There are very few celebrities I feel I can truly count on. Jane Fonda, Adam Sandler, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey, Dwayne the Rock Johnson, and, up until now, Brad Pitt.
If you haven’t seen the images from his latest press tour promoting his new film Bullet Train, you’re in for a disturbance. Brad has decided to suddenly do the most and nobody understands why. (I have a loose theory that he has some of his own money wrapped up in the production and is trying to make sure he recoups that investment). Nevertheless, it’s like someone recently told him he’s “actually really funny” and “not just a pretty face” and is now inflicting that confidence boost on the rest of us. Also, it’s like, you’re Brad Pitt. You really do not need to be working anywhere near this hard to get our attention.
And it’s not just his red-carpet demeanor that feels like some bizarre cry for publicity, it’s also his fashion sense. I fully endorse a man in a skirt, but it continues to shock me how none of them (men) have any degree of taste when it comes to styling this garment. I feel like the root of the problem is that famous straight, cis men still think of wearing a dress or a skirt as a “please clap” outfit. Like they’re so proud of themselves for breaking down the gender binary that they never stop to ask themselves if they look good doing it.
All this to say, whatever trust issues I had pre-Brad-breakdown have now increased tenfold. And this seamlessly brings me to today’s ABC drama (or Netflix doc, I’m not sure where it fits yet).
How to Spot A Scam.
Us cool girls have to look out for each other, and I figured, what better way than to make a cute little questionnaire to spot the warning signs of fraud! Before you give your money to anyone or anything, go through these 7 questions.
- Were you guaranteed a return?
If yes, be sketched.This is like someone promising you that you’ll look good with bangs. You may have a large forehead that would (seemingly) proportionally look better if covered by hair, but no one can know for certain that you don’t have a hidden cowlick that’s about to make your bangs look like a disfigured toupee. Moral of the story: when you buy an investment, there’s no guarantee you’ll make money, and generally, as the return increases, so does your risk of losing money.
- Were you told the investment is low-or no-risk?
If yes, be sketched.This would be the equivalent of someone telling me that orange is my color or Camila Cabello is a good singer – in other words, a bold-faced lie. Sing it with me (and not with Camila), there are no risk-free investments. Risk and return are related. Investments that are low risk also offer lower returns. There is no guarantee that you will get a higher return by accepting more risk.
- Do you feel pressured to invest quickly?
If yes, be sketched.It’s like those couples who get married after 8 months of dating. This always unnerves me. Someone is obviously hiding something and feels they must be legally bound to another before revealing their true self. (Whoever is out there and falls into the camp of people who believe this sort of act of delusion is “true love” and “when you know you know”, I’d like to direct you to Claire Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette).Scammers frequently use high-pressure sales tactics to get your money. If you’re asked to make a decision right away or are presented with a limited time offer (whether it be marriage or investment opportunity), it’s likely not in your best interest.
- Were you offered insider information or a “hot tip”?
If yes, this could actually be illegal.There is no such correlation between “hot” and “finance”, trust me I’ve searched far and wide, the notion of this is entirely hollow. The sources of “hot tips” or “insider information” do not have your interests in mind. Why are you offering me this tip? What do you get out of it? (Cool girls are always on the offense). If the tip is false, you will lose your money. If the tip is true, and it really is insider information about a public company, it would be illegal to act on it.
- Did you check the seller’s registration information and discipline record?(If you didn’t know what this was, me neither).
Before you work with an advisor or dealer, check their registration.
Look here or here if you feel like playing detective for a day.
- How were you approached about this investment?-Online: Been seeing all those Bitcoin-basement fanatics hack your friends’ Instagram accounts lately? Same. Don’t respond to these. And to state the obvious, don’t trust them-By phone: Refer to above. Cool girls ignore people with no Caller ID.
-From a celeb: Depends what celebrity. I’d of course refrain from trusting Brad Pitt’s investment advice for the time being. Do your own research if a celebrity endorsement has really inspired you prior to throwing your hard-earned money at it.
-Through a friend: Just because something is right for them, does not necessarily make it right for you. Shelly may want to experiment with MDMA this weekend. You can still be friends while sticking with your double gin and tonic. Again, refer to above, do your own research – nobody likes a sheep.
-Through your financial advisor: Hallelujah! We’ve landed somewhere that we can mostly trust (presuming you’ve done your due diligence prior to making them your financial advisor). It’s still smart to do some research on their suggestion. Cool girls are, after all, self-sufficient.
- What type of investment is it?-Cryptoasset: The most apt tidbit of advice I have gathered on my financial literacy journey is to not invest in things you don’t understand. And if you say you understand crypto, you’re lying. (I’m kidding, but fraudsters prey on uncertainty so know your sh*t when approached with a crypto investment).-ETF: Exchange-traded funds are a solid, Buffett-approved type of investment. (But remember, cool girls have trust issues, so make sure anyone selling securities is registered with their provincial securities regulator unless they have an exemption).
-Real Estate Investment: Real estate investments go beyond just buying a house. There is a myriad of convoluted ways to involve oneself in real estate such as: real estate investment trusts, mortgage investment corporations and syndicated mortgages. Boring! But nonetheless beware, these transactions can be complicated and cross over many areas of law, (meaning they are attractive to scammers trying to tempt you to “get in” on an investment).
-Offshore Investment: Your instinct is right. This is as sketchy as it sounds. The goal of offshore investments is to avoid or lower your taxes. Avoiding and lowering your taxes (though it sounds dreamy) is called tax avoidance and I’m too lazy to get into it but that’s also as bad as it sounds. The other risk of offshore investments is losing everything and not being able to take your case to civil court in Canada. It’s a true lose-lose.
-Stocks: I’m feeling like a broken record. Invest in stocks, beat inflation, (Do. Your. Due. Diligence).
Let Brad chipping his tooth during his 3-day press conference be a warning sign for all of us to take it slow this week. There really is never a need to rush.