Magazine article The Spectator

A Win-Win Proposition, but Not for the Punters

Magazine article The Spectator

A Win-Win Proposition, but Not for the Punters

Article excerpt

'What percentage of ten trillion pounds do you need to be happy?' asks the young Australian called Jonathan who is instructing the 'free' Win Investing seminar I'm attending. You may have heard Win Investing's irritating ads on Classic FM, pressing you to attend one of about 18 free sessions a week available in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and London. You're promised that by spending two and a half hours with a tutor like Jonathan, you'll learn the secrets of trading the £1 trillion UK and £9 trillion US stock markets. Jonathan reminisces back to when he was in the very place we're sitting four years ago -- he was on his way to an interview with Morgan Stanley when he stumbled across this tutorial and never looked back. He doesn't actually say how rich the stock market has made him, but we infer from the slick black suit and offhand remarks about the three companies he now runs that we're in the hands of a Win Investing success story.

It becomes clear almost immediately, however, that the free seminar is not going to reveal any hot tips. Rather, it is 190 minutes of heavy sell to get me and 25 other participants to part with £3,100 (or sign up today at the wildly discounted price of £1,970) for the privilege of going on a threeday course where we'll really learn the elusive secrets of the stock market. If you want to 'work less, retire sooner and improve your lifestyle', we're told, you must 'invest in yourselves' -- starting by handing over several grand to Win Investing.

Jonathan keeps his promise of imparting some kind of market knowledge with a rattling tour from 'what is a share?' to the slightly more complex concept of writing covered calls options. He tells us that compound interest is the key to long-term wealth: one penny compounded at a daily rate of 1,000 per cent for 35 days would give you £339,456,652.80, for example. The precise trade that might give us this enviable return from the change down the back of the sofa is left tantalisingly out of reach.

Instead, we're offered five steps to making money from the market: understand where you are in the economic cycle, choose quality companies, know when to buy and when to sell through technical indicators and chart patterns, test and improve your strategies and 'have a psychology of abundance'. We're not told where we are in the cycle or how to choose these companies -- only that we'll learn the specifics in the full course. But we are shown the delights of the ten- and 20-day moving average and a chart movement called a double bottom. A slide with Fibonacci retracements, doji candles and pipe bottoms is dangled before us, then whipped away. We'll see it again, when we're £2,000 poorer, on day two of the full course.

With resonant phrases such as 'get probability building in your favour' (how, exactly? ) and 'if you lose money you can get it back, but you can never get time back', the Australian has started to reel in a few fish.

A man sitting in front of me starts to nod vigorously when we're asked, 'Who could use £30,000 to get out of a negative situation?' His girlfriend looks less persuaded;

perhaps she's the negative situation.

Why, I wonder, is hot-shot Jonathan bothering to spend time with our rag-tag group?

Simple: because 'I get paid like a rock star to be here' by 'my very good friend' Darren Winters -- millionaire founder of Win Investing. …

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