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Ideas & Debate

Here are crucial 21 queries to ask your investment firm

A worried investor.
A worried investor. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The 21 Questions Game is basically a way of getting to know someone better. At its core, the game is just asking and answering questions.

Someone volunteers or a person is randomly chosen to be the first person to answer the 21 questions.

The rest of the group takes turns asking that person a total of 21 questions. It’s that simple.

I think it’s a wonderful concept to be used in all matters concerning your investment health.

If at any time anyone is trying to sell you a financial product or service, that you don’t understand or anything else even remotely confusing, hit them with each and every one of these 21 questions:

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Are you registered with CMA? What type of products do you offer? How many different products do you offer? What are the fees that I will pay for products and services? How often should I expect to hear from you? How often will you review or monitor my account?

How often will you make recommendations to me? If my investments are not doing well, will you call me and recommend something else? If I invest with you, how can I keep track of how well my investments are doing?

What percentage of your time would you estimate that you spend on people with situations and goals that are similar to mine?

Have you ever been disciplined by a regulator? If yes, what was the problem and how was it resolved?

Have you had any legal action brought against you? If yes, please describe the legal action and how it was resolved?

Have you had customer complaints? If yes, how many, what were they about, and how were they resolved?

Do I get a cut on fees if I invest above a certain threshold figure? Will you send me a birthday message? (This is just for fun).

What’s the advantage I get investing in the product in comparison to the next best alternative? How does the firm get paid? How do you use technology for my benefit?

Given my situation and what I’m looking for, what’s the financial product or service most suitable for me? Are there any penalties for pulling my money early?

How much extra will I pay in fees (or how much might I sacrifice in returns)? Think trading fees, dormancy fees or other administrative fees. If possible, you can ask for an itemised list for any and all fees.

In summary, rather than getting caught up in an investment fiasco, investors (potential investors) need to ensure that the investment intermediaries have the best interests at heart by asking the above questions.

Besides, it’s anyone’s guess how much regulators will ultimately be looking out for you. And in an industry where some players make it a game of not being forthright in every which way, the best possible response is to ask lots and lots of questions.

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