I overheard a mother saying this to her very pregnant 30 something daughter in the vegetable aisle at the local Spar yesterday and it prompted me to write this little article, “Audrey, you must ask Uncle Boentjie where he put his money man! I mean they go to Knysna every holiday and we still only camp at Soetwater. They so well off, I mean Aunty Valerie hasn’t worked a day in her life cos I think they bought that casino shares. Maybe you must get some too!” – Sound Familiar?

Well, we all have an Uncle Boentjie from Wisdom Street, Knowledgeville. He may have had a margin of success with those shares he bought in 1993 and consequently, he bought his time share in Pine Lake Marina with these funds. Uncle Boentjie still goes there every single December holiday only because he now can’t sell his time share, whilst everybody else is enjoying different holiday locations locally and all over the world. Uncle Boentjie is normally a very wise man on so many levels and is also extremely likable, humorous and widely respected.

Thing is, he only told you some of his story and gave you the perception that he made his money from shares. What you didn’t know was that he inherited some money from his Aunty Carmelita Compassionate from Siestog City (there next to Belhar) and he also did not tell you that he won R29 000 on “Place Accumulator” at Kenilworth Race Course in 1997 before he got converted, stopped gambling and became a deacon in the church opposite the bubby shop in Belgravia Road, Crawford. Frankly, Uncle Boentjie knows all about marriage, divorce and how to run his hardware store successfully and can quote scripture and poems on the fly but he is simply NOT qualified to advise you on your investment options, retirement planning or estate.

I’m not disputing that some people made good money from various investments, hot tips on money-making schemes and with loads of fingers crossed and a great deal of luck prior to the implementation of financial legislation that has been taking place since the early 2000s and has largely shaped how we do business today. I also accept that financial advice was not always available to the less fortunate, mostly people of colour and those living in rural and township environments.

The invention of the internet and the fact that advice is readily available from professionals everywhere, has changed this yet we still see many people bowing to family intimidation and often losing their hard-earned cash. This is still happening daily where people take advice from unqualified friends and family members partly because of the fear of not being accepted, appearing to be disrespectful to their elders and partly because they don’t know any better. Unfortunately, the consequences of this is that you will end up in tears with poor investment returns and sometimes complete investment losses plus the little issue of a very strained family or friend relationship.

So, what are the right steps? First, Be your own financial advisor if you have the nerve and knowledge for it. If you understand your own risk profile and have the time to educate yourself adequately on an ongoing basis to make informed decisions regarding markets, asset classes and taxation then listen to ongoing podcasts and read articles about market shifts and trends, it can be extremely exciting.

Robotic advisors are on the rise in Europe and America but have an unproven track record on more complex investments like retirement and estate planning.

Crypto currency will be regulated shortly which should see more stability in this sector as it has had bad publicity in the past. It has taken heavy pounding following massive losses by a flurry of new entrants which did this type of investment no favours, coupled with many social media companies banning crypto currency advertising campaigns. Once regulated, I do see this online investment as finding its feet, especially for the younger market.

For now, I do believe the human financial advisor has a place on condition you do a bit of research and find the correct match for yourself. There are some important points when choosing a financial advisor. Ask Uncle Boentjie if he has any recommendations of a financial advisor that is qualified (again, no advice is to be taken directly from Uncle Boentjie). Check out your recommended financial advisor on the FSB (Financial Services Board) website to see if he or she is registered. All you need is his or her full names and ID number. You need to connect with your advisor as a human being – feel comfortable.

Your advisor needs to speak a language you understand – unexplained strange financial terms that makes him or her sound intelligent impresses nobody except him or herself – don’t be intimidated or impressed by fancy words. It’s your money and you may need to invest for several years to experience the beauty of compound interest so that you can achieve your targeted growth. This will be a long-term relationship, so do not be afraid to ask questions at the outset of your relationship – if you feel stupid asking questions, you have the wrong advisor.

Ask your advisor where his or her own money is invested and why. Transparency and costs are very important – this needs to be visible and declared in your quote and policy document.

Fund fact sheets presented to you by your advisor are simply how specific funds have performed in the past and are not an accurate indication of how funds will necessarily perform in the future. If your advisor uses abbreviations that your do not understand – RUN!

So, Uncle Boentjie needs to be respected, loved and even adored. Whilst you no longer listen to his financial advice, you will always enjoy making him that cup of tea as he painstakingly explains to you how much smaller samosas are nowadays.

Last tip: It is recommended that you save 10% of your after tax income over the medium term (5 x years) to enjoy goals set pre-retirement and a minimum of 7,5% of your after tax income for retirement regardless of who you are.

Send your financial or investment questions to The Journalist at info@thejournalist.org.za and we will ASK ALRICK to reply.