Smart and Stupid Property Investors

During my in-camp reservist training a few months ago, I had a conversation with one of my army buddies regarding his matrimonial home in Clementi. He purchased the HDB flat with his wife and funded it with HDB concessionary loan about four years ago. I asked him why he didn’t look around and source for mortgage loans with lower interest rates instead. His reply to me was, “Why go for the hassle? Out of sight, out of mind!”
His response might sound cocky to many people but to me, he is just being stupid and careless with his money. Given the low interest rates for mortgage loans, he had effectively lost about $5000 in terms of higher interest incurred in the past four years. This amount of money could had been put to better use instead of giving to government agency (HDB). For example, he could have used the money to invest in himself and take up courses to upgrade his knowledge. He could also use the money for holiday trips to relax himself and enhance his well being. Instead, he chose to waste the money.
My friend is a teacher and hold the position of department head in his school. In this regard, his salary should be respectably high, but in my opinion, he is not savvy with his money. Even though he is highly educated, he could not grasp the key concepts of money and financial management. As such, I doubt that he would be a successful wealth builder in the long run. I wish he had read Property Soul’s book, which touched on how to get the most out of housing loans.The paperback can be purchased online at
The ebook can also be ordered online at Investment WorkshopAccording to her, there are generally
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How to start your investment journey

Hi SG Wealth Builder,

I am Ryan and I am currently still schooling. I have read your articles on your blog and I am very inspired by your investment journey. I would like to get advice from you on how to make my first step. I want to create an income source and at the same time, learn and gain experience in investing. As I don’t come from a very well to do family, I always face struggle when it comes to money issues, for instance school fees. I have saved up to about 1k plus dollars and would like to know how can I start learning and make my first move. Please give me advice.Thank you,
I received the email from one of my readers a couple of weeks ago and made some editorial amendments to the original content. It took me quite a while to craft out this article due to my recent massive pay cut in my day job. I was in a really distraught mode and was not quite in the right frame of mind to blog.
Investment journey
Nevertheless, I felt obliged to response to this young man because I can relate to his motivation to invest. Like him, my family struggled with money issues all the time when I was a young boy. So now that I have a better life, I hope to  mentor young Singaporeans and share some good personal finance practices. One of the key reasons for starting this blog is also to make a difference in other lives and guide young Singaporeans on the right path in managing their money.
I started to dabble in stocks when I was 17 years old. In Singapore, before you can start trading, you will need two accounts: a securities account with The Central
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BullionStar explained the difference between spot price and price premium

Below is an article from BullionStar, a bullion dealer based in Singapore where you can buy and store gold and silver at competitive prices. BullionStar was established in 2012 after Singapore government exempted investment grade precious metals from the goods and services tax (GST). Just like BullionStar, one of 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. 

Product Price Premium
Precious metals and bullion products in physical form often have a higher price than the spot-price. The spot-price is the price for which someone can buy certificates or futures on the commodity exchange. It is however mathematically impossible, based on the paper market volume traded, for these so called paper metal products to be fully backed by physical precious metals.
For customers of BullionStar, they can check the price premium by clicking on a specific product in the product overview to reach the product details page where price per gram, price per troy oz, the premium above the spot price and the spread between the buy and sell price are listed.

Premium for Precious Metals
There are two components in the price premium for physical gold and silver. The first and most natural part is accounted for in the melt and minting cost. This part of the premium is called the natural premium. The second component is a market premium that arises when the supply and demand in the paper market for certificates and futures doesn’t correspond with the physical market.

Natural Premium
First, take a look at the production cost for gold and silver in bullion form. BullionStar explained that gold and silver in bullion form is often minted into 1 oz coins or small bars ranging from 1 oz to

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How to invest in gold in Singapore

I would like to know how to buy gold and invest for my future? Thank you – Ridhwan
There are many ways to invest in gold. Typically, you may buy gold jewellery, invest in gold mining stocks, ETF or gold derivatives. But personally, I prefer to invest in gold bullion, such as coins and bars. This is because in Singapore, the government has removed GST for investment precious metal (IPM). Last year, in one of my articles, I touched on Singapore’s exemption on the investment precious metal (IPM). 
Singapore’s regulatory framework for gold 

Basically, with effect from 1 Oct 2012, the importation and supply of IPM in Singapore are exempt from GST. The supply of IPM which is exported continues to be zero-rated. However, only precious metals in the form of a bar, ingot, wafer and coin which meet certain criteria can qualify as IPM.

To provide certainty, precious metal coins that qualify as IPM are prescribed in the GST Act. Precious metals which do not meet the criteria cannot qualify as IPM and the supply of non-IPM continues to be taxable. Examples of non-IPM are jewellery, scrap precious metals, numismatic coins and precious metals which are refined by refiners who are not on the “Good Delivery” list of the London Bullion Market Association or the London Platinum and Palladium Market.



Gold trading hub 
Singapore government is determined to make Singapore a precious metal trading hub. There is no licensing requirement for the importing and exporting of precious metals, thus ensuring free flow of gold and silver. It has also developed infrastructure to support the growth of the ecosystem.

The Singapore Freeport has been set up in 2010, with cutting edge security and conveniently located near to the Changi Airport. There are also a suite of secure logistic providers

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Ruthless paycut

Last week, my colleagues had a briefing session conducted by HR Director who announced that our variable specialist allowances would be removed with effect 1 January 2015.When he made the announcement and solicited for our feedback, there was at least 5 minutes of silence. Everyone was too shell-shocked to react.

Since last year, there were lingering rumors that HR was hatching some plans to adjust our variable specialist allowances but we thought that the most drastic move that they would resort would be to incorporate the variable component into our basic pay. We never expect in our wildest dream that they would remove all our allowances. For many of us, the amount is a huge amount and make up at least 30% of our pay. So obviously we were very unhappy. The only consolation news was that the organization would remove the allowances in three years phases, so that affected staff would have time to adjust their personal finances.

This variable adjustable component was indicated in our salary contracts but the HR director insisted that the term “variable” means that the amount can be zero as well, subjected to individual performance and market condition. When he made that kind of statement, all my trust in the organization immediately flushed down the drain. I guess he missed the point on the contractual agreement. Employee is the most important asset of every organization and having trust is important. So even if you don’t wish to honor your agreement, the minimum you should do is to engage your staff and explain clearly the rationale before you made such drastic move. If you can communicate effectively, then the staff would accept the pay cuts even if the quantum is substantial, like in this case. Otherwise, there would be mistrusts, anger, frustration and anxiety

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Achieving financial freedom in Singapore

Dear SG Wealth Builder,

Sorry to message you out of the blue (you may consider to publish my email but kindly oblique my name and email).
 I am 37 as of this year and I am a civil servant (which means I cannot do part time jobs or start a business) who have difficulty achieving financial stability.

The only good thing now is that I am not in debt (finally), apart from the $10,000 medical bills incurred recently (I have a exclusion for heart) which I am paying $300 per month interest free.

I tried reading all your posts from day 1 and more or less understand your objectives and purpose of the blog. 

I am a person whom is very keen on being financially free in time to come and hope I can do it via investment. (one of the ways if i choose not to leave this current employment). 

However,  being an engineering student from polytechnic, I find it hard to kick-start my investment journey and often feel lost. Are you able to recommend me some books or what kind of topic I can look for before I can understand how this whole investment thing come about and how can I start doing it as time is definitely not on my side as I am approaching 40? 

A concerned ‘father of one’

I received the above email a couple of weeks ago and had made the necessary editorial changes before publishing the content. Personally, I can empathize with the writer as I am a young father as well and is able to relate to his anxiety to achieve financial freedom in Singapore. After all, everything is so expensive here and if you don’t invest your monies or develop passive income streams as early as possible, your current

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Secret formula to win the property game

For the past two months, I was really busy with my day-job as I was tasked to be one of the course instructors for my organization. Being an instructor was really challenging because of the need to be the subject matter expert. Mastery of classroom techniques is definitely important because you have to speak confidently and at the same time, capture the participants’ attentions. And of course, there was the need to develop the course materials, which was really a chore. But to our surprise, the course turned out really well and there were a lot of engagements between the participants and the instructors. In the end, my team really enjoyed the process because we helped each other to answer the queries.Knowing what you don’t know
During that busy period, I read the e-bookNo B.S. Guide to Property Investment – Dirty Truths and Profitable Secrets to Building Wealth through Properties” for the second time during the MRT rides to work. Property Soul gave it to me and I had written a book review for her in my previous article.The reason why I re-read the book was because I believe that to be a successful wealth builder in property investments, you must acquire the right knowledge. Simply put, if you know what you don’t know, you can always avoid the potential pitfalls by seeking help and guidance from others. But if you don’t know what you don’t know, then you are likely to lose money in the property game. So even though I am not looking at buying a second property for investment purposes right now, I am positioning myself to win the game going forward in the long term.

Secret formula revealed
From Property Soul’s book, I gain new insights on how to make money

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Property Investment Insights

A few months ago, Mediacorp Channel 8 broadcasted a programme about a Singapore lady who got the shock of her life when the CPF Board froze her CPF account which she is using to service her outstanding HDB loan.Apparently she is 54 years old this year and she mistakenly thought that her CPF monies was frozen because it would be transferred to the Retirement Account (RA). But actually what happened was that she had reached her CPF Withdrawal Limit and thus, she was not allowed to use further CPF savings to pay the remaining home loan in cash. Her plight is not surprising to me because I believe many Singaporeans are not aware of how this CPF rule works and how it would affect them when they reached their fifties.

According to Moneysense, if you applied for HDB Concessionary Loan to repay the loan for your properties in Singapore, there will be a cap to the amount of CPF savings you can use. This limit is called the CPF Valuation Limit and the amount is the lower of the purchase price or valuation at the time of purchase. For example: if you bought the property for $300,000 and its valuation is $330,000, the Valuation Limit will be $300,000. Now, things a little bit complicated if your housing loan is still outstanding when your total CPF used has reached the Valuation Limit and,

  • you are below 55 years old, you may continue to use your CPF Ordinary Account savings up to the applicable Housing Withdrawal Limit to repay the housing loan after setting aside half of the prevailing Minimum Sum. Savings in the CPF Special Account (including the amount used for investments) and CPF Ordinary Account can be used to meet half of the prevailing Minimum Sum.
  •  you are 55 years
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My financial journey

$250.That was the total amount of savings in my bank accounts when I just started working in 2005. On looking back, it was really a “touch and go” financial situation for me. I had depleted all my life savings because I had stopped receiving allowances from my parents when I was studying for a full time degree at NUS.

I did not want to burden my parents because my late father’s business was not doing well and my mom was a full time housewife. Our household income wasn’t that ideal back then partially also due to my father’s stroke condition.

So I had to supplement my savings with part-time jobs like giving tuition during the school holidays.So if you ask me what is it like to be poor, I can fully empathize. After all, I have went through this dark journey before and I am thankful that I had emerged from that challenging period to become a stronger person.

financial journey

For those who are born rich, social mobility may be a strange word to them, however I do not blame them because they do not know what is it like to worry for money. For the rich and wealthy, Singapore is like a playground where they can indulge in expensive toys like fast cars, yachts and lavish landed properties. But for people who are born into low income families like myself, the need to improve the quality of life and move upward in the society is not an option.

In Singapore, those who are poor, ill and disabled are mostly left to fend on their own and their family members are expected to step in and help out. People who belong to this social group are practically on survival modes because the government make it so tough to qualify for the

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Guest Posting: 5 Forex trading metrics you’re probably not tracking but should be

Guest post by CMC Markets Singapore
Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned veteran in the forex arena, there are several common metrics that we all know we should be tracking. Such as support and resistance levels, pay-off ratios or lows and of course, profits and losses. There are many more but let’s look at 5 lesser tracked but equally critical metrics that could change the game for you:

1) Hold duration

Do you hold your long positions for a few days or are you comfortable with intraday trades? How long you hold a trade can reveal your appetite for risk. Short-term traders will exit at the first sign of a dip while traders who keep their position for more than a day jump in with a fairly good idea of what to expect from a pair. Then, there are position traders who may hold on to a currency for months or even years.

Keeping a journal of your holding duration will help you to understand your risk profile. This information can then be used to frame a suitable trading strategy that sits well with your risk level, earning goals and trading style.
2) Hold duration part 2 – Hold durations of wins vs. losses

Once you have information about your trading style, it is time to take the analysis one step further. Now, you need to analyse your trades in terms winners vs. losers.

For instance, if you find that the average duration in which you held onto a winning trade was longer than a losing trade, this would be a good indication that you are holding on longer than you should, and you should exercise more discipline when it comes to losing trades. However, if you are sticking with your strategy
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What is Return on Invested Capital?

This article was written by Willie Keng and was first published in Value Invest Asia on 17 July 2014.

In a previous article, Stanley explained the Return on Equity (ROE). While the ROE focuses on the equity component of a company’s capital investments, the Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) measures return earned on investments funded by equity and debt.
It shows how much profit a company generates for every dollar of investments it makes in the business. ROIC is expressed as a percentage and shown in the formula below:

Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) = After-tax Operating Income / (Book Value of Invested Capital)
where Invested Capital = Fixed Assets + Current Assets – Current Liabilities – Cash

We can calculate the ROIC using an example from Banyan Tree Holdings’ (SGX: B58) financial statement:

Annual Report (SGD ’000)Fiscal Year 2012
Property, Plant and Equipment729,558
Current Assets349,304
Current Liabilities231,875
Invested Capital726,163
Fiscal Year 2013
Operating Income51,641
Tax Rate42%*
After-Tax Operating Income29,951
Return on Invested Capital (ROIC)4.1%

*The high tax rate was due to the different geographic segments the company operates in

Based on the calculations above, we note that Banyan Tree generated an ROIC of 4.1% for FY2013. Do note that either an average of the past 2 years or the prior year’s book value of invested capital should be used.

Analyzing a firm’s ROIC is complementary to the ROE because it gives investors an idea whether a company has efficiently utilized both equity and debt financing. A company that generates excess returns over its cost of capital is earning is expected to trade at a premium over a firm which does not earn similar excess returns. An investor can measure how the company has fared over the past

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The REIT Association of Singapore

As a financial blogger, I received a lot of media invitations from various financial institutes, banks and companies. Most of the times, I declined the invitations because of work commitments. Recently, I was invited to attend the official launch of REIT Association of Singapore (REITAS) on 17 November 2014. I would like to attend this event to find out more about the role of this association but as usual, I am unable to attend because of work schedule conflicts.

It seems to me that the association consists of big players from Keppel, Mapletree, Capitaland, Frasers and ARA Asset Management and their key thrusts are to engage Monetary Authority of Singapore on regulatory issues and to promote the understanding of REITs.

Stock market

This is a good development because as the industry matures, the association can help to look into areas that can be improved, especially on the structure of REITs. For example, in my previous article on REITs, I don’t understand why is there a need for external manager for REITs. Such requirement only incur more costs which would be eventually passed down to investors.

Most retail investors claim they know about the REIT they invested in but I suspected they are none the wiser than me on the business model. I hope the newly-formed association can conduct courses and seminars to promote the understanding of REIT and the risks involved investing in them. This would help to address a lot of myths on REIT and enhance investor’s knowledge.

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Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

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SPH in panic mode and invested $30 million in CoSine Holdings Pte Ltd

In October 2014, when SPH announced a decline of 6.8% in advertising revenues from newspaper and magazine, it was a sign of things to come. After all, the media giant derived the bulk of its income from advertisements and with the proliferation of cheaper and more effective online marketing platforms, they are beginning to feel the heat. In fact, social media and online blogs like SG Wealth Builder are giving SPH a run for their money. This is because with online blogs and websites, clients can market their products and services to the international market. In today’s context, the motivation for companies to advertise in Singapore newspapers and magazines is becoming less appealing due to the limited market reach.

Indeed, SPH might have seen this coming many years ago when it invested $18 million in ShareInvestor Holding Pte Ltd. Given the high internet penetration rate in Singapore, it made sense for SPH to make its foray into the digital media and establish revenue from its online media arm. Other notable online investments by SPH included Sgcarmart (bought for $60 million in 2013) and Hardwarezone ($7.1 million in 2006). Apart from these mega acquisitions, SPH had been relatively slow in acquiring new online start-ups. The reason for the inertia could be because of the risk in e-commerce and digital start ups. That is probably why SPH only invested in tried and tested online business models with established track records. But then again, if these companies are already successful, why would they want to be sold off cheaply? To invest in these companies, SPH has to make large amount of investments which could take many years to break even.

Therefore SPH has no choice but to continue its online acquisition project. SPH latest acquisition is Singapore Real Estate Exchange (SRX)’s parent company,

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BullionStar: The first company in Singapore to pay salaries in Gold & Silver!

Below is a press release from BullionStar, a Singapore online bullion company where you can buy gold and silver at competitive prices. I have met the CEO, Mr Torgny Persson before and my impression is that he is a man with conviction in precious metals. His company is one of the first few bullion companies in Singapore to allow trading of gold in bitcoins. And now, BullionStar is the first company in Singapore to pay employees in gold and silver.
Starting this month, employees of BullionStar Pte Ltd can choose to have their salary paid in Gold or Silver bullion.  
Mr Torgny Persson, CEO of BullionStar Pte Ltd says: “Gold and Silver has been used as money throughout centuries and keep its purchasing power over time better than any other asset class. By paying our staff in Gold & Silver, we allow them to save in real money that keeps its value over time. As all our staff already prior to this arrangement save & invest in precious metals, it’s natural for them to embrace the new arrangement.”
The reason why employee Hong Kang welcomes the idea: “I believe in saving in precious metals as I genuinely believe Gold and Silver preserves wealth. For the past two years, I have been putting part of my income into Gold and Silver for long term savings. As an Asian, I wanted to leave behind an inheritance for my children and what else makes a better inheritance than Gold and Silver. In fact, I am all excited about the new arrangement.”
BullionStar Pte Ltd is the FIRST company in SINGAPORE offering its employees to be paid in gold and silver. In doing so, employees can build a bullion portfolio effortless and effectively. More employers are expected to follow suit
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Unemployment and entrepreneurship in Singapore

Hi Gerald, Can you comment on the following: 1) How do people in their 40s find jobs in this day and age? (This being 2014) 2) How do you start a business venture with zero or very little (say about a SGD$1500) capital? 

Thank you. 

I received the above queries from one of my readers and it coincides with an article I read in Yahoo Singapore recently about underemployment rate of local graduates.  To me, this is a timely topic for me to dwell on because in a few more years, I will hit the forties bracket. Sooner or later, I may face the predicament or prospect of being retrenched from my job, so I think it is worthwhile to reflect and examine this issue now before it really impact me big time later on in my life.

To put things into perspective, the Singapore employment landscape has changed over the years. In the 80s and 90s, if you had tertiary qualifications, you would unlikely be fearful of the word “downsize” in your company because back then, there were not so many graduates with 10 – 15 years of working experiences in the job market. But times had changed. Nowadays, the market is glutted with graduates from local and overseas, private and public universities. To make matter worse, foreigners are competing with local Singaporeans for white collar jobs as well. So given the stiff competition, it is not surprising that people in their 40s encounter difficulty in re-employment.

It is stupid to advise those who are retrenched from their jobs to chin up and remain optimistic. Obviously you would feel a little bit of depress initially and start to doubt your capabilities when you are laid off, especially during the mid-career stage. But it is important to remind yourself to

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SGX launches stock and company information portal StockFacts for investors

Singapore Exchange (SGX) launched a new research and company fundamentals portal on its website.
The portal, called SGX StockFacts, has several features, including:
  • A comprehensive research database, covering stock fundamentals for all SGX-listed companies
  • Customised search, giving investors flexibility to filter stocks across 20 screening criteria
  • New proprietary tools, including S&P Capital IQ Alpha Factor Composites, which ranks stocks based on eight investment style classifications
  • Ability to chart a company’s financials for the last five years
  • Downloading and printing of company snapshots for easy analysing
Mita Natarajan, Head of Corporate Services, Listings, SGX, said: “SGX has enhanced many aspects of the stock market in recent months. The SGX StockFacts portal, which presents vital research and stock fundamentals on all SGX-listed companies in a user-friendly way, is yet another improvement to add value to investors and companies. It will help investors make more informed investment decisions, raise the visibility of our companies and add vibrancy to the stock market.”
SGX StockFacts is collaboration between SGX and S&P Capital IQ, a business unit of McGraw Hill Financial and a provider of multi-asset class research, data and analytics.

It can be accessed through SGX’s corporate website at The url for the press release is

My view on StockFacts
To build wealth and make money through stock investment, you must first and foremost have access to objective data. The good thing about this platform is that it provides research database free-of-charge to investors. The fundamentals for all SGX companies are mostly covered, like ROE, debt, cash flow and dividend yields. But beyond these, I think the best feature for novice investors should be the S&P Capital IQ Alpha Factor Composites, which are metrics showing the company’s ranking in eight categories that are likely to affect its price. The platform is quite

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A little act of caring creates a seamless ripple

The scene was at a supermarket where grandmother and her two grandchildren were shopping for groceries. Her granddaughter saw a lovely strawberry cake and wanted to buy it. However, when checking out the items at the cashier, grandmother realized that there was not enough money to buy the cake. So she promised her granddaughter that she would buy it another time. The little girl was very disappointed but nevertheless, left the shop reluctantly with her grandmother and brother.Just then, a gentleman was standing behind them and saw the situation. He paid for the cake and caught up with them. Gentleman gave the cake to the little girl but grandmother refused to accept it. At that point of time, the gentleman related his story to them.

He recounted that when he was young, his family was poor. On his seventh birthday, he and his mother went to a cake shop but had no money to buy a birthday cake. He was disappointed and refused to leave the shop. Then, a middle-age man who was standing behind them, saw the awkward situation and bought a birthday cake. He then offered the cake to him and wished him a happy birthday.

The mother was so grateful to the man and requested him to note down his address so that one day she could return the money to him. However, instead of noting down his address, the middle-age man wrote something else. He then promptly left the shop. The gentleman never get to know the man’s name but he never forget this incident, which created a change in him. Upon hearing his story, the grandmother thanked the gentleman profusely and requested him to note down his home address on a piece of paper. She hoped to return him the money one day.

It turned

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Property Education Seminar: Smart Landlords Vs Smart Tenants

This week, my mother is shortlisting new tenants after giving the marching orders to her current tenants. They are her fourth set of tenants in two years and all of them are Malaysians. Somehow, she always had issues with her tenants and all of them never last more than a year. Interestingly, the disputes were always on living habits and never on rental issues (all the tenants always paid the rental on time). As her children, we always advise our mother to give and take as there will definitely be frictions and misunderstandings when you live with strangers. Ultimately. it is better to develop harmonious relationships and create a win-win situation.Is there a good way to screen potential tenants? I wish I know because it is not possible to tell whether you can live in harmony with that person based just on a preliminary meeting. We all have bad habits and it takes time to adjust to your tenants or even family members’ bad habits. But of most importance is dealing with dishonest tenants and agents – how do landlords safeguard their interests against cheats? I have read articles of landlords being cheated of thousands of rental fees by tenants and agents. There are also tenants whose work permits have expired and choose to overstay in Singapore illegally; in such cases, how do you protect yourself against liability issues?

I do not have the answers to the above issues but I believe that  to make money from property investments, there are nuances you have to look out for.  To this end, I am glad that fellow blogger, Property Soul, is kind enough to invite me to her upcoming property education seminar, Smart Landlords vs Smart Tenants. She had invited me to her seminars previously but due to work exigencies,

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Grow Your Best and Most Important Asset – Personal Financial Investment Seminar

Investors who are into shares investments would say that stocks are the best assets in the world. Bullion investors would claim that gold is man’s most valuable asset. Real estate investors would argue that property is the most important asset we should possess in our life time. In my opinion, they are all wrong. The best and most important asset is your knowledge. Your analytical power and decision making abilities would shape your financial destiny and dictate whether you would be a rich or poor man.To make money from your investments, you must first and foremost cultivate learning and reading habits. Knowledge is key to understanding how the market works and having a strong foundation would help you navigate through the fierce financial storms. This blog was started in 2010, primarily to share entrepreneur, investment and money making ideas. I was inspired by ex-NTUC Income CEO, Mr Tan Kin Lian’s blog and hope I can make a difference to the society like what Mr Tan did in his blog, which focused mainly on issues related to insurance. Many Singaporeans had written to him to consult him on issues related to insurance.

Indeed, my blog has not achieved the kind of success enjoyed by Mr Tan, but I like to view this as a project still very much “work-in-progress”. For the past four years, my blog has attracted more than 30 vendors from local and various countries like USA, UK, Australia, South Africa, Russia and Hong Kong. But I did not take up some of the advertising opportunities, like those promoting online gambling or casinos because there are certain code that I have set for myself. As a matter of personal policy, I do not promote gambling, violence or sexual contents. In addition, this is a non-political and non-religious blog, even

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Haw Par Corp an ultra value stock?

I was doing research on Haw Par Corp recently and was surprised to discover that the company hold large amount of shares in UOB (68 millions), UIC (67.5 millions)  and UOL (41.4 millions).
According to Haw Par Corp’s website, their substantial investments consist “mainly of strategic holdings in United Overseas Bank Limited, UOL Group Limited and United Industrial Corporation Limited. They have been a stable source of funding – through recurring dividend income – and financial strength – at marked-to-market valuations – over the years.”
Based on the annual report, these shares contributed about 60.2% of the profits in 2013. This is a significant amount of income source from a non-core business segment. After all, Haw Par has always been regard by many investors as a healthcare company which manufactures the famous local brand, Tiger Balm ointment. Who would have guessed that it is actually an investment holding company with billion dollars worth of shares in blue chip companies? It seems that investors may not fully understood the true value of Haw Par Corp. Read on to find out more about my personal view on this often overlooked stock.
Haw Par stock
Before you become too excited about the stock, it is important to examine the concept of companies with investments in other companies. Usually there are many ways for companies to re-invest their excess capital. They can choose to buy back their own shares, hold the cash for better investment opportunities, acquire real estate assets, return the cash to shareholders through capital reduction exercises or in this case, purchase shares in other companies. If you belong to the category of investors who read only the quarter financial statements and not the company’s annual reports, then you would likely overlook some of the hidden assets of deep value companies – accumulated shares in
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Tactical Job Hunting

In today’s context, maintaining a job portal presence is important for job seekers. This is especially so in Singapore, where competition in the employment landscape is very high due to the influx of foreign talents. If you are actively looking for greener pasture, make sure you have a clear strategy in mind. Below is a sharing by Randy Lim, a recruitment consultant at GSI Executive Search. Randy can be contacted at or randy.lim@gsiconsultants.comJob hunting can be a chore, and it can be quite a tedious process as well, and you’ll be surprised how much time and energy taken up to find a decent job. Here are some practical action that can be taken to better manage the whole process and experience.

Have a dedicated email account for the job hunt, this way you can channel all your information, interview details, contacts, job portal alerts here.

On a more psychological sense, it can help to channel your energy and motivation the moment you open this email account, tell yourself to focus on the job search, not distracted by emails from Facebook, Twitter and other social media alerts.
Of course, please have a professional email address, enough said.

Excel spreadsheet
Open an Excel Spreadsheet.The point is database management. Create a couple of grids on the vertical axis with a couple of suggestions: ‘Date’: ‘Company’: ‘Job title’: ‘Contact Person’: ‘Email’: ‘Contact Number’: ‘Remarks’

Well, this is to help you collect your efforts in an expeditious manner and track your job search progress. So when you get a job alert from your email, say from XWY company for a Technical Specialist, you can drop these details in and also include the source and URL if you want to.

Then input into the remarks part your actions e.g. ’email sent’ or ‘

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Singapore Kilobar Gold Contract To Launch in October 2014

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. As mentioned in my previous articles, in the past few years, the government has been trying to establish Singapore as a gold trading hub. Given the huge demand for gold from China and India, Singapore is strategically located to cater to the needs of Asian investors. Ultimately, the aim is to create more opportunities for retail investors and also to create higher value job opportunities.

International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, Singapore Bullion Market Association (SBMA), Singapore Exchange (SGX) and the World Gold Council, today announced that the new exchange-traded Singapore Kilobar Gold Contract (“Contract”) will launch on Monday, 13 October 2014.
The Contract is the first wholesale 25 kilobar gold contract to be offered globally and is the result of a successful collaboration among the four parties. The Contract caters to the continuing strong demand for physical gold in Asia, which has increased significantly over the last decade. Its introduction underpins the creation of a centralised kilobar gold market, characterised by real-time transparent price discovery, daily expiration with physical delivery and robust verification of quality gold.
The launch of this world-first kilobar gold contract is a significant step towards establishing Singapore as a regional precious metals trading hub. The Contract will assist global suppliers of gold to better access markets across Asia and contribute to an increasingly efficient, transparent and trusted gold market.
It will also encourage a more developed gold market in South East Asia, while cementing Singapore’s role as a driving force behind the growth of the industry.
The Contract is based on kilobar gold of at least 99.99% fineness of an Approved Brand, attested by the Gold Delivery Agent,
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Why I would not encourage my mother to take up the Enhanced HDB Lease Buyback Scheme

On 03 Sep 2014, the government announced four enhancements to the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) as follows:1)  The scheme will be extended to 4-room HDB flats and to sweeten the deal, there will be a $10,000 cash bonus per household when the elderly participate in the scheme.

2)  The income ceiling will be raised to $10,000 from $3,000 per month to allow elderly who are still working or still living with their family members to qualify for this scheme.

3) The requirements to top up their CPF Retirement Accounts with the LBS proceeds will be relaxed as reflected in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Change in CPF Top-Up Requirement* for Households with Two or More Owners

Owner’s Age
(Age-Adjusted MS)
(0.5 x Age-Adjusted MS)
CPF Draw-Down Age
(now 63) to 69
70 to 79
80 or older
 * Based on prevailing CPF MS of $155,000
4) Elderly can choose the length of lease to retain instead of the standard 30 years lease. This is to cater to the need of those who are in the 70 years old and above age group.
HDB lease buy back

By and large, the LBS is a good scheme that allows the elderly the additional option to monetize their property asset to fund their retirement needs. But then again, I would not encourage my mother to participate in it. This is because I know my mother too well. She lacks the financial discipline and will to handle the large amount of money. Within months, I am quite sure she would use up the proceeds from the LBS. So I prefer her to rent out the spare room in her flat. In this way, she can still monetize her flat and in addition, we also give her monthly allowances to

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OCBC Open Account

More than 8,000 OCBC 360 Accounts opened using OCBC Open Account mobile application, 15% of total number opened 
Singapore, 29 September 2014 – OCBC Bank launched the first account opening application on smart phones in Singapore, on 2nd April 2014.  As the first bank in Singapore to do so, OCBC Bank continues to make banking simple and convenient with innovative products and services. With this simple-to-use app available on both ios and Android, customers can apply for the popular OCBC 360 Account on their mobile phones or tablets, without the need to visit a branch. Within six months, more than 8,000 accounts were opened via the OCBC Open Account app. This makes up around 15% of the total number of more than 60,000 OCBC 360 Accounts opened in the same period of time.
Amongst customers who have used this application to open their accounts, more than 80% are new-to-bank. They are mostly PMETs (professionals, managers, engineers and technicians), aged between 23 and 35 years old.
The OCBC Open Account app fits perfectly into the busy and hectic lifestyles of the PMETs as it has been designed to be simple and intuitive. It offers customers a seamless online account opening experience. Customers are able to submit their NRIC by taking a photo of their NRIC using the smartphone’s camera and similarly submit their signature specimen by signing on the embedded sign pad within the app. The entire application process takes less than 10 minutes to complete.  Once the application and documents are validated, the new 360 Account would be opened within one working day.
Mr Aditya Gupta, OCBC Bank’s Head of E-Business Singapore, said: “The banking industry has historically lagged behind other sectors such as retail and travel in the sale of products online. Online banking applications should no longer be
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8 Things You Should Know About Your CPF Nomination

Below is an article published with permission from the CPF Board. Singaporeans should note the point that a Will does not cover the distribution of CPF savings after death. So please make your CPF nominations as soon as possible. You don’t want your loved ones to encounter complications over the distribution of your wealth after you are gone. What is the point of being rich but not able to transfer your wealth to your loved ones when you are not around?

A CPF nomination allows CPF members to specify who will receive their CPF savings, and how much each nominee should receive when they pass away. Here’s a list of FAQs to help you better understand it. Information on CPF nomination is also available at the CPF website.

SG Wealth Builder
SG Wealth Builder

Q1: What happens to my CPF monies if I pass away without making a CPF nomination?

Your entire savings in all your CPF accounts will be distributed by the Public Trustee to your family members according to the intestacy law or the Certificate of Inheritance (for Muslims).  So, you need not worry about your CPF monies landing in the wrong hands even if you do not make a CPF nomination.

Q2: Do I need to make a CPF nomination?
No, it is not a requirement for you to do so. If you do not have a CPF nomination, your CPF savings will be distributed by the Public Trustee to your family members according to the intestacy law or the Certificate of Inheritance (for Muslims).

But you should make a CPF nomination if you wish to distribute your CPF savings according to your wishes (eg. you wish to nominate four persons; and you wish for three nominees to get 30% each, while one nominee gets 10%).

Q3: If

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Career breaks

This is simply a flawed analysis and a one-size-fits-all kind of advice. Many successful corporate leaders and entrepreneurs have taken career breaks and became even more successful after those breaks.

I have a junior associate who quit last year to tour around the world (using her savings not parents money in case you are wondering) and now ready to return to work. 3-4 firms are competing for her. Some MNCs like people who are well exposed.

Also, getting out without a job and getting in again, it’s all about how one articulates his/her decision to quit. Another perspective is what the person has done during the out-of-job period. Be it charity, helping out family, traveling, or learning a new skills. If there’s something that helped build the person’s strengths, it will only make him/her even more attractive in searching for a new job – Anonymous Reader

The above comment was made by one of my readers in response to my previous article “Why You Should Not Quit Without a Job In Singapore”. His perspective was that taking a career break is good because it helps one to recharge and make a better comeback in their job journey.


While I don’t dispute that taking career breaks are good for us, but I think what he didn’t realize is that most Singaporeans quit without a job because of “escapism mentality” and not because they wanted to pursue other interests or higher priorities in life.

They either hated their jobs or could not handle the stresses at their work places, so they quit without a job. The reality is that most of them did not make any grand plans to do volunteering work or learn a new skill. An example would be one of the local finance bloggers, who proclaimed that he

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BullionStar: India’s June Gold Import Highest in 12 Months

Below is an article from BullionStar, a Singapore online bullion company where you can buy gold and silver at competitive prices. BullionStar was established in 2012 after Singapore government exempted investment grade precious metals from the goods and services tax (GST). 

Despite the fact the new Indian government, led by Narandra Modi since May, hasn’t lowered the import duties on both gold and silver, Indians keep on buying precious metals. Despite the fact we already knew this, there was less gold being smuggled into the country and more imported through official channels last June; 77 tonnes were gross imported, which is up 48 % from a month earlier, and up 75 % from June last year. This was accompanied by falling premiums.Gross export in June accounted for 4 tonnes, according to India’s customs department DGCIS. One of the import restrictions the Indian government implied on gold in 2013 was the 80/20 rule; of every amount of gold imported 20 % has to be re-exported. The gross amount exported in June falls short of the required 15.4 tonnes (20 % of 77 tonnes is 15.4 tonnes), meaning importers have some overdue obligations to be met in coming months. The other restriction on gold (and silver) is an import duty of 10 %, and the Indian government can obstruct consignments.

The elevated official imports coincide with a relatively low premium on gold in India compared to London prices. In June the premium on gold came down to just 2 % (on top of the 10 % import duty). In the next chart I combined official import with the premium. On the left axis we can see the percentages of the premium; the black line is the import duty, the greenish line is the total premium of gold in India over the

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Plan for future?

Should Singaporeans plan for their future? As a matter of personal policy, I feel it is not worth the effort and time to write an article to counter the work of other bloggers because I don’t wish to be seen as being cocky or aggressive.
But after reading one of the blog posts written by Teenage Investing, I am prompted to write this article. In his article on 12 September, the blogger felt indignant that one of his readers commented that his advice was a piece of joke and that he would rather not waste time planning for his future. The blogger went on to sign off his article and encouraged his readers to plan for his future.
Investment journey
Life is unpredictable and it is difficult to foresee what the future holds for us. If there are two things that I want to impart to my young daughter, they would be character resilience and the ability to learn transferable skills.
In today’s context, there are just too many obstacles that life would throw at you and having a plan would not help you to navigate through these challenges. I have seen people crumbled after failing to meet their targets and subsequently lost their self confidence to carry on with their lives. So I would not advise my daughter to plan for her future. What is the point of telling her that when I don’t even practice it?
Life is meant to be explored and we should have fun when we are young. But of course, there will be low points in our lives and it is important that we pick ourselves up and not to give up easily. It is having the will to succeed that differentiates the winners from the losers.
The blogger went on to claim that he
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The reason why Singaporeans are unhappy

As children, happiness was all about getting our desired toys or playing our favorite games. If we did not get what we want, we threw tantrums or cried. When we became working adults, being happy meant achieving our goals and dreams. If we did not meet our self expectations, we became unhappy, frustrated and indulged in the blame game.

As we matured and entered into our twilight years, happiness was about attaining a balanced state of mind. If we were unhealthy or sick-ridden, we could not have a peace of mind.

The above philosophy perhaps summed up what happiness represents in different phases of our lives. In recent years, there were a lot of articles on this topic and there were also much debate on how Singaporeans view the quality of their lives in the lion city.

This is a natural progression of our civic society and many Singaporeans have began to think beyond the pursuit of money.


Obviously, money is important and we should always respect money. But many of us begin to realize that life is not all about making more and more money. There are many things in life that money cannot buy – respect, love, kinship and friendship. So at certain stage, having more money would not buy you happiness and make you a happier person.

I reckon most Singaporeans cannot figure out the above and thus many of us end up being unhappy and frustrated. Some are even angry at our Singapore system. Indeed, many of us choose to blame our government when things did not pan out the way we want in our lives but actually when things go wrong, pointing fingers would not improve yourself.

With a negative mindset, you will probably end up even more negative and unhappy. Sometimes, you might even

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8 Things You Should Know When Using CPF for Property

Below is an article published with permission from the CPF Board. Singapore home owners should pay close attention to the policy on accrued interest for CPF monies.

Many members use CPF savings when buying a property. Before you decide on buying your dream home, we highly recommend reading “Things to look out for when buying a property using CPF” and watching “Buying a House” videos.  Here’re 8 essentials you should be aware of. Please note that the information may be different if you are using CPF for multiple properties.

Q1. What CPF savings can I use to buy a property?

Only Ordinary Account (OA) savings can be used for property. You can use it to:

(i)  Pay lumpsum/downpayment to HDB for the purchase of an HDB flat, or to a property developer or a seller for the purchase of a private property.

(ii)  Repay the housing loan taken for the purchase of HDB flat or private property.

(iii)  Pay legal fees, stamp duty, transfer fees and other related costs incurred in relation to the housing purchase.

(iv)  Repay a housing loan taken for the purchase of land and/or for construction of a house on that land (for private property).

If you use your CPF savings to service a housing loan on a HDB flat, you are required to be covered under the Home Protection Scheme. This is a mortgage-reducing scheme to protect you and your family from losing your home in the event of death or permanent incapacity before the housing loan is paid up.  The annual premiums for this can be paid using your OA savings.

See more details on how you can use CPF for a HDB flat and private property.

Q2.  Do I need to refund the CPF used for housing

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