On a serendipitous day, Tom Richardson is leaving the building

A final article for The Motley Fool, including a couple of lessons learned over the years…

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Hello Fools,

A final article to let you know that after six years I will no longer work as an editor and writer for The Motley Fool Australia. I am off to join The Australian Financial Review as a reporter.

Many thanks goes to The Motley Fool and its full-time team for giving me the opportunity to write, edit, and work with a large team of talented freelancers over the years.

In particular I’d like to acknowledge former colleague and writer, Mike King, who passed away from melanoma on January 8 2018. Mike was a kind man, great writer, investor, and mentor to me. 

Over the years I hopefully met the Foolish mission to ‘educate, enrich, and amuse’. While providing readers some good investment ideas. 

Record highs

It’s also rather serendipitous that I leave with local and global share markets hitting record highs today.

As we know one consistent message The Motley Fool preaches is for individual investors to buy high-quality companies for the long term.

Time really is your biggest advantage in the share market, so the earlier you start the better. 

The internet and technology also means new and older investors now have a level playing field versus professional investors.

A new investor can now buy an index-tracking fund on a low-fee basis, while experienced investors can access all the data they need to make their own investment decisions on a low-cost basis. 

Lessons learned

The local share market remains lightly regulated though and there are plenty of unscrupulous listed operators using it as a vehicle to fleece investors.

So I’d advise against speculating on ‘penny stocks’ or the hundreds of companies with no sales or commercial products. As this kind of speculating will almost always end in capital losses.

Share markets exist for two principle reasons.

First, so investors can buy and sell shares.

And second so companies can raise capital from investors. Remember companies are always going to sell the sexiest stories possible to raise and spend capital. 

‘Stock promotes’ or ‘stock pumps’ are the oldest trick in the share market book that have fleeced speculators for hundreds of years. They play on greed, laziness, and those wet behind the ears.

They also have regulatory cover as there’s nothing to stop ‘a company’ promising the world, but delivering nothing. 

Moreover, there’s no recourse in the share market for getting sucked into ‘stock promotes’ as the principle of caveat emptor has existed for thousands of years. 

Good times

But why get sucked into penny stocks when you could buy terrific businesses changing the world?

After all it might be a happy coincidence that share markets are at record highs on my last day. But it’s no real world coincidence.

Over time share markets always print record highs on the back of global growth.

Thankfully, it’s now easier than ever to grow your wealth on the back of this happy habit. So please, do take advantage. 

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