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  • 11/08/2017

Stewart Aldcroft: The Best Way to Educate Investors


Stewart Aldcroft: The Best Way to Educate Investors

By Stewart Aldcroft

One of the key tenets of the role of a regulator is to provide a platform that ensures prospective investors are properly “educated” about the products they buy. This, in Hong Kong, has led to the creation of the Investor Education Centre, a website devoted to providing a vast amount of information on just about any investment proposition available in the market today.

Increasingly, financial services companies are also devoting significant resources to “educating” their prospective clients. They spend a considerable sum on training and educating their client-facing staff to ensure they are up to par when meeting clients to talk about investing money. This does, of course, make a lot of sense, as no one is going to buy a financial product from someone who doesn’t understand what they are talking about!

Over the last 20 years or so in Asia, fund management companies have undertaken many different activities to inform, educate and sell their products to the general public. There was a time when the Saturday morning public seminar in hotels was popular. Sometimes it might be a weekday evening. Sundays were also popular for holding events that allowed the whole family to participate with play areas for the kids, while the parents sat and listened to investment experts talking about stock markets. More recently, “webinars” enable a potentially greater audience to sit in the comfort of their homes or offices to listen to the opinions being expressed and gain a greater understanding of the products and services offered. There is, however, nothing quite like a one-on-one or “eyeball session” to get the first-hand knowledge craved for or to get across to a prospective client all the intricacies of an investment proposition.

While this is all well and good, the problem I see is that the brain is simply not switched on to receive this information! I have become somewhat cynical about the effectiveness of these efforts principally because, in my experience, most people don’t listen until they have to.

I’ve asked this question many times: “Before buying your mobile phone, did you attend training and education courses to understand how it works or what the device can be used for?” The answer every time is: “No, of course not. I just switched it on, and played around, until I knew what I was doing.”

The same can and, possibly, should be true about investing money. If you start off with a small amount, even as little as HK$10,000 – HK$25,000, and invest it into one or two mutual funds (or unit trusts) that you think might be quite good, you can start to build knowledge of the product and the service that comes with it.

Why would you want to do this?

It’s simple really. First, by starting small, you are not putting too much money at risk. You can put to work just enough to find out something about what you are doing. When your own money is being used, there is an “emotional transfer” taking place, which suggests you need to keep a close track on it. This will, in some respects, force you to follow what you are doing more closely.

Second, once started, whether from the fund company or an advisor, you will start to receive regular information about stock markets, information about other similar investment choices, and more specifically, advice and guidance of the market trends that are so important for getting the best results. Reading these will help you to understand what’s going on.

Next, as you start to build your own understanding of these opportunities, more confidence will develop. If markets go up, should you buy more or sell? If markets go down, is that a selling signal or a buying opportunity?

So long as what you have used to get started is not a significant proportion of your wealth, it is your “play money” with which to self-educate on the use of mutual funds. Of course, there is no guarantee markets won’t go down; that’s what happens in the volatile climate of investing. But they can and often do go up as well, so there is just as good a chance you will make money while receiving an investment education. BM

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身體力行學投資

Stewart Aldcroft 撰文

監管機構的其中一個重要角色,是為準投資者提供一個平台,以確保他們就所購買的產品獲得充足「教育」。此就是「投資者教育中心」(Investor Education Centre)在香港創立的意旨。該網站提供大量資訊,幾乎涵蓋當今市場上的所有投資產品。

越來越多金融服務機構也投放大量資源來「教育」潛在客戶。同時,這些公司花大筆費用來培訓面對客戶的員工,以確保他們與客戶討論投資商機時達到標準。這當然意義重大,因為沒有人會向不明白自己在說什麼的人購買理財產品!

在亞洲,過去大約20年來,基金管理公司透過各式活動來向廣大市民宣傳、教育和銷售產品。曾經有一段時間,星期六上午在酒店舉行的公開講座非常流行。講座有時甚至會在平日晚上舉行。星期日舉辦的活動也大受歡迎,因為活動可以讓一家大細參與。小朋友可以在遊樂區玩耍,而家長則坐着聆聽投資專家談論股市。近年出現的「網絡研討會」,則讓更多觀眾可以安坐家中或辦公室中,輕鬆聽取專家意見,深入了解可供選擇的產品和服務。然而,單對單會面當然是無與倫比。透過會面,潛在客戶可以獲取渴望得到的第一手知識,而投資顧問又可以向潛在客戶解釋清楚投資產品的所有複雜細節。

雖然投資者教育是好,但我看到的問題是,我們的大腦根本不會接收這些資訊!我不太相信這類活動的成效,因為根據個人經驗,大多數人一天不真正動手投資,一天都不會把資訊聽得進耳。

我問過這個問題很多次:「購買手提電話前,您有沒有參加過培訓和教育課程,來了解電話的操作方法和用途?」答案每次都是:「當然沒有。我只要打開機,左按右按,研究一下,慢慢就可以有所掌握。」

投資也大同小異。您可以利用少至港幣10,000至 25,000元開始,投資於一兩個您認為相當不錯的互惠基金(或單位信託基金)。這樣,您便能開始認識產品及其附帶服務。

為什麼要這麼做?

道理很簡單。首先,從小額投資開始,您便不會承受過多風險。資本只需足夠讓您了解所投資的產品如何運作。您花自己辛苦賺來的血汗錢時,便會產生「情感轉移」,提示您需要密切留意投資。某些方面來說,這將會迫使您更加緊貼投資產品的動態。

其次,一旦開始了投資,您便會開始從基金公司和顧問定期收到股市消息和其他類似投資選擇的資訊,特別是市場趨勢的意見和指引,這些資訊對於獲得最佳投資回報非常重要。細閱這些資料將幫助您認識市場最新動態。

之後,隨着您開始理解這些投資機會,您便會越來越有信心。如果升市,您是否應該增持還是沽貨?跌市是個沽貨訊號還是入貨機會?

只要您用來開始投資的金額不佔財富顯著比例,這不過是您用來自我教育一番、學習使用互惠基金的「閒錢」而已。當然,無人能保證跌市不會出現。跌市是在波動的投資氣候中常會發生的事情,但股市也可以上揚,所以您有機會在賺錢之餘接受投資教育。BM

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