A Simi Valley outfit called the Consumers' Research Council of America has been touting its 2009 "Guide to America's Top Financial Planners" by offering folks on the list the opportunity to buy plaques costing as much as $243. The council says it produces 30 "top" guides, but Bill Barrett over at Forbes found it to be little more than a come on for those gullible enough to take the bait. Reminds me of other guides that purport to have researched the top lawyers or the top doctors - and then try getting the "award winners" to buy ads or whatever. Do people really fall for this nonsense? Apparently so. Guess "Consumers' Council" sounds a little like Consumers Union. In this case, the "council" appears to be something called S L D Industries that has rented space on Easy Street, near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
"You are among a select few that have earned this prestigious recognition," [writes James R. Wentworth, identified as president of S L D Industries]. But the stated selection criteria, worded in simplistic language, appear to qualify a large number of the members of a given calling for honors--and thus solicitation for those plaques. Tellingly, the criteria do not include as factors disciplinary matters, lawsuits, arbitrations, judgments or settlements. Some planners with such baggage remain listed as "top."
Consumers' Research appears to be trying to create the image of a quality, beholden-to-no-one research organization like, say, Consumers Union, the similarly sounding nonprofit publisher of highly reputable Consumer Reports. But Consumers' Research looks more like a stalking horse for S L D Industries, which also sells a wide range of traditional trophies and corporate awards. One business database says Consumers' Research--whatever and wherever it is--has just five employees. If true, that hardly would seem sufficient staffing to screen and do due diligence on the hundreds of thousands of professionals potentially covered by its many guides.