Turkeys, Trustees and Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving turkey and trustees – how to sell (and buy) turkey? 

Selling turkeys

When it comes to selling turkey most stores, based upon my informal internet, phone and store visit survey appear to take a straight forward approach. Ralphs and Kroger stores (Kroger owns Ralphs) sells turkey for 59 cents a pound for Jenni- oh or Kroger brand.  Vons sells for $0.50/lb.  Trader Joe’s sells for $1.99 to $2.49 per lb., Costco and Walmart sell for around a dollar a lb.  Bristol Farms, Gelson’s and Whole Foods sell for $ (not posted)/lb., $5.99/lb. and $5.99/lb. respectively.  CBS local has an excellent article including many of the stores above and a few specialty stores featuring all natural birds.  Some stores will cook and actually even carve your Thanksgiving turkey.  Deep fried turkeys from Little Dom’s and Loreto’s in Compton at $4.65/lb.  (They look delicious, but I haven’t yet tasted a deep fried bird, however, about 15 years ago I barbequed one, it was a bit over garlic-ed though.)

Some may find Turkey comments on Chowhound from last year useful and note the price changes from above.

Less straight forward, Stater Bros., advertised on Fox 11 television today 87 cents a pound for Butterball, and 27 cents for California or Jenni – Oh brands, with a $25 purchase in addition to the cost of the turkey.

Turkey price differences and costs to get a better deal

The difference between the high and low prices above is $5.72/lb.  Based on a 15 pound average size bird represents in $85.80 extra cost.  Does it make sense to drive 5 or more extra miles to save $85.80?  Some factors to consider include the extra gas, and the fact that you have to go get more gas sooner than you otherwise would, your time, sitting and stressing in worse traffic, time to learn the parking lot and find a convenient parking space, time to find a clerk to learn the new store layout (i.e. where they have the sale price birds), time to drive home the extra miles (and stressing again in lots of traffic), increased chance of getting into an accident, increased pollution and the possibility that the store may be out of the sought-after sale price bird or they don’t have the size you hoped, may only have tiny 8 pounders or giant 25 pounders left!

Why is there a price difference?

What the difference is between the price of a Butterball, Californian, Jenni – Oh, Kroger brand or fresh or frozen turkey, besides more or less name recognition is unclear.  The protein and other nutrition per pound of turkey is the same regardless of the brand name as far as I know.

Prices usually drop the day before Thanksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving causes prices per pound for turkeys to drop, why? What is going on?  It’s because every turkey a store has, they have to sell, because they already paid for it and they need to sell it by a certain date otherwise it goes bad and they are prevented by law from selling it, to the public. In either case, the store loses money.  It may however, find its way into turkey salad (or some stores turn it into turkey chili) or sold to dog or cat food manufacturers or donated to food or soup kitchens who might make the older turkey into any number of dishes.  But  but the price they would get is a lot lower than selling it in the store or nothing except a tax write off for donating it.  And then there’s the loss of time value of money too.

The turkey story

Most, but not all shoppers wait for the price to drop and buy turkeys the day or two before Thanksgiving because it actually takes a bit of time to prepare a turkey in advance.  Lack of space in the freezer or refrigerator is also cause to wait.  Inevitably, the turkey story is told around the dinner table on Thanksgiving day about how mom or grandmom found the delicious bird and worked many hours preparing and cooking it to perfection with lots of love, some according to generations – old traditional family recipes.

Trustees and Turkeys

Trustees have a similar buying decision.  The Uniform Prudent Investor Act and California Probate Code specify that hiring agents (a buying decision) requires a prudent process.  That means it’s a requirement of every trustee. Trustees of fiduciary accounts, unless they fly solo on all duties, face the buying decision.  Why don’t prices fall for investment advice like they do for turkeys and other products, what forces are at play?  What factors should a trustee evaluate before making a buying decision?

Let’s take two scenarios – let’s say one trustee is buying an antique vintage car (because the trust already has a collection of them).  The trustee gets opinions of value of the potential acquisition.  Rarely would the trustee simply bid or walk into an auction sales ring and pay the asking price – right? For a purchase from a private party due diligence would include authentication and a thorough inspection and test drive of vehicle as well.  The same process would likely take place if we were talking about artwork; if the trust is engaged in or already owned art.  The same applies to trustees of certain foundations and endowments.

Trustees purchasing decision for Investment advice

Why some trustees forget or falter in thinking, acting and negotiating as “buyers” when dealing with an investment planner, financial adviser, wealth manager, impressively-titled and well-dressed senior vice president, managing director or trust officer of some global private bank, financial consultant or directly with an investment adviser with full discretion is difficult to explain, yet happens on a daily basis.  This is often leads to overpaying, a waste of trust assets and potential cause of action in a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit.

Tip, when you get past the formalities, ask the investment professional what their definition and understanding of fiduciary duty is.  Then make sure you write down their response, and have them initial it.  Keep for your records, you may very well need it in the future.

Get a fiduciary expert opinion

The message to trustees is don’t be a turkey.  Unless you are expert at buying investments or investment advice, get an expert’s opinion, the same as you would if you were buying a vintage car, art, collectible stamps, coins or currency.  The opinion should come from an independent, not-conflicted expert.  Don’t try and fake it or pretend, you know what you’re doing or drop names, investment pro’s can spot you a mile away.

It’s essential the expert has a lot of experience, knowledge, education and training.  Even more when the fiduciary expert is also a securities compensation expert, and has actually written the compensation plan and accounting policies of a major securities broker dealer (covering every type of investment, service and insurance offered), has undergone formal investment fiduciary training, has passed the CPA exam, holds an MBA degree and has over 30 years of investment, insurance and asset management due diligence experience in any type of account including all types of fiduciary accounts.

How trustee’s benefit from an expert’s opinion?

It counts in so many ways.  Based on the expert’s opinion, you as a prudent trustee will then know if it’s a good, average or mediocre deal or a complete rip off.  You will sleep better at night. Your beneficiaries will be thankful you did your job (and appreciate your excellent example). And last, the expert’s opinion counts as due diligence which helps prove that you met your fiduciary responsibility which protects you from being named as a defendant in trust litigation for breach of trust or breach of fiduciary duty.

What to do if the trust or fiduciary account has large losses

There are a few very basic steps that need to be done pronto, just as you would if someone hit your car.  Call your stockbroker or investment professional immediately.  Confirm the amount of the loss in value, ask the cause, get specifics and write down what they say when you are speaking with them.  If they blame it on the “market” make special note of that, I can explain the importance to you later.  If your representative is uncooperative (or unavailable) ask to speak to the branch manager or supervisor right away.  Depending on their explanations and or advice, be prepared as you may need to issue transaction instructions under a duty to mitigate further losses.

In closing and on a lighter note

This youTube color video from 1957 and 1958 may bring back memories and remind us, whether it’s celebrating Thanksgiving, serving guests or serving as a trustee – it’s all about the beneficiaries!

Happy Thanksgiving!

More info at info@fiduciaryexpert.com or (310) 943 – 6509

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