Saturday, April 18, 2009

Outrageously bad advice

The relationship manager at my bank invited me to meet a "wealth manager" to discuss possible ways to invest the cash balance in my account. I acquiesced but made it clear that I was not interested in insurance based products. I should have known better. The suggestions of the "wealth manager" were appalling:

1. I was offered life insurance. I repeated that I had no need of any further life insurance;

2. I was offered an annuity that would have required me to invest lump sums over three years, was projected to achieve a non-guaranteed break even after eight years and a non-guaranteed annualised return of 4% pa on maturity after 20 years. (Why it was called an annuity is beyond me.) I pointed out that an investment that showed a guaranteed loss for the first seven years was a really stupid idea and, in any case, I could buy bonds of similar duration which offered better yields as well as reasonably good liquidity;

3. I was offered an unlisted, closed end five year corporate bond fund which had a front end load of 3% and a management fee of 2% pa (I didn't bother trying to identify the other expenses). The projected annualised return was around 4% pa not guaranteed. I pointed out that I could get similar yields with greater potential upside by buying a portfolio of shares or higher yields with better liquidity by investing directly in high grade corporate bonds;

4. my relationship manager (who had been silent up to this point), then offered me a longish term bond issued by the bank which had a yield to maturity of above 7% pa and which was reasonably liquid. I refrained from pointing out that the bond had the same credit risk as the annuity, but a much better return which was guaranteed and reasonable liquidity making it impossible to justify investing in the annuity.

I really fail to see how anyone could even attempt to sell #2 and #3 to anyone (bearing in mind that the bank was in an advisory relationship with me).

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