FOR anyone playing the markets in Hong Kong, the past few months must have been fraught with frustration and confusion. As if uncertainty and high volatility were not enough, the Government's recent intervention has added another layer of complexity in reading the financial weather forecast. Help may be at hand. United States broker Charles Schwab is to host the first Hong Kong Private Investors Conference at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai on Saturday, September 26. Schwab hopes to emulate the success of its London investor conferences, which have been running for five years. The one-day conference is designed to help educate private investors, providing them with the tools they need to make well-informed investment decisions, says Schwab spokesman Luke Johnstone. 'The message we're trying to get across is that maybe you have speculated in the past . . . and have not done well or you've been hurt recently, so how can you learn from that, how can you turn this situation to your advantage?' he said. For investors who have spent the past 18 months following the advice of financial advisers and have seen their stocks plummet to five-year lows or more, the seminar presents an opportunity to see how the industry is adapting to the financial turmoil of recent months. The event, sponsored by Reuters and supported by the South China Morning Post, will comprise a comprehensive exhibition of investment products and services together with two conference programmes running simultaneously. One stream will be for more experienced investors, while the second will be for investors just starting out on the road of portfolio building. Schwab has assembled a host of expert speakers for both seminar streams. To kick off the seminar for the new investor, Alvin Hall, who has starred in two popular BBC television series, will lay out the first moves in building a balanced portfolio. Other participants include Billy Chan, an investment director at Invesco Asset Management, who will look at Asian equities, and James Hordern, executive director of European equity management for Goldman Sachs Asset Management, who will focus on the European market. Marc Gration, a strategist for BT Funds Management, will look at North American equities, and Rosa Wang, senior portfolio manager for Dresdner RCM Global Investors Asia, will talk on fixed-income instruments. Post columnist Jake van der Kamp will be offering his views on how investors can pick their way through the quagmire of financial information. Templeton Asset Management managing director Mark Mobius, a familiar pate to Hong Kong's investment community, is among the panel for more experienced investors and will look at how Asian countries are adapting to the difficult market conditions, and how investors who adopt a 'buy and hold' strategy can ultimately benefit from the situation. Scobie Ward, one of the founding members of Lloyd George Management, will speak on how to seek out attractive investments in a sea of volatility. Marty Whitman, chairman and chief investment officer of Third Avenue Funds, takes the podium to explore the principles of 'value investing' - an investment approach whereby stocks are sought out on the basis of their fundamental values, rather than according to market trends. Jim Bittman, an instructor with the Options Institute, will talk on strategies for the private investor interested in options trading. There will also be a panel of experts to discuss the development of on-line investment - a subject of particular interest to hosts Schwab. Mr Johnstone was at pains to stress the conference would not be just another platform for participating investment advisers to push their products. 'We do not want a sales pitch,' he said. 'We want the focus on content, on information and not on sales.' Mr Johnstone said the aim of the conference was to equip investors 'with the tools that are right for them'. 'A bad investment isn't good for Schwab, either.'