Why you need to be wary of TIPSTERS

Advisory Services

Many years ago, before mobile phones were invented, I had a broker. It was in the days when you walked into his den and chatted face-to-face. The one recommendation that still sticks in my mind was to buy Ferranti shares. The timing was amazing - they went bust only a few short months after the recommendation. I had held on all the way down because of my trust in my broker who drove a very nice car so must have been good at what he did.

Watching for the next pigeon

These days you don't need to leave the comfort of your lap-top or mobile phone to get advice from a broker but I suspect the quality of the advice will not have improved. Now I do my own research into shares and suggest you either do likewise or get your stock market exposure in the form of an index tracker.

Sadly, advisory services do not come with the wealth warning they merit!

Papers and Tipsheets aren't much better too!!

Talking of papers take your pick of the business headlines about Marks and Spencers. I've had a few e-mails reckoning I was crazy to be short of Marks and Spencers and who knows they might be right.

Anyway the Times reckoned: 'Marks and Spencers reveals Xmas Blues' The Telegraph - 'Analysts to cut Marks and Spencers forecasts amid sales fears.' And now the Mail: 'Marks and Spencers on track to burst through billion pound profits after a robust Xmas performance'.

Well, there you are - take your pick. I reckon they probably did OK but the outlook won't be too hot. Just got to decide whether to stick to the short that is yielding a nice profit now.

Recently I read an interesting article in The Guardian - according to a study by academics investment newsletter tipsheets and magazines don't fare well when put under the microscope. Professional analysts too weren't much cop.

A profits warning on Northern Rock brought out loads of buy recommendations from people like Goldman Sachs and Standard and Poor's (when the shares were trading in the 800s!).

Why do people bother with share tips? Apparently investors seem to think experts have a crystal ball.

The best analysis on this comes from Professor Scott Armstrong who reckons people buy tips because the client is not interested in accuracy but avoiding responsibility. The client basically wants to blame someone else for their shortcomings and lack of their own research.

Sounds about right! Investors should always do their own research and not blindly follow others. People are lazy I guess.

Good luck whichever path you decide to walk but please beware - no-one else will look after your cash as diligently as yourself!

Unlearning to Learn!

Here's a quick bit of advice before you invest any of your hard earned in training courses or flashy pieces of software. Sometimes we have to 'unlearn' things to grasp new concepts. For instance psychologically we often base our decision making processes, in terms of buying courses/software, in just the same way that we would if we were going to buy a new washing machine or a car. Basically life teaches you things and over the course of time you 'train' yourself to react in a certain manner. In this instance your belief might be that if you PAY money for something you will be much more successful - this is not a given with trading - so take this onboard first.

Once you've browsed through this site you can open a 'learners' account with a spreadbetting firm (for instance Capital Spreads offer a good simulator account) where you'll be able to place real trades for real money but with low stakes. Start by trading what you see. Keep a personal diary noting down why you are taking trades and also note the mistakes and success that you feel you make. Also note emotions. Do this for a few months. Once you've done that start to review more closely what you're doing. The chances are you would have lost some money and it will hurt but at least you'll have something to look at and learn from. These months of experience will be worth far more than any trading course you can buy as it will teach you about yourself and how you react during the pressures of failure and the joys of success.

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