Woman spending money

Now this is a really important subject.  I’m not talking about losing crisp, fresh notes when you’ve been to the cashpoint.  Perhaps absent-mindedly not taking them with you because you’ve been busy concentrating on other things (although that’s incredibly annoying). Or dropping loose notes into an unzipped handbag because you think you’ll put them in your wallet later (and then they fall out), also annoying and stupid but it happens.  I’m talking about losing thousands of pounds, maybe hundreds of thousands of pounds because you haven’t done your homework.  Plus, it’s the start of 2021, we’re still in Covid-times and there are plenty of people out there just looking for rich pickings.  Don’t fall for their smooth talk and sharp suits!

Before I go into detail concerning losing big amounts of money to “unmissable” investment opportunities, I also want to talk about lending money too. 

I have a very good friend, someone I’ve known for well over 30 years, a former professional who has since retired (he’s over 70).  He’s got a bit of dementia now and is a little forgetful and he’s what I call a real gentleman.  He’s kind, generous and trusting.  So much so that he told me that his gardener (he’s used him for a while) was very short of money and was so desperate that a few months ago, my friend lent him around £500. Of course, hasn’t had it back and the gardener has had the cheek to ask for more too!  Thankfully, he didn’t lend him a penny more. My friend was upset that he’d been taken in, I was upset for him too but I also reassured him that doing it once is unfortunate, doing it twice is a mistake – he didn’t make that mistake.  I also told my friend that his kindness and generosity is a reflection of the type of person that he is, but to ask my opinion first next time! 

We’ve all done it.  We’ve all trusted people, lent them money and not had anything back.  I’ve done it in the past and I don’t feel a grudge against those that didn’t pay me back because I’m generous and trusting – plus when I have lent money, it’s because I could afford to not get it back (a rule that I suggest anyone who is happy to lend money adopts).  Sometimes, it’s absolutely genuine, and you lend money because you know it’s necessary but in the case of the gardener, I believe he knew my friend was on his own, he knew he was vulnerable and he took advantage of that.  That’s on a small scale, unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there ready to exploit anyone unsuspecting on a much larger scale. This leads me onto the main topic, investments that have no value.

A client of mine met a well-to-do looking man in a pub, of all places.  He had a fast car, a good-looking Saville Row type suit and a glittering Rolex on his wrist.    He wined and dined this client of mine and talked him into making a significant investment of £250k into an unregulated off-shore financial product (of no value).  This guy even sent a courier to do a 200 mile round trip to collect the signature.  He signed away £250k, the “financial advisor” got his fee, it wasn’t the first time he’d successfully talked people into making an investment into something of no value and I believe that today, he’s living somewhere abroad, probably sipping cocktails on a beach.  Meanwhile, my client lost a lot of money – luckily, I managed to rescue 2/3 of it but the rest, well, we’ve pretty much written it off.  I wish my client had spoken to me first.  While I’ve tried to understand that smooth talk can be very persuasive, I’ve always, always told all my clients to check, check again and again and again – never to sign anything unless they’re 100% confident and happy.  I would always look over an investment for my clients too, as a second opinion – they just need to ask!  My role is to help people make the most of their money; help it grow, advise my clients to spend wisely so they have money in the bank to do the things they want to do.  I cannot tell you how many people have come to me telling me stories about how they’ve invested their money because they were taken in.  Then that money disappears and the person that promised them the earth disappears too.

Better to Hold onto Your Money If You’re Unsure

Please don’t fall in. There is no instant financial win. Hold on to your money if you’re unsure.  It’s better to do that and keep it in the bank.  Take time to stop and think before you invite these people into your life and your wallet.  Don’t trust every person you meet, there are dishonest people and while I am always flabbergasted that these people continue to exploit others, it has always happened and will always happen. Take a second opinion, a third opinion, ask every question you have, even if you think it’s a silly question and ask friends and family for financial advisor recommendations.  Don’t fall for the “This offer’s only available to the end of the week – or it will expire” – simply put, it won’t! A common phrase I use is “Unless you understand what you’re doing and you’re absolutely happy with what I’m doing, I’m not going to do it for you”.  You must be comfortable with your investments. 

I have a client that wants to talk through a new investment that I’ve organised– I am delighted they want to talk through it again, to dot the I’s and cross the T’s and check it once more.  I have another appointment at end of the week, another client of mine investing £500k. We’ve been discussing this investment opportunity since august, it’s taken that long but that’s ok.

Here’s a small checklist to consider if you’ve been approached about making an investment:

  • Do you know who you’re talking to?
  • Have you checked all credentials?
  • Have you taken a recommendation?
  • Don’t be taken in by a smart car and a smart suit!
  • Remember you can take your time – it doesn’t have to be done today!
  • There will always be another opportunity

Finally, please do talk to me – I’m there, at the end of a phone to discuss investments and to check if what you’re considering is viable, legitimate, and will give you a return on your hard-earned cash.

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