Having endured booms and busts over the past decade or two, and read the seemingly constant news of financial deceit and duplicity, you’re probably feeling very alone when it comes to managing your financial affairs.
If you’ve actually lived through the financial version of what we spent our week experiencing (which we’ll get to in a moment), we can only imagine your distress. You did the right thing. Someone else’s lies caused you financial harm. And you are left with no decent remedy.
But there’s some good news on the horizon. It’s called the Albert Park Investors Guild. Our colleagues Bernd Struben and Meagan Evans have been telling you about it for the past week or so. We’re telling you about it today because the aim of the Guild is to provide you with dependable knowledge…which is exactly the opposite of our horrendous experience this week.
While trudging in and out of police stations, all we really wanted was for someone to tell us we weren’t getting a raw deal…that we were being looked after. The experience and wisdom of someone who should be able to provide comfort and guidance is incredibly valuable in situations when you’re out of your depth. You know you’re not wasting your time blindly, missing crucial information or leaving stones unturned.
Spurred by the financial industry failings the media has showcased, and those it hasn’t yet caught onto, a group of financial industry veterans have decided to take a stand. And they have invited your editor to take part as the Guild’s retirement specialist.
In their haste to trick clients out of their money, the financial services industry has left an enormous gap. A gap for genuinely sound, practical and independent advice, without sneaky fees or conflicts of interest.
The Guild’s Chairman and Investment Director reckon they’ve found a way to fill that gap. So now they’re putting together a new possie of financial services
vigilantes veterans. They’re going to walk the financial industry’s talk. And hopefully make the financial industry baulk in the process.
The truth is, it’s damn difficult to fight the financial system and industry. But you can’t avoid it either. Not without missing out on the opportunities it presents. Not to mention the fact that compulsory superannuation practically forces you to invest.
But just maybe you can opt out of its conflicts of interest, hidden fees and poor advice. Without missing out on the opportunities financial markets do serve up.
So we’ve decided to sign up with the Guild. Hopefully you’ll join us soon too
Right then, let us tell you about our brush with the law, via our girlfriends ‘brush’ with some lunatic’s fist…
We can only describe it as surreal. In the world of the Queensland police force, the victim gets accused of being the aggressor.
Now we are about the last person in the world to suffer from high expectations of government. And we’ve all heard about how the victim has no standing in western criminal law. It’s always the Queen versus the perpetrator. This makes the victim feel very alone and unacknowledged.
But my god, nothing prepares you for the feeling when you’re a victim of a crime and you can do nothing. Of course, that’s only what we were trying to prepare our girlfriend for. In the end, it was all much worse.
The police simply swapped the victim and the perpetrator of the assault. And claimed to have evidence, which they had since deleted. We viewed the evidence elsewhere. It proved the police were wrong.
Of course, it’s all a much longer and more infuriating story. But the injuries alone disprove the police’s version of events. Not that they felt the need to check with the victim. Instead they told her ‘he would’ve been warranted in punching you’. The fact that he did punch her, twice, wasn’t mentioned anywhere.
But the victim has no standing to take up the matter. And the shoddy CCTV footage has already been seen and (mis)interpreted by the police. So now the matter will disappear. And the fury of the victim will remain.
The scary part is that we almost believed the police and not the witness the police decided to ignore. It would’ve been so easy to take the police at their word.
As the victim later pointed out, why bother having police? Do they catch criminals in the act like bouncers or security guards? Do they compensate victims like insurance companies do for property crimes? Do they provide support to victims, or accuse them of assault instead? Do they investigate, or tell truthful witnesses they are lying and making a fool of themselves?
We learned the hard way.
What does this have to do with financial markets? Well, justice and sentencing in the world of financial markets is similarly nonexistent. In the world of financial markets, justice and sentencing are administered by…well…ummm…karma…in the next life…hopefully.
If you’ve been following the financial news these last few years, you must be speechless. The amount of manipulation, fraud, and theft in the financial industry is apparently matched only by the lack of investigation, absence of prosecution and the half decent sentences given. Of course, just like the police, the enormous bureaucracies and court cases give the impression of justice to the outsider. And that’s all they’re intended to do.
Meanwhile mortgage brokers and financial advisors fake signatures and sell financial services which spell doom for their clients. Traders simply manipulate prices to generate profits, and everyone on the inside is paid hush money bonuses.
But what about the unprecedented fines companies have been paying? Asking corporations to pay fines for the behaviour of the individuals who collect the benefit of those crimes is completely absurd. Traders, financial advisors, mortgage brokers and CEOs make bonuses when they get away with fraud and watch their company pick up the tab when they’re caught. It’s an ‘I win, someone else loses’ world.
Not to worry, an investigation is underway. The Financial Crisis Inquiry here in Australia is led by the former CEO of the Commonwealth Bank. And our financial regulator ASIC is led by a former banker who helped build the type of CDOs that blew up in the subprime crisis. Our personal favourite is that the man responsible for keeping the economy on an even keel, Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens, does his job by manipulating interest rates in much the same way as interest rate traders at banks are accused of doing illegally.
Even without blatant crimes, Australia’s financial industry is getting away with murder. Forcing people to put money into superannuation and then charging them high fees is quite simply legalised extortion. The costs of a Self Managed Super Fund make it blackmail for the less wealthy.
In short, financial markets have failed. They aren’t markets, have no market integrity and suffer from manipulation on a small and large scale by traders, central banks and governments. The same goes for the financial services industry. Anything goes, from financial advisors forging signatures to sell financial products, to mortgage brokers forging mortgage applications.
Our new gathering, the Albert Park Investors Guild, won’t change any of this. But if can offer you some protection.
for The Markets and Money Australia