THE BLOG

True Investment Anecdotes

06/03/2013 18:18 GMT | Updated 05/05/2013 10:12 BST

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide investment advice; just entertainment. Every investment comes with a risk and the past is no indication of future performance.

Successful investors are the alchemists of the financial world: those with the ability to turn a seemingly worthless commodity into gold - and gold into more gold.

To an outsider, it might seem that these individuals are simply gifted with the Midas touch. But occasionally, the investment in question was actually the gift of a generous friend, relative or colleague.

Over the past six months I've worked alongside a number of financial experts and along the way I've picked up many such stories. In this post I wanted to share with you a few true anecdotes from the world of investment.

Fine Wine

While my vintage of choice is 2013 Aldi, for those with more discerning taste, wine has been tipped as a fruitful (ahem) alternative investment opportunity. Its value is driven by the fact that only a finite amount of any given vintage is produced each year, an amount that gradually decreases over time as it is consumed. Fine wine is one of those products that gets better with age (like cheese, or George Clooney) and, as its flavour develops, so too does its prestige.

The way to invest in wine is to buy it en primeur (in the cask) and to store it in bond, although some investors take half of their wine home to drink and use what's left to cover their costs later on. That's the beauty of fine wine: if the market goes downhill, you can at least drown your sorrows in style.

One investor I worked with was the proud owner of a case of 1989 Château Haut-Brion. The 6 bottles were a gift from a client in 2001 and promptly sequestered to the basement where they spent the next 12 years until the happy discovery, when they were valued at £1,470.

If you know your Bordeaux from your Burgundies, you will also know that both have performed consistently in recent years. But the best advice with fine wine is never buy what you couldn't afford to drink!

Land

Land is an increasingly popular investment. This is because it is often considered a reasonably safe 'home' for your capital.

Case in point: an investor I worked with inherited a large acreage of unused scrub land in Argentina worth about $200/hectare. He was told it was pretty worthless by local land agents who offered him about half its value.

Simply by clearing the land and adding some fences, access points and other onsite infrastructure, the land was recently valued at around $5,000/hectare.

Coins

Collecting rare and historical coins has long been a popular hobby, but these days recognised as a lucrative alternative investment: some ancient coins fetch up to six figures at auction.

'Errors' and 'proofs' are among the more elusive in the market, one-off coins that never made it into circulation. Key date coins are those with a difficult-to-find combination of date and/or mint mark, often the last pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of your coin album.

Over time, the most valuable coins are lost or squirreled away in private collections, only to resurface where they're least expected.

I recently spoke to an investor who found a collection of gold Sovereigns and other coins whilst clearing out the home of a deceased relative. They were valued at over £20,000.

So if you ever find yourself in possession of a scrap of land or even a dusty old book of coins, take another look. It may not seem like much, but with a little spit and polish you could be sitting on a goldmine.

And next Christmas, when someone gives you a bottle of luxury red, wait before reaching for the corkscrew - it may just be worth more than a night on the town (note to self: Morrisons Claret does NOT constitute fine wine).