Trailhead Retirement Planning Group: A Nightmare for Investors? (Updated 2023)
Trailhead Retirement Planning Group Morgan Stanley is a terrible wealth advisory firm you must avoid at all costs. They claim to focus on their clients’ interests and goals but that’s all lies.
The firm has many shady provisions in the fine print which it uses to trap investors in problematic agreements. They allow themselves to abuse their clients’ portfolios and give unsuitable recommendations without facing any repercussions for the same.
If you ignore the various marketing ploys this firm uses and take a deep dive into their terms and conditions, you’d find many red flags. To help you, I have highlighted the most problematic provisions of their disclosures in the following review:
About the Trailhead Retirement Planning Group
The Trailhead Retirement Planning Group is a wealth management firm based in Chicago, Illinois. Its office is located at 227 W Monroe St Suite 3400, Chicago, IL 60606 US and its contact number is 312-648-3471.
The firm has three managing directors:
- Sean Lannan, CRPC
- Dan Hoffmann, CFP, CRPC
- William Eason, CRPC
Apart from them, other notable people at this firm include Erin Haley, William Kramer, Micahel Haynes, Anthony R Severino, and Kenneth R Robson. Furthermore, he firm claims to help their clients prepare for their desired future. They offer various services including:
- Behavioral coaching
- Continuity planning
- Estate planning strategies
- Tax planning strategies
- Social security planning
- Insurance planning
Also, the firm claims to help its clients prepare for unexpected events and support their retirement objectives. All of this sounds pretty attractive but sadly, they are mostly lies.
As you’ll read the various shady provisions present in the disclosures of the Trailhead Retirement Planning Group, you’ll realize just how empty most of these claims are and why you shouldn’t trust this firm.
Issues Present in Trailhead Retirement Planning Group
Before you work with any financial advisor, it’s best to check their professional history. This way you can be certain of their reliability. The best way to do so is by checking the FINRA BrokerCheck listings of the wealth advisor as you can learn about their professional experience and legal disputes there.
While checking the FINRA BrokerCheck listings of the Trailhead Retirement Planning Group, I found a major dispute on the profile of one of its managing directors. He is Dan Hoffmann.
Did You Know?
FINRA is Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The Authority is under Congress and works for the protection of American Investors by checking the unfair or suspicious deeds of broker-dealer industry.
Dan had a major dispute in 2010 with a client who alleged, inter alia, that beginning in August 2006, the financial advisor misrepresented unsuitable investments that he made in the claimant’s accounts.
They requested $100,000 in damages and settled the case for $14,250.
Dan responded to the dispute by saying that he settled the dispute only for business purposes with no admission of liability. Still, facing a lawsuit for giving unsuitable recommendations is no small matter. It means that Dan and his firm are prone to ignoring their clients’ requirements.
Selling Proprietary Investments
The Trailhead Retirement Planning Group earns commissions from selling proprietary investments. Earning commissions from investment products can introduce bias in an advisor’s recommendations. Moreover, different investments offer different commissions. Some securities offer higher commissions than the others, making it easier for the broker to ignore the client’s requirements.
In many cases, advisors simply recommend a subpar investment to their client even if there are plenty of attractive options available because it generates higher commissions.
Also, selling proprietary products limits the variety of investments an advisor can recommend to his clients. They have no incentive for recommending any investment that doesn’t generate commissions. Hence, you might miss out on many suitable investments simply because they wouldn’t earn your advisor any commissions.
Earning commissions from selling proprietary products is among the biggest reasons why advisors give unsuitable recommendations.
Using the Funds of Their Clients for Profit
Another drawback of working with the Trailhead Retirement Planning Group Morgan Stanley is that it trades the investments it recommends to its clients.
Also, This means the firm can own the investments it suggests to its clients. Trading recommended securities leads to many conflicts of interest and gives the firm leeway to abuse their clients’ funds.
For example, they might perform “front-running” where they perform a trade on a security and recommend its next trade accordingly to its clients. They might short-sell an investment and recommend their clients to sell its shares.
It’s highly unethical and many clients are unaware of it. They may not even know that their advisor is using their funds to generate profits for himself.
The Trailhead Retirement Planning Group at Morgan Stanley is definitely a firm you should avoid. Its leadership has a tainted history and its current provisions allow it to abuse its clients’ funds.
Additionally, the firm has monetary incentive for ignoring the financial requirements of its clients. Due to these reasons, it would be best to find a different service provider and avoid the Trailhead Retirement Planning Group altogether.
The Trailhead Retirement Planning Group Morgan Stanley is indeed a nightmare for any investor. No matter what they claim to be, their disclosures have too many conflicts. It would be best to avoid this firm altogether.
- Faced a $100,000 dispute in the past
- Using the funds of their clients for profit
- Selling proprietary investments