Posted at request of Richard Woo
Firstly, it is heartening to note that Dr Lan is cognizant, from her own experience [she “talked to some of them on many previous occasions”], that “quite a number” of the financial managers [RMs?] had no understanding of the products they were selling. A good start for you, Dr Lan.
But we do not know how many RMs she had spoken to, on those “many previous occasions”, and whether they were the same persons or different persons. “Some” here can mean two or three only and if Dr Lan had spoken to only two or three people, it would not be accurate to say “quite a number of them did not even understand…” Furthermore, an extrapolation from the past may not be an accurate reflection of the present; the ones she spoke to may not be the ones who are doing the selling today; the latter may be more knowledgeable or better educated.
Secondly, Dr Lan commented: “Although I understand that many of these financial managers are required to go through related financial courses and tests (and that these tests are not necessary easy to clear), the fact that there can be so many alleged mis-selling incidents may indicate that some of these people themselves might not have been adequately trained.” There is no question that mis-selling has occurred, with regard to the so-called structured products linked to Lehman Brothers. Would Dr Lan agree with this statement, taking into account that several distributors have begun making restitution for having mis-sold?
Would Dr Lan also agree that when these products were being flogged to the public, the distributors made no distinction as to whom the products should be sold? In other words they were selling to every Tan, Lim and Chua, male or female, elderly or young, educated or illiterate? Would she agree that some of the sales measures, including promotion advertising material, adopted by some, if not all, distributors were clearly out of sync with the inherent risks of the products? Would she agree that these products were high-risk investments?
I refer now to the last paragraph of Dr Lan’s clarification: “Under these circumstances, the normal investors who are supposed to be savvy and understood the products they bought cannot complain subsequently when the products turn bad. In Lehman's case, actually many might know about the risk (i.e. they may stand to lose all if the banks collapse), but who would have heard of 6 months ago that any American bank, esp. one as strong as 158-year old Lehman, would go into liquidation? This is generally the worst risk -- almost like an unthinkable apocalypse -- and in this case, it materialized. So barring all the talks about misselling etc., people who knew the risk but just thought that it would never materialized cannot complain.”
The last sentence seems to be the lynchpin of the entire paragraph. So, am I right in saying that Dr Lan is not excluding the right of “normal investors” to seek restitution for mis-selling, provided they can prove that they had been mis-sold, through misleading adverts and other misrepresentations made by the RM? Would Dr Lan discount the possibility that any distributor having mis-sold to A could also have mis-sold to B, or X or Y?
Finally, Dr Lan,  how do you define “normal investors”? and  whether there is anything in law that distinguishes “normal investors” from other investors?
BTW, to all those who have mistakenly assumed Dr Lan as a male, Dr Lan is a “she”.
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