First of all, let me start off by saying that I really should list this as entertainment or some other category than finance/investing. It would be funny and entertaining if it didn't cost so much.
I was invited to one of their Power Trading Workshops sometime ago. It was supposed to be on a Saturday morning. When I called, a guy with a thick New York accent tells me that the workshop was cancelled. Then he quickly tells me to hold on a minute. I heard him cover the mouthpiece and then he comes back and tells me that the workshop is on.
Needless to say, I was a little confused but drove across town from the Clermont area to Orlando where their office is located. It was a 50 minute drive one way on a Saturday morning.
When I get there I noticed that there was only one car in the parking lot. So I call again on my cell phone to make sure that I am in the right place. [continued below]....
..... I am assured that I am and am prompted to come in which I did.
By the way, I forgot to mention that on their website this workshop was listed as "sold out" but when I arrived I was the first and only one there. So I walked into their office and was led to a b ack room by a older white guy with a thick Italian accent. This guy looked like he could have been part of the mafia.
A few seconds later, a younger black guy walks in and turns out he is the mouthpiece of the two. He welcomes me and begins his presentation at around 10:15am, about 15 minutes late. About this time two other guys walk in. They are seated and like me wondering where the heck everybody is since t his was supposed to be "sold out."
The black guy responds that the workshop was actuually cancelled but these two decided to run it anyway since I had called. And now that there were three of us, they had an event. Another guy asks why it was listed as sold out and the black responds that it "looks better" to say sold out.
I just laughed and started to wonder what else they may alter or say because it "looks better."
All three of us walked out after 20 minutes of this very impromptu and unprofessional event. To humor us we were invited back to another workshop that would be held the following week. I workd during the week and the next workshop was scheduled for Thursday. Turns out I was able to get off that day and was going to drive a friend to the Orlando airport whichi s only a few miles from the OTA facility.
So I went and this time the parking lot was full. The office had some people in it and the star presenter was a guy that flew in all the way from California. He was supposed to be an experienced trainer. Turns out he was a experienced presenter/speaker aka salesman. This guy started by telling us (a group now of about 8 people) that we would not learn how to make money, but how not to to loose money. WOW!
Then he went on to make wise cracks about CNBC, especially Jimmy Cramer. He showed two video's of Cramer. One called: Cramer -Manipulation s supposed underground video with Cramer saying some things you wouldn't expect and then another video where Cramer talks about how silly it is to sell Bear Stearns as it was about to be a takeover target. The presenter goes on to say that Cramer was half right, Bear Stearns was a takeover target but the stock dropped by 60 points before it happened. All of us were already aware of this and I failed to see the point to this other than the presenter trying to make a case against CNBC and Jimmy Cramer.
Next the presenter shows a chart of a stock that seriously reversed. He used this as a seqway to discuss shorting stocks. I had seen this exact same chart in a Bill O'Niel book. It wasn't news. I elbowed the guy next to me and said, "I bet he talks about the double top next." Didn't even get the words out of my mouth and the double top thing came out. This is nothing new.
He then goes on to talk about shorting and says that shorting is no riskier than buying stocks. ENT!
I beg your pardon! When you buy a stock, you risk your entire investment. There is limited risk. When you short, you in ieesence borrow money to sell a stock that you don't own. If the stock goes the opposite way (as it frequently does) you use your entire investment plus much more. Shorting has unlimited risk and you have to be precise. It is a fact that more people loose money by shorting than by buying stocks.
Next event was to talk down mutual funds and mutual fund managers. The presenter says that you can't make money in mutuals anymore. ENT! A quick look on the internet proved that I was right. Over the last three years, I found over 50 mutual funds that produced an annual return ov over 20%. In fact, I even found several mutual funds that are up over 25% over the last 6 months and one that is up 38% in the last three months. But this presenter, supposedly an expert says that you can't make money in mutuals anymore. BULL!
Next he throws up a chart of the S&P 500 from 1970 to 1999. He demonstrates how "buy & hold" used to work. Then he throws up a chart of the S&P 500 over the last 10 years which obviously shows a very choppy market including the crashes of 2000 and 2008. Funny why he didn't use alonger chart. Probably figured the longer time line would dilute the turbulence.
As we broke for lunch we were treated to a decent catered lunch with hot food. While I was eating, I was approached by one of the counselors, the older Italian guy. Who pulls me into an office and talks to me while I am eating. Just makes small talk at first. Then he begins to ask me about the seminar.
"Seminar? What seminar" I respond. This was a blatant sales pitch and very misleading at that. He then asks me if I learned anything from it. I respond only that this was a a high pressure sales pitch much like Time Share and I was turned off by it. I asked him when the strategies would be discussed. He commented after lunch. I politely asked him to let me eat in peace and after the third time he got the hint.
So I went back outside to the break area at which time another counselor, the black guy from the week before comes over. Same speel. Small talk and then right for the jugular. I told him that I just told his buddy to leave me alone. This guy was more persistent and downright rude. At this point the white guy came back and told his buddy that I wanted to see some strategies and then told me that this guy would show the trading platform after lunch. If the white guy hadn't come I would have walked out.
I went to use the restrooms. What a joke. You need a code to get in and once you get in, you'll wish you hadn't. The place was a mess with paper towels and toilet paper spread all over and residue of urine and fecal matter on the walls. Looked worse than a grade school restoom. I almosy upchucked my lunch.
I went outside to smoke a cigerette and spoke with some lovely girls who worked in the complex. They suggested that I watch my car. When I asked why I was told that some cars had been borken into and that other vandalism occurred here.
So as I was about to get in my car and leave, the black guy comes out after me and tells me that the seminar is about to continue and assures me that it will be worth my while and won't take long. So I figure, what the hell and go back in.
This young black kid pulls up the trading platform. He starts drawing charts with lines going all over the place. He appeared to know what he was doing untill he came back to the charts and since this was live trading on demo account while the market was open we could follow the stock trades. They all went in the opposite direction. Five of us were left and we all giggled. One guy yelled, "OOPS??"
Obviously this kid was not very skilled in what he was trying to do. Now the presenter comes back and tries to patch us this mess. He reviews the benefits of OTA. He tells us that this has a value of at least $14,000 and is usually sold for $6990 but we would be recieving a fast cash shcolorship of $2,000 bringing the price down to a "mere $4990", his words, not mine.
He tells us that there is a tuition reimbursement available if we put up another $5,000 and sign up with their broker recommendation. This tuition reimbursement is ajoke. You get a 20% discount on commissions which are already higher than the industry standard and you have to pay a $99 monthly fee. This broker also has the highest margin interest around. Did I forget to mention that during the "seminar" the presenter was very liberal about using margin and said it was safe?
At this point the black guy tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to follow him to the office. Here it comes I thought and boy was I right. Another high pressure sales pitch much worst than the first one.
I got so mad that I walked out and this guy, the black guy followed me outside to my car. Even while I am in my car, he motions to me like a cop to roll my window down. I ask him what the hell he wants and he responds, "Sure you won't change your mind." At which point I hit the gas pedal and peeled out.
My advice is to stay away from these guys. That is unless you really need an free meal real bad and are willing to be hit with high pressure selling tactics.