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10 Tips From The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy

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Whether you are a first-time investor or have been investing for years, here are 10 tips from the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy to help you in 2019.

  1. Check out your investment professional.

It is free and easy to check the background of an investment professional.  You can find details about an investment professional’s qualifications through the search tool on Investor.gov, the SEC’s website for individual investors.  Also, make sure to ask SALI whether your investment professional has been named in an SEC action.  If you need help, you can call our toll-free investor assistance line at (800) 732-0330 for help.

  1. Understand the power of saving and investing early by taking advantage of our tools.

If you are investing or saving toward a goal, or just want to learn about how your money can grow under various hypothetical scenarios, take advantage of our compound interest and savings goal calculators.  These calculators are great tools to help inform any decisions you make about your investing and saving.

  1. Know how to be a better investor.

Did you know that active trading and some other very common investing behaviors actually can undermine investment performance?  According to researchers, other common investing mistakes include focusing on past performance, favoring investments from your own country, region, state, or company, and holding on to losing investments too long and selling winning investments too soon.

  1. Diversify.

Diversification can help reduce the overall risk of an investment portfolio.  By picking the right mix of investments, you may be able to limit your losses and reduce the fluctuations of your investment returns without sacrificing too much in potential gains.  Some investors find that it is easier to achieve diversification through ownership of mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) rather than through ownership of individual stocks or bonds.

  1. Consider fees.

It can be costly to ignore fees associated with buying, owning, and selling an investment product.  Expenses vary from product to product, and even small differences in costs can mean large differences in earnings over time.  An investment with high costs must perform better than a low-cost investment to generate the same return.  Read our bulletin on How Fees and Expenses Affect Your Investment Portfolio to learn more.

  1. Watch out for guaranteed high returns.

Promises of high returns with little or no risk are classic warning signs of fraud.  Every investment carries some degree of risk, and the potential for greater returns usually means greater risk.  Ignore so-called “can’t miss” and “guaranteed risk-free” investment opportunities –even if they involve HoweyCoins!  Better yet, report them to the SEC. 

  1. Be alert to affinity fraud and celebrity endorsements.

Affinity frauds target members of identifiable groups, such as the elderly, religious, or ethnic communities, or the military.  Even if you know the person making the investment offer, be sure to check out the investment and the person’s background—no matter how trustworthy the person seems.  You should also watch out for celebrity endorsements.  Just because you know the celebrity, doesn’t automatically make the investment opportunity being endorsed worthwhile. 

  1. Be careful when using social media as an investment tool.

Social media has become an important tool for investors, but also present opportunities for fraudsters to lure investors into a wide range of scams.  For additional information on ways to avoid fraud through social media, please read our bulletin on Social Media and Investing.

  1. Is the securities offering registered or exempt?

Any offer or sale of securities must be either registered with the SEC or exempt from registration.  Otherwise, it is illegal.  This has taken heightened importance with the advent of initial coin offerings as many of these offerings may involve securities.  Registration is important because it provides investors access to key information about the company’s management, products, services, and finances.  Always check whether an offering is registered with the SEC by using the SEC’s EDGAR database or contacting the SEC’s toll-free investor assistance line at (800) 732-0330.

  1.  Don’t forget about the world.

Events around the world may have a material impact on your investments.  For example, the United Kingdom is currently negotiating its exit from the European Union (often referred to as “Brexit”).  Brexit may have significant effects on the markets and companies in which you invest.  Please stay informed about Brexit and other world events as you consider your investment strategy.
 

If you have questions about your investments, your investment account or a financial professional, don’t hesitate to contact the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy online or on our toll-free investor assistance line at (800) 732-0330.
 

The Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has provided this information as a service to investors.  It is neither a legal interpretation nor a statement of SEC policy.  If you have questions concerning the meaning or application of a particular law or rule, please consult with an attorney who specializes in securities law.

August 2015 Commentary

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August Market Review-2015- “Great Balls of Fire”

Over the past 4-5 weeks, I have heard from many private clients in terms of their uneasiness with the whipsaw volatility of the current stock market. Honestly, I don’t blame them one little bit. There are many exogenous events in the world that seem to directly affect our wallets. More importantly, these events are happening on the back of an economy that hasn’t seen a wage hike since 2007, and a government who has abdicated America’s role in the world. These are scary times indeed.

All that having been said, my wonderful father, Mr. Alex. G. Campbell, Jr., the real A.G. Campbell for whom our firm is named, taught me several very important tenants about the market over the past 30 years. The following points are excerpts from listening to him and his friend Mr. Brodie speak, or our conversations. The one truly remarkable thing about the philosophy of how my father invested his capital is that he seemingly was never worried. Contrast that calm demeanor with every “Breaking News Alert” from CNBC, CNN, or FOX NEWS, and I believe that my father didn’t simply establish a better way to live his life. For lack of a better metaphor, he discovered a checklist. Once he had done his homework and the prospective investment had met the criteria, he bought the company and put it away for the next 20 years. An advantage of those days was no 24 hour news cycle. I believe our insatiable appetite to stay up to the minute and “connected” causes our society more ills than you can imagine. Many of my friends find themselves suffering from depression, insomnia, tenuous marital relationships, endless ADD medication, and the like. It’s sad really, but dad used some good common sense and intelligence to ascertain all he needed. The following represents some of his philosophy:

  • ·         Dad always encouraged us as children to put away at least 10% of what you earned or received as a gift. That advice set me up for following the same prescription with my retirement plan.
  • ·         Pay your creditors on time and don’t borrow money at high interest rates or that you cannot afford to pay back.
  • ·         Pick an investment plan and allocation with which you can adhere for the long term. It’s important to always have some liquidity for emergencies and upcoming familial expenses.
  • ·         When making investments, absolutely don’t buy anything you don’t understand.
  • ·         His goal was to buy great companies when the world went on sale. Therefore, he would probably be nibbling at some of the Big Oil companies in times like these. He didn’t care what happened in 6 months. 6 years was of more interest to him.
  • ·         Buy companies that pay good dividends and that have demonstrated an ability to do that for some time.
  • ·         If you are looking at mutual funds, ETF’s, Stocks or some other kind of investment vehicle to round out your portfolio, know absolutely how much you are paying in fees. Additionally, what exactly are you getting in return for those fees that appeals to your sense of good value?
  • ·         When all else fails, know the person with whom you are doing business so that there is already a relationship of trust. That doesn’t mean that they will always be correct, but it means it isn’t for lack of interest or concern.

The volatility of August supports our past thesis and reason for large cash holdings. Furthermore, it affirms our conviction to buy quality at a good value and hold it. This is our opportunity.