Main Street Americans may not spend much time fending off solicitations from giant advisory firms but they certainly stroll through shopping malls. In a few upscale centers, they’ll find an America’s Retirement Store, where they’ll be welcome.
“We’re targeting Mom-and-Pop Americans, who make up an underserved market,” said John DuPriest, CEO of Presidential Brokerage, parent of America’s Retirement Store. “The major firms are mainly looking for clients in the top three or five income percentiles. We think there are opportunities 30 or 40 percentiles below that."
The first America’s Retirement Store opened in February in the Promenade Shops at Centerra, in Loveland, Col. Another store has opened in San Diego while a third will soon appear in Colorado Springs, DuPriest said. Those are three of the five cities where Presidential, a 22-year-old full-service financial services firm, has offices.
The stores are staffed by full-time employees, augmented by registered reps from Presidential offices who work there periodically. Mall shoppers may be attracted by the promise of educational materials as well as by presentations on topics ranging from investing to Social Security to ethical wills.
“We’ve had Ed Slott appear,” DuPriest said, referring to the well-known IRA expert, “and he drew nearly 600 people.”
Shoppers who express interest in investing with Presidential can set up an appointment with an advisor, either in the store or at a local office. Presidential’s goal is to attract clients such as small business owners and professionals with portfolios generally in the $250,000 to $1 million range.“One of our first walk-ins opened an account with $1.8 million,” DuPriest said. He declined to provide specific results so far but did say that the ARS venture “has accelerated our business.”
According to DuPriest, most of the people who walk into an ARS are not likely to draw much interest from big firms. “If these clients seek investment advise,” he said, “they probably will wind up at a call center. Generally, that means they’ll be sold a proprietary lifestyle mutual fund.”
With Presidential, investors will have access to a wide variety of choices. “Besides the usual brokerage products,” DuPriest said, “clients may be offered index-linked annuities, non-public REITs, or business development companies, for example.”
Although the America’s Retirement Store venture may bring new clients to Presidential, DuPriest asserted that the intent goes beyond prospecting. “We have a mission,” he said, “to bring the financial products and services that these people are offered to a different level.”