Sunday, April 3, 2011

How To Smell A Rat: Chapter 4

Recessions seem to unearth a great number of financial frauds. But by then it is usually too late, as investors end up losing most if not all of their money. In this book, value investor Ken Fisher (son of Philip Fisher, whom Warren Buffett cites as someone from whom he learned a great deal about investing) describes five ways ordinary investors can protect themselves from being duped by a fraudulent money manager.

Rather than focus on the strategy of the fund, fraudsters distract you with things that don't matter. This brings us to Fisher's fourth signal to look out for, that of a fancy facade.

Specifically, Fisher advises that investors be wary of claims of exclusivity. The manager should want your money; he should not make you feel like he is doing you a favour. Turning the tables on you like this is how a fraudster protects himself from an investor who seeks too many answers.

Fraudsters will also focus attention on their entertainment connections. Just because a manager hangs a picture in his office showing him spending time on the yacht of a professional athlete you recognize does not make him a manager worthy of your investment.

Political leanings and affiliations with affinity groups (e.g. religious groups) are also exploited by fraudsters. Avoid being swayed by irrelevant items such as these.

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