Friday, May 11, 2012

Investors: Beware of "Sellers"

In a recent post, I referred to supposed "can't miss" investments.  There are, of course, no such things.  But despite the seeming consensus that with the potential for a positive return on an investment, there must come an accompanying possibility of a loss, there is no shortage of those trying to convince others of the existence "can't miss investments."

I recently told a friend about an investment opportunity offered to me that, according to the person offering it, could not possibly fail.  After I explained to my friend that this person had to be mistaken about the absence of risk in his proposed scheme, my friend replied that my point was obvious not only to him and me, but to the person suggesting the investment in the first place.  My friend dispassionately explained that this person was simply "selling," and that it is common not to disclose one's true beliefs when trying to persuade others to part with their money.

I was briefly surprised by the notion that everyone involved was supposedly aware that what was being "sold" was openly insincere.  But the key words are "briefly" and "openly."  For I am hopefully no fool.  And one needs only to have not been born yesterday to have experienced people attempting to persuade others to believe something, however implausible, with the hope of enriching themselves.

The particular type of "selling" described in this example, the kind that is motivated solely on achieving a specific transaction, no matter the suitability to the buyer or the validity of the claims being made, is particularly ineffective.  But that is a subject for another post.  For now, I will say that most peddlers of investment ideas are selling.  My friend read this situation clearly.  And it was my job to be a good buyer by being aware of the seller's motives and suspicious of his claims.