives.
      The company is the largest seller of Fidelity Investmentsí two Destiny funds. Under Destinyís terms, once you pay the 50% sales charge on your first yearís purchase, you can continue to invest the same amount for up to 25 years with no more sales charges. The lionís share of the commission goes to First Command and its agents.
      But critics say so-called systematic, or contractual, plans place investors too deeply in the hole. "Itís like throwing the first five years of returns away," says Don Phillips, Morningstarís managing director. If you earn 10% per year--the stock marketís long-term average return--it will take you more than seven years just to get back to even on your first yearís investment.
      First Command and the companies that offer contractual funds--AIM, Franklin Templeton and Pioneer, in addition to Fidelity--defend the sales charges with this logic: The first-year sales charge imposes the necessary discipline on investors to stick with regular monthly investing. Says AIM spokesman McLemore: "It helps promote the time-tested principle of dollar-cost averaging." Indeed, fund-industry data shows investors tend to stay with contractual funds for long periods, rather than hopscotch frenetically among funds.
      A better approach. Maybe so, but thereís a better way to force yourself to practice dollar-cost averaging, a method that is simple, much less expensive and doesnít handcuff you to a particular fund. Just set up an automatic-purchase program via bank draft. Most of the major no-load-fund companies, and many smaller ones, allow you to do this, and some will even lower their normal minimum initial investments if you agree to such a plan.
      The best defense against the First Command sales pitch is to focus on the impact of that first-year charge. Thatís what Air Force Master Sgt. John McKeon, 44, did when, during a sales pitch, he was shown a picture of a brick wall--the 50% fee a good soldier must climb to invest in such a plan. But McKeon, based at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Neb., invested elsewhere. "I couldnít get past that 50% the first year." enddot_investing
      --Reporter: MAGALI RHEAULT

page 10   |  Letters  KIPLINGERíS | JANUARY 2004


      An illustration accompanying the article "All Loaded Up" (Sept. 2003) incorrectly reflected on the sales practices and market of the subject of the article, First Command Financial Planning. First Command representatives are not on active duty nor in uniform, do not use coercive sales practices, and serve only senior noncommissioned, warrant and commissioned officers. We regret any implication to the contrary. Also, the time required to recoup the first yearís front load of a systematic mutual fund with monthly investments at a 10% rate of return is 48 months, assuming you include earnings from investments made in subsequent years.


First Command Question Community Watch

1James2  | 08-18-03| 07:11 PM| Total Replies: 62

I just attended a 1st Command seminar. A friend of mine (retired) begged me to go so I did just to hear what they had to say. Well the briefing didn't consist of much, just what 1st Command is all about and the services they render. They did give me a information package and asked me to submit an information form with all of my account information (that a'int happening!).

I am looking for term insurance, since I'm with the military I'm covered but I need to think about getting coverage for my retirement years.

Curious, does anyone know how much First Command actually charges for its services? The briefing said nothing, something about how they are reimbursed like travel agents are (tell you how closely I was listening to everything).


  Replies # 21 - # 40 of 62

21. SBP Is Better Because:
fredericksburg| 08-20-03 | 12:35 PM
A. The benefit to your surviving spouse is indexed for inflation for the rest of her life; and B) the SBP premium ends at a pre-determined age (retiree's age 70, I believe) but the benefit to the surviving spouse continues as long as she lives. SBP is a federally-funded program, so no insurance company can match these benefits. There are rare exceptions where a retiree and spouse should consider protecting the retirement benefit with commercial life insurance, instead of SBP. Examples: a female retiree with an older spouse whose life expectancy is naturally less than her own; a retiree with a older female spouse whose life expectancy is essentially the same as the retiree's; and any retiree whose spouse is in very poor health. Then, the sad truth is that the retiree -- not the spouse -- is likely to be the survivor. As stated, these are rare situations.


22. Do yourself and your friends a favor, James
brownshoe| 08-20-03 | 05:23 PM
Now that you heard the trashing Of FC by the Diehards, go to the FC web page( There's a great response to the Kiplinger article. Of course, you can take it with a grain of salt if you want. You were suspicious from the beginning and have heard nothing but negative comments on this board, but I would encourage you to keep an open mind. If this Kiplinger writer had "exposed" some great conspiracy involving retired military officers and NCO's, don't you think it would have been something more than a little article way back on page 53? You're obviously an officer or senior NCO, use your head! The guys on this board (most of them) are short-sighted do-it-yourselfers. They bash almost anyone who doesn't follow their line of thinking (including M* and each other). Of course, that includes ANYONE who charges commissions, no matter how large or small. I am perfectly happy with my FC program that I started years ago. I was encouraged to get on board with them when I found out my CO, XO, and CMC were all clients. As far as commissions go, I don't mind paying for a fund that returns 15.5% load-adjusted, and the service that goes along with it. I read in a book one time that it was a good thing when your broker was making money because it meant you were making money too. I don't see the benefit to fee-only advisors because they're going to take a portion of what I own every year, and they won't be travelling the world with me. As for insurance, buy term if you want. I'm happy paying for the whole life I bought because I know it will be there for me if I need it at 65. If I don't need it, great. But if I do need it, at least I don't have to go out and try to buy it and pay outrageous premiums (presuming I'm healthy).

If you are searching for investment advice, don't include the name of any broker inyour question. This board won't provide impartial comments. There are a few exceptions. I'll let you filter through them.

I don't come to this board very often, primarily because I get tired of my fellow servicemembers being made to look like idiots. We're all grown ups and make decisions. To say that the base CO's are "dumb" (post #9) is utterly rediculous. FC is a viable means of preparing for your future. The smart thing you can do is check it out FULLY for yourself and not be misled by the opinions and half-truths you'll find posted here. Best of luck.



23. Diehard James,
brownshoe| 08-22-03 | 10:12 AM
How long have you been a diehard? If you've always been suspicious of First Command, why are you just now asking questions from this forum? The diehards answered these questions long ago, in their own special way.

If you find a good term policy that makes sense and will still be there for you later in life IF you need it, let me know.

Forever curious,



24. Value added?
tmleber1| 08-22-03 | 11:10 AM
As with all sales, consumers have to decide if the value added is worth it.

But the military should and does provide financial education these days to the troops.

The value added of TSP should be on the financial education agenda.

Fees should be on the agenda.

This is from May 2002 AAii Journal piece by Albert J. Fredman:

An actively managed domestic equity fund could easily have expenses plus transaction costs that equal 2% yearly, causing it to consume a staggering 52% of future gross wealth in 40 years! Stated differently, that actively manaed domestic equity fund returns less than half of the market's return in 40 years. This is most devastating to younger investors with multi-decade time horizons.

[Ted Leber opines if this doesn't make any potential buyer stand up and take notice, nothing will.]



25. FC
ats5g| 08-22-03 | 11:41 AM
I read in a book one time that it was a good thing when your broker was making money because it meant you were making money too

Talk about being brainwashed. Where does the money your broker makes come from? You. Brokers make their money through transaction fees. The more transactions, the more fees. The more fees, the more money your broker makes, and the less money you keep. Brokers and commissioned sales people make money whether or not the clients do. All FC funds charge commissions and 12b-1 fees. How about that, double commission!!

I have yet to see any place (especially on FC's website) that describes any FC agent's qualifications to do any sort of financial planning, other than having been in the military. All having been in the military does is make them better salespeople b/c they know which sales pitches will work.



26. Brownshoe
altruistguy| 08-22-03 | 11:42 AM
Hello Brownshoe,

In my experience, there are two types of First Command clients: Those who realize that they are being taken advantage of and do something about it; and those who don't realize that they are being taken advantage of. I'm sorry to note that you are apparently an enthusiastic member of the second category.

I'll address a few of your points here, assuming that you have an open mind.

"As far as commissions go, I don't mind paying for a fund that returns 15.5% load-adjusted"

Whatever fund you are referring to over whatever period, just imagine how well that same fund would have done without a 50% load!

"...and the service that goes along with it."

First Command "services" their clients kind of like a bankrobber "services" banks. This kind of service you don't need.

"I don't see the benefit to fee-only advisors"

All you have to do is ask yourself if you want good advice or self-serving advice. Most people want the former. If you deal with someone who is compensated by commission, you are likely to get the latter.

"I'm happy paying for the whole life I bought because I know it will be there for me if I need it at 65."

It will also be there if you don't need it at 65, in which case it will represent a colossal waste of money. Life insurance is, on average, NOT a zero-sum game -- it is a losing proposition. If you don't need it, you shouldn't have it.

"If I don't need it, great."

Not great. If you don't need it, you will have been wasting your money on something you don't need -- not good.

"But if I do need it, at least I don't have to go out and try to buy it and pay outrageous premiums (presuming I'm healthy)."

Even if you do need it, you will have been paying outrageously excessive premiums all along. And you are unlikely to "need" it at age 65. For most people, life insurance may be needed to supplement Social Security survivors benefits (and their own investments) to pay for their children's raising through age 20 or so. It may also be intended to replace wages that the deceased would otherwise be earning. In general, neither of the two above situations apply to most folks aged 65 or older.

"The smart thing you can do is check it out FULLY for yourself and not be misled by the opinions and half-truths you'll find posted here."

I'm afraid that you appear to have been misled by the half-truths put out by First Command.

Everybody is entitled to their opinion, brownshoe. But some opinions are less well-informed than others. Unfortunately, "the masses" tend to be taken in by some of the opinions promulgated by charlatans like First Command.

In their defense, First Command may not be all bad. For example, commission advisors like them may be the only way that folks with very little assets can get even semi-competant advice. But even then, it isn't at all clear to me that a low-income person starting out with few assets is going to end up better with the semi-competant self-serving advice offered by First Command at outrageous fees than they would be if they had no advice at all.

I'm a military officer myself (in the reserve at the moment) and I know MANY unfortunate military folks who have been preyed upon by First Command over the years. The horror stories never seem to end.

I'm glad you are happy with First Command, but I hope (for your sake) that some day you will end up in the category of those who realize that they've been taken advantage of. You will be better off if you come to this realization sooner rather than later.

I hope this helps,

Eric E. Haas


27. eric
calvin| 08-22-03 | 01:02 PM
Excellent post. I totally agree.



28. First Command
tmleber1| 08-22-03 | 01:21 PM
First Command provides and reasoned and reasonable response to Kiplinger's. First Command certainly isn't for Diehards. But readers will to themselves a service if they read First Command's Response.

Full disclosure. I am a retired Register Rep who worked for First Command for 5 years. I provided added value every day and ultimately had to move on because I couldn't make a good living.

First Command Resonse to Kiplinger's Sep 2003 piece (page 53)...

Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine (Sep 2003) has published an irresponsible and misleading story that unfairly attacks the many benefits of systematic investing for professional military families and could seriously impact financial opportunities for these deserving Americans. We view this as the essence of irresponsible journalism and a prime example of why the media is not trusted.

This is not the first, nor will it be the last, article about systematic plans.

At First Command, we know these plans are easily misunderstood, particularly for those with a bias toward do-it-yourself investing. We have long followed the advice of the old saying, "Never get in an argument with a person who buys ink by the barrel," and have let such articles pass with little or no comment. However, the degree of incomplete and misleading information in this story and its potential for harm to deserving American military families requires response.

In a story titled "All Loaded Up" in the magazine's September 2003 issue, Kiplinger misleads readers concerning the value derived from fees associated with systematic mutual funds and recommends that military personnel take a do-it-yourself approach to investing. The writer of the story chose to exclude information we provided him clearly demonstrating systematic products are an attractively priced investment product that, when recommended and used appropriately, have helped thousands of professional military families achieve their financial goals.

First Command warned the Kiplinger writer of the risks an unfairly negative story posed to military service personnel. And we provided him with information that, if included in the article, would have resulted in a more fair, balanced view of systematic investing and how it is used to advance the long-term goals of military families. Instead, our input was largely ignored.

From April 25 to July 31, we sent Kiplinger's Steven T. Goldberg 16 e-mails containing a total of 7,700 words. Of that, 4,300 words were direct answers to about two dozen questions from Mr. Goldberg concerning how First Command-recommended products are used to meet the financial needs of those who serve our nation's military. We extended an invitation for him to visit our headquarters and learn about us, but it was turned down.

Why did the reporter turn down our invitation? We believe it is because the story was envisioned from the start as an opinion piece that would attack the service-first approach of First Command and promote instead a do-it-yourself strategy.

Perhaps the clearest proof that the magazine's intent was to turn out an opinion article can be seen in the accompanying artwork. The story was illustrated with a drawing that appears to depict a military NCO stealing money from the front shirt pocket of a young enlisted man. The intent of the picture is clear: Active duty military personnel are coercing young recruits into becoming First Command clients. We find that characterization to be inaccurate, unfair and offensive. Throughout its 45-year history, First Command has done nothing other than seek financial success and security for professional military families. In that time, we have never been the subject of a proceeding initiated by the NASD or any state or federal regulatory authority. This is quite a statement for such highly regulated industries as banking, insurance and securities.

Furthermore, the story never mentions that our market is restricted to personnel in pay grades E-6 and above--[Ted Leber opines: these are not 18-year old kids], a piece of information that would have helped to offset the negative image portrayed in the artwork.

We would have been happy to be a part of a well-balanced story that discussed First Command as one of many facets of investing for military professionals.

We are the first to say that we are unique and only claim to be the best choice for most of our market, not necessarily the typical non-military readers of Kiplinger's Personal Finance. The writer, however, was not interested in learning all the facets. He had his mind made up about our firm and systematic investing before he even called us.

Through our research of Mr. Goldberg and his own words, we are prepared to demonstrate the following facts:

Mr. Goldberg is biased against First Command-recommended systematic mutual funds as a tool for helping military families achieve their long-term financial goals.
Mr. Goldberg has a history of being accused of unfairly and inaccurately attacking legitimate busin


29. Eric
dharrythomas| 08-22-03 | 01:23 PM
As an Army Reserve Officer who sat through a USPA/IRA dinner and sales pitch in 1987, I agree 100%. They may be better than not saving/investing at all but probably not much.



30. First Command (cont)
tmleber1| 08-22-03 | 01:25 PM
Mr. Goldberg has a history of being accused of unfairly and inaccurately attacking legitimate businesses in print.
Mr. Goldberg does not understand systematic investing and its role in helping professional military families achieve their long-term financial goals.
Here are several points that address the heart of our objections to the Kiplinger story and its disservice to military professionals.

The article is incomplete and misleading. Steven Goldberg, the author of the story, refused our request to address systematic investing in the context of a Family Financial Plan and the lifetime service we provide. This context is critical to a fair appraisal of systematic investment plans, and we made that clear. Instead, Goldberg served up opinion-laced, poorly supported half-truths about systematics and purposefully omitted many of the positive aspects of these time-tested investment products.
We cooperated fully with the writer. We received our first call from Mr. Goldberg in April and immediately invited him to our headquarters for interviews with all senior managers of the firm to include our chairman. He quickly declined our invitation. However, we stressed that we would still cooperate and invited him to send us all of his questions via e-mail. We responded promptly to every question with thorough and complete answers.
The writer did not include most of the information we provided in response to his questions. Although we supplied lengthy written responses to all of the writer's questions, Mr. Goldberg did not include a single direct or indirect quote attributed to First Command. But he did quote several people who were characterized as criticizing First Command including a self-described money manager who often posts anti-First Command comments on the Internet. Mr. Goldberg refused our request to hear and respond to negative statements before publication, a standard industry practice. Had he done so, we could have shared information leading to a more balanced and complete story. The only quotes in defense of First Command were attributed to Ivy McLemore of AIM Investments. This is hardly an example of fair and balanced journalism.
The writer is biased against load funds in general and First Command in particular. After receiving our first call from Mr. Goldberg, we immediately researched his background. We discovered that over the previous month he had made three anti-First Command/anti-systematic postings on the message board. Goldberg wrote that "the fee structure on the Fidelity Destiny funds is really onerous" and warned readers to be "wary of any organization that recommended" them. These comments - made before his first call to our company - clearly demonstrate his bias against us and violate standard journalistic ethics, which call for reporters to be fair and disinterested observers. Is this the action of a responsible professional? When we confronted him with these facts and asked how someone with such strong, public opinions could still write a fair and impartial news story, he denied there was any conflict between his personal opinions and his professional responsibilities. And yet the result is clearly an unfair, opinion-laden story.
This is not the first time the writer has been accused of unfairly attacking a legitimate, respected member of the financial industry. In March 2002, Mr. Goldberg published a story criticizing the well-respected findings of Dalbar, a Boston-based mutual fund research group that is often quoted in the nation's business press. Dalbar responded with "Kiplinger Lies," a 900-word rebuttal that systematically characterized as flawed the reasoning behind Goldberg's attack of one of its most popular recurring studies. Dalbar writes: "In a vicious attempt to gain recognition at the expense of credible sources, Kiplinger contradicts the finding that investors buy high, sell low and lose money. . . . The clueless person here is Steven Goldberg of Kiplinger . . . every aspect of Goldberg's reasoning . . . is flawed." (To read the complete version of "Kiplinger Lies," click here.)
We freely acknowledge that systematic plans are unique and that they can be easily misunderstood.

But by focusing solely on short-term cost comparison of systematic investment plans versus more traditionally structured load funds or no-load funds, the Kiplinger article ignored the reality that these plans have helped thousands of First Command clients achieve their financial goals.

Here are the straight facts that we provided to Mr. Goldberg on systematic plans and First Command.

Fact 1: Systematic plans encourage consumers to invest consistently over time regardless of market conditions.

A down market is often a good time to continue investing. However, many do-it-yourself, no-load investors do the opposite. Having bought high as the market rose, they sell low as it falls. According to an investor-behavior study published in July 2003 by Dalbar, the average equity investor earned 2.57 percent annually compared to inflation of 3.14 percent


31. Response to FC rebuttal
rickferri| 08-22-03 | 01:42 PM
FC is a high commission brokerage and insurance company that preys off young and naive military families. The defense of their business model is totally inadequate and a poor excuse for taking 50% commissions and selling life insurance on children. Over the 8 years I spent on active duty, I am proud to say that I personally defused about a half-dozen young Marines from wasting their time and money on this program. While on active duty, I have Vanguard's 800 phone number in my pocket and gave it out often to potential FC victims.

From the FC rebuttal:

our market is restricted to personnel in pay grades E-6 and above

Officers and staff non-commissioned staff officers are E-6 and above, and these folks are generally age 23 and over. Service people of lower rank are generally under the age 23, do not make enough money to save enough each month to generate enough commission dollars for FC salespeople. The fact they FC does not go after younger service personal is NOT a credit to that company, it is a matter of going after the fat. In addition, E-6 and above are also most likely to be married and have children. That allows a FC rep to sell multiple products including life insurance on spouses and children. Some the scare tactics I have heard that is used to sell life insurance products to service people abominable.

Systematic plans are affordable. Under the terms of the systematic investment plans First Command uses, clients pay a 50 percent sales charge on their first 12 monthly investment units. They may continue to invest the same monthly amount for up to 25 years (300 payments) with no additional sales charges.

Simple math: at a 6% annual return, it takes 15 years to make up a 50% sales charge in the first year, rather than if the broker took a 5% front-end commission on every transaction over the 15-year period. Why does FC take the huge up-front fee? Two reasons.

1) The military person does not have a lot of money, and the FC salespeople want to make the sale worth their time. So instead of relying on steady 5% commissions from long-term investors, they take 50% of the first year up front.

2) FC rep knows that most of the people they sign-up will drop out of the program in the first three years. Therefore, a steady stream if recurring income does not work for the salesperson. They want all their money up-front as if it was a 15-year plan.

Seventy-eight percent of systematic plans established through First Command by our clients remain in force today.

This is very different than saying that 78% of people are "still putting money into those plans". I guarantee that a large majority of those plans are static, i.e. no more money going in. Nevertheless, since participants already paid a hefty commission before stopping payments, they are hesitant to take any the money out. I can tell you from personal experience that taking money out makes the proud military member feel more like a fool. BTW, there are no commission refunds for people who realize their mistake.

We don't know of another way to do what we do that makes economic sense for all involved.

Perhaps the Department of Defense will provide funding so that unbiased investment, insurance, and estate planning advice is available to all service personal free of charge. Currently, most bases have free income tax return preparation and free legal services. Financial counseling would be an extension of those services.

Government involvement in financial education makes economic sense for servicemen and women, and I could not care less if it does not make economic sense for the vultures at First Command. The best thing that former military FC reps can do for thier fellow service members is to get out of the business and seek another profession.

Rick Ferri
USMC Retired


32. Two Military Officers debunk First Command
mellindauer| 08-22-03 | 02:00 PM
Hi Eric & Rick:

Great posts, guys. They offer some balance to the First Command supporters and defenders.

What they do should be outlawed. I don't know how those FC sales people, many (most?) of whom have no financial backgrounds, can stand to look at themselves in the mirror. Are they that brainwashed, too, that they've swallowed the program hook, line, and sinker? Or are they simply greedy?




33. First Command is indefensible
Taylor Larimore| 08-22-03 | 02:23 PM
Vanguard charges .18% (.12% for Admiral shares) for an investment in it's S&P 500 Index Fund.

Charging a 50.00% commission on an annual investment is totally indefensible. Case closed.

Taylor Larimore
101 Airborne Division (ret.)


34. The ideal of helping....
darkskinned| 08-22-03 | 02:27 PM
military families is a sound one, but "we" soldiers can learn. We do not have to be charged a 50% load to learn disicpline (50 push-ups will do that). First Command should be upfront with how the agents are compensated.

Did you know if you started a First Command systematic plan for 50.00 a month with the 50% first year load and decided to up your bid by say 500.00 a month years later that First Command will take out the 50% year load again on the raise DCA (450 /.50)? Hows that for sticking it to "us".

And unlike Mr. Ferri I carry TIAA-CREF's number instead of Vanguard's number with me. They are two good companies



35. Recruiting
rickferri| 08-22-03 | 02:46 PM

When I was getting out in 1988, I went to a job fair at Ft. Bragg. First Command was recruiting, as was Merrill and Kidder Peabody (now Paine Weber).

Clearly, FC was looking for a different type of person than Merrill or PW. To put it mildly, FC recruiters were looking for Staff NCO and officers who had narrowed their opportunities due to personal or educational reasons. Let me explain, IMO, the people FC were looking for three characteristics in a rep besides an Honorable Discharge:

1) Personable and talkative.

2) Very limited to no financial experience. If a potential recruit did not know the difference between a stock and a bond it was not a problem. The less the recruit knows going in the better he or she can be trained. When I dropped by the FC booth just for fun, I told the recruiters that I had a BS degree in finance and had 2nd interviews set up with Merrill and PW. They left me for the next guy. No sense wasting time recruiting a financially educated person who the majors were looking at.

3) FC recruits people who for one reason or another wanted or needed to land a job near their current base. For the proud Staff NCO and officers who needed to stay local, selling furniture or used cars was not a very uplifting thought. FC recruiters create the image in these people's minds that they would be a local rep for a large and reputable Wall Street firm, which sounds better than the known alternative.

IMO, the best thing a prospective FC rep can do for their fellow service buddies is to not take the job. The best thing a current FC rep can do for the active duty military people is to quite the company. Don't tell the image of success and the fast money blind you. Integrity comes first. There are better opportunities out there for good people.

Rick Ferri


36. First Command
calvin| 08-22-03 | 07:17 PM
is probably the biggest ripoff in the insurance and financial services industry. I am a CLU and specialized in the military markets years ago when they were called USP @ IRA.

Using their prior military position to influence active duty militry they were trained to replace all inforce insurance and investment programs with their products, bar none. I was able to save most of my clients from their greedy clutches but not all. The influence of Chief Bob, with 2 weeks in the business was more powerful than my CLU with 20 years in the business.

They should be the subject of a class action lawsuit.



37. Mr. Ferri..
darkskinned| 08-23-03 | 09:27 AM
this is the same recuirting process that I saw a the Springfield, VA office. They approached me, but found out I was a do it your selfer and left me alone. They pressured my wife when she worked there to become part of the First Command family.



38. Darkskinned (Paul)
brownshoe| 08-24-03 | 08:44 PM
I believe I got from one of your previous posts that you are senior enlisted, like myself. I'm sure you think it is important to pass out good advice to the junior folks, including junior officers; It's our responsibility to do so. I think your advice is a little one-sided. For what it's worth, I often give financial advice to my youngsters. But when I do, it is not geared toward any one method or organization, or against. I give facts and resources. I talk about do-it-yourselfers as well as those who choose otherwise. I am often asked what I do for myself. Then and only then do I tell them that I am a First Command client. Most of those I give advice to are below the rank of E5 and couldn't become clients anyway (although I am aware of several in my unit below E6 who are clients). I often recommend FC to my peers. Some like it, some don't; not my problem. I've heard through my peers that FC has an educational foundation that provides lectures onboard installations around the world. From what I've heard, there is no attempt whatsoever to sell FC or its methods, it's simply sound financial advice. It's my understanding that no FC agents are even allowed to attend those briefings. Maybe you should check it out. It could be a good resource for your troops. One more suggestion, see if you can get your hands on the latest issue of First Command magazine. I just got mine and I thought it was great. There's some real good stuff in it, including statements from a couple of Advisory Board members (retired General Newton and Command Sgt Major ??????.). I just don't see how these guys can be the scum that folks on this board try to make them out to be.

One more thing. I have been looking into the cost of fee-only advisors. It seems to me that they are no less expensive (and often much more) than FC. What if I found a company that said they would allow you to start investing at $125 a month and then after a year you could increase it to $250 a month without any additional charges? They charge $1500 for the 4 or 5 hours they spend with you producing your financial plan based on their extensive interviews with you. Would this be a good way to go? I've found that this is fairly close to what I would do if I went fee-only, with the exception that I would probably pay more to increase after the first year. When you put it in this light, it sounds pretty good. When you think about it, it's exactly how FC does it, isn't it? The service they provide later on is also free. I just can't find fault here. Let me know what you think.

Tmleber1 (Ted), nice of you to cut and paste the FC response to the Kiplinger piece. I think it was a bit overboard, but at least somebody might read it who might not otherwise venture to the FC web site.




39. Mr. Ferri (Rick)
brownshoe| 08-24-03 | 08:49 PM
I wasn't impressed or swayed by your first response to the FC rebuttal, primarily because it had no meat whatsoever, just more shallow criticism. The second time you posted it, I just laughed. It's a shame you turned your back on those who continue to struggle in the trenches. FC hasn't. Your place is not advising those who struggle everyday trying to make ends meet, hoping they can eventually buy that dream home and retire comfortably. You just keep raking in the dough from your high-dollar accounts, and you and your clients, I'm sure, will be very successful. Let FC help those who can't afford you or don't have enough assets to warrent your time. If you feel compelled to comment on FC, perhaps you could just advise them to beware because FC does things differently and may not be for them. To me, that's responsible. Instead, I imagine that many people who initially hear that FC is a good company, then hear comments from people like you, probably end up doing nothing because they are confused. As a number of people have stated on this board, FC is better than nothing at all (I would have to rank them a bit higher from my experience). By the way, how much do you give back to the military? You use your retired rank to provide credibility to your bashing of FC, but do you give anything back to those in uniform? I know for a fact that FC does, on a regular basis. They are generous. Perhaps you should also pick up a copy of First Command magazine.

You too, Eric E. Haas, "assuming that you have an open mind."



40. Brownshoe
fishnskibum| 08-24-03 | 09:36 PM
Were I still living in a military town, I would be down at the Base Exchange in a privately funded (me) booth dissuading ANYBODY from even thinking about First Command.

That would be my give back effort to the folks in uniform.

You guys are brainwashed, stupid, or scum, depending on your level of education.

Shame on First Command, and ESPECIALLY senior officers and NCO's that buy into this "business model".

Bonnie and Clyde had a business model too, if you get my drift.