Many investors do not know where their money is 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' The words of Jesus that appear in Luke 23:34 could be applied to the majority of Hong Kong's retail investors. In the most comprehensive general public survey carried out by the Securities and Futures Commission, the watchdog has concluded that two-thirds of the city's retail investors knew very little about what they were putting their money in. Mind you, the same could probably be said of many institutional investors these days. The survey also found that most of the 1,502 regular punters interviewed expected a level of return that was disproportionate to the level of risk they were willing to accept. For example, 54 per cent considered bonds as having the lowest perceived risks among eight types of investment products, including bank deposits (47.9 per cent). It should be pointed out that the survey was done in the summer before the Lehman Brothers minibonds fiasco hit the headlines. In view of the survey's scary conclusions, the SFC is employing a 'back to basics' strategy of distributing calendar cards depicting the 'Five Elements' essential to making investment decisions. They are: 1. Why am I investing? 2. What product meets my needs? 3. Do I understand the product? 4. What is my maximum loss? 5. How can I get my money back? We doubt this will do the trick, but still urge the regulator to put a few cards aside for those tycoons who have been caught up in accumulators. Investing made easy With a perfect sense of timing in view of the SFC survey, Standard Chartered has come out with a user-friendly shareholder guide on this month's HK$20.67 billion rights issue. The 24-page document includes a comprehensive list of questions and answers about the issue, a section on dealing terms and conditions, instructions on how to fill in the forms and rounds off with a checklist and timetable. That just leaves the 112-page prospectus to wade through. Solid as a BRIC In a bid to stop investors running for cover, HSBC has come up with some research to show why BRIC funds are still a good idea. The bank says the Brazil, Russia, India, China emerging markets have produced an average annual return of 8.6 per cent (Russia at the top with 22.5 per cent and China at the bottom with 4.2 per cent) over the past 10 years. But it goes on to point out that if investors missed out on the 10 best performing days during that period then the average drops to 2.2 per cent, with China showing a negative 5.9 per cent return. We're not quite sure what that proves, but as HSBC is the world's largest emerging markets asset manager with US$86 billion as of June, we're not surprised the bank is encouraging investors to take a long-term view while volatility levels are at an all-time high. For one dollar more The one dollar craze is spreading. Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades got the campaign going with restaurants, food stores and karaoke establishments offering selected dishes, goods and sessions at selected times for HK$1 to get people spending again. Now Sun Hung Kai Properties has launched a 'Super Monday' campaign at its East Point City mall in Tseung Kwan O where shoppers who spend HK$100 become eligible for a Christmas food bag worth HK$100 for just one dollar more. AIG chief executive Edward Liddy didn't know what he was starting when he offered to take US$1 as his salary for the next two years. Mining camp fare Workers at Fortescue Metals Group in Australia have found that there really is no such thing as a free lunch. The iron ore exporter has cancelled free lunches for about 300 workers at its head office in Perth after an 81 per cent slump in the company's market value since May due to the collapse of commodity prices worldwide. The company is now charging A$5 (HK$25) for pasta, rice and toasted sandwich meals, which it says are meant to resemble the fare served up at a typical mining camp. Bush tucker has certainly changed.