OPINION: Yet another property training company bites the dust!

Yes, another one bites the dust. Why is it so many of these firms end up this way?

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I have lost track of the number of firms offering property investment courses and investment vehicles that have gone bust in my own experience, some offering dodgy training courses or imaginative investment schemes of one sort or another, and right down to those plying outright scams.

According to press reports Asset Academy was a property training organisation linked to well known TV personality and “Homes Under the Hammer” presenter, Martin Roberts.

The firm, which was fronted by Roberts as their “Brand Ambassador” went to the wall recently owing creditors over £3million.

Quite how a training organisation, with little in the way of overhead should owe so much money beggars belief?

Nevertheless, the company went into administration owing that enormous sum. Mr Roberts claims to have had little involvement in its running or of having been a director, as press reports claim.

According to the reports the company has laid off all its staff. It has left in its wake complaints from would-be property investors who claim to have been unable to claim refunds. Many claim to have been chasing the company for refunds, but sadly, now, there is little chance of them getting anything back.

Anyone with an interest in property will be familiar with the BBC celebrity Martin Roberts who hosts the popular and seemingly ubiquitous “Homes under the Hammer”, a programme which has had a very successful formula and proves to be an informative and interesting programme.

Robert’s involvement in this venture however, it would seem, has been an unfortunate segue which threatens to tarnish reputations.

Personal experience

Many years ago now, after having received several flyers through the mail about a “Martin Roberts” training event, I decided to go along to one, at a Manchester venue near me, to find out what this was all about. I suppose curiosity got the better of me and the prospect of listening to a TV celebrity first hand got the better of me.

However, this was not to be! I turned up at the event, joined the small audience and to my surprise, no Martin Roberts? Maybe he would be on later after the speaker who was confronting us. But no, I was to be disappointed.

Instead we were all assailed by this presenter (not a very slick one either) who was telling us how he had become a multi-millionaire property tycoon, and how we could be one too. What’s more, we wouldn’t need to put any money down to do it?

I’ve been in property for over 45 years and involved in property events for over 20, so you can imagine, I was approaching this with my cynical hat on – I had seen it all before. The presenter proceeded to explain to this quite obviously naive and inexperienced crowd that the starting point to their property investing career, their road to virtually instant riches, would be to apply for as many credit cards as possible, go away and sign up for a dozen, that would be good.

You’ve got to remember this was when property was booming and money was cheap, banks were falling over themselves to lend and people were being made redundant. I imagine that for some in the audience, it was their last roll of the dice. So, in a nutshell, the strategy was to accumulate these credit cards and max them out, to get yourself a run-down property at auction, renovate it, then mortgage it and take out a chunk of cash, before moving on to the next deal.

Well, I had no doubt that this strategy could be applied successfully by about 1 percent of the population, but certainly not by this inexperienced and seemingly desperate bunch of would-be property tycoons I was sat among. In fact, it would have frightened me to death to attempt such a risky feat!

During questions, asked of us by the presenter, my reply went down like a lead balloon. It certainly deflated his sales patter balloon, and he made it plain I wasn’t welcome. The point was I felt sorry that he was misleading people.

They come and they go…

Over these many years in property, and doing the property event circuit, I’ve seen so many so call property “trainers”, property “experts”, property “gurus” (guru used as it’s easier to spell than charlatan) and downright scams artists, so many in fact that I’ve lost count.

It’s hard to believe how easily they take people in with their slick brochures, presentations, websites and taster days. They take people for thousands of pounds in fees for, in the main, information that’s readily available for free. Select a decent book on Amazon, written by a bona fide property expert, with some real world investing experience, and you will learn more.

But people like to be led, they like reassurance and they like to be told what they want to hear. They’re often sold a dream which turns into a nightmare!

Yes, it’s certainly possible to make a lot of money in property given the right approach, but not overnight and certainly not stress free with “no money down.” There are some legitimate property educators who do a good job, without charging excessive amounts of money, this company may have been one of them, we don’t know, but you need to do some research to find them – see below.

Research, research and research…

All property investment should start off with a good deal of research, whether that’s finding a good location and a good property to invest in, sourcing finance, finding the right book or indeed finding some help through an educator.

The usual advice applies here, if it sounds to good to be true, it usually is. It’s overwhelmingly impossible to short-circuit your journey to becoming wealthy unless to win the lottery, so get ready for some hard graft, saving up and personal sacrifice if you want to achieve it, and it won’t happen overnight!

Martin Roberts has been described in the press as an “advanced speaker” for the firm Asset Academy, offering to share his knowledge of buying at auction. But it would seem that Mr Roberts took little part in its running, he simply lent his name to the venture and allegedly lost money through his connection.

As for Asset Academy, its website is still live but it states that the company is not taking any new bookings at this time.

Property training

My colleagues at LandlordZONE have written recently about the dangers of property courses offering quick routes to success and how to avoid them if you want to get help with your property investing education from reliable sources.

I would endorse this approach and suggest you follow their advice:

Investors looking for trustworthy and ethical operators should turn to the PEAS or Property Educators Accreditation Scheme.

Launched in 2021 and backed by LandlordZONE, its founder Cyril Thomas said at the time:

“PEAS will help future students looking for a property educator to discover ‘the good guys’ who have signed up to be ethical and transparent, and that it will strike a balance between cooperation and enforcement”.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for this article and to Tom for his efforts to draw attention to these sharp practices. Many trainers and training companies have been and gone (bust) over the years. The consumer losses to this sector are in the millions, if not the billions imho.

    Many people pay £2K for a course and then quickly realise that they are not going to be property millionaires in a year with no money. They are unable to secure a refund, so just give up.

    As many of you will know, and please forgive me for sounding like a broken record, but I have been speaking out against these exaggerated marketing claims for over a decade.

    For my trouble, I now facing the biggest ever damages claim in the history of the UK courts – £5.4 million – as I am being sued by a property trainer for my commentary to protect consumers and help them make wiser choices about property education.

    You can read all about my court case here:

    https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/vanessa-warwicks-case/

    If you believe that the property education sector needs regulating, please support my defence by making a donation.

    I hope to use my court case as a platform for positive change in the sector.

    For someone to “get rich quick”, someone has to “get poor quick”. Make sure it is not YOU.

    • Unfortunately you chose to pursue something that is fighting back. You left your claws in when you should have ran a mile.

      It’s good to stand up for what’s right but not so good when you fight a battle that’s not yours to fight.

      These “get rich quick” schemes are no different to the motivational speakers and life coaches – there is only one winner and it only takes a very small number of success stories to validate them.

      If you are gullible and fail to research then you’ll lose your money – property lecture, dodgy franchise or lottery, it doesn’t matter.

      Accept what you can lose and be comfortable with your decision.

      • Thank you for your comments.

        I agree with you. However, it is what it is, and, as such, I will use it as a platform for positive change.

        If it works, it works, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But either way I am going to make the effort and I thank everyone who is supporting me in that.

  2. I haven’t made public comment on this situation, other than to correct factual inaccuracies. Whatever I say will be misrepresented or used to provide click bait.

    However, your article paints the company I was associated with in a way that I think is unfair and unbalanced.

    Firstly, I have NEVER been a Director of the company. I was not involved in its financial operation.

    On a broader point – the Company was, you won’t want to believe, one of the “Good Guys”, working alongside PEAS, amongst others, to bring better standards to the industry as a whole.

    Yes, the trainings cost money, and some may feel it a waste, but I know from personal experience, that many thousands of people who applied what they learnt went on to build successful property portfolios.

    Until very recently, Asset Academy had a 4.8 star rating on Trustpilot.

    “It has left in its wake a trail complaints from would-be property investors who claim to have been cheated out of thousands of pounds in cash payments. Many claim to have been chasing the company for refunds, but sadly, now, there is little chance of them getting anything back.”

    Such sensational and emotive language such as ‘cheated’, ‘chasing’, ‘left in its wake a trail’ is added for one purpose alone. Sensationalising the story. I didn’t think this was where Landlord Zone positioned itself?

    This is based on three or four comments on Trustpilot within the past few weeks.

    Over the years, many thousands of students have learned the skills required to become professional property investors, from a dedicated and experienced team of foundation and advanced trainers, myself included.

    However, like many businesses, the combined effects of COVID on a business that was largely seminar based, followed by the economic uncertainty and cost of living crisis, created impossible trading conditions. In addition, at it’s inception, the company had taken on, to its own detriment, the training liabilities of another company, to ensure that those students were not abandoned. In the end, the recent chaos in the financial and property markets was too big a storm for the business to weather.

    This situation is terribly sad, not only for the small team who have lost their jobs, but for the industry in general. Because I can guarantee that the vacuum that’s left will be filled by people with intentions not as honourable as Asset Academy’s.

    In the meantime, behind the scenes, away from the headlines, former trainers, employees and Directors of the company are doing everything they can to ensure that existing students will continue to receive their training. They are not just ‘walking away’ as they could, and as many others may have done in similar circumstances.

    Sincerely

    Martin Roberts

    • Unbelievable that you have the audacity to still stick up for them!!! I’ve been left 12.5k in debt because of this company with no way of getting it back and you’re here still defending them.
      Scumbags all of you and don’t know how you sleep at night, hope you all get what will be coming for you.

  3. Hi Martin,

    I’m sorry if the article misrepresents the situation with Asset Academy. The article comments merely repeat what has been said already in the national press: The Mail, The Mirror, The Express, Daily Record etc.

    I don’t know the background to the company but I can see that what you say about the comments on Trustpilot is true, most of the very negative ones are recent.

    I can only go off what I read in the press on this situation. I’m afraid that this training company, if it is one of the good guys as you say, has suffered from being tarnished with the reputation of many others in this industry that have gone before, and has had the misfortune to go bust.

    Tom

    • I would question why a director of this Company should feel the need to be sole (or joint) director of several more, all offering the same thing.

  4. I don’t think not being formally a director of a company necessarily exonerates one unfortunately. If and with one’s full knowledge and presumably compensation a company has marketed itself with one’s name at the vanguard I think the ice is very thin.

  5. I think we all no that ANYTHING to do with housing in this country is highly toxic, It really doe not matter what the truth is no one cares , soundbites and spin rule .
    This is the true cause of our broken housing sector , so simple solution take your money before it is confiscated
    Invest in providing housing in other countries where laws and regulations are not completely one sided and based on lies and propaganda , speak to landlords who are providing homes outside of the UK the vast majority will admit it is the best move they ever made

  6. Asset Academy hasn’t been their first or last name. They have traded under various names, elite been one of them and I’ve seen others but can’t directly link then as of yet. Very much as this article describes, not giving any information that isn’t on the internet or in a book. Getting people to up their credit cards on a first day, then using that credit to pay for a £20000 course you don’t need. Even asking for a refund within the 14 days grace period, won’t happen. The bad reviews for elite training where in the hundreds.

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