In Risky Markets, Follow the Behavior of the Ultra-Rich, Not the Rich.

19 April 2007 – Recently, there was an article on CNNMoney that spoke about the “secrets” of the elite rich in the United States. For an article that proclaimed to contain secrets about building wealth, it contained some of the most ridiculous, deceptive statements about building wealth that I’ve ever read. In turn, several articles were written about this article, including one that stated that the richest of Americans “built their wealth with diversification, wealth preservation and strategic growth.” That is a ridiculous statement in itself because two of those strategies, diversification and preservation, do not help build wealth.

wall street mythsPerhaps the richest of Americans use these two strategies to maintain an even keel AFTER they have accumulated great wealth, but certainly they didn’t use them during the accumulation phase. According to this article, a survey of Northern Trust uncovered that the “richest Americans do not heavily rely on high-risk investment vehicles like hedge funds to make money, but are moderate risk takers who put more than half of their asset allocation into U.S. stocks and cash.”

Again, just as former hedge fund manager and multi-millionaire Jim Cramer said that he used certain financial journalists, including ones employed by the Wall Street Journal, as pawns to spread misinformation far and wide to benefit himself, again this is an example of investment institutions using the media as pawns to spread their myths to keep the masses of retail investors ignorant. The CNNMoney article made it appear that the richest of Americans built their wealth by being conservative and slowly growing their money over time. That’s an oxymoron right there. To state that the rich became rich by slowly growing their money over time. Well, if they are slowly growing their money and becoming even richer, then this implies that they were rich to begin with. So how did they accumulate wealth?

Surely not by “slowly growing” their money. Sure, some of the “richest Americans do not heavily rely on high-risk investments” because they ARE ALREADY EXTREMELY RICH. The majority of ultra-rich do NOT build their fortunes by speculating on high-risk investments as is commonly believed. Often they build fortunes utilizing volatile assets and investments but that does not mean they were engaging in risky behavior. Many times, investing in a hedge fund can be much riskier than investing in some of the assets that your investment firm will tell you is “risky”. But investment firms will gladly place a portion of your money in hedge funds because the fees they earn from hedge funds are so high even as they advise you not to put your money in a much less risky investment with much greater earning potential.

And this is the secret that investment firms never tell you.

Volatile assets that often can be used to build great wealth are NOT RISKY if they are purchased at entry points that are extremely favorable and provide a low-risk point of entry. 99% of investors don’t understand what high-risk investments truly are because they have been misinformed by their advisors and their firms for the past half of a century. Purchasing volatile assets at low risk-high reward entry points greatly mitigates and neutralizes the great majority of risk of volatile assets. If you don’t understand this concept then you need to. Merely click here to understand more about this. Many millionaires that are wealthy but that could be extremely wealthy fail to build enormous wealth because investment and financial institutions mislead them about certain asset classes and describe them as complex and risky and are able to convince their clients of this belief because they never properly explain risk-reward scenarios to their clients.

However, those investors that are extremely wealthy are the rare breed that understand this concept. If investors had a choice between allocating $1,000,000 in a historically volatile Investment A that has a 78% chance of returning a 250% gain versus an Investment B that has a 95% chance of earning 9%, most investors would choose Investment A. However, because Investment A may exhibit 50% more volatility than Investment B, the great majority of advisors would steer their client away from the former investment into the latter one. In fact, this is exactly what even “prestigious” firms that cater to ultra high net-worth clients do because they allow misinformed, uneducated investors dictate the rules of engagement to them, and they would much rather appease such powerful, important people with slow,minimal gains rather than empower and enlighten them and boost their returns like never before.

They would choose to steer them away because they present the investment opportunities incorrectly, merely telling their client that while they could earn 350% from Investment A there was also a very realistic probability that they could lose $300,000, and that shooting for the slow but steady $90,000 a year is much better for them. If you are thinking to yourself, “That makes absolutely no sense?” Why would firms not earn 20% a year for their clients if they could instead of 8% a year?

The answer is because the overwhelming majority of investment firms, no matter how prestigious their brand, are merely highly glorified sales machines.

They fail to convince clients to invest in phenomenal investment opportunities that sometimes arise like Investment A because in order for Investment A to be a moderate risk, very high reward investment, it must be entered at a low risk entry point so that the probability of being down $300,000 at any give time would be reduced from perhaps 50% to 20%. And that even if their timing is not optimal, then a firm must educate the client that as long as they don’t panic when they are down, the odds are still extremely high that they will earn a 250% or better gain. However, the greatest factor that determines why firms will not seek this strategy is time. Engaging in much better strategies such as these for their clients would take massive amounts of time in client education and enough time in research that the amount of assets gathered would take a serious hit. So because it is not in a firm’s interest to engage in activities that maximize portfolio returns (unless it is their own institutional portfolio), instead, we have Chief Investment Officers at top investment firms making statements like, “”Generally they [the richest of Americans] want to see prudently managed growth without a lot of surprises, which is why we emphasize diversification.”

Again, this is a sales & marketing campaign statement, not an aboveboard statement about how to make money for clients. If clients are uncomfortable with strategies that would actually built great wealth for them instead of producing mediocre or subpar returns, their discomfort only originates from the fact that the largest investment firms have been deceiving their clients, just as Jim Cramer had deceived the thundering sheep herd for years, about the realities of building wealth.

If you think that the firm that you are with handles many rich clients with lots of money so therefore you must be in good hands, think again. Rich people commonly make mistakes that the ultra-rich rarely do. Furthermore, the strategies of the ultra-rich significantly differ than the strategies of the rich. Thus, we have a misinformation-driven cauldron of bad investment decisions that exist today. In 2007, you’ll still find Chief Investment Officers of very well known firms making ridiculous statement that investors need to invest at least 50% of their stock portfolio in U.S. stocks if they wish to grow their portfolios exponentially.

How are they going to grow their portfolios exponentially with more than half of their stocks in a stock market (the U.S.) that has NEVER been the best performing market in the past 25 years (even among developed stock markets)? How will they grow their portfolios exponentially by buying stocks in market that trades in what is quite possibly the worst currency on earth among developed markets (the U.S. dollar)? Yes I know that when the U.S. dollar shows a brief spike in strength as is likely to happen soon (I’m writing this article in April, 2007), that many people will question what I am saying, but this is only again because they are victims to the mass deception mind-games of the investment industry. I suppose if planning to earn better than subpar returns in your stock portfolio is engaging in risky behavior as Chief Investment Officers of various firms claim, then yes, I whole-heartedly endorse engaging in risky behavior. And because so many people, yes even those considered quite wealthy, fall victim to the preaching of investment industry demagogues, there is a second mistake that many rich investors will soon make.

Another survey of wealthy U.S. investors uncovered that a large percentage of investors with investment assets of over a million do not employ any type of investment advisor but plan to do so soon giving the increasingly gloomy nature of the U.S. stock markets. To that, this is what I have to say. Making money in difficult markets is ten times more difficult than making money in bull markets. If investors believe that it will be increasingly more difficult to make money in U.S. stock markets, but yet top investment firms in the U.S. continue to preach that more than half of your portfolio should be in U.S. stocks (mostly to cover their respective firm’s inadequate coverage of emerging markets), how is the hiring one of these men possibly going to improve these investors’ future performance outlook?

But there is an EXTREMELY important distinction to be made here. What I’ve written above applies to the behavior and mindset of some of the richest people in America, but not THE very richest people in America. The very richest people in America, those you might categorize as the world’s ultra-rich, possess a very different mindset and behavior set than those that are just rich. The ultra-rich have positioned their portfolios extremely differently from how the rich people discussed above have positioned their portfolios. The reason why articles regarding their behavior and investment decisions are virtually non-existent is because they don’t grant interviews and they don’t want people to know what they are doing. But I’ve investigated what they are doing, and trust me, it is nothing remotely similar to the behavior of wealthy investors described by Northern Trust and other investment firms. If you would like to find out why the ultra-rich always manage their own money or able to find the 1 in a million consultant truly capable of providing them the returns they desire, consult our resource of “101 Reasons Why Managing Your Own Money is the Only Way to Build Wealth.”

Even if the ultra-wealthy have someone managing their money for them, the only way they were capable of finding this 1 in a million financial consultant was due to the fact that if they had to, they could manage their own money successfully as well. Only by first fully understanding the most successful investment strategies themselves could they identify an advisor capable of employing such strategies. However, a great majority of ultra-wealthy continue to handle and make their own investment decisions. And that’s precisely what makes them not only smart, but ultra-rich.

[tags]wealth literacy, how to build wealth, investment strategies,ultra-wealthy investing strategies[/tags]


J.S. Kim is the founder and Managing Director of maalamalama, a comprehensive online investment course that uses novel, proprietary advanced wealth planning techniques and the long tail of investing to identify low-risk, high-reward investment opportunities that seek to yield 25% or greater annual returns.

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