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Our 9 most talked-about [perhaps slightly controversial] blogs in 2019

By Sam Instone - December 19, 2019


That's how many blogs our team have given you this year.

They've covered everything from the markets to investment behaviour...

Economic and political events to longevity risk...

Lottery winners to huge financial loss...

And more.

Some got you talking more than others.

Here are nine of them.

The AES blog has always been about investor education.

Telling stories that need to be told.

And highlighting lessons that need to be learned.

Sometimes the ‘uncomfortable truth’ is exactly that - ‘uncomfortable’.

Sometimes it stirs debate.

Other times it causes controversy.

As long as the right information makes it to the right audience that's all that matters.

I'm thrilled to see thousands more subscribers join us this year...

Who are all interested in living their best version of themselves.

Being healthy, wealthy and wise.

And making decisions with clarity, confidence and control.

Thank you for your interest.

And thank you as well to those who sent through burning questions or asked for help.

Please keep them coming, we love hearing from you.

Without further ado...

Here's the list I promised.

Starting with our most controversial...


1. No, structured products are NOT a good idea and yet expat investors are still being sold them 

As an investor and a financial planner, I am aware of the market's volatility and how investors may lean towards "safer" products.

Products that "guarantee" better returns and will protect them when the markets are down.

Structured products seem to offer the best of both worlds...

Further promoted and pushed by those selling them like the relationship manager at your bank, for example.

My stance frequently riles up investors and financial advisers who "firmly believe" in their benefits.

Case in point - this comment on LinkedIn.


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Others, however, agreed with our findings.


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Regardless of which side of the fence you're on...

I'd love to hear your feedback.


2. 7 alarming things you must know before hiring a financial planner (#3 will blow your mind!) 

Financial planning is a lifelong commitment.

You need to make sure you partner with someone who has your best interests at heart.

With so much at stake, you cannot leave your ideal future in the wrong hands.

After all, entire life savings have been lost to the wrong adviser.

Often due to advisers not having their clients' best interests at heart.

And that's only the beginning...

There are hidden commissions, numerous misleading titles advisers go by and other tactics you need to watch out for.

We had great feedback on this post written by Stuart Ritchie.

In fact, a client strategist commented:


LI 7 alarming things comment (1)

If you are seeking financial advice or doubting the advice you've received, please give this a read.

I promise it will provide you with invaluable information that could make the world of difference to your financial future.


3. The financial mistakes that ruined millions of futures

I've worked in financial planning for over 15 years.

I've seen both sides of the wealth spectrum.

People who've made fantastic financial decisions and reaped the rewards for many happy years...

And those who unfortunately made costly mistakes.

I always believe in learning from others.

This post helps put things into perspective.

One pensions expert agreed with our findings and offered his opinion regarding Brexit and UK investors.


financial mistakes LI comment blurred

Safe to say many of our UK clients have been feeling a little uneasy about the political situation this year.

Some have gone so far as to question whether they should put their investments on hold until they know the final Brexit outcome.

That would be a mistake.

Find out why...


4. How one oil and gas professional lost £210,000 to a sales tactic now banned in the UK

I received a lot of private messages on this one.

Many readers thought it was fictional because of the substantial loss.

It's incomprehensible but true.

Pete, an oil and gas professional in Baku, wanted to retire in Cyprus.

He had a huge pension from an entire career at BP.

Someone contacted him and flew out to Baku to explain the benefits of a pension transfer over a few beers.

(If you read our blogs, you know this should have set off a few alarms) …

Afterwards, Pete asked for a second opinion.

He was told the recommended solution wasn’t only dire but criminal in the UK.

Did he take our advice?

Read the full case study here.

I guarantee you'll be surprised by the ending.

In response to the blog, one reader shared a similar experience of his own.

These stories are all too common, so please know which signs to look out for.


oil and gas blog comment (1)


5. The fall of the ‘Woodford’ fund – and what it means for your money

Neil Woodford was one of Britain’s brightest investing stars...

A stock picker with a fantastic track record and the closest thing to a household name in investing.

Back in June, Woodford’s Equity Income fund was closed to withdrawals.

The goal was to sell off the least liquid parts, and re-open at a later date.

But in October, the decision was made to shut the fund down permanently.

Most investors will not get any money back until mid-January.

(At the earliest.)

Despite the mounting evidence proving active investing to be a futile investment approach (not to mention expensive)...

There are still some who continue to believe in it.

Like this person who commented on the blog.


woodford blog comment (1)


6. This UAE-based lawyer lost 11% of his £600,000 investment to hidden commissions – here’s how

Our client, Andrew, moved to Dubai from London in 2016.

His company set him and his family up handsomely.

With more disposable income, he hoped to invest more and possibly retire early to spend time with his family.

Unfortunately, that dream wouldn't materialise as he was encouraged to invest in the wrong products by a salesperson.

And lost an astounding £66,000 the day he signed.

That was just the beginning of his nightmare.

After posting this on LinkedIn, comments came flooding in.

People felt very sorry for Andrew.

Others offered interesting perspectives into the way traditional financial services are set up, like this one:


66,000 blog comment (1)


7. Got your eye on property? Stop and read this before you even think about signing on that dotted line

Being British, I was born with a property-fetish gene.

I live in Dubai – an equally ‘bricks and mortar’ obsessed market where fortunes are made and lost within ‘real estate’.

This is because houses are economically significant and the cause of a great deal of insecurity.

As part of a balanced portfolio, property makes perfect sense.

But does our emotional love of property cloud our judgement when we think about it as an investment?

This blog provides the answers.

And some interesting perspectives too.


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property blog LI comment 2

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8. How two lawyers, currently earning $500,000, admit they struggle to make ends meet (case study plus our thoughts)

$500,000 (around AED 1.8 million) a year is an enviable salary.

It's 14 times the UK average. 

Yet, still not enough for one couple to pay their bills.

Viewing their expenses in black and white…

Their lifestyle becomes even more apparent…

A quick summary shows, they:

  • Own two relatively high-end cars and a $1.5M home
  • Spend $42,000 on child care.
  • Take three $6,000 vacations per year
  • Spend $1,000 per month on their kids’ sports and music lessons

Commendably, they also make large donations to charity.

The problem is not necessarily the types of purchases they make…

(After all their salaries can afford them)…

It’s the aggregate impact of all their expenses.

The blog outlines how much they have left over after all their expenses are paid.

But is it enough to put away towards their futures?

Or, is there a better way they can work with their money?

Here's one reader's thoughts...

500,000 blog comment (1)

9. 5 harsh truths about your expat lifestyle that are standing in the way of your future

49% of expats in the UAE save 5% or less of their salaries.

Only 16% have set retirement planning as a financial priority.

This is not unique to the UAE only.

Expats around the world are finding that despite higher salaries...

It's becoming harder to put their hard-earned money away.

As an expat, you probably left your home country to earn more money, have a better standard of living, experience a new culture and achieve your financial goals.

But most things come at a price and many of us end up spending more money than we would 'back home'.

I sense you may be nodding your head in agreement.

In this blog we look at where your money is going and why.

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So there you have it.

Our top 9 most talked-about blogs for 2019.

What a year!

Thank you for your continued support and for looking to us to help answer the questions keeping you up at night.

As always, we love hearing from you.

If you have any feedback or comments, please leave them below.

And if you're travelling and spending time with loved ones, this festive season...

Enjoy every moment and see you in 2020!

Avoid future surprises, private bank reviews - Sam