May 21, 2013 - Our office received a call today from an individual who recently received a large check with an accompanying letter claiming to be from "Quality Research Group" and "QRG". The letter instructed her to deposit the check, to wire transfer some of the funds to a specified account through Western Union, and then to keep the rest as payment for a retail merchandise shop. This is NOT legitimate and did NOT originate from Sales Quality Research Group, Inc. If you ever receive a letter and check like this, DO NOT attempt to deposit or cash the check. These checks are fraudulent and willl NOT clear, so you will be liable for the full amount of the check, in addition to any fees that your bank and other institutions will impose.
No legitimate company will ever send you payment up-front and ask you to wire transfer some of those funds to a third party (via Western Union, MoneyGram or any other service).
Mystery shopping for legitimate companies can be a great way to make some extra money, but be sure to do your homework beforehand to learn how to spot scams and avoid fraud!
Some Additional Learning Resources:
http://www.mysteryshop.org/avoid-scammers (short and informative video on avoiding mystery shopping scams)
Please also see our previous news article on Mystery Shopping scams.
February 22, 2013 - Over the past forty-five days, both FINRA (January 11th) and the SEC (February 21st) have announced their 2013 Exam Priorities. Click one of the links below to view either document. You can also find copies of both documents on the Resources page of our website.
June 7, 2012 - J.D. Power and Associates recently released the 2012 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study. This study found that consumer satisfaction with bank fees is dropping but is partially offset by slightly improved satisfaction with facilities and customer service. Congratulations again to a half-dozen of our current and recent clients who scored at or near the top of their respective regions.
June 7, 2012 - While overall investor satisfaction with full service investment firms has nearly stabilized at pre-recession levels, satisfaction continues to decline in the most critical factors that drive overall satisfaction, according to the recent J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Full Service Investor
Satisfaction Study. Top-rated firms include Edward Jones, Fidelity and Charles Schwab, LPL, Raymond James and UBS. Most Bank affiliated BDs did not fare well in the study, with three of the four lowest rated firms being Wells Fargo, Chase and Citigroup.
June 7, 2012 - It took them a while, but the FDIC has finally come out with an alert advising consumers of the risks associated with Market-Linked CDs. Our mystery shop results show quite a variation between advisors on how MLCDs are explained and sold. This article discusses some questions investors should ask before choosing to invest in an MLCD.
June 16, 2011 - J.D.Power and Associates today released the results of their 2011 Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study. The study showed that investor satisfaction with full service brokerage firms has improved slightly this year as the market has improved. RBC (814), Charles Schwab (805) and Fidelity (796) topped the list, while three bank BDs (Wells Fargo (746), Chase (704) and Citigroup (670) held sole possession of the lowest satisfaction scores. The survey of 4,200 investors who use full service firms for at least part of their business was conducted in May of this year. You can obtain additional information on this subject from the interactive tables on the JDPower website:
Full Service Investment Firm Ratings
April 21, 2011 - J.D. Power and Associates recently released the 2011 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study. Overall satisfaction scores decreased dramatically in 2009 and 2010, but this year, overall satisfaction scores are up slightly (by 4 basis points) from 2010. Satisfaction with bank fees, however, is down substantially from last year -- by a whopping 12%. The press release contains an overview of the study, as well as a regional ranking of banks. More...
March 4, 2011 - Sales Quality Research Group, Inc., of Tempe, Arizona, is pleased to announce the 2011 version of its proprietary Online Branch Audit System™. Designed specifically for broker dealers, investment sales programs and TPMs, the highly sophisticated and interactive online system provides a consumer friendly and cost-effective way to conduct branch and OSJ audits, manage the audit process, and generate key reports necessary to comply with applicable legal and regulatory requirements (NASD Rule 3010).
SQG’s Online Branch Audit System™ replaces what has historically been a cumbersome, time-consuming and paper-intensive process with a state-of-the-art, secure, online system providing real-time (24/7) support for auditors, sales managers, program managers and senior management via the Internet. Clients have the choice of designing their own branch audit questionnaire or using a customized version of Sales Quality Group’s model “best practices” questionnaire. Sales Quality Group can also provide experienced auditors to assist clients in conducting their required annual audits. More...
January 25, 2011 - The FINRA Investor Education Foundation has recently completed a massive survey of 28,000+ consumers nationwide to help identify Consumer Financial IQ by State. The study measures the financial acumen of consumers on a variety of subjects across all 50 states. While residents of New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire seem to know the most about money matters, some of the other results may surprise you. The survey data and an interactive state-by-state map can be found at the FINRA website: http://www.usfinancialcapability.org/. Click on the links below to read the reports summarizing the results of the study, plus view a spreadsheet that will allow you to drill down on state-by-state data.
July 19, 2010 - Despite a considerable improvement in overall investor satisfaction from 2009, investor perceptions of their investment firm as being customer-driven continues to decline, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction StudySM released today. The study, now in its eighth year, measures overall investor satisfaction with full service investment firms in seven factors (in order of importance): investment advisor; investment performance; account information; account offerings; commissions and fees; website; and problem resolution.
May 7, 2010 - We recently received the following testimonial from one of our shoppers, expressing her appreciation for the training and tools we provide to help our shoppers in doing exceptional quality work for our clients.
Dear Sales Quality Group,
I must say that my success is directly related to the one-on-one training that you require before anyone is able to perform a shop. I have shopped for many other companies, none of which require any type of personal training. Some of the companies, of course, require that you read pages upon pages of literature. Until now, the most I have ever had to do was take a test covering the information I read. It even stated that I could take the test as many times as needed to pass it.
The training you provided is much more beneficial. Suzette took the time to walk me through a shop scenario and let me know what was expected from me as a shopper. She made it very clear what the client was looking for and what information was pertinent to that particular shop. I felt much more prepared, which allowed me to feel comfortable during the shop and to do a better job.
Your quick feedback regarding the survey made me realize even more that our major goal, as a team, is to provide the most accurate and detailed information to the client. Your time and commitment make that goal much easier to achieve. I wanted to thank you for setting me up for success as a shopper.
Thank you for this wonderful opportunity,
September 17, 2009 - The Committee for Annuity Insurers has just released a fascinating new Gallup Survey of owners of non-qualified tax-deferred annuities. The 38-page report contains a wealth of information about who buys and owns annuities, as well as their attitudes and opinions toward annuities and a wide variety of other retirement topics. Here is a brief summary of the survey results:
Who owns annuities? The 2009 Gallup Survey of Owners of Non-Qualified Annuity Contracts reports that the Americans who have chosen this retirement savings option have moderate incomes (64% have annual household incomes below $75,000, and 80% have annual household incomes below $100,000). Most non-qualified annuity owners are female (58%), and retired (69%). Although their average age is 70, the average age at which owners purchased their first annuity was 52.
Why do Americans own annuities? According to the 2009 Gallup Survey of Owners of Non-Qualified Annuity Contracts, annuities are seen as a way to provide their owners with additional retirement income (76%) and as a financial safety net in case they or their spouse live well beyond their life expectancy (83%).
What do owners think about how important tax deferral is to saving for retirement? Most non-qualified annuity owners believe that they have done a very good job of saving for retirement (91%). Almost nine in ten non-qualified annuity owners agree that keeping the current tax treatment of annuities is a good way to encourage long-term savings (88%), and more than four in five agree that annuities are an effective way to save for retirement (86%).
August 14, 2009 - Over the past year, several of our clients have contacted us regarding possible mystery shopping opportunities that turned out to be scams. While you may have heard about these scams on TV reports, we thought you might appreciate seeing what one looks like.
(View the scam documents)
One of our friends recently received the mailer, including a "check" in the amount of $3,747.00. All he had to do was deposit the check, then buy $100 in merchandise from Wal-Mart or another store on the list. The letter claimed he could make up to $580 a week after 3 months and gave a sense of urgency in completing the assignment.
A closer inspection of the documents and "Googling" this online will make it clear that this is nothing more than a huge scam.
Our advice: Never pay money to or accept a check from any company that purports to be in the mystery shopping business without thoroughly checking them out.
June 24, 2009 - FINRA and AARP recently launched a series of new initiatives aimed at educating and protecting investors - particularly seniors. This program will include a one-hour, broadcast-quality video entitled: "Tricks of the Trade: Outsmarting Investment Fraud". The free video will be released in July but can be pre-ordered from SaveAndInvest, the new project website. The new website also has information about avoiding investment fraud.