Financial newsletters and empty promises

andrew hallam

andrew hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School (Wiley 2011) and The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat (Wiley 2015). My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I'm happy to comment on your questions. However, please read the Terms of Use.

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10 Responses

  1. Charlatans seem to thrive in the newsletter industry. Most are self-anointed experts who cherry pick their investment history for their marketing materials, but rarely reveal their long-term performance adjusted for expenses and taxes. There may be a handful of truly talent individuals publishing newsletters, but it is always hard to sort out the gifted from the random.

  2. The Rat says:

    I think this post offers words of wisdom, especially to less savvy investors who are just getting ready to go it their own investing wise, or even preparing to seek professional investment advice.

    I am always exceptionally suspicious (probably too much) with advertisements in general and always go for the fine print. For example, lately Bell Aliant have been offering combo packages to pay for utilities at $99 per month in my region. On the surface, I'm thinking "geez, I can save over $10/month if i changeover from my local provder to Bell". Right? Wrong! If you're like I used to be, you wouldn't have noticed the asterix *. After reading the fine print, you realize that the $99 rate per month is only for a one-year promotional period, meaning the regular rates kick in after a year (and probably after you have signed a contract!).

    I realize that the Bell Aliant example above is not an example of investing, but money saved translates to more cash available for investment. I think Andrew's post really highlights how there are many newsletters and advertisements that are similar in nature in that the offers may not be best suited for your personal finance objectives.

    For example, some institutions claim to offer a 3% guaranteed rate for a 5-year GIC, but when you read the fine print, if you want the interest paid monthly, they will knock off 0.25%. In my view, it's really important to read the fine print with any decision that involves using your hard-earned money.

    Great thread!

  3. @The Biz of Life

    Hey Biz,

    I read The Dick Davis Dividend, which was interesting. In his book, he mentions some solid newsletters, but I can't recall them at the moment. Does anyone know of any?

  4. @The Rat

    Hey Rat,

    Your comment made me think of an amazing course someone could teach highschool kids. The course could be called: "Spot the marketing scam". It would be awesome. And the final exam would be based on real advertisements where students are supposed to find the misleading sections. Wouldn't that be great if every kid was put through a course or two like that? It could completely change the financial service industry, for starters. Nice work finding the fine print on that Bell Aliant deal. If you're ever keen on doing a guest post on this site, I'd love it. It could coincide with a re-opening of your excellent blog, Beatingtheratrace.

  5. Can anyone tell me what $1000 in Nortel stock would really be worth today? My guess is just a handful of dollars. Ideas?

  6. $1000 in the year 2000….

  7. The Rat says:

    @Andrew Hallam

    I totally agree in that I think a course, or at a bare minimum at least a chapter devoted to it, would be a great exercise for students to learn from.

    Our televisions and computers are full of ads and it's not so easy to decipher things so easily. You almost have to get burned a few times before you become apprehensive to it all.

    I'd love to do a post for your site sometime and I genuinely appreciate the offer; I'll hit you up with an e-mail as soon as I'm back officially back on the scene (and that shouldn't be long).


  8. Sometimes I think experience is the best teacher, but a spot the scam class would be a pretty neat exercise, too. Maybe you can even have the students roleplay and alternate between would-be scammer and scammee :O

  9. I know a guy who invested quite a bit in Nortel years ago. He eventually cashed out and used the money for a meal at Burger King.

  10. The Rat says:

    @Dividend Monk

    I know a guy who invested a lot in Nortel when I had just entered the workforce and he lost out big time. Nortel has a tragic history.

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