One of the biggest challenges we face as investors is to work out who and what to trust for investment advice. There’s so much information out there, that finding the truth is like threading the eye of a needle.
It doesn’t help that we live in a time when political and business leaders the world over, label anything that doesn’t fit with their own agenda as “fake news” or “alternative facts”. There was a time when we used evidence and sound reasoning to develop a logical argument or help us make decisions.
There was also a time when people placed a lot of faith in society’s institutions, like banks. Along came the Banking Royal Commission in 2018 and exposed the reality that they had been acting in their own self-interest and exploiting their most vulnerable customers.
Did many customers change banks as a result of the Commission’s findings? No not really – people by and large ignored the poor corporate behaviour and remained loyal to the same bank that they opened their first account with.
Investors too have suffered at the hands of unscrupulous advisers and traders, since before Charles Ponzi developed his infamous Ponzi Scheme and made off with $20 million. Almost everyone has heard of the “Wolf Of Wall Street”, Jordan Belfort and his “pump and dump” market manipulation scheme from the 1990s, that left investors $200 million out of pocket.
But the king of stock market scammers in the modern era is Bernie Madoff, who by 2008, had managed to trick investors out of a whopping $65bn through his Ponzi scheme.
One of the more unusual approaches to providing investment advice, involves the use of trained rats. As bizarre as this may sound, an Austrian entrepreneur Michael Marcovici, claims that he can train rats to trade financial services and even get them to specialise in certain investment instruments.
You can make up your own mind as to whether this is a valid investment technique here (http://www.artmarcovici.com/rat-traders.). You would think that we might have learnt a few lessons from history, on how to avoid the fraudsters but Australians lost $340 million to scammers in 2017, the highest amount since the ACCC has been keeping records.
Investors in Australian pink diamonds also have to make sure that they do their research before committing to an investment. While information about how to invest in Australian pinks is freely available, it is important to choose a gemstone of the right colour, weight and clarity and purchase the diamond at the wholesale price. This is a vital part of the process because you make your money (capital gain) when you buy the pink diamond, not when you sell it.
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