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Editorial

Investment plans need careful look

We’re lucky to live in an area where bad things don’t often happen. Our sleepy, idyllic, mostly rural corner of New Hampshire seems somehow safe from the problems that are found in the more densely populated areas of the state — and the country, for that matter. It’s an area where many residents feel safe at night with the doors unlocked.

Sure, every once in a while the outside world comes a little closer, and there’s a bank robbery or a jewelry store heist or some other crime we normally only see on TV and in the movies. For the most part, though, we’re insulated from many worries of the world.

But just as idle minds and idle hands can be the devil’s playground, so too can be idle wallets. Worrying about our money being stolen is more often than not the last thing on most of our minds. But have we become so comfortable, so trusting of our little communities and all who are within them that we’ve become naive?

Recent headlines would suggest that we have.

Aaron Olson of Rindge recently pleaded guilty to defrauding friends, neighbors and family of millions of dollars through an illegal investment scheme. Charges have also come forward against Charles and Carolyn Howard of Jaffrey, alleging they operated an investment firm without a license, losing millions for their clients — also friends, neighbors and family. In both cases, it’s alleged that the defendants took advantage of people they knew, people they were close to — the last people who’d suspect they were being duped!

In both cases, there is one constant: The people who lost their money — in some cases, millions of dollars — did so because they trusted their investments to someone they knew and had faith in. While most of us have become wise to the online, phone and snail mail scams being operated, in some cases by people from overseas, we still cling to the confidence we have in our communities, and that’s a good thing.

So what can we take from these investment schemes gone awry? Maybe it’s a signal for us to be more skeptical when it comes to our financial investments — not necessarily our investment in each other per se, but in where we put our money.

And maybe we’re better off doing some digging and fact checking before we invest. How sound is this firm? What’s this person’s track record? Are there any red flags here? Doing one’s due diligence isn’t a sign of disloyalty; it’s just good common sense.

Your due diligence suggestion completely overlooks the first and most important fact to check. Is the investment advisor licensed, and if so, at what level? Neither Olson or the Howard's were licensed to do what they were doing. It was per se illegal. That isn't an allegation. It's a fact, and easy to check. It's also a pretty good indicator that plans may go awry no matter how well known in the community the person may be.

Your due diligence suggestion completely overlooks the first and most important fact to check. Is the investment advisor licensed, and if so, at what level? Neither Olson or the Howard's were licensed to do what they were doing. It was per se illegal. That isn't an allegation. It's a fact, and easy to check. It's also a pretty good indicator that plans may go awry no matter how well known in the community the person may be.

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