How to repel the trickster
I hope you enjoyed my recent book Why do leaders in the world read books while walking?
The bottom line of the book is that physical exercise improves brain function. As the population of Japan ages rapidly, it is essential for people to continue working later in life and in order to do so, we need to keep both our mind and body in good shape.
Of course, there are cases when those already engaged in a lot physical activity should have brains which are in top shape but turn out not to be. For example, renowned former pro baseball player Tomonori Kanemoto was cheated out of a lot of money, around US$ 8 million, after falling victim to a fraud. This has become one of the worst cases of fraud among professional athletes in Japan in terms of the amount of damage.
I think this happened because in my experience,professional athletes tend to have limited financial literacy compared to the money they earn. When someone rises to fame and financial success quickly, con men suddenly appears from thin air disguised in the mask of a kind businessman. I know of other cases where professional baseball players similarly were cheated out of substantial amounts of money.
In addition to sports stars, I think about the cases of such world famous artist as Michel Jackson and Whitney Huston who have also faced financial dire straits just before their passing. These cases may resonate with readers of this column I image you all to be successful people.
The subject of financial investing is hot again in Japan, even among those who were cool to the subject, since Abenomics was introduced, leading to an increase is stock prices of 30-40%. When an investment boom comes along after a long period of financial decline, fraudulent financial products and dishonest investment schemes often follows, as people tend to be blind to risks.
I strongly believe in the importance of investment. It is a vital activity to improve the value of society through business growth and technological developments. As Japanese people saved rather than invested, a lot of money was left sleeping in the safes of banks that was then put into Japanese Government Bond. This damaged the Japanese government’s fiscal discipline badly.
In going back to investing at an individual level.You have to have a minimum level of financial literacy when you invest. Although we have strong laws to punish people who cheat honest citizens out of their money, swindlers are continually improving their technique. We have limited opportunity to learn about financial literacy in our school, therefore people tend to go the extremes of saving their money in cash deposits only or buying risky investments which promise high returns without enough consideration. Many Japanese senior citizens have become victims of Oreore schemes, a type of fraud involving phone calls pretending distress on the part of a loved one.
Beginning with this edition, I will try to write about how we can protect ourselves and find the opportunities in a rapidly aging society. Japan has the opportunity to develop an innovative concept to take advantage of its rapidly aging society to make a joyful and safe society, and in so doing can be a good model for other countries as they too age over the course of the century.
I conclude this time by sharing the trick to protect yourself from the swindler’s sweet talk. If they offer you a financial product or investment scheme that looks too attractive, ask them “Do you also invest in this as much money as you suggest that I do? And can you show me proof of your investments?” Most of con men have trouble responding to this question. If you cannot be sure whether they invest in their products or schemes themselves, then just say “thanks, and good bye” to them.