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Hitting The Mark


Money is something you earn through the sweat of your brow (or sitting through endless meetings, conference calls and answering inane emails while wearing uncomfortable clothing) and then you spend.  It’s a river you watch flowing past, occasionally grabbing a scoop or two.  It seems to be a static thing – a dollar is a dollar.  The efforts of investment advisers, brokers and bankers seems somehow wrong, a wrinkle in the fabric of polite society.

Why is this?

John Marks would have the people around the table believe that it’s all about knowledge.  When Sri Francis Bacon quipped that “knowledge is power”, he might have been addressing this effusive Englishman.

“Labour under correct knowledge”, observes John, “That’s the only LUCK you will ever need.”  John’s philosophy is that successful investment is about knowing what’s being sold to you and understanding the fine print.  “Everyone has a level of risk they are comfortable with.  Some people only want an assured return with no risk.  Others will take some of their investment portfolio and play a little.  Putting some money into a high return investment (that’s also high risk) might be good approach for some portion of your portfolio.

John’s 35 years of experience building and running investment companies makes his knowledge flow smoothly and effortlessly.  For some of us, our heads just plain hurt when it comes to thinking about our investments.  Structure instruments, stocks, bonds, tax exposure – all terms that roll over us and we hunker down to weather the storm, looking for relief.

But John has a solution:  “The investment clubs we’re suggesting are just a group of people getting together who want to be better informed about their options.

We’ll bring together experts who can help you learn more about how these financial instruments work.  From there, you decide how you want your money to work.  But you will do it in a social environment where the hard questions can be asked.

John’s model is appealing. Offering his experience and contacts in the financial services industry plus a research department to dig into the details of the alternatives out in the market, he brings together smaller investors and allows them to function as a larger one.  “By pooling resources, we can access instruments not normally available to individuals.  Plus, we can dig into all the fees and commissions to make sure that the maximum return is given to each investor.”  John pauses to reflect a moment.  “At a level of risk each person is comfortable with.”

Mark, an engineer who has been client of John’s for the last eight months, takes a cautious analytical approach to investment:  “It’s a business.  Those offering these investments have to be able to make money.   As an investor, I also want to make money.  The middle man takes a slice for bringing my money and the offered instrument together.  These investment clubs cut out the middle man and help everyone understand where I can make money and where the other guy gets his cut.  I know more so I can make better decisions”.  John has started these clubs in countries across the region, including Turkey, Cyprus and Egypt.  Aimed at expats, these locations have been successful breeding grounds for the concept.  As returns on investments have been battered by financial crises, inflation, oil prices and a plethora of challenges, the Expatriate Investment Club (EPIC) concept is appealing.

“When I suggest any investment to a club group, I will always put my own money into it.”  That brings everyone to a dead stop.  John stands in front of the room as that statement hangs in the air.  “If any of the members have an investment that is working for them, or they think can work, they can bring it to the club and we will research it.  If it’s a good one, I’ll put my money into it”.

John developed this concept by leveraging his years in the financial services industry to maximize his own returns upon retiring at age 45.  “Once you retire, the money is always going down and it’s uncomfortable to realize there’s nothing coming in.  I wanted to change that”.

After moving to Malaysia in 2009, he realized that the MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home) community would also benefit from a transparent investment approach.  “These people have liquidated everything and moved their lives to Malaysia.  They want income generation from that money to support their lifestyle here in Malaysia”.

It all sounds good and Mark is cautiously optimistic.  “The first investment has worked out well.  I understood what was happening and I like being able to take things apart before committing to them”.

John looks to limit each club to around ten investors, since any group larger than that makes it hard for everyone to have a voice.  “Once a group grows that big, it’s time to split it off and create another group”.

It’s certainly a different approach from the normal one on one with a commissioned broker.  John is beginning to build EPIC groups in Malaysia.  If the nodding heads around the table were any indication, one which will meet with an enthusiastic reception.

For more information on EPIC, visit www.expatinvestmentclub.com or phone John on 013-6635415