About two years ago I was approached by a client who, through an influential, trustworthy and reliable friend had heard of a fantastic opportunity. He was considering investing money as his friend’s returns had been outstanding and there was no risk whatsoever attached to investing in this scheme. From years of experience my first, and subsequent, thoughts were that this sounded “too good to be true” and, two years down the line, this old saying has once again been proved. At the time, I strongly advised my client not to invest and, after doing a thorough financial planning exercise together, we decided on another area in which to invest his funds.
Why do individuals all over the world fall for these unscrupulous fraudsters? In the USA Bernie Madoff took government, many Wall Street institutions, and banks, for a $50 billion ride. They might as well have bought a lottery ticket – at least then they would have known that they stood a better chance of being eaten by a crocodile than winning the millions on offer.
What then is so enticing about the lure of riches beyond belief? As it is, it is such a struggle for so many to find even that little extra for the luxuries we “need” and see on billboards and in glossy magazines. So, why take the risk for that extra return?
For those investors with an avaricious appetite it is different. Traditional investments just don’t seem to give sufficient upside, hence the need for something really aggressive. Then the “get rich quick” scheme is proposed and along comes the sting. If you have been caught, don’t feel alone – after all, people whose names most of us only read about are also involved. Many are savvy businessmen who have made money; we therefore assume that they must know what they are doing. But, most have made money in their areas of business expertise, and most of their businesses were far removed from the investment world.
The greed factor is just one of those human emotions which can never be fully explained, but it also begs the question: When is enough enough? What returns could we realistically expect to achieve over many years from different asset classes?
It is important to remember that over time economic growth and dips will both affect and constrain growth assets, such as equities. It is essential to base your expectations on a return which is in excess of inflation, as it is your buying power which you want to grow and protect with retirement fund investments. Cash will hardly ever beat inflation, bonds, property, or equities but, it must be remembered that there could be a few rocky periods during the life of the investment.
No Getting Rich Quick
There are no ‘get rich quick’ schemes. When trusted, respected individuals present great opportunities with no risk, investors lose all common sense. All they see is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The longer a scheme continues and pays individuals great returns, the longer investors are oblivious to what can go wrong. We have seen it all before with the likes of the Fidentia and Masterbond scams and I feel certain that this newest Ponzi scheme will not be the last.
The real story behind this and other scams that catch foolish investors is the belief that one can become rich without effort. In fact, the only way to achieve one’s aspirations is by hard work and smart investing.