The diagram shows the investment risk pyramid, where the highest and presumably highest returns are placed right at the tip of the pyramid. At the base, and therefore forms the foundation of the whole pyramid structure, lie the no risk and presumably lower returns (in fact, negative returns). You can see that cash is defined as a no risk instrument.
I think everyone should define what they mean by risk. In the academia world, risk is volatility – or how much the price of the instrument varies from its mean price. In that aspect, then the investment risk pyramid would make perfect sense.
However, I find that definition of risk a bit inadequate for my laymen, non-academic purpose and $-minded purpose. Risk, at least for me, is defined by how much you can lose for how much you want to gain, i.e. I risk $10 to bet that this team will win, so that I can get back $15. My risk for earning $15 is $10. It does not really matter to me if the it yo-yo up and down since I know how much I can lose and how much I can win. I suppose in that sense, the pyramid does not make sense to me at all.
I know the risk of holding cash - it will be lower each year after accounting for inflation (which is around 3-5% pa). It's invisible but the effects can truly be felt. In the past, I can go to the food court with $3 and have a full meal. Now, I can barely fill my stomach or even buy anything with $3. So, I'm questioning if it's right to treat cash as 'no risk'. In fact, the risk of holding cash is that you will lose some 3-5% of it every year.
Going by the same argument, if you treat shares as the second highest risk group according to the investment risk pyramid, it doesn't make sense to me too. Yes, shares are highly volatile (actually, have you seen those illiquid stocks that pay high dividends before? Vicom, anyone?) hence it has one of the highest volatility. This means that it's 'risky' since the price fluctuates wildly about its mean. Well, they can go ahead and classify them as risky but I'll do it anyway. Not dabbling in shares intelligently is the most risky thing you'll want to happen to your financial health.
After reading through the newletter, the punchline came. It offers a product that gives a guaranteed annual return of between 2.30% to 2.55%. Sounds good isn't it? Better than fixed deposit - a fact that they never fail to mention.
Thanks but no thanks.