During financial crises, the number of unscrupulous financial advisers in the system increase. They're after our money and talk about investment strategies, volatile markets, cyclical growth, leaving out the most important word of all that matters to individual investors like you and me - index funds.
Here's a message I received from someone who wants to grow my money over the next 10 years:
"Dear Sudeshna, I chose to message you because I felt you have a very similar profile to the individuals I work with. I specifically work with fund managers and private clients in the city from institutions such as Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, UBS, PwC and Google (to name a few), in order to put a financial plan in place.
Despite these unprecedented times, I am starting to see take shape, the next big opportunities that will play out this decade. The coming decade, in terms of investment strategies and asset allocation, is going to look very different to the previous one. The timing has just presented itself, and I’m currently reaching out to my client base and network to engage them and take action responsibly.
The thesis right now is low GDP, higher prices and US dollar cash flow. Many of us are allocating assets and taking exposure in the upcoming, cyclical growth sectors, where no one is looking at the moment. In case you’re so inclined and motivated to grow your assets over the coming 10 years, or in case you know of anyone who would like to get into the markets now, please do get in touch.
I would be happy to have a casual chat to discuss this in more detail if there’s an interest. As a background on me, I come from the hedge fund space, and have worked in capital markets for the last 10 years in Toronto, New York and London. I am licensed and work with two partner firms in central London."
See how innocuous the message is? This is targeted to people like you and me who are doing relatively well in their careers. He talks about his expertise and says that the market is going to change massively in the next 10 years. He uses words like unprecedented times (my Masters thesis was on this!), allocating assets, taking exposure, cyclical growth of sectors. Urrrghhhh!
Thing is, he didn't do his research. He didn't realise that instead of getting afraid of his buzzword bingo, I'd actually play on. Here's what happened next:
Me: I manage my own portfolio, so am good for now. But are you suggesting your investments beat the market?
Him: To answer your question, the holy grail when constructing portfolios is to give you the performance you need to meet your objectives while taking lower risk than the market. It's hard to detail a response here, but I'm happy to have a casual chat next week or even this weekend if you're so inclined. I'll leave you with my cell: ##########
Me (still playing along coz I was having fun): I want 10% returns, with almost zero risk over 30 years. What do you recommend?
Him: Hi Sudeshna, some portfolios have been giving a 10% annualized return. However, there are a lot of factors here. It would be a good idea to speak so that I know more about your objectives and I can give you proper advise accordingly. Happy to chat when it suits.
At this point he thinks he has got me. He's salivating to chat. Little does he know that all of this asset allocation stuff, I've been trained on my the lady and gentleman who basically created Nifty (the Indian stock market). I kept quiet because why waste my time. But he messages again this morning!
Him: Good morning Sudeshna, how does tomorrow afternoon suit at your end for a friendly chat?
Me (tired, and wanting to close the conversation but telling him off slightly): No, don’t think there’s any point to that coz currently I get market returns with minimal risk. There’s no way you can give me better returns with lower risk after taking out your fee. So, thanks, but maybe another time! 😊
Now see what he does - the classic technique of leading me into divulging my strategy which he can then bull shit. Don't believe me? You be the judge!
Him: Sure thing Sudeshna. For my knowledge, I'm very curious to know which sectors/investments do you have exposure in with minimal risk. I may be interested in deploying some capital in those areas also.
Me (acting super innocent, well knowing what's to follow): Nope, not sectors.. Index funds diversified based on your belief system.
Him: hm..I'm sorry, but that's too much market volatility for my taste. Best.
BINGO!! What did I tell you?
At this point he's fully expecting that I'll be completely confused and possibly either call my broker or worse even, step into his trap and ask him why he thinks index funds are volatile. Remember I'd already told him am looking at 30 years, and had told me that he's looking at 10 years minimum. Index funds are NOT volatile over that period (not even Warren Buffet thinks so!!), and definitely not when you diversify them! So I replied asking him to start with reading a personal finance book. In the next minute, he removed me as a connection on LinkedIn.