I often write on Quora.com, where I am the most viewed writer on financial matters, with over 255.9 million views in recent years.
In the answers below I focused on the following topics and issues
- Do you have any financial advice that isn’t talked about enough?
- How can millionaires get a visa to live in Japan?
- Is the capitalistic system rigged?
- Why might the US, against all odds, still be the number one country in the world by 2050 or 2100? As a Brit, I look at the evidence as to some of the reasons why America might remain number one.
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It is a difficult question, because in this day and age, almost everything is talked about.
If you forced me to speak about financial tips which aren’t commonly mentioned, I would say:
- Take bigger risks when you are young. Many people speak about taking calculated risks, or investing when you are young due to compounding. What few speak about is that when you are 21, 25 or even 27, you can take more risks than when you are in your 30s, 40s, or 50s, without having to suffer as many negatives if it doesn’t work out. If you fail at something, and your CV doesn’t look great, plenty of people will still give you a shot at a job. In comparison, if you are 35 and have only failed, it is most likely your employment chances are slim if you want a good job, and you will need to start your own business or side hustle to make it big.
- Get paid on performance. And not your time, unless you are very highly paid or highly skilled. If you need the money, take a lower base salary in return for more performance-related pay. This doesn’t work in every industry, but can in plenty of them
- You don’t always need an emergency cash surplus.This standard financial advice was very important in the days of old school, and inflexible pensions. It can still be good to have some cash aside. I have given this suggestion before. Yet I have learned something. A younger person who builds up that surplus is more likely to give into temptation and go on holiday or buy a car. So, for people who struggle to save and invest, it is often just better to start investing small amounts now, rather than waiting forever to build up the surplus.
4. Break industry norms. If you do what everybody else does, you are travelling on the most competitor road. Do things differently. If you also play the numbers game and try out many “abnormal” ideas long-term, you stand a better chance of making it in business. Abnormal ideas + persistence + the numbers game when it comes to trying out many of those ideas = a winning combination for many. Ask yourself questions like “what aren’t my competitors doing?” What does everybody else think can’t work, but I secretly do?
5. Focus on your spending and investment habits. And not just your income. Also focus on net income and living costs. Many people, especially expats, just think about gross money, and don’t bother to work out what they can save adjusted for cost of living, taxes etc.
6. Focus on what can my money earn me long-term. And not just what can my money buy me.
7. Take advantage of luck. Everybody gets some good, and bad luck. Inheritances are getting bigger so more people will get big sums. Reinvest it. That is one example of many I could have made. The opposite is becoming complacent when luck strikes. This often happens when people succeed in business, partly due to luck, and they assume it is all their genius.
8. Have a positive attitude to money. Stereotyping all wealthy people negatively doesn’t make sense.
9. Emigrate. At least once in your life. A lot is spoken about reading and its importance which I support. Yet if you gain many experiences in contrasting cultures (including business cultures), then it can be beneficial for your growth.
10. Surround yourself with better people. Get rid of toxic people. As a follow-up to the last point, if you are in tech, emigrating to Silicon Valley or even Shenzhen would be better than a small town somewhere. It will force you to raise your game.
There are numerous ways to emigrate to any country. They include ways which aren’t linked to money.
For example, marriage, getting a job with a local firm and they sponsor your work permit or getting transferred to another country.
The latter is usually common for expats who work at MNCs who have offices back home and in Japan.
For instance, firms like Apple, Coca Cola, Nike and many others we could think about.
However, considering how you have asked the question, I presume you are implying you want to buy residency.
Most countries do have residency via investment programs, and sometimes citizenship too.
There are a number of options here
- Investor/Business Manager Visa. This visa is for business owners who invest in a business in Japan, or in some cases take a leadership role. The cost of this is to invest 5,000,000 yen (about $50,000). However, the bigger the investment, means the higher chance you will get the visa to begin with.
- Student visa. Of course, if you want to use money to get into Japan or another country, you can apply to study Japanese or do a Masters’ program, even if you don’t really care that much about studying.
Remember with Covid it might be difficult to get in for a year or so.
At the least you might need to take tests and self-isolate for a few weeks.
As far as I am aware (I could be wrong), Japan doesn’t allow you to invest in real estate or government bonds and get a visa that way.
Many countries do, however, so if you are open about other countries, you could consider this route.
The advantage of this option is that assuming your investment does OK, you haven’t actually spent out of pocket.
You could even make a profit on the investment by residency scheme if the asset matches inflation in terms of growth or better.
Nobody can predict the future. If you had tried to predict the future in 1950 or 1970, you wouldn’t have believed what we have today.
Hardly anybody thought the USSR would collapse without a bullet being fired, or that China, Vietnam and other formerly communist countries would go in a capitalistic direction despite the same party reaming in power.
Most people thought the Japanese would be the biggest in the world by 2000 as the start of this documentary shows:
In more recent times, as recently as 2010, almost everybody thought all the BRICS would do well – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Ten or eleven years on, few want to speak about the B, R and S. They have grown less slowly than plenty of developed countries.
At a similar point people were very pessimistic about the PIGS – Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain and sometimes Ireland was used for the I.
Yet in the last decade, Ireland has been one of the best performing economies in the world, and Spain + Portugal have done better than a few of those BRIC countries.
Most people seemed to think the USD was losing predominance to the Euro in the 2005–2007 period as well and its status as the reserve currency would be threatened by an EU which would soon have a higher GDP than the US.
Nevertheless, if you were to forced me to take a guess, I do think the US will still be the Number 1 power by 2050 or 2100, or will at least be joint first.
The main reasons are
- There isn’t an obvious alternative. The EU seems less likely to become one country now, the growth is below the US’ and total output has fallen as the UK has left. At one stage the EU overtook the US in terms of GDP, mainly because of expansion. Now it has a GDP of about $18.292 trillion vs 21.43 trillion for the US, with slower expected average growth. China’s population is now officially falling. The growth with the US is converging as well. Before 2008, it could grow by up to 15%, with the US only increasing by 3%-4% per year maximum. Now the US could grow more quickly than China this year, and even if it doesn’t, growth rates are set to coverage by the mid 2030s anyway as this article makes clear. By the 2040s and 2050s, there is a reasonable chance the US will outgrow China consistently due to the demographic and other issues. So, even if China briefly overtakes, I don’t think it will last. India probably has the best chance despite all its issues, but not by 2050. 2100 is more likely.
2. Consensus/the Buffett rule. Buffett has a rule for investing. When there are too many people on one side of the argument, then it isn’t a god investment. I find the same thing is true in other aspects of life. When there is a cosy consensus, like when 85%+ of people believe something will happen, it usually doesn’t.
3. It isn’t just about GDP. The US won’t lose the USD, alliance and other benefits unless another country easily overtakes it.
As mentioned before, this cosy consensus existed about Japan in the 1980s, the BRICs, PIGS and many other issues.
Therefore, the most likely time the US will probably lose its pre-eminence is when people are complacent, if China, India and some other places slow down as expected.
In any case, nobody knows in advance. If they could be known, economists would be the richest people on earth.
I am sure in a few decades time, some things will happen that nobody expected to.
In general, it isn’t in most countries, and thinking it does makes people anti-capitalist, which is silly.
There are some issues and ways that financial institutions can help themselves. For example, the big banks are some of the worst players when it comes to protecting their own position.
It is common for banks to call customer “for security” just as they are transferring money to another financial institution.
Deep down, in 90% of these occasions, they just want to keep the money. I have lost count of the number of people I know who engage in “high-risk” transactions like gambling but the banks don’t question it……until they try to move money to an investment company or a competitor!
One of the most blatant attempts I have seen in the last year was an associate of mine getting a call about investments from the bank. This was just one hour after the security team claimed they were calling to make sure the investment he was making (with a competitor firm) was legitimate!
So, there are legal forms of corruption, but usually it isn’t a whole rigged system.
It is usually also the big boys who are the least transparent and trustworthy which is the opposite of what some people assume.
After 2008–2009 there was a backlash against the big banks, but it has calmed down.
But these kinds of things tend to be at the institutional level and not for individuals.
For example, if you are a high-net-worth person ($1m in investable assets), ultra high-net-worth ($30m) or a politically exposed person (PEP), your life will be more difficult in terms of compliance questions.
If you are a multi-national corporation that is a different matter.
Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?
Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 255.9 million answers views on Quora.com and a widely sold book on Amazon
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