by Bryan Ellis

IRA Financial Group Uses Suffering of Hurricane Harvey Victims For Self-Promotion

September 2, 2017  --  Episode #267

Transcript    ∙    Links & Resources    ∙    Discussion



  • Self-Directed IRA Company IRA Financial Group issued a self-promotional press release to take advantage of news about Hurricane Harvey
  • Press release appears to strongly encourage people to offer expensive hard-money loans to victims of hurricane Harvey
  • This is revolting.  I hope I’ve misinterpreted.


In what may be the self-directed IRA Industry’s most vile abuse of the Hurricane Harvey disaster, one self-directed IRA company actually appears to be recommending that you target victims of Harvey for expensive hard money loans.  I’m not making this up.  I’m Bryan Ellis.  I’ll tell you who it is, what they’re saying and how to proceed if you’re a victim of Harvey and want to use your IRA or 401k to give yourself emergency relief in the wake of Harvey.  This is episode #267.


Hello, Self-Directed Investor Nation!  Welcome to the broadcast of record for savvy self-directed investors like YOU.

Folks, let’s jump right into the meat of the issue today.  I apologize for the relatively low sound quality… I’m recording this without the benefit of my recording studio, but the topic at hand is urgent enough that it couldn’t wait.

As always, if you have questions or comments, you can reach out to me by email at or you can leave comments on today’s show page at

My friends… I’ll begin by saying that I hope, desperately, that I’ve misunderstood what I’m about to share with you.  I don’t think that’s the case.  But I surely hope that I have, because if I haven’t, this is one of the most vile, disgusting things ever to happen in the self-directed IRA industry.

Ok, a certain self-directed IRA company has, it appears, stooped to the use of the horrific, devastating hurricane Harvey to promote themselves.

Now if you’re hearing this broadcast when it’s new, you doubtlessly know about the devastation to which I’m referring.  If you’re listening to it after the fact, here’s the context:

Texas and Louisiana generally and Houston, Texas specifically were just hit with a hurrican of life-altering proportions.  Many people have died.  The stories are horrific… one little girl was rescued, still clinging to her dead mother.  A van was swept away in the flood, killing an entire family of 6.  This massive hurricane dumped 11 TRILLION gallons of water in an astoundingly small amount of time… entire communities are under water… where there were once roads, you can only travel by boat… over 50,000 homes damaged or destroyed… over 30,000 people entirely displaced from their homes.

As I say these words, news reports are coming out that the Arkema chemical plant in near Houston has just begun to explode, because water damage destroyed their ability to refrigerate dangerous chemicals.

It’s just astounding all that’s happening there.

To call it catastrophic may actually be understating the situation.

Now this is the backdrop against which one self-directed IRA company – the IRA Financial Group – published and very broadly distributed a press release which, to me, is among the most tasteless things I’ve ever seen in my life.

This promotional press release is available at  You may want to go and read it yourself right now before I give you my breakdown so you can have an unimpeded opinion… because, again, I sincerely hope that I’m wrong about what I’m about to tell you.

What I believe that we have here, folks, is IRA Financial Group, and its custodian IRA Financial Trust Company, encouraging people to set up a self-directed IRA with them for the express purpose of making HARD MONEY loans to the victims of hurricane Harvey.

Do you know what a hard money loan is?  It’s a type of loan – used nearly exclusively by professional investors – when an investor is willing to pay very high interest rates and high fees in exchange for quick access to capital.  Hard money loans have a place, and that place is for use by professional investors who know what they’re doing, because these loans are so expensive, with such onerous terms, that the name of the entire category of loans is “hard money”.

And that’s what it appears to me that IRA Financial Group and its apparent owner Adam Bergman are encouraging you to do to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

This promotional piece has been published far and wide by IRA Financial Group on everything from small zero-traffic websites to affiliates of major media companies like CBS, NBC and ABC, for example.

I’m going to read a brief portion of this thing to you so you know why I find it so disgusting. But I won’t read it all to you… it’s 7 paragraphs long… but curiously, only the title and first paragraph even mention anything about the victims of Hurricane Harvey… the other 6 paragraphs are purely and blatantly self-promotional.

And curiously, in the one paragraph where Harvey is mentioned, some advice is given that is, in my humble but entirely accurate opinion, incredibly bad.

Let’s have a look:

First, the title of this piece of work is:  “Self-Directed IRA Platform Offers Financing Options to Houston Flood Victims, According to IRA Financial Group”

Ok, great.  Maybe there’s a way to help the suffering people in Texas using a self-directed IRA.  If so, I’m all for it.  So we read on…

Then the subtitle goes on to say:  “Self-directed IRA LLC hard money investment option could offer valuable funding options to Texas flood victims”

DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN.  Are they actually promoting their IRA company with the explicit intent of helping people make hard money loans to people victimized by Harvey?  REALLY?

Surely, surely, surely I’ve misunderstood.  Surely they’re not actually using the devastation of a major NATURAL DISASTER to popularize giving loans to the victims of that disaster, the terms of which are typically so expensive and one-sided that entire category of loans is known as “HARD MONEY”?

Surely I’ve misunderstood.

So let’s read on to find out, shall we?

New York, NY (PRWEB) August 28, 2017 — IRA Financial Group, the leading provider of self-directed IRA LLC and Solo 401(k) Plans, anticipates the use of the self-directed IRA platform as an attractive funding option for Texas flood victims. As a result of the recent enormous devastation caused by floods in Texas, many Americans will need to access some of their retirement funds in order to help pay for some of the damage caused by the storm”, stated Mr. Bergman.“ Members of the Houston community can use a self-directed IRA platform to help their friends and family rebuild after the devastation from water damages, “ stated Mr. Bergman.

That first paragraph referred repeatedly to Mr. Bergman without ever identifying him, so I’ll tell you who he is.  Adam Bergman is a lawyer.  He’s a partner in the IRA Financial Group who published this press release, and he’s the founder of IRA Financial Trust Company, which is the custodian who serves IRA Financial Group’s clients.

Anyway, moving along…

We never hear about hurricane Harvey or its victims again.  That’s it.  But what we are in for is a major dose of self-promotion.

Paragraph 2 goes on to sing the praises of self-directed IRA LLC’s…  strange, to me… but ok.  Moving on.

Paragraph 3 then takes the opportunity to hawk the services they provide for doing hard money lending through an IRA… and there it is.

They are, in fact, pushing doing hard money lending in the context of Hurricane Harvey victims.  Wow… wow… wow.  Just wow.

It doesn’t get any better from there.  No more references to how this “self directed IRA platform” can help people devastated by Harvey.  Just a reference to the books written by Bergman along with a dubious claim of being the “leading” self-directed IRA provider, and of course, plenty of links to get to their website.

Frankly, I honestly hope I’ve misinterpreted what’s going on here.  What it looks like to me is a rather disgusting usage of the suffering of those tens of thousands of people in and around Houston whose lives have been totally turned upside down.

Mr. Bergman… I’d be delighted to find out I’ve misinterpreted this.  Truly, I would.  If that’s the case, reach out to me and let me know, won’t you?  If that’s what’s happened, I’ll have you on this show so you can explain yourself.

So SDI Nation, here’s what you actually need to know about how your IRA or 401k could actually be of service if you’re one of the people… or in contact with any of the people… who have been devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

if your situation is such that making an unplanned withdrawal from your IRA or 401k would be helpful to you, I just want to make sure you understand the relevant facts.

Remember – if you’re using an IRA, any withdrawals you make will mean you’ve got to pay income tax on that amount, except for a portion of Roth IRA’s.

You’ll likely also have to pay a 10% early distribution penalty if you’re under 59 ½.

Now the Trump administration did prevail upon the IRS to publish some very fresh guidelines which will potentially make it much, much easier for you to get access to your money, particularly if you’re using an employer-based plan like a 401k or 457b… and that can be a very good thing in times like these.

An even better alternative would be to BORROW money from your 401k plan, if that’s an option for you.  Borrowing is better because it means you won’t have an income tax liability next year, and you can repay the money so that your retirement account doesn’t actually decline in size.

That’s unique to the 401k.  With the IRA, if you withdraw from your account, there’s no paying it back.  The size of the account is reduced, period… another reason to try to borrow from a 401k rather than withdrawing from an IRA.

And again, the directive from the IRS is making it much, much easier for you to get at your 401k money, so that’s great news.

And look… in the interest of making sure that those of you who may have been victimized by Hurricane Harvey are properly cared for when it comes to making hardship-based IRA or 401k withdrawals, I’ve arranged for attorney Tim Berry, who is our legal counsel here at Self Directed Investor Society and is the attorney who I’m pretty sure is the #1 guy on this stuff in America… well, Tim is happy to give a complimentary consultation to any of you folks in the Harvey-affected areas who want to understand how that will affect you.

If that’s you, just visit and I’ll hook you up with him.  Thanks, Tim, for being so generous with your time and expertise in such a bad time for so many Americans.

Frankly, I haven’t even shared with you everything about that press release that I find really alarming.  But again, the best I can do to help you in light of the devastation in Texas along with the rapidly changing rules from the IRS is to offer to provide you with a connection to Tim Berry, who has graciously agreed to help Harvey victims if they have questions about hardship distributions or loans.  Again, just go to and I’ll connect you with him.

That’s also where you can see that repulsive press release, right there at

Let me know what you think… I don’t think I’ve overreacted here… I think that thing is just repulsive.  What do you think?

Check it out at…

And on a more positive note, Quest IRA, a self-directed IRA administrator that has offices in Houston, Texas has recently reopened and is again fully functional, and that’s great news for Quest and their clients.

My friends, invest wisely today, and live well forever.


Links & Resources

  • Here’s most of the first page of the press release:

  • IRS’ new emergency guidelines on hardship withdrawals are here
  • If you are a victim of Harvey and need complimentary legal guidance from Tim Berry to determine the impact of early withdrawals from your IRA or 401k, email me at and I’ll connect you.

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Bryan Ellis

I am host of Self Directed Investor Talk, which I'm told is America's #1 podcast and for affluent self-directed investors. I'm also something of an expert in self-directed IRA's, solo 401k's and 1031 exchanges. You can find more of my writing in some cool places like,, ThinkRealty and even Forbes (that was always one of my goals!). I live in metro Atlanta, Georgia with my wife and business partner Carole Ellis(she's a real business partner... not just because she's my wife... I'd want to work with her if I wasn't married to her... and I'd want to marry her, too). I also have 4 children ranging in age from 2 to 20 (yes, you read that correctly). It's my goal to be the name everybody thinks of when they think of Self-Directed IRA's and Solo 401(k)'s.