By Ray Stern
Following news reports in New Times and Channel 12 (KPNX) about the costs of a conference this week at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix, AIG canceled a motivational speech by an NFL star.
The insurance company also claims that more than 90 percent of the conference's estimated $343,000 cost was to be paid by "18 participating product sponsor firms," and that most of the attendees were independent financial planners, not AIG employees.
Interestingly, a news release by the company -- sent to New Times yesterday, halfway into the three-day conference -- states that an appearance and speech by football legend Terry Bradshaw had been canceled even though the sponsor firms were going to pay his appearance fee. That seems to counter the overall angle of the AIG news release: If the sponsors were paying most everything instead of the multi-billion-dollar bailout recipient, AIG, then why not keep Bradshaw on the ticket?
This news release seems to point more toward an attempt at spin doctoring after they'd been caught. As the e-mail revealed in New Times' previous post on AIG, the company had intended to keep this conference very quiet. A Channel 15 (KNXV) news report tonight says an AIG spokesman told the station's reporter that AIG was to pay for the conference and get reimbursed later from the sponsors.
Whoever pays for the conference, the attempt at secrecy shows that the taxpayers propping up the $144 billion bailout of AIG need to watch these people like hawks.
The November 6 AIG news release follows:
AIG ADVISOR GROUP TO HOST 2008 ASSET MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE (AMC)
Over 90% of meeting costs paid for by participating product sponsor firms and attendees; financial planners eligible to earn continuing education credits toward industry designations and certifications
NOVEMBER 6, 2008 ― AIG Advisor Group will host its 2008 Asset Management Conference (AMC) at the Point Hilton Squaw Peak hotel and conference facility in Phoenix, Arizona on November 5 – 7, 2008. Nearly 150 financial planners, who operate their own independent businesses and are not AIG employees will participate in the event. Financial planners attending the meeting represent 23% of total AIG Advisor Group revenue as of September 30, 2008.
The goal of the AMC is to provide an educational, training and networking forum for financial planners. The AMC meeting agenda includes seven general sessions, twenty-two classes, and two working lunches. Topics range from alternative investment products and advisory services strategies to business-building programs, productivity tools, and portfolio management.
Eighteen participating product sponsor firms are underwriting $320,000 of the total meeting cost of $343,000. The company’s portion of the total meeting costs is under $25,000. Additionally, financial planner attendees are responsible for their travel-related expenses, registration fee ($199), and guest registration fee ($250).
AIG Advisor Group has conducted a top to bottom review of all AMC meeting expenses to validate that only expenses required to ensure the meeting’s success are incurred. Consistent with that review, the company determined that the appearance of Terry Bradshaw as a guest speaker was not required. Although costs related to his appearance were to be paid by a product sponsor, his appearance has been cancelled.
In commenting on the event, Larry Roth, President and CEO, AIG Advisor Group, said, “We take very seriously our commitment to aggressively manage meeting costs. Our success in enlisting product sponsors to pay for the vast majority of conference costs, while charging financial planners a registration fee and for their travel, has resulted in minimal cost to AIG. In turn, our financial planners benefit from strong educational and training content and the ability to earn Continuing Education (CE) credits.”
Financial planners are required to complete professional development programs to both earn and maintain industry certifications and designations. AMC attendees are eligible to fulfill CE requirements including: 9.5 hours of CE credits toward Certified Financial Planner® (CFP) certification and 9 hours of CE credits toward three Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA) designations: Certified Investment Management Analystsm (CIMA), and Chartered Private Wealth Advisorsm (CPWA).
AIG Advisor Group conducts training and educational meetings periodically. The purpose of these meetings is to ensure that independent financial planners receive the knowledge, skills, and training required to meet the evolving needs of their clients. These meetings are also designed to introduce new investment products and technology tools that support the growth of a financial planner’s business.