sales pitches

Fishing Lures Are Made to Catch Fishermen

© Can Stock Photo / zorandim

Archeologists say the oldest known fishhooks date back 23,000 years. They have no idea when one person first sold another one a fishing lure. But ever since then, it has been a truth that fishing lures are designed to catch fishermen, not fish. A useful corollary is lurking just beneath the surface.

Recently the Wall Street Journal wrote about a narrow investment sector that was getting flooded with money by investors starved for yield. ‘Direct lending’ allows investors to take on the role of lending money to middle-size companies. The article made the point that the flood of money had reduced yields as well as the safety of the loans—perhaps investors should look elsewhere.

As if on cue, we immediately received an email about a direct lending strategy ‘formerly available only to institutional investors.’ It is said to be an innovative way to generate current income.

After years of near-zero interest rates and lingering fears about the stock market, who isn’t looking for an innovative way to generate income—particularly with a strategy formerly available only to institutions?

Clearly, investment products are designed to catch investors, not investment returns.

Behavioral economists have amply demonstrated how prone we humans are to make irrational decisions—to do the wrong thing at the wrong time. The bane of investing is the tendency to buy in euphoria near the peak and sell in panic near the low. The crowd seems to miss on the timing, time after time.

You know our principles include the idea of avoiding stampedes. We know that going against the crowd can be rewarding—our approach is contrarian. When something we are doing becomes popular, we need to think about doing something different. And if everybody else is buying some sector or product, we are likely to be suspicious of it.

Market history is full of products that attracted lots and lots of money, but little in the way of returns. It is much like sporting goods stores full of lures that catch fishermen, not fish. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or any other pertinent topic, please email us or call.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Structured products typically have two components; a note and a derivative and a fixed maturity. They are complicated investments intended for a “buy and hold” strategy and offer protection from downside risk in exchange for forgoing some upside potential to achieve that protection. Principal protection may vary from partial to 100 percent.

Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

About “The Coming Monetary Collapse”

Ruined headlines about economic collapse

Recently, a retired worker popped into the front door to ask, “Mark, have you heard about the Coming Monetary Collapse?”

This, of course, was news to me. It eventually became apparent that this “news” came from an advertisement on the Internet. We see these ads every so often on financial news sites. They seem to look like reputable-looking news articles but in the end they always try to sell you something, typically expensive subscription services that will supposedly help you sidestep the “inevitable” collapse.

If someone actually knew enough to forecast an impending financial downturn, they wouldn’t need to be selling you advice in order to get rich—they’d already know everything they needed to make themselves rich beyond their wildest dreams. And if the collapse was all that catastrophic, all of that money wouldn’t do them any good anyhow. If you were convinced a worldwide monetary collapse was coming, here’s what you should invest in: canned food, ammunition, and generators. You don’t need expensive books and online seminars to tell you that.

(Incidentally, clients have told us about friends of friends who were convinced of global collapse and tried that investment strategy years ago. Last we heard, they were trying to sell used generators to rebuild their retirement funds.)

These sales pitches are often dressed up as actual news articles, but they’re pure scare tactics. They want to sell you something, and instead of promoting their advice on its own merits (it has none), they are trying to play to your fears.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.