You must be prudent and avoid scams and fraud as you sort out your finances and try to pick investments. It is tempting to fall for proposals seeming to promise no losses or quick profits.
“This is your money and your future,” explains Richard Cayne of Asia Wealth Group and Meyer International in Bangkok, Thailand. “No investment is ever a sure thing. So, you need to make sure you are fully aware of where you are putting your money.”
Here are a few tips from Richard on how to vet investment offers.
Too good to be true? Guaranteed returns?
Of course, there are windfalls, but legitimate investments should never promise excessive results. What is excessive? Consider that the main goal is usually around 5%. Anything considerably more is excellent to astounding. And beware if they use those words, as well as “incredible profits” or “no risk”. There are always risks.
This is also almost impossible to guarantee or maintain over a long period of time. So, if someone is suggesting that an investment can yield 10% or more consistently, beware. And if they mention anything like “guaranteed”, you may want to walk away.
Demand to see it in writing
Speaking of guarantees, make sure to get the prospectus or circular as well as a service agreement in writing. Then read it. Carefully. You may find that that “guarantee” is negated by the fine print. Also, you should never hand over your hard-earned money without a written document that outlines your rights and the seller’s responsibilities.
If the person or company seems to be avoiding or refuses to provide written details, this may be a good time to walk away. And if they do provide materials, make sure it is thorough. A one-page brochure will most likely not cover all the points you need to make an informed decision.
Cold calls, emails, and clickbait
If a complete stranger came up to you on the street and asked for money, promising to bring you back double that amount, would you? Hopefully not. And that should go for unsolicited calls and emails. They probably got your number from a lead generation service or from an auto-generated list.
Now, they may try to lure you in and create a rapport by offering something for free. Perhaps a publication. Or a lunch. They want you to feel obligated to them, enough to buy into their investment. Remember, you don’t know them, so do your due diligence first.
Take your time making your decision
Perhaps you agreed to meet that cold caller or to attend that free seminar from that banner ad. That is fine, because, who knows, it may be a legitimate investment opportunity. But if they start pressuring you to sign up immediately or hand over funds right then (or soon after), you should seriously reconsider.
As mentioned before, this is your money. You should be able to take your time to read up or ask about an opportunity before investing. Hard sells should be a serious red flag that this sure-fire, once-in-a-lifetime, risk-free, or whatever superlative investment may not be all that it’s cracked up to be.
Verify with a trusted advisor
Do you have someone you can trust who knows about investments, like Richard Cayne? If not, you should find someone to discuss these prospects, especially those too good to be true. Ask for a referral from friends or colleagues, then ask that advisor for their credentials and references. Once you have a trusted financial expert you can rely on, you can better learn how to identify potential investment scams and make sensible investment decisions.