I am no expert at self-directed IRA but I do know crappy customer service AND a business model designed to frustrate its customers when I see it.

And I am here to tell you Accuplan (a self-directed IRA company) is the epitome of both.

I was unfortunately one of their customers for several years (based off of a recommendation by a source I mistakenly trusted) and let me tell you, it was the one of the worst experiences I’ve had in dealing with a company.

My rep was easy-going and perfectly accommodating when we first got started. He was attentive and more than eager to take my money.

But once he got my money… it was a whole different story. On several occasions over the years when I needed his help, his presence was scarce and response time left much to be desired. I felt uncared for…

Bear in mind that what I was asking for wasn’t anything unreasonable – I was asking for things that were perfectly within his “job description.” I mean, after all, his role was to provide customer service, plain and simple, and he failed to do so.

The first time it happened I knew I wouldn’t be referring anyone to him. As a matter of fact, I advised my business partner to NOT go through him. But since he had my money and it’s a (self-directed) IRA, I figured it wasn’t a big deal… I wouldn’t call on his service THAT often right

Well, recently I decided I needed his service again and boy this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Not only was he slow to get back to me, but it was painstakingly obvious he didn’t care to be of much help. He sent me forms that HE should’ve partially filled out but NOPE, he just tossed it over to me and I was the one who had to proactively ask HIM for clarification and help.

He attempted to excuse himself by claiming personal matters.

I get that… I am a reasonable guy. He was at a funeral one day and didn’t get back to me till 6 days later (no exaggeration, SIX DAYS LATER). He told me in an email (because for some reason he never thought to pick up the phone to return my calls…) that he was at a funeral AND it was his son’s birthday.

And I quote, “Sorry for not getting back to you.  Last week I had a friend die and also had my sons birthday to deal with.”

I am sorry… you couldn’t get back to me for SIX DAYS because it was your son’s birthday??? Seriously?

But this is where it became apparent that the whole company’s structure is flawed.

I called the company, Accuplan, directly and asked for help in my rep’s absence (he setup an auto-reply email that said he was going to be out of the office). I was redirected to another rep who in essence told me that:

  1. He doesn’t have access to my account because I am not his client
  2. Each of them operate pretty much independently
  3. No, I cannot speak to my rep’s boss because they don’t speak to clients

So in essence… if something catastrophic was to happen, I WOULD BE STUCK because apparently no one else there knows what’s going on besides my rep.

And should my rep disappear from the face of the planet, there’s no one to be held accountable at the company. And who knows what would happen to my account.

SERIOUSLY? Where’s the check and balance? Where’s the quality control? Where’s the accountability?

In essence I was at the mercy, completely and wholly, of my unaccountable and complacent rep. He was a single-point failure and there is NO recourse for any ill-advised actions and behaviors on his end.

This is NOT a company and business model that you want in charge of your IRA or anything for that matter.

So I say again, DO NOT open an account with Accuplan. You WILL regret it.

=====

Below is an email I sent to my rep to communicate my frustration in hopes that Accuplan gets their act together:

For the sake of your other customers and for the sake of Accuplan’s reputation, I want to share with you how working with you has been one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever had as far as customer service goes.
The red flags started years ago when I first needed your help with a transaction. You were slow to get back to me and provided minimal customer service. For example, you submitted to me documents that needed to be filled out with items I didn’t know how to fill out.
A good rep would’ve been proactive and filled out as much as he/she can.
The lack of care and attentiveness caused me to turn folks who asked me about self-directed IRA from you.
I persisted with staying with you figuring it’d be easier than changing accounts/companies.
This recent episode showed me what a mistake that was.
Once again you were slow to get back to me. You were scarce with answers and again showed an attitude of apathy. I was able to reach out to you on the phone the first time I called but since then, despite my emails and voicemails, I did not get a call back after the first one.
I’ve had to ask NUMEROUS times how much my gold and silver were being sold for (a good rep in this line of work would volunteer that information…)
You sent me forms again that a good rep would’ve pre-filled out, but instead, you left it up to me to figure out what boxes to check etc.
I’ve had to ask NUMEROUS times on updates to the status of my account (i.e. Did you sell the gold and silver? How much did they sell for? When were they shipped? When can I expect my funds?) This information are all good to know information that you failed to provide.
You submitted to me the withdraw form a week and a half after I communicated that I needed to sell my gold and silver and needed to find the most expedient way of getting the cash into my account – this prevented me from being able to get a medallion in time to get a transfer which would’ve been faster than waiting for a physical check.
Shouldn’t this paperwork be a part of a process that calls for you to send BOTH the sell form and the Withdrawl Form?
You disappeared for a period of six days quoting a friend’s funeral. I totally understand that and I am sorry to hear that happened. But then you also said it was your son’s “birthday” which was ALSO why you disappeared.
THAT I don’t understand. Your son’s birthday interfered with your work?
I run a business and have employees of my own, if I ever hear that from one of my employees as an excuse for their diligence in handling my customers – I’d question their ability to distinguish family and work matters. If my employee was to disappear for 6 days, I’d make sure he took time off and properly assign someone else in his place temporarily.
So not only were you NOT attentive to my needs, you were negligent in getting me timely responses to questions that are perfectly reasonable for someone in my position trying to liquidate my gold and silver.
And of course… you said you had the cash overnighted (you failed to provide a tracking number). They were NOT overnnighted and I did NOT receive the check as you claimed I would. Your lack of accountability and inability to follow through on your word were frustrating to say the least.
This was further exacerbated by the fact that in your response to me when I asked you how much I am getting, you quoted me a number that was DIFFERENT than the actual checks I received. How does something like this even happen? You are supposed to be a company that helps manage a part of my finances, if I can’t trust you to get your numbers straight, that’s a HORRIBLE reflection on you as a company.
What’s worst is it seems like NOBODY ELSE at Accuplan was able to step in and take responsibility of my account in your absence. You were my single point failure and it makes me shudder to think what if something worse happened.
If any of these oversights were caused by others in the company, then that needs to be addressed. If your behavior is representative of the culture Accuplan cultivates, then that’s a huge problem and I hope that gets fixed for all of the other customers.
I will not be referring folks to you. As a matter of fact, I will be sure to share this horrible experience with ____ whom I believe was the one who introduced me to you. He needs to know the customers that he sends your way are NOT being cared for.

 

Categories : Business
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So I see a lot of my colleagues and friends looking at starting CrossFit and some have asked me for my amateur insights into what CrossFit is and how they should go about getting started. So I thought I’d post some of my thoughts…

Let me start by saying that I am by no means a “CrossFit” expert, I am just a big fan of it (or perhaps more appropriately the CrossFit gym that I am a member at) after getting started a little over a year ago and one of the lucky ones who found an amazing CrossFit gym with a great coach and a great community.

So I’ll leave the “professional advice/tips/explanations” to the well… professionals.

However, I will give you some of my personal perspective on CrossFit from a trainee perspective and hopefully you can derive some value from it.

So First Off, What is CrossFit From My Perspective?

(Remember I am not interested in reciting to you the professional version of it.)

It’s a means to getting more “fit” by putting your body through various types of workouts designed to challenge the ten areas of fitness (Google them if you don’t know what those ten areas are).

Is CrossFit for you?

Well, can you walk?

Do you breath?

Do you have at least half of a brain to understand your own physical limitations?

Can you promise yourself that you will do your absolute best to NOT get injured by following GOOD sensible coaching and advice from qualified trainers?

Then yes, CrossFit CAN be for you.*

* But for the sake of you not suing me, I want to tell you to consult with a medical professional before starting bluh bluh bluh…

How Do You Decide on a CrossFit Gym?

Odds are, there are probably at least a dozen CrossFit gyms within a 4 mile radius of where you live. And by the time you are done reading this… I bet there will be at least one more.

Fact of the matter is, CrossFit gyms are popping up everywhere because it’s the “cool” thing to do. And it’s trendy and frankly, it doesn’t require that much from a qualification perspective for anybody to open a gym.

This means tons of people and their Uncle Bobs are opening one up around every street corner every day.

But tread carefully because not all CrossFit gyms are created equal.

Some are better than others and let me explain what “better” means…

How qualified is the owner?

Understand that to open a CrossFit gym doesn’t require a whole lot of qualifications. Check the owner’s background and experience along with his/her certification levels.

How GOOD are the coaches?

Remember that just because someone is good at something doesn’t mean he/she is good at TEACHING it. And this includes CrossFit.

What is the programming like?

You want a gym that lays out the big picture in mind… that looks at your training as a whole (conducive towards your overall fitness goal). A good gym owner knows that achieving one’s fitness goal doesn’t happen day-to-day…

Rather, it takes time and a strategy. And as such, the owner/coach will plan out an entire training “cycle” in waves of weeks and months. This not only helps maximize your gains and helps you towards you goals but also helps prevent injuries.

I.e. a savvy trainer will lay out a strategic workout program that will hit certain body areas with various loads and intensity a limited number of times a week while a trainer who doesn’t have a good program in mind could and often do end up over-stressing your body/body parts resulting in less-than-optimal training and gains and increasing your odds of getting injured (which would suck).

So if you come across a gym with no programming and every day’s workout is put together haphazardly, you have a sign that the gym is run by a caveman who probably was better off opening a hot dog stand than opening of a gym.

Do the coaches actually COACH you?

Do the coaches actually train you on the various movements and explain to you the intention of each workout within the grand schemes of things?

Or are they too busy barking at you like a rabid dog or too aloof texting on their phones to notice that you are literally being squashed like a bug by a barbell?

What are the people like in that gym?

I noticed that GOOD gyms tend to attract ego-less trainees, no matter their age, fitness level, experience etc.

If the gym has a lot of self-centered meat-heads who look like they either just got out of jail or are about to go to jail, that’s a red flag…

Look for a gym with a sense of community, where folks actually look like they are having FUN and are genuine caring people.

How do you get ready for CrossFit?

By taking it one step at a time.

By setting proper and REASONABLE expectations and by being a GREAT learner and follower because if you have a good gym, there will some damn good mentors/coaches/leaders who are there to HELP you achieve your fitness goals.

And for them to help you, you have to give them permission. And just as importantly, you need to humble yourself (check your ego at the door).

I’ve been doing sports since I was a kid and been taking health and fitness pretty seriously since ’98 (which is when I first started lifting), and I am loving CrossFit not because it’s CrossFit but because of the people I am surrounded by.

I love my gym because of the commitment to excellence of the community I find myself in.

Am I surrounded by and train with world class athletes? No.

Is my inspiration to be the best? No (although that’d be kind of cool).

But I can say that I am surrounded by some of the coolest, fun-loving, genuine, and ambitious like-minded individuals that I’ve come across whose fitness goals resonate perfectly with mine.

And this is why I stay and continue to do CrossFit.

It’s the people.

Shifting Gears – In a Business Sense

Now I want to totally blow your mind…

All joking aside, I want you to look at this article but replace the word, “CrossFit” with the word “business” and even in some cases, “LIFE.”

I want you to stretch a bit and draw some tangents and parallel between choosing to do CrossFit (and utilize it as a means to achieve your fitness goals) and choosing to do well in business and using that as a means to achieve your life goals.

How you go about business and life and set yourself up for the best chance at success largely relies on many of the principles I shared here.

Don’t go about business alone because no one was BORN with the knowledge of how to start and run a business. You need a mentor or mentors. You need to follow in the footsteps of someone who’s walked the path before you.

So what that means is you need to humble yourself and find a great leader whom you trust and like and follow his or her footsteps.

Be very careful and selective in terms of whom you call “mentor” and whom you choose to follow. Beyond just them achieving the level of success you desire, you have to ask yourself, do you resonate with them? Are they genuine?

And again, just because someone is GOOD at something doesn’t mean he/she is good at TEACHING it.

In business, you need to have a compelling goal and vision in mind. You need a passionate “WHY” as to why you are doing what you do because when the going gets tough (and believe me, they WILL), and you feel like quitting, you need that overwhelming reason as to why you MUST keep going and why quitting is NOT an option.

Success will come through your failures, remember that.

Also, set proper expectations as you embark on your journey – understand that success may NOT happen overnight and frankly, won’t!

I’ve seen way too many aspiring entrepreneurs who want to run before they can even crawl. And guess what? More often than not they crash and burn. Then they quit and blame the system that failed on them when in reality, they failed themselves.

And for the love of everything that is good and holy, have a plan… have a strategy.

Don’t go day-to-do doing whatever your little heart desires nilly-willy. Have a big picture in mind (if you don’t have one… GET ONE) and work towards that plan. Make sure everything you are doing is conducive to your long term goal.

Don’t ever lose sight of that.

Finally, a Word on Community…

I started CrossFit because I wanted to stay fit (and have fun doing it) but I stick around because of the community… because of the people and family (well, that and the fact that I am a masochist and love pushing my mind and body day in day out).

And that’s another big take away I have to share with you.

In business, you really can’t go at it alone – you want to find a “family/community” to belong to, to contribute to, and other like minded individuals to network and mastermind with. It’s critical to point out that those you call family really need to be “like minded” and share similar goals, aspirations, and motivation as you.

Because it is only then will you gel together and collectively elevate each other. You’ll find this family… for a lack of a better term, “useful” in your highest moments and also your lowest moments.

They’ll celebrate your triumphs, comfort you in your defeats, love on you when you are down, and collaborate with you on brilliants ideas and strategies designed to help everyone.

So if you are going at your business alone or thinking of BEING alone, STOP.

Reach out to others, network with others and find your “family.” Because with the right family, you will go further in business (and life) than you can ever dream of doing it alone.

Got it?

– R

P.S. Back to CrossFit…

One more critical question that I get a fair amount from females.

They ask if CrossFit is suitable for women.

And after much thought and many sleepless nights thinking about the most appropriate answer…

Here it is.

The profound answer is…

Absolutely, resoundingly, unequivocally YES.

:)

 

 

(Reposted from No Excuses Summit.)

Categories : Business
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Recently I had the “opportunity” to participate in a 24 hour challenge…

A challenge that consisted of carrying 55+ pounds on your backpack for 24 hours while engaging in various physical activities, including doing push ups and flutter kicks with the backpack in the water at Venice Pier and rucking through the streets of Los Angeles while at one point having to carry 300+ pounds, and putting my mental strength to the test.

It’s called GoRuck Heavy and it all started on a Friday evening at 8 PM at the Venice Pier with 11 participants (of whom 10 finished) and one cadre.

There were some important leadership lessons I gleamed from this hellish experience and here it is…

(Reposted from No Excuses Summit.)

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Cheers!

=)

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