As I walked through the FPA Experience convention in San Diego six weeks ago, there was something oddly familiar about the scene. The hall was full of insurance companies selling investment products. There were big, generic, load mutual fund companies that are better at marketing than generating investment returns, and non-traded REIT companies offering basically illiquid investments.

Hey, wasn't that somebody who used to work at the Stanger Register in those olden days when it was evaluating tax shelter deal terms? What was it that was so familiar? One morning, "exhibitor presentations" told us how to sell the speaker's products - including (here they were again) non-traded REITs. An author was signing books about the value of indexed annuities in client portfolios. Top producers at Ameriprise Financial gave us the secrets of their success. A company called First Command had a presentation titled, "Selling Effectively to Women." Wasn't that the same organization that paid a big fine to the SEC some years back and promised to stop deceptive sales practices to members of the military?

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