Investing: It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know

In yesterday’s DR, I outlined the Albert Park Investors Guild portfolio options for you. If you missed that, click here to visit our archives.

Today, I’ll introduce you to the Guild’s Australian board members. And answer a popular question from readers already investing in the market but worried about the risks. They’re all looking for new investments. Some are concerned about funding their retirement. Others are just looking to grow their savings to buy a new car, upgrade their homes, or take that dream vacation. Of course, no one wants to chance losing half their life savings if the market heads south.

So how do you find the right, secure investments to match your goals? How does anyone find them?

If you’re thinking about putting extra money — salary sacrificing — into your superannuation account, think again. According to the Grattan Institute, Aussie’s spent almost $20 billion on superannuation fees last year. That’s equal to 1% of Australia’s GDP!

There’s a better answer. A better way than funding the fund managers. The right network, the right connections, makes all the difference.

You can think of the investment world as a giant maze. There are thousands of twists and turns. Most of these turns eventually lead to a dead end, and some muttered curses. A number of other combinations will ultimately get you to the centre. In a real maze, this is usually an old park bench under the watchful gaze of a Cupid fountain. In an investment maze, this is your retirement nest egg, or the extra money you need to put in a swimming pool.

The point is that only one specific set of turns takes you through the investment maze in the simplest, quickest manner. You can think of that as getting there with the least fees and achieving the highest possible returns.

And the best way to take the right path from your very first turn is by connecting with the right people. A network of people who have been navigating this same maze every day for decades.

That’s why I opted for today’s title, ‘It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know’. My apologies that it’s a rather timeworn adage. If it weren’t so true, I’d have gone with something snappier.

But having opted to make use of this quote, let me give you some background on its origin. The earliest reference I can find is from the May 1914 issue of The Electrical Worker. Now, I do a lot of reading, but I’ll admit Google came up with that one.

Google itself represents an impressive source of information. Arguably, the most impressive store of information available today. It only took 0.28 seconds to sort through all the data and spit out the results of my search. Imagine if you had to do that on your own. It would take years before you might stumble onto a yellowing copy of The Electrical Worker.

And because I ‘know’ Google, I have ready access to its entire network. Access to all of its vast amounts of information. But information is not knowledge.

Google doesn’t come up with all of the answers. That’s right. It’s not what Google knows, it’s who it knows. And how it ties this all together. In this case, it linked me to But in general, Google is an effective search engine because it ranks information in terms of helpfulness. When there’s heaps of information, sorting through it efficiently to get at what you really need — the knowledge — is essential.

Importantly, Google’s results usually do it on the very first page. Its search engines have been refined to bring up the most likely answers first. Without that feature, I would have been stuck trawling through 861 million results. You’d almost be better off sorting through dusty library stacks.

Why this digression on Google? I thought you’d never ask!

Just for fun, type ‘investment advice Australia’ in your Google search bar. If you didn’t use quotation marks, you probably got 21,300,000 results. And the first few pages, at least, offer some familiar names and faces. You’ll even find some Guild board members listed.

But with more than 21 million results, how do you know who to trust? This is your money we’re talking about. Your future. Your family’s future.

I’m happy enough believing Google may have tracked down the best result for the origin of today’s title. Or finding the nearest mechanic to fix my lawnmower. But I’m hardly going to trust its search engines for investment advice.

Just look at the host of Super fund managers, bankers, and property spruikers who popped up in your search. I’m not saying none of them is reliable. In fact, as Kris Sayce, the Guild’s Research Director, comes up on the first page, I know that at least one of them is reliable. But what about the other many, many millions?

With so many one-size-fits-all packages available, how do you know which investment ideas are right for you? How do you manage your risk? And how do you avoid those biting management fees?

The fact is that too much information, too many choices, can actually cloud your vision. There are millions of combinations of right and left turns in the financial maze. And there are millions of Google results to ‘investment advice Australia’.

At the end of the day, what you really need is knowledge. The knowledge acquired by a network of experts with hundreds of combined years of experience creating and safeguarding wealth.

The fact that so many Aussies are struggling with an information overload, without easy access to the knowledge they’re after, convinced me it was time to open up our vast network of investment experts to new members. This network starts at my desk in Albert Park and extends across the globe.

Yesterday, I promised to introduce you to the Guild’s Aussie board members. My good mate Dan Denning will present you to the international board next week.

Together, our board members produce dozens of insightful investment reports each week. And — not entirely unlike Google’s search engines — part of my role as the Guild’s Chairman is to sort through this wealth of information to provide you with simple, actionable advice.

So who sits on the Guild’s board?

Markets and Money readers will recognise the first few names as some of your regular editors.

Dan Denning is our Macro Investment Specialist. He’s also the editor of The Denning Report. Dan’s insight into the big picture of what’s happening around the world, and how this can affect your investments, is second to none.

Greg Canavan is our Value Investing Expert. The editor of Sound Money. Sound Investments., Greg focusses on safe investment strategies and on how not to lose your money.

Vern Gowdie is the Guild’s Superannuation and Family Wealth Analyst. The editor of Gowdie Family Wealth, Vern currently offers our most conservative investment advice.

Nick Hubble and Simon Munton serve as our Retirement Specialists. Nick’s the editor of The Money for Life Letter. With more older people selling their investments during retirement to fewer younger buyers, Nick sees trouble ahead. He also offers solutions. Simon writes the free Escapologist newsletter, and is the executive editor of International Living Australia.

Kris Sayce is our Research Director. Kris writes the free Money Morning and Pursuit of Happiness newsletters and is the editor of Money Morning Premium. Kris has one of the most upbeat market views among the Aussie board members. He’s always on the lookout for your next great investments.

Sam Volkering is our Technology Analyst. Sam writes Revolutionary Tech Investor and offers his remarkable insight into tomorrow’s top investment opportunities.

Tim Dohrmann and Jason Stevenson serve as the Guild’s Small-Cap and Mining Experts. Tim is the editor of Australian Small Cap Investigator, and Jason writes Diggers and Drillers.

Phil Anderson is a fairly new addition to our network and brings his own unique perspective to the Guild. Phil is our Property, Cycles, and Technical Forecaster, and writes Cycles, Trends, and Forecasts.

Ken Wangdong is also a recent arrival, joining the Albert Park office from Sydney. Ken is our Emerging Market Analyst with a strong focus on Chinese investment opportunities. He’s also the editor of the newly launched New Frontier Investor.

Callum Newman is our Managing Editor. You probably know Callum as the editor of your Weekend DR. Callum’s been working closely with Phil Anderson, applying Phil’s cycle analysis to the Australian and US stock markets.

Of course a far larger group of researchers, investor education experts, copy editors, tax and legal specialists, computer wizards, and a dedicated member assistance team support the Guild as well.

And that’s just our Australian board.

You can see why I wanted to share this network!

It looks like I’ve run well over my word count. And as the Managing Editor, I should know better. So I’ll leave it here for today. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you the investment strategy that risk-averse investors can live with in good times and in bad.

If you have any questions or suggestions, send them to with the subject line ‘Albert Park Investors Guild’.


Bernd Struben
Chairman, Albert Park Investors Guild

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Bernd Struben is a contribution Editor of Markets & Money. He holds a degree in Economics and is a published novelist. Bernd’s career spans multiple countries on four continents. With his diverse background, he brings unique business insight and a libertarian twist to his columns and analysis in Markets & Money.

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