SG Wealth Builder

To make money. To build wealth. To preserve wealth.

SG Wealth Builder Email Interview with BullionStar

SG Wealth Builder is pleased to conduct an email interview with Torgny Persson, CEO of BullionStar, a bullion dealer based in Singapore which exempted investment grade precious metals from the goods and services tax (GST). Just like BullionStar, one of the the goals of SG Wealth Builder is to educate Singaporeans on the merits of owning gold and silver bullion as a means of wealth preservation. 

1) Mr Torgny, in your opinion, what is the outlook for gold in 2015? Given that the economy recovery is gaining traction in United States, would there be any negative or positive impact for gold prices moving forward?

The so called recovery is a phony recovery in my opinion. The economies in the West are facing a lot of underlying problems with unprecedented debt levels, trade imbalances, high unemployment and misallocated investments. The current monetary system based on fiat credit and fractional reserve banking is going to implode under the debt burden. The price of gold thus hasn’t got so much to do with gold but everything to do with how worthless our currencies get.

Gold will revalue significantly in terms of purchasing power in the monetary reset we are soon to embark on. When exactly? I don’t know, we are still in the run up with hyperdeflationary pressure which may turn to hyperinflation quickly when savers revert back to the “buy now” mentality and all the savings are undone. Paper trading works well up until the moment it doesn’t and then there’s a total loss.

For the short term, I don’t have any prediction for the price of gold. In the long term, my prediction is that gold will revalue significantly as paper money depreciate closer to its intrinsic value of zero.

BullionStar CEO2) BullionStar was set up only in 2012 but delivered a set of stellar sales result recently. Can you share with the readers the reason for choosing to establish the company in Singapore, since the market here is relatively much smaller than China and India?

Singapore is a bastion for free trade and asset preservation. Singapore ranks first in the world for business friendliness. Singapore is the only free economy in the world where the government actively supports the precious metals industry. Singapore is simply the best country in the world to buy and store precious metals for the following reasons:

– No taxes for bullion whatsoever
– No reporting requirements
– Very low crime with a strong rule of law
– Strong protection of property ownership rights
– Stable politically with a pro-gold government

There’s no other country in the world that can compare.

3) Tax exemption aside, what are the other areas which you think Singapore can do to promote bullion?

The Singaporean government is one of very few pro-gold governments in the world and are already doing a good job of promoting the bullion industry through the trade agency IE Singapore. Singapore e.g. hosted the LBMA forum in 2014. As I’ve previously started two bullion dealers in Europe, Swedish and Estonian, I’m in a position to compare the difference in government support in Europe and Singapore. Whereas there’s no support but plenty of bureaucracy and disincentives in Europe, Singapore stands out positively in deregulating and creating a sound transit, trading and storage hub for gold in Asia.

In terms of regulatory environment, the exemption of physical precious metals from GST in 2012 opened up the market in Singapore. If I were to suggest something, it would be that the scope of the exemption is extended. Gold coins must for example currently be of a minimum gold purity of .999 to be exempted which has the effect that the world’s most minted bullion gold coin, the Krugerrand, isn’t exempted from GST.

4) BullionStar is seen as trail-blazer in Singapore as your company is one of the few that accepts bitcoin and pay staff salaries in precious metals! Going forward, would there be more innovative ideas from BullionStar and what exciting developments can Singapore expect from BullionStar?

Yes, absolutely, our business philosophy is to introduce modern technology and usability into the old fashioned bullion industry.

We just released our new chart feature where it’s possible to measure different assets in relative terms e.g. measure with gold as unit of account. We will shortly allow for the transfer-in/deposit of gold and silver to our vault and there’s much more to come. We have a long and ambitious development list!

5) What is the general profiles of your customers? Are there many Singaporeans building wealth with bullion?

Yes, the majority of our customers are Singaporeans. There’s a 50/50 split between customers taking physical delivery/possession and customer’s storing their bullion with us as their vault provider.

We are keen not only on taking market shares but developing the market and the industry as well as sharing information. With our world renowned precious metals analysts Koos Jansen and Ronan Manly, we are covering the trends that matter.


5 Reasons to File Your Taxes, Even if you can’t Afford to Pay

By Team Wall Street Survivor

Wall Street Survivor Courses

But seriously… file your taxes. The IRS penalizes those who don’t pay their taxes and those who don’t file their taxes, and not filing is worse than not paying. You end up paying a penalty on the amount you owe at 5% per month (4.5% for not filing, 0.5% for not paying). You can easily rack up a huge penalty bill as daily interest is charged on any unpaid tax.

You may have been out of the country and it slipped your mind. Or perhaps you don’t have the money to pay the taxes you owe; or maybe you decided to emulate Irwin Schiff and not pay your taxes as a form of protest.

Whatever the reason, not filing your taxes can have serious repercussions. Sooner or later the IRS catches up to you. Just ask Wesley Snipes. The Blade star was convicted in 2008 and sentenced to three years in jail after failing to pay federal taxes over a 5 year period spanning 1999-2004.

To File or not to File

Filing or not filing your taxes is not really a choice. If you make over a certain amount, then you owe taxes to the government. They aren’t soft on people who don’t pay up. Tax evaders stand to face large criminal penalties, including huge fines and lengthy prison terms.

Some people try to distinguish between not filing and not paying, as though one were acceptable. Incorrect! They are both crimes! You will go to jail! Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

What happens if you don’t file?

If you don’t file a tax return, a form that is basically reporting to the government all of your income and other financial details for a given year, then the IRS may file what is known as a substitute return on your behalf. They use this to calculate the tax owed but to be sure: they are not looking to save you any money. Not only is the substitute return only filed for those who are delinquent, but they use it as a platform from which to levy penalties. The IRS also will not include all the standard deductions, meaning you end up with a larger tax liability than if you had filed, and as a result, a larger penalty.

You should always file your taxes, even if you can’t pay. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Avoid the failure-to-file penalty
  2. Avoid the IRS filing a substitute return, allowing you to take advantage of standard deductions
  3. Starting the clock on possible audits: the IRS only has three years from the date you file to audit your return
  4. Starting the clock on penalty collection : the IRS has 10 years from the date you file to collection monies owed from taxes, interest and penalties
  5. Starting the clock on your eligibility for taxes, interest and penalties to be dismissed (two-four years after the date you file)

What if you can’t pay?

File your taxes anyway!

Your best approach is to work with the IRS: you can work out an instalment agreement, apply for a temporary delay on collection of your tax or try to qualify for a “offer in compromise” which allows you to settle your tax bill for less than you actually owe.

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I get it. Filing your taxes can be a daunting task, and not everyone can afford to hire a professional. The IRS estimates the average taxpayer spends between $270 and $420 to file their taxes through a professional service.

You could file yourself, using forms printed out from the IRS website, but the chances of making a mistake are very real and could result in an audit if you’re not careful.

Luckily there are a number of online services that make filing your taxes a breeze.

The IRS Free File program was created for just that reason. A private-public partnership between the IRS and commercial tax software companies like TurboTax, H&R Block, etc., IRS Free File is free for all taxpayers making less than $58,000 per year – which is over 2/3rds of the U.S. population.

TurboTax also offers a great service. They have five levels, with federal returns ranging from free to $100 and state returns averaging $40. They also provide live chat for tax advice – which is supremely helpful for those of us may feel overwhelmed at navigating a tax return.

There are other tax software out there, offering service at prices ranging from free to $100, including eSmartTax, H&R Block and TaxACT. There are a lot of great options out there for someone who wants to file their taxes inexpensively.

What Are Tax Deductions?

Part of the reason people use the help of tax professionals is that they know the tax code very well. Since 2001, Congress has made nearly 5000 changes to the tax code, and it is nearly 4 million words long. However, that doesn’t mean that a normal person can’t save money on their taxes using some creativity and applying some tax deductibles.

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A tax deduction is any income that you deduct, or remove, from your taxable income, thereby reducing the amount you can be taxed on. So if you make $40,000 a year and you are able to apply a deduction of $10,000 then the IRS can only tax you on the $30,000 you made that year. Awesome!

For example, if you moved cities to start a new job then the IRS allows you to deduct some of those moving expenses from your taxable income. You can deduct the interest paid on your student loans, or any amounts you donated to support a charitable or volunteer organization. If you work from home then you can deduct some portion of your utility bill, insurance and even home repair costs.

What if the Government Owes You Money?

If the government owes you money and you don’t collect then it is considered unclaimed. Billions of dollars go unclaimed every year and two official websites have been set up to help people check if they are owed money.

The first is, run by the federal government. There’s also, which is a state-by-state database. Simply click on your state and check if there’s a windfall in waiting. In 2011, a Kansas city woman found out she was owed $6.1 million in unclaimed funds! And that’s just one among many reasons to file your taxes.

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Special Roll Out On meetinvest: Create Baskets Consisting of More than One Guru

By meetinvest

Numerous users have contacted us asking for a feature that would allow them to create baskets consisting of more than one guru, and we are excited to now launch this new feature on meetinvest! In periods where stock prices are less attractive, it can happen that there are not enough stocks in a particular guru […]

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Property: Foreign Investment Opportunities

Below is a guest article contributed by Lamudi, a German properties listing company. Given the current cooling measures, many Singapore investors are turning their eyes on property market in South East Asia countries. Investors should be aware of the risks involved and the regulations in these countries to avoid losing monies in such investments.

2015 is predicted to be the year when many emerging markets in Asia such open up their property ownership to include foreigners. As it stands in many countries, non-citizens are prohibited from buying properties. For example, in Philippines the country’s constitution bans non-Filipinos from owning land and in Sri Lanka non-citizens pay more tax when they own any property.

However, there are signs that this may be about to change. 2015 will see countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) merge to form a single market. The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community is expected to boost foreign direct investment in the Philippines and also in untapped markets across the region, putting pressure on lawmakers to amend these ownership restrictions. This year, foreign ownership laws will also come into focus elsewhere in Asia, with debate set to continue in Indonesia and Myanmar about opening up the countries’ property sectors to international investors.

This is a sign of relief for real estate agents in some countries like Myanmar, who perceive lack of foreign investments to be one of the top 3 major constraints on the property market. A recent study conducted by leading property website, revealed that 24% of house hunters and real estate agents identified lack of external investments as a factor that prevents the property market from skyrocketing.

As a country, Myanmar has become increasingly attractive to foreign investors. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) grew from $US 1.9 billion in the 2011-12 financial year to $2.7 billion in 2012-13. The bulk of this investment was directed towards the energy sector, garment industry, information technology and food and beverages, according to the World Bank.
In terms of real estate, non-nationals face heavy restrictions on buying property in Myanmar. According to Article 31 of the Foreign Investment Law, foreign investors can lease land for up to a 50-year period. However, recent government initiatives provide some encouragement for property investors, including a draft Condominium Law which would allow developers to sell up to 40 % of condominiums on the sixth floor or above to international buyers.

The outlook for property investors is already improving. Fuelled by the ongoing reforms, the vast majority of local brokers surveyed by have noted an increase in investment in the sector in recent years. Overall, economic development is seen as the biggest driver of the increase in investment, according to data.

Another factor that has made Myanmar increasingly attractive to investors is developments in the tourism sector. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism aims to increase international arrivals to 3.01 million in 2015 and 7.48 million by 2026, presenting a significant opportunity for property investors in the hospitality and holiday rental markets.
Given all the above aspects, and the general low purchasing power of Burmese people, there is definitely enough room for outside investors.

For more on the future of property in the emerging markets, visit and

How to Invest in Emerging Markets

By Team Wall Street Survivor

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Hit the BRICS

The BRICS are an acronym for a group of five major emerging economies, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa; it was coined in 2001 and popularized by former Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill.

South Africa only joined the club in 2010, but back in 2001 the quartet of Brazil, Russia, India and China were seen as thoroughbred racehorses able to give the western economies some serious competition.

Fourteen years later and growth has fallen short of expectations. For a short stretch post 2001 things looked rosy but in the end China was the only economy to exceed expectations. “[T]he other three so far this decade have been disappointing,” says O’Neill, singling out Brazil and Russia as the weakest of the bunch.

The BRICS matter because of their combined economic might, being the four largest economies outside of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).

Let’s take a look at where the BRICS are right now:


Brazil is the world’s seventh-largest economy and the largest economy in South America by some distance. In 2013 Brazil’s GDP was $2.25 trillion. The continent’s next best: Argentina with $610 billion (about a quarter of Brazil’s GDP)

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Vladimir Putin rules the roost in the Russia. Allegations of rampant corruption, a diminishing population courtesy of brain drain and an economy with an overdependence on the energy sector means Russia faces a number of challenges to its long-term growth. Currently the currency is in freefall due to a mix of western-imposed sanctions sparked off by the Ukraine conflict and plunging oil prices.



India has the potential to become the world’s biggest economy, but faces many challenges. With income per person in India only at $1500 the country has a long way to go to catch up to the advanced economies (U.S. GDP per capita = $53,000) It has high public debt levels, poor infrastructure and faces systemic political corruption that threatens to derail any forward momentum.



The world’s most populous country and economic engine. Annual GDP growth has fallen from the lofty heights of 2007 but with the rest of the world slowing down, China is pulling the world behind them. Since 1949 the Chinese government has been responsible for planning and managing the national economy but it was only once more free-market principles were introduced in 1978 did the economy start to show massive growth. The transition from a closed to an open economy is still happening and may be the key to spurring continued growth in China.



The newest member of the club is hugely dependent on its mining sector. It is rich in natural resources but has an underdeveloped economy otherwise. Infrastructure is poor and post-apartheid nearly half of the black population remains mired in poverty and unemployment.


As you can see from the charts on annual GDP growth, the BRICS haven’t performed as well as economists might have liked. The global recession hit hard, with none of the countries able to touch pre-2008 heights. China and India are the only countries to achieve growth rates greater than 5%, while the other three are in seemingly steady decline.

While the BRICS are misfiring, other economies have been gaining traction. In 2014 Jim O’Neil popularized another group of promising emerging markets: MINT (Mexico – Indonesia – Nigeria – Turkey). The term was coined in 2011 by Fidelity Investments and they were touted as the next economic powerhouses.


Let’s take a look at each MINT country and see if there’s any truth to that.


Mexico is experiencing a boom in infrastructure, and has a growing middle class that is powering their economy. It is the Latin American market investors are increasingly turning their attention to– drawing a record $35 billion in foreign direct investment in 2013, nearly double that of 2012. President Pena Nieto is the man behind a series of economic reforms, ranging from telecoms to energy, all aimed at luring investors to Mexico.


Indonesia is projected to become the seventh-largest economy in the world by 2050, moving up 9 spots from its current 16th place position. It is the fourth most populous country in the world, and has made a successful transition from military dictatorship to democracy. The country has some hurdles to jump; debt has risen while the currency has fallen in value – prompting foreign investors to pull money out of the country. The weakness of Indonesia lies in its susceptibility to sudden outflows of foreign capital.


Nigeria is currently in an economic sweet spot. They are diversifying their economy, rapidly growing their financial, service, communications and entertainment sectors and attracting attention from investors the world over. Nigeria is also the largest oil producer in Africa, and the world’s eighth-largest exporter of crude oil. There are considerable challenges but Nigeria is a high population economy with growing wealth and opportunity.


Turkey grew at a rate of 7.5% annually between 2002 and 2006. Following the global recession Turkey was the fastest out of the gate, expanding at levels greater than China (10.3% annual GDP growth in 2011) but has since slowed, averaging 3% growth between 2012 and 2015. Turkey is also dependent on foreign capital and in the summer of 2013 investors pulled their money out in droves, causing the lira to plunge.

The ensuing rise in interest rates only served to choke the economy further and high inflation (8%) combined with president Erdogan’s authoritarian tendencies are a worry to Turkey’s future growth.

So upon closer inspection, Turkey seems to be most vulnerable to falling behind. However, every country has risks and challenges that it is going to have to face in the years to come. While there are many ETFs (exchange traded funds) that might track a “BRIC” or “MINT” index it is always good to fully understand the risks when you invest in emerging markets.


After all, economic groupings are a dime-a-dozen. Any analyst looking to make a name for themselves is coming up with a catchy name. You could invest in the EAGLEs, the Emerging and Growth Leading Economies, which include Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan and Turkey. Then there’s MIST (Mexico, India, South Korea, Turkey), the Fragile Five (Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil, Turkey, India), PINE (Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria, Ethiopia), and MIKT (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey).

Bottom line: if you want exposure, you can get exposure. Think of the catchy names as more of a marketing ploy rather than an investment strategy. The advantage to investing in emerging markets is that if you do it right you can achieve a higher return than the dependable, advanced economies. The disadvantage is that many are more fragile than the advanced economies, vulnerable to capital flight and suffering from widespread corruption in many cases.

As always, if you’re going to invest, know what you’re putting your money in.

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The most financially challenging period of my life

On 8th of April, I became a father for the second time! My little bundle of joy came slightly earlier than expected and my wife and I were a bit unprepared because incidentally, my elder daughter happened to fall sick during this period. But thank goodness, my mother-in-law and mum were around to help out. I really appreciate for what they did.

Everyone has the right to procreate and pass on his legacy. Nobody can take this right away from him. But I think most Singaporeans have the wrong mindset about raising kids in Singapore. They always associate money and the high cost of living as two key factors that deter them from having babies. Most Singaporeans want to establish their careers first before having children. Of course money is important, and we need good incomes to support family needs. But then again, how much is considered enough and when is the right age to be considered financially stable to have babies? Before they knew it, many Singaporeans could be well past their child-bearing age in no time and would regret not conceiving when young and healthy.

For the past three years, my daughter had brought us so much love, joy, tears, laughter, anger and frustrations. Everyday, she never fail to amaze me. All these memories are priceless and I wouldn’t trade any amount of money for them. I hope I would have the same experiences with my son.

Of course, there had been trade-offs and sacrifices made. My wife and I had agreed that she would be a stay-at-home mum. This was because if I were to concentrate in my career, then I would have less opportunity to spend time and bond with our children. So its better that at least she is at home to bond with them. In turn, with only one source of family income, we had to downgrade from a five-room HDB flat to a three-room flat.

Actually, the most financially challenging period of my life was in 2011 – 2012. Back then, my wife had to quit from her job to look after my father-in-law, who was warded in ICU for stroke. He went on to stay there for three months and incurred huge hospital bills. Incidentally, that was the period when my wife was conceived with our first child and we were financially strapped because we had spent most of our monies in our house (down-payment and renovations) and wedding banquet. My wife has also used all her bonuses from her last job to pay off her university loans. To make things worse, my income was not that high back then and all salaries went into paying off living expenses, furnishing loan, electrical appliance installments, parents’ allowances and in-laws’ allowances. On a monthly basis, we were living from hand to mouth, with zero savings. Everyday, I looked unhappy and was often in bad mood over money issues.

On looking back, I feel quite guilty that there wasn’t money to buy good food and supplements for my wife during her first pregnancy. But I am glad that my wife didn’t complain. The $4000 Baby Bonus also came in handy as it helped to offset the hospital bills and immunization jabs when my first baby was delivered in 2012. My only frustration back then was that the money was disbursed over two years and we needed the monies for our newborn’s expenses.

Thankfully, that dark period was well and and over. My family is now in a much better financial position because my income has risen significantly for the past four years and I have also built up our saving funds. But I will never forget those financially stressful days, which really pushed me to the edge of my mental cliff. That feeling of desperation and penniless instilled a grit and resilience in me but I am glad that my financial framework did help me to pull through that lean period.

For my family, those hardship is definitely worth it because I love them so much. I would do it all over again for them if time is rewind.

Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

Where Do Tech Startups Come From? The Answer Will Surprise You

By Team Wall Street Survivor


Have you ever thought about starting a business? The world is changing; industries are being disrupted and remade in our lifetimes. Music, transportation, space travel – you name it, it’s being disrupted. In every society, middle-men are being replaced by online services, and today we all have access to tools that allow you to make more money than you ever thought possible and change the world without having to go up against the “gatekeepers”. As Justin Timberlake says in the Social Network, “A million dollars isn’t cool, you know what’s cool? …A billion dollars.”

So, how do you grow a tech startup into a billion dollar tech giant?

Try going to Stockholm in Sweden. This superpower city produces billion dollar tech companies for fun; in fact, in the last decade the city of just 911,989 people has produced more billion dollar tech companies than any other in Europe. At 6.3 billion dollar tech companies per million people, Stockholm is second only to Silicon Valley (6.9).

Or you could try making it work in Israel. Dan Senor’s 2009 book Start-up Nation explores how Israel, a country of just 7.1 million, has more tech-start-ups and a larger venture capital industry per capita than any other country in the world. Even though the country is in a constant state of alert due to geopolitical instabilities it still produces more start-ups than nations like Japan, China, India, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Don’t believe me? Check out just a few companies to come from these tech startup havens.

The past decade has seen Stockholm produce giants such as Skype, the telecommunications application that allows you to video-call your parents, as well as online music streaming service Spotify.

Here are just a few of the members in Stockholm’s billion dollar club:


What is it: Telecommunication application software.

Value: Bought in May 2011 by Microsoft Corporation for US $8.5 billion.

Public or Private: Public; the company has been incorporated as a division of Microsoft.


What is it: Music streaming service launched in 2008; Spotify has over 60 million active users and over 30 million songs in its library. It is now available in 58 countries.

Value: A recent report from Manhattan Venture Research valued Spotify at $5.74 billion. The company is making any profit yet, but with 15 million paying subscribers (each on a $9.99 monthly plan) they have revenues of at least $1.8 billion.

Public or Private: Private.


What is it: They are the video game developer best known for creating Minecraft, the third most popular computer game in the world. Minecraft is the ultimate sandbox game, where players can literally create whatever they want and make the game whatever they want it to be.

Value: The company was bought in September 2014 by Microsoft in a deal worth $2.5 billion. There’s a pattern emerging. Start a business in Stockholm and wait until Microsoft knocks on the door.

Public or Private: Public; incorporated into Microsoft.


In Israel it is said that technology is the country’s number 1 export. It’s not just that the country had 4800 startups (in 2013) but even established tech companies in the area such as Intel, Microsoft, Google, etc. rely on Israeli talent to keep them on the forefront of the industry.

Here are a few of the hottest Israeli tech startups people are talking about:


What is it: Wix provides free and low-cost websites, allowing people little to no tech skills to create beautiful websites. In August 2014 the company had over 50 million users across 190 countries.

Value: Wix has a market capitalization of $733 million.

Public or Private: Public; Wix is listed on the Nasdaq and had its IPO in 2013.


What is it: Need 300 words of unique SEO web content? Looking for ninja tactics to help you find a job using LinkedIn? Maybe you just need someone to fix an HTML/CSS issue; whatever it is you can get it done on Fiverr. Founded in 2009, Fiverr is a marketplace for creative and professional services, with jobs starting at a cost of $5. The site is a haven for freelancers looking to offer their services to employers worldwide.

Value: Hard to say. Fiverr raised $30 million in Series C funding last August. Some sources say Fiverr could be worth $250 million. A recent infographic stated that the company sells a gig (or Fiverr job) every 6 seconds – Fiverr makes $1 on each gig so that works out to around $5 million in revenue a year.

Public or Private: Private


To explain the multitude of startup successes in Israel, Dan Senor analyzes two potential causes: mandatory military service and immigration. He argues that because military service is mandatory for most Israelis, the country as a whole internalizes the culture and mindset of being in the military. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) prizes an un-hierarchical environment where creativity and intelligence are valued over authority. If a junior officer sees his commanding officer doing something wrong, they call it out. Rank and age matter for little in the army. Soldiers are expected to all be leaders, and this mindset bleeds into civilian life.

Immigration also plays a role; 9 out of 10 Jewish Israelis are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. A nation of immigrants is a nation of risk takers, not afraid to start from scratch and fight it out. The twin pillars of military service and immigration interweave to create a culture where people and companies are fearless, creative and organizationally nimble – the perfect cocktail for a startup.

And so from Tel Aviv to Stockholm; the relatively small population in Sweden forces startups to think globally from day 1. Just as Swedish pop group ABBA found success by writing songs in English, Swedish startups now operate in English so that they are ready for a global market.

s3 Pictured: The pioneers of Sweden’s startup scene, ABBA

Swedes also attribute the tech-boom to good long-term planning by Swedish officials. Sweden is the owner of a fast and extensive broadband internet network many years in the making. The government effectively subsidised the cost of buying a computer and by the early 2000s Sweden had one of the highest rates of PC ownership. Sweden’s social democraticism and generous welfare state allows their citizens to take risks without fear; as the co-founder of Instabridge, a WiFi sharing app, says “We don’t have to worry that we’ll end up on the street like in the United States”. Add in industry veterans eager to counsel newcomers and today you have all the ingredients to an ecosystem that allows tech startups to thrive.

What the successes in both those countries teach us is this: start as you mean to finish. If you know that global outreach is going to be instrumental to the future of the company, why would you not make sure all the processes are tailored to that alignment? Instilling a particular company culture also goes a long way to ensuring success. A company is just a group of people, and reflects their personalities as a group. If the virtues of creativity, flexibility and fearlessness – the ability to question superiors – are apparent from the outset then you give yourself the best chance at success.

If that doesn’t work then try moving to Stockholm or pitching a tent on the shores of a Tel Aviv beach.

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Marc Reinganum – New Stock Investment Legend on

By meetinvest

Marc Reinganum — Finding the Traits of Stock Market Winners This week we’re launching American investment legend Marc Reinganum’s investing strategy. Marc is currently a senior investment manager with the world’s second largest asset manager State Street Global Advisors. He’s been featured on the cover of Money Magazine, had press exposure in the Wall Street […]

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CITY A.M. – The Investment Democrats

By meetinvest

By Harriet Green – CITY A.M. Harriet Green talks investment gurus, Asian expansion and putting £1m of your own savings on the line with the founders of meetinvest, Michel and Maria Jacquemai Last summer, Michel Jacquemai found himself under a pile of books by investment gurus. The portfolio manager, former Credit Suisse vice president, partner […]

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BullionStar: Gold, Governments and Central Banks

Below is an article from BullionStar, a bullion dealer based in Singapore which exempted investment grade precious metals from the goods and services tax (GST). Just like BullionStar, one of the the goals of SG Wealth Builder is educate Singaporeans on the merits of owning gold and silver bullion as a means of wealth preservation. 


Governments and central banks are frequently criticized by goldbugs for being anti-gold. Examples include the Indian government restricting gold import, the US government refusing to carry out a full audit of the US Treasury’s gold holdings and the Swiss government and central bank strongly opposing the “gold initiative” demands.

India, the US and Switzerland are all three on the top 10 list of official gold holding countries and thus relevant for the discussion.


The Indian government and central bank are notorious for repeatedly discouraging gold importing and gold hoarding. In trying to curb India’s trade deficit, the Indian government and central bank, Reserve Bank of India, are working together in pushing a policy they call “moderating gold demand”. There’s currently an import duty of 10 % on gold imported to India.

India, in a rare glimmer of common sense, however recently announced that it had scrapped the weird 80:20 rule mandating gold importers to re-export 20 % of their imports. The 80:20 rule was clearly instigated to complicate gold importing and thus make life difficult for jewellery and bullion importers.

It however didn’t take long until the government in March announced a new plan to require Indian gold customers to quote their tax code for gold purchases. According to the article as much as 80 % of Indian gold the demand however comes from rural customers lacking the so called PAN-number which would be a prerequisite for buying gold for more than equivalent to USD 1,600. By knowingly trying to make it difficult for a large share of the population to purchase gold, the Indian government is viciously attacking poor Indians’ only possibility of protecting the purchasing power of their savings.

Many Indian gold policies, including the 80:20 rule, originates from an interesting report on gold by the Reserve Bank of India published in 2013. Other recommendations in the report (p 56-59) included a need to design financial instruments and investor education for rural and urban gold buyers. Even though the report identified and anticipated some of the problems that have followed the “moderating gold policies”, such as increased levels of gold smuggling, these problems are clearly of less importance than the objective of introducing the banking system to rural India.

One of the recommendations in the report was to educate gold buyers better. Let me assist the Reserve Bank of India in their educational mission. Chart 1 below depicts the price of gold per gram in Indian Rupees since 1953.

A couple of generations ago in 1953, one gram of gold cost 5.40 Rupees. Today in Aril 2015, one gram of gold cost 2410 Rupees. (In reality, the cost is even higher due to the import duty and import restrictions carrying with them a high gold price premium). This represents a loss in purchasing power of the Indian Rupee with more than 99.8 % compared to gold.


Chart 1: Source: BullionStar Charts

99.8 % loss in value compared to gold. Is this what the central bank wants to educate the Indian gold buyers on?

By aggravating, humiliating, criminalizing and punishing people for trying to keep the purchasing power of their savings, the Indian government stands out as the most anti-gold government among the top 10 countries holding gold in the world.


Switzerland has traditionally been known as a safe haven not only maintaining strong property ownership rights but also having a strong currency, the Swiss Franc, being backed directly or indirectly by gold. Switzerland was the last country requiring the central bank to keep a percentage portion of their reserves in gold and thus back the currency with gold. Switzerland had a law stipulating that the central bank had to hold at least 40 % of their reserves in gold until the law was abolished in 2000.

The gold initiative, which the Swiss people voted against in 2014, was categorized by the Swiss government and central bank as too far reaching even though it was only proposing a partial restoration with the central bank holding 20 % of their reserves in gold.

Despite the blip when the Swiss abolished the Swiss Franc’s peg to the Euro in January, Switzerland has joined other countries in pursuing a weak currency during the last decade. The Swiss Franc once known as an inflation resistant currency is nowadays no less of an intrinsically worthless unbacked fiat currency than any other currency.

By charting the gold price in Swiss Franc, we can witness the relative strength, compared to other currencies, of the Swiss Franc during the second half of the 20th century. Between 1953 and 2000, the Swiss Franc “only” lost 68 % of its value as measured in gold which is much less than other currencies.


Chart 2: Source: BullionStar Charts


Why is the United States holding gold as reserves? Due to tradition if you were to believe the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke.

If gold is merely held because of tradition, why is the US so secretive about their gold holdings? There’s never been a full audit of the US Treasury’s gold reserves and the Federal Reserve is actively fighting all initiatives to increase transparency on US gold policy. Why? Is it because Fort Knox is the best guarded secret of no gold in the world?

US media are also quick to broadcast any negative news about gold. Pieces like this filled with random noise is the norm. Let’s take a look at how the USD has performed if measured in gold grams since 1953.


Chart 3: Source: BullionStar Charts

Whereas 1 US dollar could buy 0.89 grams of gold in 1953, it only buys 0.03 grams of gold today. The US dollar has lost 97 % of its value compared to gold since 1953.

To summarize, India is the country in the world most openly discouraging its population to hoard gold but other countries like Switzerland and the US have also adopted policies which can be described as anti-gold.

URA improves property price index (PPI) to better reflect price changes in private residential market

Data don’t lie but how it is sliced can lead to different pictures. Therefore in a bid to improve the methodology, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) released the flash estimate of the private residential property price index (PPI) for 1st Quarter 2015. The rationale for the revision is because there is greater variation in the housing size and age profile of the private housing developments. With this in mind, URA has decided to switch to a regression method and used the period of 1Q2009 as baseline reference.

Flash estimate of 1st Quarter 2015 PPI

Using the revised methodology for the PPI, the overall private residential property index fell by 1.1%. This is the sixth continuous quarter of price decrease. This moderate decline is within my expectation and in my view, the slide is expected to continue unless the government lift some of the restrictive cooling measures.

Prices of non-landed private residential properties declined in all market segments, as they did in the previous quarter. Price fell 0.6% in Core Central Region (CCR), 1.8% in Rest of Central Region (RCR), and 0.9% in Outside Central Region (OCR). Prices of landed properties fell 1.1%.

The flash estimates are compiled based on transaction prices given in contracts submitted for stamp duty payment, caveats lodged and survey data on new units sold by developers during the first ten weeks of the quarter. The statistics will be updated 4 weeks later when URA releases the full real estate statistics for 1st Quarter 2015, which captures more data from the caveats lodged, stamp duty records and the take-up of new projects.

Past data have shown that the difference between the quarterly price changes indicated by the flash estimate and the actual price changes could be significant when the change is small. The public is advised to interpret the flash estimates with caution.

To see the graphical trend, please refer to here.

When will the correction occur?

Since the implementation of total debt servicing ration (TDSR), many people has been predicting a major correction of up to 20% for the private property market.  However, this scenario has not been materialized. In my opinion, the correction will only arrive when there is a financial crisis. As I have reiterated many times in my blog, government policies can only be effective up to a certain point. The most effective means to bring down the feverish investment property market is through a financial crisis.

Perhaps a spike in the bank interest rates could help to accelerate the correction? Only time will tell but I foresee that the current stand-off between buyers and developers will not be for too long.

Magically yours

SG Wealth Builder

Want a High Salary Career? Try Computer Science or Medecine.

By Team Wall Street Survivor

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The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 5.5% in February as the country added 295,000 jobs. Which is good news considering it was 10% right after the 2008 recession. The U.S. private sector(not government controlled) added nearly 190,000 jobs in March, which was slightly below economist expectations. Nevertheless, the economy is chugging along and seems to be in good health. Keep reading to find out the most in demand and well paying jobs and how to get a high salary career in 2015.

Where Are the New Jobs Coming From?

According to this release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the biggest net change in jobs came from the following areas: food services, professional and business services, construction, health care, transportation and warehousing industries.

Employment in food services led the way, with nearly 60,000 jobs added in February 2015, up from an average of 35,000 over the previous 12 months.

But if you don’t want to end up flipping burgers, there are other options available. The professional and business services came in next, with improvement in employment in the technical consulting sector of the industry. Computer systems design and engineering services areas are growing as well.

That result somewhat echoes the findings of research conducted through job bulletin board Looking through the number of job postings on Indeed, an article by Fortune magazine found that the healthcare and technology industries were both at the top of the pile. Both industries had 5 different jobs in the top 25. Healthcare’s top performers were nurses, physical therapists, and personal health caregivers.

Take a Look at Indeed’s Top 10 Most In Demand Jobs

1. Registered nurses

2. Truck drivers

3. Customer service representatives

4. Sales managers

5. Sales representatives

6. First-line supervisors or managers of retail sales workers

7. Software quality assurance engineers and testers

8. General and operations managers

9. Managers (all other)

10. Accountants and auditors

What if you were interested in which jobs were not only in demand but also paid well?

You’re in luck.

Last month Glassdoor, the jobs website that allows users to post salary information as well as company reviews, released its 25 Highest Paying Jobs In Demand report – identifying the careers that pay the most and are also in demand by employers all over the U.S.

The list was put together using data from the website’s databases. To qualify for contention, each job had to have at least 75 salary reports in the last year, and had to be in the top half rank for number of job openings.

Again, technology leads the way taking 14 of the 25 spots in the list. Healthcare also makes a strong showing with 4 spots.

Here Are Glassdoor’s Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs

1. Physician

2. Pharmacy Manager

3. Software Architect

4. Software Development Manager

5. Finance Manager

6. Solutions Architect

7. Lawyer

8. Analytics Manager

9. IT Manager

10. Tax Manager

These 2 lists are not really the same. The top in-demand career according to Indeed was registered nurse, while Glassdoor has physician topping its list. This is because the Glassdoor list is limited to high-paying careers. Not one career in that list made less than $90,000 as an average base salary.


The top earning in-demand career on Glassdoor made over 50% more than the second best item on the list. With an average base salary of $212,000, physicians made over twice what Pharmacy Managers made ($131,000). However becoming a physician also requires the most training. The cost of a medical degree is around $300,000 these days. Healthcare in general did well on this list, with pharmacist, pharmacy manager, and physician assistant all making the top 20.

For those so technologically inclined, technology is also a good route to take. This area took up 14 of the top 25 slots with jobs like Software Architect, Software Development Manager, Solutions Architect, Analytics Manager, IT Manager, Computer Hardware Engineer, Database Administrator, UX Designer, and Software Engineer all making the cut.

Software Engineer, coming in at number 23, was by far the most in-demand career with over 99,000 job openings posted on Glassdoor! The average base salary for a software engineer was $96,000! The difference in salary between the jobs at the bottom half of the list was just $10,000. It would appear that Software Engineer is the clear winner.

So how can I become a Software Engineer you ask? Simple, software Engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or math. It is possible to be a self-taught software engineer, learning the craft by using online resources.

It is not surprising that software engineers play such a big role in today’s world. Even companies that are not necessarily tech-oriented need people with the skills and ability to manipulate technology and coding.


Outside of tech and healthcare, the job of finance manager scored pretty highly with a base salary of over $100k and 9200 job openings on Glassdoor. This makes being a finance manager a great alternative if business is down your alley.

If you want to gain employment in a field where there is excess demand and high salaries you’re best off studying medicine, computer science or finance.

Data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers appears to agree, as the chart above shows. The top 3 degrees that employers coveted were finance, accounting and computer science.

The job landscape has changed over the last decade. Lawyer, once the most popular profession, is less attractive than it used to be. As technology improves, and more and more business shifts online, there is an ever growing ever need for students versed in computer science. Finally, as people live longer and longer, the need for adequate healthcare increases – this explains why the trend of in-demand careers in the healthcare field will not end anytime soon.

But as one can imagine – it’s also important to do something you are interested in and have a passion for. The jobs above are just a guide. Nothing can guarantee that by studying medicine or finance that you will make the kind of money detailed above. Sometimes it’s better to just become a master of what you love doing and the money will follow.

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How to Survive When the Bull Market Tops Out

By Team Wall Street Survivor

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The S&P and Dow Jones are making record highs, and U.S new home sales are at their highest levels in seven years. What could go wrong?

The market is overheating. Which indicates that a correction is in the near future.

In March 2009, the S&P hit a decade-low 676. The stock market was in a panic.

Now after a nearly seven year long bull run (where prices are rising) the S&P 500 is above 2000 and people are starting to get itchy. The U.S. market has run its course and a recession might be in the cards.

Reports of record M&A activity (mergers & acquisitions) and ailing corporate foreign profits, begs the question on the mind of any investor: are we at a market top?

What is a Market Top?

A market top, simply defined, is the highest point of the stock market. It is hard to pick out a market top as it is happening. The difficulty is that investors cannot know for certain whether the market has reached its highest point or if it will continue rising.

That’s why experienced investors turn to indicators to help them out.

For example, M&A markets tend to get overheated near market tops. U.S. M&A activity recently surpassed the 2007 peak of $1.3 trillion, reaching $1.4 trillion in 2014 – representing a huge increase on the $900 billion in deals brokered the previous year. Remember that the previous peak was followed by the global recession in 2008 and you see why this might be important.


But who knows what will happen in 2015. M&A activity could continue for years more before we see any meaningful correction in the stock market. Indicators are useful but are not gospel.

Others like to look at the average breadth and length of previous market runs to get a sense of where the current market push lies.

How Does Today’s Bull Market Stack Up?

Since 1932, there have been 12 bull markets, ranging in duration from 14 months to 148 months, with an average of 60 months. The current bull market, at 72 months of age, is decidedly middle-aged. It may not be ready to set off into the sunset just yet but it is definitely closing in on its late stage.

m2 Source:; *data current to December 2013

The 11 previous bull markets gained between 74% and 582%, with an average gain of 185%. The current bull market has gained about 250% since March 2009. That means an investment of $10,000 in March 2009 would be worth $25,000 today. The return of 250% puts this bull market in third place behind December 1987-March 2000 and June 1949-August 1956. Again we see that today’s market is quite mature.

Once more it is hard to say definitively that the stock market is ready to take a plunge. Statistics mean nothing to the individual. What’s to stop this current bull market from breaking record after record? What’s stopping it from ripping past the previous record of a 582% gain?

All bull markets end, but not because they become long in the tooth or people simply feel that it is “time”. Bull markets end because of excesses that build up over time; just like how the Great Recession of 2008 was the cause of excesses built up in the housing market and an overleveraged banking system.

That truth is that it is hard to predict where these excesses will build. Americans are more confident about the economy than ever. Hiring is up and unemployment is down. Unemployment has fallen to 5.5% from 10% in 2009 and the plunge in oil prices has given the average American a kind of unexpected tax break, putting more money in their pockets. The Federal Reserve has also played its part, incentivizing investors to invest in equities by keeping the returns on bonds extremely low.

Another indicator that people often turn to is investor sentiment, which has, over the years, been a fairly reliable indicator of an approaching market top. It won’t give you the exact timing but it can tell if a market is vulnerable or not.

At market tops there is unanimous bullish sentiment. Money managers are confident and fully invested. When there is no money left to be invested you are at a market top. As word gets around, people start selling, setting off a bear market.



Looking at the chart above it would seem that there is no danger ahead. Bullish sentiment has surged 11 percentage points to 38.4 but is actually lower than its long-term average of 38.8. Sentiment has been in a downward trend since the end of 2014, signalling that the bears are coming out of hibernation. That would suggest that investors are a bit nervous. It might be that investors are waiting to see what impact the Fed will have when they announce their intentions in regards to interest rates today.

So the question remains, are we at a market top?

Answer: hard to say for sure, but we’re definitely near the top. If I had a lot of money in the market I would start to prepare for a stock market reversal by lowering my exposure while simultaneously keeping track of a host of indicators. I would look at the VIX indicator to get a measure of how anxious the market is. I would pay very close attention to the Fed and what interest rates are doing. I would also want to look at how money is moving across the world. If the return of U.S. treasuries rise then it is very likely that money will start to flow into the U.S. from other countries, propping up the economy and furthering a bull run.

The last thing I would do is look at what the pros are doing. For example, Warren Buffet has been increasing his exposure to cash, meaning he is taking a more conservative approach that other investors might be smart to follow.

As they say: better safe than sorry!

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A nation in disgrace

Would you take our children to court if they do not support us when we are old and jobless? This was the question that I posed to my wife after I saw an article by a money blogger who regretted the way he treated his late father.  Apparently, he was not on good term with his father and was compelled by the family court to support his father under the Maintenance of Parents Act.

After reading his article, I could feel his remorse, but I was not impressed with him either. To be taken to court by parents is a shameful thing, especially in an Asian society like Singapore, where family disputes are often confined within homes. Because of dignity and face value, very few parents are inclined to haul their children to court for not supporting them. Those who did are usually driven to desperation and forced to make their children pay up.

The Maintenance of Parents Act was promulgated in 1995 to give parents above 60 years old who could not support themselves the legal means to claim maintenance from their children. The implementation of such an Act in a First World country like Singapore shows the lack of social value and filial piety among many Singaporeans. Apparently, such social tragedies are becoming the norm nowadays and the government was even forced to amend the Act in 2010 to make more children support their needy parents.

Even though I am the sole breadwinner, I am still supporting my mother and mother-in-law financially. My wife and I share the same value and believe that this is the right thing to do. This is because our parents’ generation is totally different from our generation. They belong to the baby boomers’ era and most of them did not receive good education. They do not understand what is financial planning and how to invest when they are young. Because of this, many of them do not have the retirement nest nor the means to support themselves when they grow old. So if we do not support them, they are practically doomed because there is hardly any social security for the poor and elderly in Singapore.

However, my generation is different, We are mostly highly educated and have the opportunities to build wealth in our prime. We know the importance of investing for our future and are able to upgrade our skills and knowledge to enhance our earning abilities. Because of this, we should not have the mentality to rely on our children for financial support when we are old because it is our responsibilities to secure the kind of retirement lifestyle we aspire. We owe the previous generation too much for giving us such a good head-start, henceforth, starting from this generation, we need to break the cycle.

To become financially independent when we are old, we must start to enhance our earning ability and build wealth in the early stages of our life cycle. This is one of the missions of SG Wealth Builder – to expound how to make money, to build wealth and preserve wealth. Hopefully, readers of my blog would not suffer the terrible fate of using The Maintenance of Parents Act to seek monies from children.

Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

Who Will Win the “Connected Car” Wars?

By Team Wall Street Survivor

Wall Street Survivor Courses

The connected car is here – a vehicle able to optimize the driving experience for comfort, performance and entertainment using onboard sensors and internet connectivity.

Consulting firm McKinsey & Company estimates the global market for connectivity components and services to be worth around $30 billion, and is expected to increase 5x over the 5 years. By 2020, one in five cars will be connected to the internet, delivering services through the car – internet radio, smartphone capabilities, information/entertainment services, driver-assistance apps, tourism information and more.

Today’s car is a modern wonder, carrying the computing power of 20 personal computers and processing up to 25 gigabytes of data an hour. In the past, the presence of onboard computers was meant to optimize a car’s internal functions but today, these components are all about user experience.

According to a study by Spanish broadband and telecommunications provider Telefonica, almost three-quarters of drivers surveyed are interested in or are already using connected car services. A similar number of people felt cars will soon have a level of connectivity on par with the smartphone most people carry in their pockets.

With so much real estate in the marketplace, established tech companies will be fighting to gain market share. Apple recently introduced Carplay, a vehicular-based operating system. Dubbed “the best iPhone experience on four wheels”, Carplay allows drivers to use their iPhone through their car’s media systems. Motorists can send messages, choose music, or even receive directions – all via voice command.

The Carplay system will be available across 29 car brands, including Ford, BMW and Toyota. Meanwhile, Google has formed the Open Automotive Alliance, an alliance of auto manufacturers and tech companies aimed at using the Android platform in automobiles. In June 2014, Google announced that it had 40 partners from all across the world.

One of the more unexpected competitors is Blackberry. The struggling company acquired Ottawa-based QNX Software Systems in 2010, providing a foot-in-the-door of the nascent connected car market. QNX was previously an industry leader in telematics –the blending of computers and wireless communications in vehicles – and today commands more than half of the rapidly growing market for in-car “infotainment”. While QNX only provides 8% of Blackberry’s revenue, it is the one area where the former giant still commands leadership. As of January this year, QNX said its software can be found in more than 50 million vehicles globally.

And so it would seem that Apple, Google and Blackberry are all jockeying for pole position, but the truth is there is far more collaboration going on behind the scenes. Carplay can run on a QNX-based system, a system that is also capable of running Android apps. In fact QNX’s VP of sales and marketing remarked that “I’ve never thought of us as a competitor…We have been working with Apple for many years”. He also said that “Google and QNX have been collaborating for years – including on the integration of Google Earth into Audi cars”.


QNX will likely continue to lead the market for the next few years. Apple will likely continue to focus on their Carplay offering, making it the most elegant on-board infotainment solution out there. Apple sees the connected car as just another accessory. They want to be in as many cars as possible, and both companies want to make money but the difference is in where the money comes from. QNX’s prerogative is to strike deals with automotive partners while Apple targets the consumer directly – extending the Apple store into the car.

Google might be on a completely different path. Although they may start out with infotainment, Google is hungry for data. Google’s $40 billion in annual revenue is driven by advertising and “access to information about exactly how and where millions of people are driving would further its advertising ventures”. The fact that Google is building an automobile-specific Android OS shows how serious they are. Staking their claim in this market will only help them in their quest for dominance in another: the autonomous car. The seamless combination of both elements, autonomy and connectivity, is the big payoff Google is looking for.

Top automobile manufacturers have been working on components for autonomous cars for years. Automatic parking systems are evidence of that. However Google has the head start, having worked in the field for years.

It’s all coming together and the future looks exciting. In the long-term, Google is more of a competitor to automotive manufacturers than Apple or Blackberry; they are the ones who actually have the most to gain by entering the automobile market. It is easy to imagine a future where Google outsources the manufacture of autonomous vehicles under the branding of established players. They might even go so far as to produce autonomous vehicles under their own branding.


No matter what happens, automotive giants will have to watch carefully and consider their strategy. Do they engage with Google on their own terms? Do they hold their stance? Should they put more resources into driverless technology or look into building autonomous technology of their own?

The connected car movement looks to give rise to the autonomous car, and they represent the short and long-term future of automobiles respectively. As technology improves, connectivity and driverless features may converge into a perfect autonomous driving experience spearheaded by Google. Imagine getting into your car, opening up your tablet or device – synced to your car’s on-board systems – to listen to Pandora and getting some work done while being driven to work.

I’d like to see that future. Make it happen Google!

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Philip Fisher – New Stock Investment Legend on

By meetinvest

Philip Fisher — 68 Years in the Saddle This week we’re introducing you to American investment legend Philip Fisher (1907-2004). Fisher worked for a stock exchange firm for a short time before starting his own money management company, Fisher & Co., in 1931. He managed the company’s affairs until his retirement in 1999 at the […]

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Homeowners feel the heat from rising interest rate

It is like a rude shock to a sweet dream. Singapore homeowners are given a reality check since the start of the year when the key interest shot up like nobody business. Perhaps it is a sign of things to come but the trend is expected for a long time since the last financial crisis in 2008, which led to many countries to adopt loose monetary policies in the form of quantitative easing, notably from United States, Europe, Japan and China.

According to the Association of Banks in Singapore’s website, the latest three-month Singapore interbank offered rate, SIBOR, was 0.972% as of 20th March 2015. This was the highest level since 2008 amid expectations that United States Federal Reserve would possibly raise the lending rates mid of this year.

Obviously the above information is bad news for home-owners who borrowed a lot from the banks to finance their properties. Any slight incremental increase in the lending rate would affect their spending abilities.

I can relate to homeowners’ fear as I have home mortgage loan as well. Any form of market uncertainty is bad from a homeowner’s point of view because of budgeting concerns. Incidentally, in a few months’ time, the tenure of my mortgage loan will expire and I am looking to refinance my mortgage loan. The amount is not significant and I can choose to repay in full with my savings and CPF monies. However, doing so would reduce my cash flow and affect my ability to upgrade to a bigger house to cater to my growing family size. So my wife and I decided to go for refinancing after weighing the opportunity costs.

For HDB owners who have sizeable outstanding loans and choose to repay in 25 years, the best option is always to opt for HDB concessionary loan as it is probably one of the most affordable loans in town.  If your loan is less than $150,000, you may want to consider repaying the amount in 10 years so as to incur lesser interest fees. In this case, it make sense to opt for bank loans because the shorter the tenure, the lower the risk of swelling interest rates. Do note that there is always a market cycle and this applies to interest rates as well. The era of hot money and low rate interest environment may be coming to an end.

The market for housing loans is very competitive in Singapore, with many banks offering a variety of loans pegging to SIBOR, SOR and Board rates. There are some like DBS and POSB which offer interest-cap rates to protect homeowners from unexpected rise in interest rate.

Bewildered by the multitude of mortgage packages on the market? Turn to the FREE service of an iCompareLoan mortgage expert today!

For advice on a new home loan.

For refinancing information.

Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

When is the best time for you to invest in great businesses?

Investment moats is the competitive advantage of a company that allows it to fend off competition from its rivals and enable it to earn excess returns for many years. According to Morningstar’s Why Moats Matter, there is a stock research process which guides investors on how to invest in great businesses at the right time and make money from the stock market.

The process involves a bottom-up approach which requires investors to identify the company’s moat(s), establish the fair value and determine the margin of safety. On the surface, it may seem straightforward but when you put it into practice, it is not so simple.

Moat Sources

According to Morningstar’s investment framework, there are five main sources that a company may possess: intangible assets, cost advantage, switching costs, network effect and efficient scale. Now why is having a moat source important from an investor’s point of view? If you recall that 15 years ago, Nokia used to dominate the worldwide mobile phone market and boasted the majority market share for a number of years. However, the entry of Apple’s iphone in 2007 changed the game and led to a dramatic shift towards smartphone, leading to Nokia losing its status as the market leader. Therefore in a competitive market, a firm must have the ability to withstand the onslaught of competition for a long period of time. Otherwise, growth would not be sustainable.

Fair Value

If a house is worth $300,000, would you pay $450,000 for it? You might probably do so if you like the house very much and intend to stay in it for a long time. However, if the house is meant for investment purposes, you would benefit from the capital gain from the sale of the house if you sell the house above $450,000. But that is only if you have the holding power and patience to wait until it appreciate to a value much higher than $450,000. Likewise in the equity market, there are opportunities to buy stocks below their intrinsic values. Don’t buy stocks when the market is bullish and when many stocks are trading at ridiculous prices above their fair value.

There are several ways to establish a fair value of a company. One way is through looking at the current price and earnings, in short the P/E method. Based on this metric, you estimate the future cash flow and growth rate. Morningstar’s approach is to use the discounted cash flow metric which looks at the revenue, earnings and balance sheet for the next few years and then discount these values to the present using the weighted cost of capital (WACC).

Margin of Safety

If you go shopping, would you prefer to buy that watch that you desired for a long time at a bargain? In stock market, you stand a good chance of not losing money if you have bought the stock at a price worth than the value which you had estimated. This is the hallmark of a successful investor but it is not easy to achieve this because no one can accurately pin point the actual value of a stock.

To ensure that the odds are in your favor, the best time to invest in stock is during black swan events – stock market crashes.

Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

The Times – The New Trend Clicking with DIY Investors

By meetinvest

By David Budworth – The Times Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are used by hundreds of millions of people everyday and have revolutionised communication. Now, networking techniques are being employed by a growing number of websites that claim to be able to help you become a better investor. Each does things […]

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The Financial Planning Pyramid: Life After Debt

By Team Wall Street Survivor

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There’s something about wrapping a geometrical shape around a complicated subject that makes it more manageable. So it is with financial planning, and the triangle in which its complex dimensions are so neatly contained is the Financial Planning Pyramid.

The Financial Planning Pyramid is a navigational tool designed to help individuals create sensible personal financial plans. It acknowledges that smart financial planning needs to consider the big picture and not just individual parts in isolation. So while retirement in the sun might be a person’s long-term goal teetering at the top of the pyramid, they first need to navigate a progressive path of shorter-term plans that logically ascend toward it.

In other words, you can’t advance to the next stage until you have fulfilled the one before it.

The pyramid’s hierarchical structure illustrates the maxim that the greater the risk, the greater the opportunity for reward. The higher up you travel, the less firm is the footing, but also the bigger is the potential return.

There are various iterations of the Financial Planning Pyramid on offer, but they all espouse a common philosophy of financial preparedness. As one’s financial life advances and grows in sophistication, income protection diminishes in priority, and wealth accumulation takes its place.

The tool’s useful, too, for the way its logic can be extended across a range of personal circumstances. So whether you are the penny pincher on the city bus or the spendthrift in the Aston Martin, there’s application for your scenario inside the pyramid’s bounds.

Approach the Pyramid from the bottom up.

The Base Level: Debt

A good financial plan builds upon a solid foundation that appreciates the importance of having the basics covered before launching a charge toward the pursuit of grander financial goals.

And so this first level is all about a clearing of the trees for a fresh harvest. In other words: getting rid of debt.

We’re talking the extraordinary kind of debt, like crippling credit card bills and massive student loans — the kind of dragging liabilities that see folks with subterranean credit ratings struggling to even cover their minimum monthly payments.

And so emergency funds and vacation savings be damned, individuals dwelling at this level of the pyramid need to get a handle on the B word — budget — before they can even fathom advancing to the next. The basics of budgeting are well explained on a whack of sites, and some offer smart, free money-mastery courses — see and — but the essential trick requires establishing how much you have got coming in and making sure it exceeds how much you have got going out.

Next Comes “Protection.”

The guy who’s reached this level of the pyramid may well still have the odd debt to his name, but it’s manageable stuff. And he’s gotten a handle on his expenses-versus-earnings ratio. In other words, he’s above water, but still just one big wave away from crashing into a sea of troubles.

It’s here that preemptive action kicks in to guard against potentially bank-busting calamities. Think death, illness, accidents, job loss and other of life’s uncertainties that can rack up massive out-of-pocket expenses. By undertaking some basic defensive financial actions, individuals can protect themselves against their economic hits.

Yanking yourself above this level requires prudent forethought. Here, investors are reminded of the importance of maintaining a savings reserve; taking out life, liability, health and disability insurance; amassing emergency funds (financial advisors recommend saving between three and six months worth of expenses); creating a will; and continuing along your debt-reduction path. The concept of cash flow is critical at the protection level, so don’t lose sight of your budget.

healthinsurance (2)

The Next Step Up is “Wealth Accumulation.”

Here, having secured a certain amount of security by way of preemptive financial moves, investors can begin to consider a financial future that extends beyond the basics. The person who’s reached this level has more than enough money to deal with his debts, has covered all his emergency needs and now has extra income enough to start investing.

This is the most important layer of your pyramid.

investment4 (2)

The individuals at the wealth-accumulation level aren’t as concerned with saving for retirement — outside of IRAs and 401ks — as they are with building a diversified portfolio, assessing their risk tolerance and establishing their investing goals. Here’s where you’d do well to score yourself some investing education, like the concepts of behavioral finance, the principle of compound interest and how to choose a broker. Acquiring this kind of knowledge fortification reassures a newbie investor with an appreciation for the long-range growth of the markets, and furnishes him with the confidence to invest assertively.

The various vehicles in which that investment might take place include savings, retirement funds, education savings, bonds, shares, mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs).

At the Top is “Wealth Distribution.”

At this, the top tier of the Financial Planning Pyramid, we have moved into the surplus-and-succession stage. Here, the efforts an individual has put into accruing wealth during the lower tiers of the pyramid get to be joyfully played out. Having built their wealth to a level that sustains their desired lifestyle, it’s at this pinnacle point that investors consider the particulars of how to most effectively and satisfyingly expend it. Perhaps they’ll buy a new car or a condo. Maybe they’ll start a business or travel the world. Or they might dedicate their fortune to their children, either via college funds or through establishing trust funds whose proceeds might be distributed upon their demise.

For individuals who own their own businesses, succession plans should also be spelled out now.

retirement_savings_plan (2)

And while tax and estate planning need to be considered at every step up your orderly ascent of the pyramid — taxes are facts of life, after all, and their reach is long enough to cast a shadow throughout — they’re particularly critical now, as individuals consider transferring it to the next generation through these means.

At the least, this is when these well prepared investors can start planning their retirement with more intent, and start living their lives without having to suffer the crushing burden of money anxiety.

The post The Financial Planning Pyramid: Life After Debt appeared first on Wall Street Survivor Blog.

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Get your Home’s Gain or Loss in 3 Fast and Easy Steps

SG Wealth Builder is pleased to form a partnership with SRX Singapore Property to bring you the latest information on how to build your wealth through property in Singapore. Below article is based on information provided by SRX Research and readers must not interpret it as a form of financial advice. Many Singaporeans want to make money and become rich quick but very few bother to acquire the investment knowledge needed to build wealth. Check out how to be a successful wealth builder in Singapore.
Big data and computers bring transparency to the real estate market.
This means, going forward, you will never be in the dark when it comes to the market value of your home.

SRX Property’s X-Value combines big data and computers to give you a single point.

Developed with government agencies, academics, and valuers, it sources from the nation’s most comprehensive property database and instantaneously calculates a single value for every home in Singapore using best practices methodologies including comparable market analysis.

As a computer-driven price mechanism, X-Value, factors in all the comparables and adjusts for important variables like location, size, floor, and age.

It also factors in macro trends from its proprietary price indices; and important on-the-ground information from thousands of market participants interacting with SRX Property apps and pricing data on a daily basis.

It’s impossible for a human, even if it had access to all SRX Property’s raw property and geospatial data, to do what a computerized price mechanism does in seconds in terms of accuracy, data completeness, relevancy, and objectivity.

Already, people are requesting over 60,000 X-Values per month. Last year, 93.8% of HDB homes were transacted within 10% of the X-Value.

Monitoring the market value of your home is fast and easy.

Follow this three step process:

1.  Write down your purchase price on a piece of paper.

2.  Go to and select the X-Value calculator and enter your unit details

3.  Subtract the X-Value from your purchase price.


The result shows your gain or loss.  In this example, your gain is $980,000

Colin Nicholson – New Stock Investment Legend on

By meetinvest

This week we’re launching Australian private investor, author and teacher, Colin Nicholson’s strategy. A man who’s been investing his own money for over 45 years will surely resonate with many of you. An Active Approach Colin Nicholson approaches investing actively, and looks to take advantage of trends running from several months to several years. He […]

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Apple Joins Dow Jones but Who Cares?

By Team Wall Street Survivor

Courses marketplace

Apple will join the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) on March 19, replacing telecommunications giant AT&T, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices – the subsidiary of McGraw Hill Financial Inc. that owns the Dow Jones.

The addition is a historic event, as Apple gains entry to an extremely exclusive club. Yet even though the DJIA is well-known and remains the most followed stock market index, it is also one of the most inaccurate and distorted.

What Is an Index?

A stock market index is an group of selected stocks that attempts to describe the market according to the index’s goals. For example, the S&P 500 is an index made up of 500 of the most widely traded stocks in the U.S. and makes up about 70% of the total value of the overall U.S. stock market.

The Original Dow

The Dow, as it is simply known, is a stock market index created by Dow Jones & Company co-founder Charles Dow in 1896. At its conception, it consisted of just 12 stocks. They were:

American Cotton Oil Company
American Sugar Company
American Tobacco Company
Chicago Gas Company
Distilling & Cattle Feeding Company
General Electric
Laclede Gas Company
National Lead Company
North American Company
Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company
U.S. Leather Company
United States Rubber Company

These 12 companies were purely industrial stocks, and only General Electric is still part of the Dow – the rest either defunct or removed over the last 112 years. Today, it is an index of 30 blue-chip stocks, companies with a reputation for quality, reliability and consistency; it shows how 30 publically traded companies have traded during a regular stock market day.

The Dow Today

Company Stock Market Ticker Market Cap (Billions)
3M MMM 103.3
American Express AXP 82.2
AT&T T 170
Boeing BA 106.8
Caterpillar CAT 48
Chevron CVX 191
Cisco Systems CSCO 142.6
Coca-Cola KO 174.4
DuPont DD 72.9
ExxonMobil XOM 351.8
General Electric GE 252.1
Goldman Sachs GS 82.5
Home Depot HD 151.3
Intel INTC 146.5
IBM IBM 152.5
Johnson & Johnson JNJ 275.9
JP Morgan Chase JPM 227.4
McDonald’s MCD 92.6
Merck MRK 159.5
Microsoft MSFT 339.5
Nike NKE 82.8
Pfizer PFE 208.8
Procter & Gamble PG 221
Travelers TRV 34.3
UnitedHealth Group UNH 109.9
United Technologies UTX 107.7
Verizon VZ 198.9
Visa V 162.7
Wal-Mart WMT 264
Walt Disney DIS 180.9

Why the Dow Is Useless

Despite its popularity the Dow has many weaknesses as a benchmark for the overall U.S. stock market. The above 30 companies represent just a quarter of the entire U.S. market. There are over 10,000 companies in the overall market, and a one-percent change in the Dow does not equal a one-percent change in the entire market. This has to do with the way the index is put together.

The Dow Jones is constructed using a price-weighted function rather than using a market cap weighting. That means if two stocks are the same price, say $100, then a 1% change in either stock will have the same effect on the Dow regardless of the size of the stock – even if the company is Apple, with a market cap of $700 billion, or Caterpillar with a market cap of just $48 billion.

Source: The Walt Disney Company

Basically a Dow component with a high stock price can cause significant changes in the index with smaller moves than can a Dow component with a low stock price. A $100 stock will have 10x the weight of a $10 stock.

As of today, Goldman Sachs ($192) and Visa ($270) have the highest priced stocks in the Dow and as a result wield the most influence on it. Imagine if Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway were included! (Current share price: $219,502)

The other problem is that the DJIA is a fluctuating index in its construction. In 1896 the index consisted of 12 companies. In 1916 that number rose to 20 and then again to 30 in 1928. That number has stayed constant for the last 87 years but since then the component companies have been changed more than 50 times. This makes it hard to compare the performance of the index over time.

Not Enough Tech

Finally, the index is not representative of the true economy. As it stands the Dow has four true-blue tech companies. They are Cisco, IBM, Intel and Microsoft – which together account for 10% of the Dow index. On the other hand, the tech sector is one-fifth of the overall market (as measured by the S&P 500).

If you consider that the National Science Foundation cites data that “technology-intensive” industries contribute 40% of U.S. GDP then we begin to see how the Dow grossly undervalues the tech sector. If the Dow is attempting to be a facsimile of the U.S. market then it is definitely falling short.

So What About Apple?

The inclusion of Apple could make the Dow more vulnerable to sharp moves. The index generally is made up of more-mature, less-volatile companies and Apple’s shares have nearly double the volatility of AT&T’s.

At the same time, Apple has cemented its status as a blue-chip stock. The Dow is known as an index of blue-chip stocks and Apple’s entry is proof enough of its reliability for many stock market trackers and analysts.

What we can now expect is a price increase for the MacBook and iPhone maker. In the past, studies have shown that being added to indices such as the S&P500 have resulted in gains in the company’s stock price. This happened mainly due to a rise in purchases of the stock by index funds and ETFs tracking the index. Remember, you can’t invest directly in an index like the Dow Jones; you have to invest obliquely through an ETF. This is unlikely to happen with the Dow because the funds that track it are much smaller than the ones that track an index like the S&P 500. The smaller the amount of money going around and thus the smaller the total purchase, the less effect there will be on a stock as large as Apple.

What about the Dow?

The Dow Jones chugs on. The market shifts and changes the Dow adapts, reflecting the changing face of U.S. blue chip stocks. Like some sort of stock market spouse, GE is the only company that has stuck through it in the good times and bad. The addition of Apple to the Dow is just another one in a long line of entries and exits and we can expect more in the future. While the Dow is not the best indicator for the overall market, its not going anywhere.

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Capital Match: Singapore’s Peer-to-Peer Lending Fintech

Capital MatchKevin LimCapital Match

Capital MatchSince SG Wealth Builder was founded in 2010, I had the opportunities to meet CEOs and entrepreneurs who unselfishly shared with me their visions and investment insights. Today, I am excited to be granted an email interview with Pawel Kuznicki, co-founder of Capital Match. The company is a peer-to-peer lending fintech start-up in Singapore.

1) Can you share with the readers your background and business model?
I started my career as a consultant with McKinsey & Company in Europe and Africa. Then I moved to Rocket Internet, global venture builder, to build their portfolio companies in Southeast Asia (Zalora and Lazada). Last year I started my current business, Capital Match.

Capital Match is a peer-to-peer lending online marketplace to SMEs. Peer-to-peer lending is essentially banking without a bank as an intermediary – investors lend money directly to companies with Capital Match facilitating the transactions by providing credit risk assessment, legal documentation and debt collection services.

We mainly serve SMEs who cannot get a bank loan (a majority of SMEs in Singapore). We provide them loans of SGD 50,000-200,000 for a term of 3-12 months. Loans are syndicated with multiple investors providing funds to one borrower. The interest rates vary from 1.5% to 2.5% per month (on top of it there is additional processing fee of 0.2-0.5% per month). Investors have full discretion which loans to invest in and what amount. Their return is interest rate less 20% commission that Capital Match collects.

2) What are the needs that your business is addressing?
1. Of SMEs: Providing SMEs with a substantial alternative financing option to improve their working capital or stimulate the growth
2. Investors: Providing alternative investment option with full operational support offering 1.2-2% return per month (15-25% annualized) and a minimum investment of S$1,000

3) How does peer-to-peer platform works?
Let me explain it in step-by-step process:
1. Borrower and lenders have to first register on the platform by providing required identification documents (list is available during registration process)
2. Once user’s account is activated, they can engage in a funding process
a) Borrower submits a loan request to us specifying the loan details
b) We perform credit risk assessment, proposing a final loan request proposal to the borrower for his approval
c) Subsequently, the loan request is made available on the platform for investors to commit funds
d) Investors can view all the open loan requests and commit funds as they wish – they decide which company to fund and in what amount
e) Once the commitment of a company reaches minimum 80%, the borrower can accept the loan request
3. Upon borrower’s acceptance of a sufficiently funded loan request, we prepare the legal documentation for both parties to enter in
4. Subsequently, the funds are disbursed to the borrower and we set up GIRO to collect monthly repayments

4) Who can apply for the loan and who can apply to be an investor?
Any private limited or LLP that is registered in Singapore can become a borrower with Capital Match. Regarding investors we accept both corporate and private investors with the only requirement being a Singapore-based bank account.

5) What is the expected rate of returns for investors?
The interest rate we charge to borrowers is 1.5-2.5% per month depending on the credit risk involved. Our commission is 20%, so investors can expect 1.2-2% net return per month.

6) What are your views on SME borrowing money to fund their business expansion?
I expect the SME market for borrowing funds from alternative sources to expand, mainly due to mainstream banks scaling down their lending operations, especially in commercial space. Also alternative financing options are also attractive to corporate borrowers who are currently not served by banks at all.

7) Peer-to-peer lending is growing rapidly in the US, UK and China but it has yet to really take off in Singapore. In your view, what do you think could be the reason?

It is still in its infancy in most countries around the world (except those three who are just at the forefront of Internet disruption). Other countries are slowly adopting it. I don’t see any particular barriers for adoption in Singapore – in fact, Singapore in many ways closely resembles mature markets, like the UK, so I would expect for the market to quickly catch up with the mentioned countries.

BullionStar Financials 2014


In a step to further increase customer transparency, BullionStar published its financial information such as sales revenue, number of orders, average order, medium order, website visits and other key data in its website on 14th March 2015.

Sales revenue was impressive and amounted to $53 million with average order of $6475. also had more than 850,000 visits from 268,000 unique visitors in 2014. Among the 180 different products that BullionStar carries, gold bars were the most popular products, consisting of 52% of its total sales, followed by silver bars (18%).

The company was started in 2012, straight after the Singapore government announced GST removal for investment grade precious metals, and became operational in 2013. SG Wealth Builder is honored to partner with BullionStar to bring new exciting technology into the precious metal industry since 2013!

BullionStar Financials 2014 - Year in Review


CPF Medisave Minimum Sum to be scrapped on 1 January 2016

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced in Parliament yesterday that the Medisave Minimum Sum will be scrapped next year January. For many Singaporeans who had been lamenting that their CPF monies “don’t really belong to them”, this is definitely a form of greater flexibility on the uses of their Medisave accounts. This is because when Singaporeans withdraw their CPF monies at age 55, they will no longer need to first top up their Medisave accounts to the MMS. Instead, they will only need to meet the withdrawal rules.

Another change would be the Medisave Maximum Ceiling, which would be fixed for each cohort of Singaporeans when they turn 65 years old. Mr Gan reiterated that the ceiling has to be raised every year to keep pace with rising inflation and increasing life expectancy. Given a choice, I would not touch my Medisave monies even if I am 55 years old now because the interest earned in Medisave account is so much higher than the current bank saving rates. However, going forward, the interest rate environment might change, so I really appreciate the scrapping of the Medisave Minimum Sum.

The revised Medisave rules is a sign that the government is beginning to soften its hardline approach on CPF monies. The previous approach involved a blanket rule that assume all Singaporeans can’t manage their personal finances and health-care costs in their retirement years. Henceforth, the need for minimum sum to prevent Singaporeans from using their Medisave before they reach retirement.

This development was in line with what PM Lee had announced a while ago – giving Singaporeans more flexibility in the use of CPF. Given our government’s conservative style, I think there would be more changes coming along for our CPF Ordinary and Special accounts. I am hoping for more good news!

Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is proposing new rules on securities-based crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is the latest investment trend that uses online technology platforms to address both the needs of investors and small-medium enterprises (SME). At one hand, retail investors are looking for viable fixed income sources to grow their wealth. On the other hand, we have start-ups and SMEs which lack access to alternative pools of private financing, other than commercial banks. This is where crowdfunding can help to bridge the gap.

In a recent consultation paper issued, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is proposing measures to facilitate crowdfunding involving securities.

Generally there are four types of crowdfunding – donation-based, reward-based, lending-based and securities-based. According to MAS, donation-based and reward-based are not subjected to securities regulation as there are no exchange of securities and promised of financial returns. However, for lending-based and securities-based, MAS deemed that they are subjected to securities rules.

Henceforth, MAS’ proposed framework for securities-based include the requirement for companies operating lending-based or securities-based crowdfunding platforms to hold Capital Markets Services (“CMS”) licenses. In addition, MAS would restrict offerings from lending-based and securities-based to only Accredited (AIs) and Institutional Investors (IIs). The rationale for this approach is because MAS aims to safeguard the interest of retail investors as there is a certain amount of risks in such investment products and MAS deemed that AIs and IIs are better positioned to handle the level of risks involved as they have more capitals and experiences.

In the paper, MAS listed a number of risks involving securities-based funding platforms, such as lack of liquidity of the investment products, potential loss of capital, frauds and closing of platforms. My view is that MAS’ concerns are probably valid because crowdfunding is something very new and is gaining tract globally in the investment community. As such, the regulatory framework is still not established in many countries. Therefore, retail investors may not be aware of the kind of risks involved in such investment schemes.

MAS’ new proposed measures would also mean that those weaker industry players would be impacted directly because of the base capital requirements. The restriction of retail investors’ participation would also mean that crowdfunding platforms have to step up their game to attract better quality of investors.

Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

Robert Hagstrom – New Investment Legend on

By meetinvest

Robert Hagstrom — Professional Investment Strategist This week we’re launching American investor Robert G. Hagstrom’s investment strategy. From 1984 to 1989, he was a financial advisor for Legg Mason Wood Walker, Inc. and then portfolio manager with First Fidelity Bank from 1989 to 1991. Later he served as President and Chief Investment Officer of Legg […]

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Go Online to Avoid Student Debt

By Team Wall Street Survivor

Courses marketplace

The cost of getting a college degree is out of control.

Since the 1980s the price of college has risen much faster than inflation. Since 1985 overall inflation was 115% while the college education inflation rate was 550% over the same period!

For the 2012-13 school year, the average annual price for undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board was $15,022 at public institutions and $39,173 at private non-profit bastions of higher learning.

The benefits of higher education are clear. Nearly 2 million bachelor’s degrees will be awarded in the United States each year . An adult working full-time with a bachelor’s degree earns an average of $46,000 compared to $30,000 for those with a high school diploma. To many, attending university means improved job prospects and earning potential.

And people are willing to leverage their future to do it. The amount of student debt that students are taking on has increased 2x over the last twenty years. The total amount of student loan debt in the United States is over $1 trillion! That’s twice the gross domestic product of Belgium!

In fact, the class of 2014 is in the record books, being the most indebted class in history. The average graduate in the class of 2014 has student loan debt on the order of $33,000 – according to data by Edvisors, a group of web sites that talk about planning and paying for college.

There are various explanations as to why college is so expensive. Schools all over the country have added improved services like having mental health counselors on staff or emergency alert services. Some of the costs are due to increased spending on construction of buildings and equipment.

But that’s not really the whole story. The main culprit is labor costs. Between 1993 and 2007 administration costs rose 61%, nearly twice as much as total university costs. Enrollment in that same period increased by 15% but administrators employed increased by 40%. Finally there are government cuts to state funding. Think about how every time there is a recession the first cuts made are often to education budgets. These cuts add up over the decades, with the cumulative effect being felt in the bank accounts of college graduates.

What About Learning Online?

An explosion in online learning options means that attaining the knowledge that comes with going to a brick-and-mortar university is easier and cheaper than ever. Some of them are even offering college credit. The University of Phoenix has a student body of 250,000 – making it the largest university in the United States.

These days colleges themselves are starting to throw up their own online classrooms as evidenced by MIT OpenCourseWare – a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content, open and available to the world. They are not alone. Harvard, Princeton and Berkeley have all embraced the online model, offering massive open online courses (MOOCs).


And it’s not just general education that is popping up online. There are very specialized options out there now. Learning to code is a niche e-learning segment that has absolutely blown up while websites like us at Wall Street Survivor focus on personal finance and investing.

The Death of the Classroom?

The argument for classroom learning is the mentor model: the idea that traditional college education will survive because, as an educational experience, it just cannot be replicated by online forums. George Mason University professor Peter Boettke says “online chat and social media do not compare to hands-on, face-to-face working through difficult issues that the physical clustering of learners provides.”

Online learning is here to stay but rather than killing off universities it is more likely that a hybrid model will win out. The demand for a quality educational experience will never go away. There is just something about online learning that doesn’t compare with classroom learning.

How Do We Solve the Student Debt Problem?

It’s hard to say. Demand for higher education is stronger than ever. The baby boom flooded colleges with willing students. College enrollment has risen by 138% over the last 40 years. This rising demand meant that increased costs had to be tolerated.

A lot of people consider community college as a way to keep their costs down. Especially when you consider that the average annual cost at a two-year college is $3000.

No matter where you go to school or what you intend on studying, the first two years are typified by a focus on general education. Why not take those classes at a community college for a fraction of the cost at a private university?


The student loan problem is real. After all, early this year President Obama outlined a proposal to offer two years of free community college tuition to students saying that “two years of college should be as free and universal in America as high school is today.”

The take-away is clear. For those who are entering college today the decision is not as clear cut as it was for previous generations. In the past people entered university because they were supposed to, or because that was what they were told the path to success looked like. They were willing and eager to take on the debt needed to complete their education.

Now students need to think carefully about their options. Higher education is still important, but so is graduating without debt. The multitude of e-learning options out there means it’s easier than ever to get a world-class education without breaking the bank.

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BullionStar is hiring!

Below is newsletter from BullionStar, a Singapore online bullion company where you can buy gold and silver at competitive prices. To be a successful wealth builder, investors must always stay ahead of the the curve and keep abreast on the latest development in investment trends. For the past few years, the government has been trying to establish Singapore as a precious metal trading hub, with the aim of creating good job opportunities for Singaporeans. The salaries offered by BullionStar is really attractive and competitive. So Singaporeans should have no valid reason to complain the lack of good paying job positions in Singapore. Read on to find out more

BullionStar is currently hiring for customer service roles. Singapore is the go to place in the world for precious metals. If you are passionate about the bullion industry, now is the time to join our team!

 We are hiring 1-2 people for customer service roles which include serving bullion customers, handling transactions, handling bullion and carrying out various administrative tasks.

BullionStar is a fast paced company. To contribute to our team you will have the following skills:

– Accurate and meticulous
– Versatile and hard working
– Communicative taking initiatives and giving feedback

The job location is BullionStar’s bullion shop, showroom and vault at 45 New Bridge Road.

Salary and benefits: The starting salary is SGD 2500 – SGD 5000 depending on knowledge, experience and skills plus one month’s bonus, reimbursement of medical bills and public gym free of charge.

Knowledge, interest and passion for precious metals is a big plus.
Please feel free to send your CV and personal letter in which you describe why you are suitable for the position and what you can contribute to BullionStar to

Kind Regards

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