Absurd payday loan provision in WI budget troubling

For more than 30 years we’ve been strong proponents of financial success through education. We teach classes, host seminars, run an active blog and write a weekly market commentary. We hold the industry’s highest credentials, including the CFP®, CFA®, CMT®, and CPA because we respect both our clients and our fiduciary relationship with them. That’s why we’re so appalled by item 61 in the Wisconsin state budget, which expands the types of financial products a payday lender can sell, including insurance, annuities and other financial products. It is hard to imagine a more complicated financial product than an annuity and a less suitable person to break it down for consumers than a pay day lender. Consider the nature of the pay day loan business model, which lures clients in with the promise of immediate cash inflow, charges exorbitant interest for that privilege, and then hopes for a cycle of repeated loan requests. According to a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, over 80% of payday loans are rolled over or followed by another loan within 14 days. This results in a digital debtor’s prison in which consumers have little hope of breaking free. Clearly, the very first piece of advice any reputable financial advisor might give a client is to avoid doing business with a payday lender. That these same lenders should offer financial advice, sell insurance products, and vet investment opportunities strikes us both absurd and dangerous. We urge the Wisconsin legislature to reconsider this proposal and, should this budget remain intact, we stress again the importance of seeking financial advice from a reputable professional, preferably one with a fiduciary responsibility to his or her clients.