By ROBIN POWELL
Believe me, you don’t write a book for the money. It’s a hard slog, especially when, like me, you have a business to run at the same time. Once Amazon and everyone else have had their cut, the author’s remuneration is meagre — especially in the already very crowded and competitive field of financial publishing.
For many of us who do it, the biggest reward is the gratitude we receive from readers. The other day, for example, a young chartered surveyor from Yorkshire wrote to thank me for Invest Your Way to Financial Freedom, the new book I’ve co-authored with Ben Carlson.
“Your book is superb,” he wrote. “As a person in their 20s earning a strong wage I was lost on what I should be doing in terms of investing. Your book has solved that mystery.”
A “lost” generation
Yet although it was heart-warming, I also found that email a little sobering. Why are so many successful young people “lost” when it comes to sorting their finances, saving and investing?
There are, in fact, a host of reasons. We don’t teach children about money in school, for a start. Many activities that pass for “financial education” — stockpicking contests, for example — actually do more harm than good.
People in their 20s and 30s have plenty of other things, other than save and invest, that they can do with their money. Many have student loans and, in Britain at least, we’re still obsessed with getting a foot on the housing ladder.
Then there’s peer pressure and social media. Young people pay very close attention to what their peers are doing. They see others making a quick killing on, say, Bitcoin or a penny stock, and they naturally try to do the same themselves. Most have little idea how heavily the odds are stacked against them.
Depressingly, the investing industry is often more of a hindrance than a help. And I do not just mean trading sites such as eToro that advertise heavily in places, like football grounds, frequented by young people. I’m also talking about some of the biggest names in financial services, including direct-to-consumer investment platforms like Hargreaves Lansdown, which openly admits it has greatly profited from the trading boom.
Some of these big financial brands talk a good game on investor education, but their actions tell a different story. The bottom line is, they have a commercial interest in getting people to use their platform rather than someone else’s. They know that consumers are drawn towards high-risk, lottery-style investments, so they’re doing very little to discourage them.
That’s why, for example, they constantly tempt consumers with “clickbait” articles on cryptocurrencies or on specific stocks, sectors or countries that people are buying into.
An unfortunate reality
Thankfully, in my view, the standard of investment journalism is improving. Younger journalists in particular are increasingly sceptical about claims that fund managers make.
The unfortunate problem is, however, that sensible investing is frankly neither exciting or newsworthy. So the media still has an in-built bias towards new products and “investment ideas”, and of course to the latest developments in the financial markets, which young investors really shouldn’t be paying attention to.
That, in a nutshell, is why books like Invest Your Way to Financial Freedom are so important. It’s a book with nothing to sell. Its aim is purely to show young people, in a simple and engaging way, exactly what they need to be doing to get their financial house in order and set themselves up for a lifetime of investment success.
If you too are lost when it comes to investing, or you know someone who might be, I commend it to you.
If you are a bona fide journalist or financial blogger and would like to review Invest Your Way to Financial Freedom, please get in touch with us or with Lucy Vincent at the publisher, Harriman House.
Financial advice and planning firms may be interested to know that the publisher is offering advice firms the option of having a customised version of Invest Your Way to Financial Freedom, with their own foreword, based on a minimum print run of 25 copies. It’s a great way to help young people, including clients’ children, and to generate good will for your firm for when they need on-going help from an adviser in the future.
If you enjoyed this article, you might like to this interview about the book I recently gave to Tadas Viskanta at Abnormal Returns:
I’ve also discussed the book as a guest on a number of recent podcasts, including these:
BUY THE BOOK
Invest Your Way to Financial Freedom is co-authored by Ben Carlson and Robin Powell and is published by Harriman House.
Primarily written for a UK audience, the book has no hidden sales agenda and is based on peer-reviewed academic evidence. It explains, in simple terms, how young investors can develop good habits, save a fortune in unnecessary fees, and achieve financial freedom many years earlier than they otherwise would.
You can either buy the book direct from the publisher or via Amazon:
For those in the UK,
For those outside the UK,
Picture: Novia Wu via Unsplash
© The Evidence-Based Investor MMXXI