Why Wells Fargo Gets Away with Ripping off Customers

capitalismWhy Wells Fargo Gets Away with Ripping off Customers

Wells Fargo has been going to great extents to clean up the public relations nightmare that they created by illegally creating over 2 million accounts that customers did not authorize.

Now, Wells Fargo customers have opened a class action lawsuit against the bank for the fraudulent activity.

Wells Fargo is fighting back reminding customers and their attorneys that the bank’s fine print is their friend. Tucked away in that customer agreement that every customer signed is an arbitration agreement. This handy agreement states that any grievance is settled by the use of arbitration.

Why is this significant?

First, arbitration more times than not favors the side of the bank rather than the customer. Second, the settlement is so small that most attorneys don’t want to hassle with it. Third, it is done privately behind closed doors. This eliminates the optics of a nasty court battle.

What if you knew you couldn’t get sued and if you got caught the punishment would be a small settlement? There is nothing that holds the big banks accountable.

Now the politicians are getting involved. They want to pass the Justice for Victims of Fraud Act of 2016. This would enable the customers to have their day in court. I love the showmanship of politicians. However, this is only a band-aid. How about the politicians putting their big boy pants on and disallowing the use of arbitration contracts for the big banks? Further, how about the politicians passing legislation that truly punishes a bank if they get out of line.

So this begs a series of questions.

Is it really the fault of the arbitration clause or does it come back to the politicians who are looking the other way while neglecting the duty to protect the consumer? After all, those big banks sure are helpful come re-election time.

Did these customers really suffer financial hardship because of the opening of an account?  Until proven otherwise, this seems like a frivolous lawsuit.

Should the politicians be allowed to force an institution to lose the right to a provision of a contract that was previously signed?

Funny that it always seems to come back to the politicians.

Drain the swamp President elect Trump, Drain the swamp!

Christmas Shopping and Money Have You Stressed Out?

money-christmas-stockings

The quickest way to rack up debt is to not think through your Christmas Shopping plan – Experian just conducted a national survey on Christmas Shopping and concluded that shoppers are just not ready for the holiday season financially. One of the big reasons? The extra things that are unplanned that go beyond traditional Christmas gifts.

Survey Results Say Holiday Costs Add Up

Respondents reported spending an average of $288 during past holidays on unexpected expenses, and 28 percent actually spent more on these than on gifts.

That is a remarkable stat that 28% spent more on unexpected expenses than on actual gifts. This is where a little planning will help.

What Are the Top Unexpected Holiday Expenses? 

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How About Additional Holiday Credit Card Debt?

These added expenses impact consumers’ finances, with 31 percent saying they have actually accrued credit card debt as a result. (I think that there is another 40% that aren’t being upfront on that question about credit card debt).

Apparently Almost ½ of Consumers Aren’t Worried About Identity Theft

Nearly a quarter (23 percent) say they would risk becoming a victim of identity theft for a good Cyber Monday deal. Additionally, 46 percent say they are simply not concerned about identity theft this holiday season.

As I always say, it is not if you are going to be a victim of identity theft it is when.  It is amazing to me that such a large percentage is not concerned about a very concerning problem and growing problem especially this time of year.

Additional Stressors for Consumers:

  • 48% said they spend more than expected.

This is always the case.  Isn’t it?

  • 44% feel obligated to spend more than they can afford when buying holiday gifts.

Maybe the biggest temptation!

  • 43% of those who feel stressed about the holidays say it’s because they have no extra money to buy gifts — 8% higher than 2015.

The politicians say everything is good in the economy.  If that is the case, why would this stat say otherwise?

Bottom Line: 

Determine how much money you have to spend on Christmas. If you have to go into debt, determine how you are going to get out of debt.  Second, prioritize your spending and be realistic. If you haven’t planned for Christmas during the year, then you need to be smart and utilize the little time that you have to plan now!

An Attitude of Gratitude

Fall Road

18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thanksgiving….the one day of the year we reflect on being thankful.

It is easy to go through the motions on Thanksgiving Day and reflect on the many blessings that we have in our lives. Then once that is over we focus on everything that is Christmas.

What if you cultivated an Attitude of Gratitude? What if you placed an emphasis on Gratitude with the objective of being grateful 365 days of the year? What if you practiced a 1 Thessalonian 5:18 life? How would God use an Attitude of Gratitude to change your life for the better?…..and those around you!

You Would Clean Up the Negativity in Your Life

The side benefit of being grateful 365 days of the year is that you remove the need to complain. Complaining is the by-product of negativity. No more do you have room for negativity because in “everything” you are giving thanks! Your focus shifts to looking for the positive. Remember, at any one time you can hold either a negative or positive thought– you are never afforded the ability to be both. Positive or negative, it is your choice.

You See the Good in People

It can be easy to complain about others and judge their actions. It is easy to tear others down to make yourself feel better about what you are not grateful for in your life. Going through this shift towards Gratitude in your life, you start to appreciate a few things about people. First, you start to see that everyone you meet is no different than you. We all have our own issues that we constantly need to surrender, we are all trying to interpret life, and we are basically all seeking happiness in many differing ways – some constructive and some destructive. With an Attitude of Gratitude, you start to realize that we are all working out of the same playbook and start to have an appreciation for the condition of life. You start looking for the good in people and being grateful for what they bring to the table.

You change from “things don’t go my way” to things are going God’s way.

Everything in your life is an interpretation. You interpret things through the lens of self or fear or you interpret things through the lens of God or love. When you are expecting things to go wrong, you are expecting life to throw you a curveball and interpreting through the lens of fear. However, when you interpret what happens to you in life through the lens of Gratitude or love you start to see things differently. You start to appreciate the power of self-fulfilling expectation. After all, what we expect is a powerful predictor of what we receive. Will it be expecting more of God’s will to unfold or fear?

You Show More Grace

At the core of the human condition we have the tendency to complain, to be negative, and to dwell on what is not working versus appreciating and being thankful for the masterful plan that God is weaving through our lives minute by minute. You start to show yourself Grace as you realize that at our core there is the tendency to not be grateful and creating more room to show Grace to yourself and others.

You Live with Positive Expectancy and Fear Ceases to Exist

An Attitude of Gratitude means to be thankful for what God has done and look forward with great expectation to the things God will do in your life. It is easy to forget that God only wants an abundant life for all of us. Yet, we still anticipate and interpret fearfully. If God is in control in your life and you truly believe He only wants the best for you and you trust that to be the truth, fear can’t exist.

Gratitude Begets Gratitude

As I write this I can imagine a reader thinking – yes, Bob – easier said than done. As I write, so many thoughts come to the surface where I have missed the mark of Gratitude. The challenge to all of us is that old habits die hard. Being ungrateful is practiced over a lifetime and can be difficult to reverse. As a result, this isn’t anything that you can reverse on your own. Like with everything, we are to become more dependent on our relationship with God for change. Once you surrender to that desire to be grateful in all things, you start being even more grateful that God has healed the things in your past that stood in the way of you showing Gratitude which creates even more Gratitude in your life.

Could Gratitude be the thread that weaves through our life determining the potential depth of a relationship with God? I will let you figure out that answer for yourself. I write this because I feel that this is what God has been teaching me. I will be the first to say I still have a lot of work to do. However, when I have been intentional about being grateful God shows me what life is really intended to be.

This Thanksgiving consider surrendering to working towards a life of Gratitude 365 days a year. God will show you things you never knew existed.

 

Black Friday Best Deals

credit-cards11-lgBlack Friday Best Deals

As you gear up for some serious shopping on Black Friday, I thought you could benefit from WalletHub’s recent holiday studies and reports – Below is some sampling!

Edward Jones Being Sued for Breach of Fiduciary Duties… A Second Time

scalesEdward Jones Being Sued for Breach of Fiduciary Duties… A Second Time

I wrote a few months back that 401 K lawsuits were going to get out of hand. Well you would think that a brokerage firm in the 401 K plan business wouldn’t be in a situation where they could get sued but it is happening to Edward Jones now for the second time in a year.

According to www.investmentnews.com, Edward Jones has been sued for “excessive fees and self-dealing in its 401(k) plan.”  The lawsuit, Schultz et al v. Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P. et al, “alleges the broker-dealer and several employees overseeing the retirement plan breached their fiduciary duties by selecting high-cost mutual funds when identical, lower-cost ones were available, choosing “an unreasonable number” of high-risk investment options, and including a “poorly performing” money market fund in place of a stable value fund.”

Let’s make a distinction when it comes to mutual fund fees.  First, if you have a more expensive actively managed fund versus a low cost passive fund and that actively managed fund is designed no different than the passive fund, then that complaint is valid. Investors who want stock market like returns are better off in a passive fund than a higher cost actively managed funds. This is because those types of funds rarely out-perform passive index funds.

Second, they could be an actively managed fund that provides a low risk investment strategy. I think that you can justify those higher fees all day long because you are paying for risk management.

Being a Fiduciary means you have to put the client’s interests above your own. If Edward Jones thought that the management strategy provided some value for the higher fees and they, Edward Jones, was not benefiting from it, then I think that they are acting within their fiduciary rights.

Unless if this is true……

Plaintiffs also claim Edward Jones “engaged in self-dealing through a distribution relationship with several fund companies such as American Funds, Franklin Templeton Investments, Goldman Sachs and BlackRock.

They allege Edward Jones entered into arrangements with such fund companies to where Edward Jones split revenues with them in order to be included in the 401 K plan.

If it is proven that Edward Jones offered higher expense alternatives and that they were being compensated for having those higher expense alternatives in their 401 k plan, then Edward Jones has a problem.

If any of this is true, you would think a brokerage company like Edward Jones would have a better idea of what it means to be a fiduciary. It begs the question, what else is going on with that company that we don’t know about?

The Ten Lessons That Trump Just Taught Politicians

20724666936_e128bf95bb_bThe Ten Lessons that Trump Just Taught Politicians

I hope that politicians everywhere took notes because there was a lot to learn from Trump’s campaign.

  1. With the right strategy you can run for higher offices without being a career politician. Trump just paved the way for non-politicians to run for office.
  2. Trump made it about a movement without the politics. Politicians make it about the politics first and then use a catchy slogan – Campaigns are  won when the people buy into a movement that is designed around something that strikes a nerve. Movements move people.
  3. For the first time, the people showed up and made it about voting out versus voting in – Voting allows citizens to overturn the government without the violence.
  4. Don’t put as much stock in polls or the bias of the media – look at real numbers – The polls never made sense when you consider that he had tens of thousands of people consistently showing up at his rallies.
  5. Brand your movement and repeat that brand over and over. Trump is the master at branding.
  6. You can be yourself and still get elected. Politicians oftentimes don’t show who they really are in elections. They want you to see a certain persona. As uncomfortable as it was to watch, Trump never stopped being himself. Whether you like him or not, what you see is what you get when it comes to Donald Trump.
  7. Unfortunately, it appears that honesty doesn’t matter in elections. Exit polling found that people thought Hillary was more honest than Trump. Yet, he gets elected. Dishonesty surrounded Hillary during her entire campaign. Further, in light of all of the facts concerning Hillary’s blatant dishonest past, she still won the popular vote.
  8. Always stand your ground and don’t give into political pressure. He got elected and we still have no idea what is on those tax returns.
  9. Go for the small donations and mass numbers of contributors versus really wealthy donors who you will owe a favor. That helped the voter fill a part of a movement. Actually Obama was good at that type of ground game as well.
  10. Use words such as “bigly” in your speeches.  Not only will it catch the attention of your audience, it leaves them wondering – is that a word? (It actually is)
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