Christmas/New Year message

I hope all my readers and followers have a great Christmas and New Year, if you celebrate this holiday season.

I will be back next week, and hope 2019 will be productive for us all.

Ardan International Review

(Quick note; this is a very short review, telling you the basics.  For a more in-depth review of Ardan and similar plans, alongside customer reviews and questions at the bottom of the page, please visit here –

Ardan International is based in the Isle of Man, and is owned by the insurance firm RL360. This article will review the platform.

Where is the platform sold?

Worldwide, but typically in expat-focused areas such as Dubai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brussels, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Qatar and various other locations.

What are the investment options available on the platform?

Over 80,000 funds are available, alongside countless currencies, from Euro to USD and Japanese Yen. Equities, structured notes and a range of other investment options are available on the platform.

What are the costs of the platform?

The website isn’t clear on that, but the custody fee is around 0.4% per year.  In addition to that, there are fund fees and other charges.

What are the positives of the platform?

The platform does allow for segregated accounts, meaning the money is held separately from Ardan’s accounts and is in the client’s name.

The costs are relatively good, and the platform uses good technology to reduce paperwork.

What are the negatives of the platform?

The platform can be used well, but all too often many complicated and expensive products are chosen.

That increases costs, and lowers charges.

What can you do if you have an Arden plan?

If you have an Arden plan, don’t hesitate to contact me below or via my contact form.

Further reading

  1. Zurich vista+Generali Vision review 

Financial New Years Resolutions and Goal Setting

It is coming towards that time of year when people are reviewing their year, and considering their New Year’s Resolutions for 2019.  

A lot of these objectives are linked, directly or indirectly, to our financial lives.  What techniques have I seen work for my clients and myself?  

1. Gradualism 

The first technique I have seen work is gradualism.  If you are too strict, too soon, you are likely to fail at something.  

If your objective is simply to earn 10% more or spend 10% less, the chances of success are high because it is easy to find small ways to earn more or cut back expenses.  Once you hit the 10%, you are likely to be greedy for more. 

Gradualism is especially effective if you do something straight away. If want to do something, why wait until January 1?   Why not try to improve by 10% now? Often delaying or thinking about something is just an excuse for inaction. 

2. Use time on planes productively 

In modern life, WIFI and 4G has become more and more important.  Some have even joked that WIFI should now be part of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs!

However, all these digital distractions aren’t good if you use them 365 days a year.  I have written a book on a plane and I am writing this article on a 7 hour plane journey from Tokyo to Bangkok.  

You have little or no distractions on a plane and you can focus on targets, business goals and personal goals.  

3.  Reading about goals and targets 

Some of the best books I have read or listened to, are focused on targets.  Brain Tracy has an excellent book on target formation. He recommends people do two things:

  1. Write down 10 goals on paper every day. Do it every day and you won’t even need to think about it.
  2. Write down statements such as `i have stopped drinking alcohol by December 2019`, or `i am earning 150k by November 2019`.  The grammar doesn’t make sense in English, but by having a specific target, and telling yourself that you have already achieved it, your mind thinks achieving the goal will automatically happen. Provided you don’t take it to the extreme by being complacent about the hard work that needs to go into achieving the ambition, this is an effective technique 

Another effective technique is to take off 1 week per quarter. So take 28 days off a year if you are a business person who works for yourself.  That means little or no internet for business use for 1 week per quarter. Focus on resting, planning for the quarter ahead and seeing your business from a birds eye point of view. Switching off on weekends is another good idea. 

4. Learning about breaking bad habits 

Some crude rules have been made, such as `the 20 day rule`, which implies you can stop a bad habit after just twenty days. Twenty days isn’t a long time to break a habit of a lifetime, but what is true is that we get into good and bad habits automatically.

Do you need to be reminded to tie your shoelaces or brush your teeth? Probably not as it is a habit which we get into at an early age.

Likewise, with investing, it is easy to get into positive habits by keeping to something for a few months initially.

A great example of this is direct debits.  If you are paid on the 10th of each month, putting a standing order to have money taken out on the 11th will ensure you have self-discipline with spending and will be invested without even thinking about it.  

5. Surrounding yourself with people you want to be like 

Most people want to achieve financial independence or a similar goal, but it is hard to imagine it if nobody you know has done the same thing.

Find likeminded groups, or use the internet to hear about others who have achieved it.  Once you start to see `normal` people achieve the goals you want to achieve, you are more likely to achieve them yourself. 

A great example of this is a recruiter friend I have.  From a working-class background, he struggled to imagine earning 100k-200k after tax.

After two months in the office, he saw people from similar social-economic backgrounds do well. They weren’t smarter than him, they just had more experience.  Seeing them achieve such results made him realize he could do it too, with hard-work and dedication. 

At the same time, distance yourself from toxic people.

6. Focus on the 80/20 rule 

Focus on the 20% of activities that generate 80% of the results,. And the 4% of activities that achieve 64% of the results.  Spend more time on these activities, and less time on pointless activities, to achieve goals.

7. Learn to say no 

Warren Buffett once said that the difference between those who succeed and those that don’t is often focus and the ability to say no. Say no more often to invitations to social events you don’t even want to attend. Your finances will thank you for it.  It is amazing how much people spend time trying to impress random people. 

8. Learn to ask

Society often teaches people to not be pushy, and not negotiate.  However, negotiating small discounts and pay rises can make a huge difference to your finances long-term.

Simply negotiating one $5,000 after tax pay rise, could result in over $1m of extra wealth in 30 years, if you invest the surplus properly.

Some reading

    1. How to become rich by investing 
    2. Turn off CNBN and Bloomberg 
    3. Why the wealthy spend less 

50 cent worth

How much wealth does Johnny Depp and 50 cent have? $10M? $100M?  $500M?  The actual figures has been closer to $0 in recent years.

We heard how from Depp’s former manager that he “lived an ultra-extravagant lifestyle that often knowingly cost Depp in excess of $2 million per month to maintain, which he simply could not afford,”

He lived a $2-million-a-month lifestyle and lists excessive splurges including $75 million on 14 residences, $18 million on a luxury yacht and $30,000 per month on wine.  The case involving his former management company went to court.

50 cent hasn’t done much better. He made $300M over a two year period.  However, he filed after requests for $17 million from a federal judge to headphone manufacturer Sleek Audio after an arbitration hearing ruled that the G-Unit Records head copied the design of Sleek Audio’s product.

$17M shouldn’t be too much money for a man who made $300M in two years, and more over ten years.

However, spending habits have killed him.  50 Cent’s main home and other second homes cost hit 70,000 a month to maintain.  Ironically his main residence is the home of the former boxer Mike Tyson, who also became broke after making $500M.

Not that you would believe it.  The media put out images like the ones below, to encourage their readers to overspend.  Companies around the world try to convince their customers to engage in mindless spending.

Both men may now be building wealth again, or they may not.  However, they are two examples out of thousands, of high income people who aren’t wealthy.

In comparison, there are millions of people around the world on middle-incomes who become millionaires and multimillionaires.

Most of you reading this probably know 1-2 older couples who are worth $1M-$5M despite only earning modestly throughout their lives.

Author Tom Corley spent 5 years studying the rich.  He found 5 commonalties.  The rich don’t tend to:

1).Make emotional purchases

2).Make spontaneous purchases

3).Want to spend unless it is needed or want instant gratification.

4).Cheap vs. Frugal Spending – The rich in his study were not cheap but they were frugal.

5).Gamble and speculate.

In addition many studies of the rich suggest that they have to-do lists, don’t watch too much TV and spend money on reading and self-improvement.

Being wealthy is easier than you think, it just takes some time, patience and self-development.

If you want to be sustainably wealthy and are interested in self-development check out the following link .

What does Black Friday and fake Chanel bags have to do with investing?

I was listening to an interesting podcast a few days ago. It was talking about sales and Black Friday.
It made me think about a few things. Many people will spend an hour queuing up for a $4 discount, when if you offered them a $4 an hour job, they would refuse it.
On a similar theme I was reading the book called Oversubscribed this week, on the way to see a client.
In the book the author speaks about how some businesses have so much demand, they can’t keep up with the supply, whereas others struggle.
Few people are amused by those pushy fake Channel bag sellers, and yet from a purely economic point of view, they are offering more value than the real thing as the author points out.
That is because many of these sales people are selling their bags at barely above the production price.
Selling the bags just provides them with a basic living. Besides the bags they are selling aren’t 1/100th of the quality of the real thing.
The problem is that people want what others buy, and not what others are selling.
So luxury brands have created a demand through multibillion Dollar campaigns.
How is this related to investing? Well not only does it show why so many people will buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t even like, rather than investing, but it also shows why bubbles form.
Instead of engaging in long-term investing, so many people can get seduced by the buying habits of others.
The Bitcoin craze has something in common with the Channel bags.  People are drawn in by status, stories and rising prices.
They aren’t drawn to fake luxury bags no matter how rational the purchase is. They aren’t drawn to low-risk long-term investing unless they are guided.
Being a rational consumer isn’t as easy as you think it is. Studies have shown, after all, that only serial killers and economists are truly rational.