Regulations should protect investors, yet offer flexibility

With recent problems some big companies have been facing in fulfilling bond payment commitments, a call for more protection for investors is not surprising ("Regulations should focus on safeguarding investors" by Mr Frankie Mao; Tuesday).

However, risk management is more important than having more regulations.

More regulations could mean the loss of good investment opportunities.

Having more regulations also does not prevent an investor from losing all his money if he wants to take unnecessary risks.

Instead of having more regulations, we should focus on ensuring potential investors get a strong foundation in investment education before taking the plunge.

Instead of just taking advice from our financial advisers, we have to conduct our own research and determine if the product is suitable for us.

Investors should also be mindful that it is not true that established organisations can be too big to fail - the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers is a case in point.

Mr Mao suggested that those who want to invest greater amounts can engage the services of certified investment advisers to guide them.

However, many investors who have bought products which failed bought them through banks, on the advice of investment advisers.

Could it be that both parties had different understanding of the risks involved, or was there mis-selling?

The best safeguard is doing one's homework before investing.

It is also important to first consider how much we are prepared to lose without having the loss affect us financially, before looking at how much profit one can make.

Regulations should be balanced such that they protect investors, yet allow flexibility for one to take more risks when good reward opportunities arise.

Leong Kok Seng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2016, with the headline 'Regulations should protect investors, yet offer flexibility'. Print Edition | Subscribe