Middle Of The Middle East Tour – 2017
At the end of last summer, I posted pictures of our cycling trip while we cycled through Europe.
Friends saw the pictures on Facebook. Before we knew it, educators invited us into their homes and asked me to speak at their schools. Our hosts paid for local transportation costs so I could speak to their colleagues and students. I spoke in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic. This was on the tail of some talks that I had given in the United States.
But I kept getting emails. “Could you come to the Middle East?” I’m a tree, mountain and water kind of guy. I wasn’t thrilled by the idea of coming to the Middle East. But invitations kept coming.
I finally accepted the offers because expats in the Middle East get a really raw deal.
Most of the financial products sold in the Middle East (mostly to British expats) aren’t legal in more highly regulated environments like Canada, the UK, the U.S. or Australia.
Such products are dinosaurs of a bi-gone era. They cost more than hedge funds. They charge huge redemption penalties if investors want to get out. But they’re still prolifically sold in the Middle East because they pay huge commissions and the regulations are lax.
In some cases, school administrations have paid the transportation bills (and housing) to bring us to their schools.
But many times, teachers have pooled their own money to do it.
We’re currently halfway through this crazy tour.
At times I wonder, “What on Earth are you doing Andrew?” Visiting Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Egypt, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, and Qatar is time consuming.
And we’ve caught the ire of many commission-hungry sales representatives, many of whom have started to malign me online. This afternoon, I’ll be speaking at the Qatar British Business Forum. Slightly more than 100 people will be attending. Some of the brokerages have created websites with disparaging tales about me being a “con man.”
They’re sending links to these stories to schools and organizations that have invited me to speak. “Don’t let this guy speak,” is what they’re telling my hosts. They say that my books are poorly written and that I have no money myself.
Fortunately, they haven’t convinced anyone. If anything, such maligning has created a broader sense of interest in what I have to say.
I’m thankful of the people who have written testimonials.
I never thought I needed them. But my message threatens a gravy train. I understand that. So I’m moving forward with an understanding. I have something important to share. But not everyone wants to hear it.
That said, educators want to share it. Years from now, many more people will spread the message about the benefits of low-cost investing. That message has already spread throughout the United States. It has worked its way through Canada and much of mainland Europe.
The Middle East is a standout. But education, here, will also win out in the end.