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 www.sgx.com/stockfacts. The url for the press release is http://www.sgx.com/wps/wcm/connect/sgx_en/home/higlights/news_releases/sgx-launches-stock-and-company-information-portal-stockfacts-for-investors.

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 randylim1976@gmail.com 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.

Email
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
Current
(Age-Adjusted MS)
New
(0.5 x Age-Adjusted MS)
CPF Draw-Down Age
(now 63) to 69
$155,000
$77,500
70 to 79
$145,000
$72,500
80 or older
$135,000
$67,500
 * 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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