Can you make decent profits without a degree of market risk?
My article last month focussed on types of risk that that can present danger to the unwary investor. My top two risk types were Institutional Risk and Market Risk, but I concentrated mainly on my third risk factor – Foreign Exchange, largely because of my previous experience in this field. I was quite surprised by the interest the article produced, partly because the people who commented weren’t really ‘grabbed’ by F/X risk; but rather more interested in the other two categories. Can the modern investor really fall foul of institutional risk? Is anyone really daft enough to think that you can have decent profits or returns without taking on some degree of market risk? Unfortunately, the answer to both those last two questions is yes. I thought you might be entertained if I gave you some examples that hopefully won’t ring too many bells from your own experiences…
In 2009 I met a very interesting lady who was referred to me by a colleague in Spain, not that that is particularly relevant, but I did end up wondering if she’d had too much sun. All I knew before I met her was that she was due to receive a large sum shortly, and she wanted some investment advice. I spent ninety minutes with her, most of which was taken up with a battle of hope over reality. This unfortunate lady had been investing for a number of years with an organisation called The Liberty Wealth Club, and was 100% confident that she would be receiving a pay-out of $150,000 from the club in a matter of weeks. The more I listened, the more appalled I became, for this was truly a forerunner of a ‘Ponzi’ scam, labelled and outlawed in the UK as a Multi-Level Marketing scheme. Nothing I could say to her would make her listen. In the end, I told her that I would be delighted to help her invest her funds when they arrived, and we agreed to meet again on that basis. I never heard from her again.
A year or so later I took on a new client with a much more understandable problem. He had bought an apartment in Spain ‘off-plan’, with a view to selling it on before completion, at a healthy profit. As far as I’m aware, to this day he is still the legal owner of this apartment, although he returned the keys and stopped paying the mortgage years ago. It is a nightmare waiting to revisit him.
Another client with a similar problem bought a flat in Budapest, again unbuilt and ‘off plan’. The amount invested was sizeable, and it took four years for a brick to be laid. In desperation he eventually managed to sell it at a 60% loss.
Undeterred, this same client, before I met him I might add, then decided to invest in a forestry scheme designed to give him a regular income payment for the rest of his life. Unfortunately a drought seems to have interfered badly enough for the income to have dried up (sorry) completely.
Recently I have come across a mind-boggling concept called GCR – Global Currency Reset. Please, please, do not let anyone persuade you to invest any of your hard earned cash building up reserves in currencies such as the Iraqi Dinar or the Vietnamese Dong in the expectation that they will soon be revalued overnight and make your fortune. Believe me, this is not going to happen.
Sane people make these totally irrational investment decisions, albeit whilst temporality on the throes of some form of dangerous mental instability, as it is the only justification I can think of. Please do not be tempted to join this group of dramatic under-achievers. Sound financial advice may seem boring; much along the lines of ‘single digit gains’ and ‘realistic investment profiles’. Sound financial advice will however always save you from the nightmares that can result from your own flights of fancy, should you be that way inclined. And believe me, some of you are.