People are paying me a lot of money to write this report

by Hany Farag

Shortly before 3 p.m. the speaker dashed in. In no time the blinds were shut, the projection screen went up, the lights were dimmed, and some paper started floating from the front row. The speaker asked attendees to write their names on circulating sheet. To my surprise, she used an old-fashioned slide projector. A picture of a pyramid appeared, and we were moving up through stages of financial archeology. It was very primitive information, yet I was certain soon we would reach the nitty gritty.

The clicking sound of the rotating slide carousel kept me alert. Had the speaker been using a laptop and PowerPoint presentation, I would have been snoring by now. I remembered the slide projector I have at home, which has survived every garage sale I’ve ever had. I once left it on the sidewalk with a ”free” sign, but it was there the following morning. When a financial planner uses a slide projector, the fashion must be changing. Laptops lack the elegance and authenticity of the past. With the return to classic style, my slide projector is valuable again. Personally I don’t need it, so if you are into meetings and presentations, please give me a call.

I became all ears when the speaker said; “This is what people pay me a lot of money to know.” Now I’m getting the vital financial knowledge. I continued to listen, but nothing came out, just casual talk. The wisdom must have been given before that sentence. Did I miss it? Was I lost?

Obviously something so valuable would be repeated. I decided to focus and catch every word. Browsing between financial terms, the speaker again said, “And this is what people pay me big money for. I was going out of my mind. There was nothing following this complete sentence. I had always had trouble with finances; things look very simple to me in a deceiving way. Did I miss it again? No way. Could it depend on what the meaning of THIS is?

I took a deep breath. I decided to catch every word in my brain, like a magnet, with ability to replay it. The speaker started to summarize and close. Focusing in full alert and ready to receive the blessing, I felt the tempo building up to a crescendo abruptly interrupted by a question, “What about SEP?” For heaven’s sake, who cares about SEP now? We’ve known about that since we first filled in the Schedule C on our tax returns.

There was silence. The pause stretched as if the translator’s question was in a foreign language. A somber and apologetic voice came from the floor explaining “Simplified Employee Pension plan.” The rest was history.

You realize by now that the title of this report is a hoax. I was paid nothing to write it, and you got nothing out of it. I tried to sell you the old slide projector in my garage. Cash only, please. Give me a buzz, will you?

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