SG Wealth Builder

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

Month: October 2015

Monetary Authority of Singapore finally regulates gold buy-back schemes

In perhaps one of the most overdue regulatory safeguards for Singapore investors, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) finally announced that precious metal buy-back arrangements will be regulated either as debentures or investment funds, depending on their features. This announcement was made after its consultation paper published on 21 July 2014.

This move to regulate the precious buy-back schemes is a result of the spate of gold ponzi schemes offered by Genneva Gold, The Gold Guarantee and Suisse International in Singapore. Seduced by the so called guaranteed payouts of 20% or incredibly high buy-back prices, many unwitting investors were sold on these gold buy-back schemes. Many of these victims didn’t realize that they were actually walking into traps devised by cheats.

In the aftermath, many victims sought to enlist the help of the authorities to claim back their investments but were shocked to find out that these financial instruments were not regulated at all. There were even reports that some victims sank more than hundred of thousands of dollars of their hard-earned savings into these gold-back schemes. Some even pooled money with their families to join these schemes.

The reason why many Singapore investors were conned was because many of them …

Lack of monetary wealth led to Kovan double murders?

The recent high-profile trial of former police officer over the Kovan double murders has shaken Singapore. To many, it is unbelievable that such violent murder case could have taken place in a city known for being one of the safest places on earth. Even more shocking is that the accused is a former police officer. I believe that this should be the first case of police officer being accused of murder in Singapore history and it really makes a huge dent in the public confidence of our law enforcers.

As the trial is still on going, I will reserve my judgement on the accused and assume that he is innocent. However, the matter of fact is that the accused had financial difficulties and was facing bankruptcy at the time of the murders. Apparently, he raked up bad debts after his divorce in 2005 and was unable to pay his car and mortgage loans. He also did not declare to his superior that he was financially embarrassed, thus he was taken off front-line duties as an internal investigation was launched against him.

Driven to desperation, the accused then devised a plan to steal from the victim, who had made a police …

Stock Investing: Ascott Strengthens Its Investment Moat

Below is a press release from The Ascott Limited, a wholly owned serviced residence unit of CapitaLand, one of the companies which I deeply admire. Ascott has been expanding aggressively lately in the South-east Asia region on the back of the soon-to-be-established ASEAN Economic Community.

CapitaLand’s wholly owned serviced residence business unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott), has extended its global footprint to the fast-developing market of Cambodia by securing a contract to manage its first serviced residence in the country. Somerset Norodom will open in Cambodia’s capital and economic hub of Phnom Penh in 2018. The property will add another 105 apartment units to Ascott’s Southeast Asian portfolio, bringing its total in the region to over 13,000 units in 74 properties across nine countries. The expansion comes hot on the heels of the company securing five properties in Cebu, the Philippines and Pattaya, Thailand early this month.

Mr Lee Chee Koon, Ascott’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are bullish about the growth potential of the Southeast Asian markets. The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in a few months’ time bodes well for Ascott, as it will further boost the competitiveness and connectivity of the region, and increase business activities …

BullionStar explains the difference between ETF Gold and physical Gold

Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) is a form of passive fund comprising of a basket of securities listed and traded on the stock exchange. To put it simply, ETF combines the best of shares and unit trust, thereby enabling investors to achieve diversification in single transaction with minimum investment. However, ETF Gold is a little bit different and requires a different approach as compared to owning physical gold and silver.

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 to educate Singaporeans on the merits of owning gold and silver bullion as a means of wealth preservation. 

A Gold Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) attempts to track and ‘mirror’ the price performance of gold bullion by holding gold bars or derivatives and issuing shares backed by their holdings of physical metal or derivatives.  A Gold ETF, like GLD, has their shares sold in baskets of 100,000 and is marketed by State Street.  As compared to physical Gold, a key difference is in ownership and redemption.

Ownership and Redemption

Even though an ETF like GLD …

Will you still love me tomorrow?

SG Wealth Builder

Lately, a few finance bloggers wrote about the cost of raising up a child in Singapore. Some estimated that the cost might be up to $1 million while there were some who felt that $200,000 to $300,000 should be a comfortable range. Whenever I come across such articles, I always have mixed feelings. Whilst it is important to be pragmatic in a high cost society like Singapore, I don’t like this money culture whereby we view things in monetary terms and measure relationships in dollars and cents.

As a father of two kids, I always tell myself that my love for them must be unconditional and I would not expect anything in return from them when I grow old. By the same measure, my wife and I do not see the point of calculating the cost of raising our children. This is because we do not want our children to grow up wondering how much it would cost to support us when we are old and jobless. We feel that it is our mission to take care of ourselves and be financially independent when old.

My girl and boy are our greatest gifts and we would not trade anything in …

Haw Par stock analysis

ThaiBev share price

On 11 August 2015, Haw Par delivered a good set of 2Q 2015 performance. Profits for the period was $115.877 million and the 6 month period was S$129.33 million, representing an increase of 88% and 75% increase compared to 2014 results. On the surface, this might seem like an impressive showing by Haw Par. However, upon closer scrutiny, the profits was actually bolstered by the S$55.8 million gain arising from the partial disposal and reclassification of one of its assets, Hua Han.

In terms of operating cash flow, the 2nd quarter saw a healthy cash flow of $48.3 million due to the investment income of $38.6 million. As I have touched in my previous article on Haw Par, the company has substantial investments, consisting mainly of strategic holdings in United Overseas Bank Limited, UOL Group Limited and United Industrial Corporation Limited. This investment portfolio provides a stable source of funding – through recurring dividend income – and financial strength – at marked-to-market valuations – over the years.

SGX stocks

Is Haw Par an undervalued stock and thus merits investment from wealth builders? After all, it is currently trading at $8.240, well below its Net Asset Value of $12.93. However, it should be …

Financial time bomb in Singapore households

Almost three-quarters of households in Singapore could face financial disaster in the future due to worrying levels of inertia around wills and life protection, a new survey by online matching service findaWEALTHMANAGER.com has revealed.

• 71% of affluent women in Singapore admit that they/their partner do not have an up-to-date will in place that reflects their current wishes
• Almost a further tenth simply do not know if this vital document has been kept up to date – this despite the fact that 38% of women say they take sole responsibility for financial decisions in their household
• Life insurance and income protection levels are also worryingly low, with just 60% of wealthy women confident that they/their partner have adequate provision in place
Almost three-quarters of households could face financial disaster in the future due to worrying levels of inertia around wills and life protection, a new survey by online matching service findaWEALTHMANAGER.com has revealed.

Currently, 71% affluent women in Singapore admit that they/their partner do not have an up-to-date will in place that reflects their present wishes, while a further 9% do not know if this vital document has been kept current.

Just as worryingly, almost a quarter (23%) …

Where to store your wealth in Singapore

Many critics of gold and silver like to point out that investment guru, Warren Buffett disdained gold for its lack of utility as a form of investment. In my opinion, I find it strange that many people tend to follow what he preached or wrote. Firstly you need to understand that Warren Buffett is one of the richest men on earth and he is definitely not obliged to reveal the details of his wealth to the rest of the world. Nobody can accurately pin down his amount of assets and the various forms of investments he held.

No, I am not saying that Warren Buffett is hiding any things from the public but the matter of fact is that wealth is a personal thing and you don’t reveal something so personal to the public.

One of the greatest fears of the rich is losing their wealth. This is understandable as very few people can take the blow of losing their hard-earned wealth accumulated over years of hard work. It is this fear that drive the rich to seek safe haven to protect their wealth from the risks in the financial system and store their wealth in precious metals. In fact, …

HDB: The thin fine line between “Joint Tenancy” and “Tenancy-in-Common”

Property investment

In Singapore, more than 80% of the residents live in HDB flats. Yet how many are aware of the various HDB regulations and its implications to themselves and their loved ones? Not knowing the rules can potentially land you in financial troubles, but may also cause family disharmony and destroy relationships. One of the most overlooked clause is the Manner of Holding, specifically, “Joint Tenancy” and “Tenancy-in-Common”. Read on if you are a joint owner of a HDB flat and is curious to find out how it can impact you.

When you are buying a HDB flat with your spouse or other family members, you would need to decide on the manner of holding the flat upon the transfer of flat ownership, either through joint tenancy or tenancy-in-common.

Technically, under joint tenancy, all the flat owners have an equal share in the flat. However, in the event of a demise of any joint owner, the right of survivorship applies and his interest in the flat would automatically be passed on to the remaining co-owners. This is regardless of whether the deceased joint owner has left behind a Will.

According to an example quoted from HDB’s website “Mr A, Mrs …

A second chance in life

What would you do if you are given a second chance to re-build your life? Would you cherish it and change the way you live your life?

Last week, I received an urgent message from my boss that one of my colleagues was admitted to hospital after having difficulty in talking for 20 minutes. My first reaction was that this could be a symptom of stroke but thankfully it was determined that it was a blood clot as a result of head trauma that he sustained last month during an overseas trip.

On my way home, a lot of things went through my mind. I am in my mid-thirties and being a sole bread-winner with two young kids, what would happen to my dependents if I am down with a severe stroke? It would be good if I had a quick death but what if I survived but became a burden instead to my loved ones? Perhaps many people would dismiss such worrying thoughts as being too pessimistic. However, such an unfortunate tragedy did happen to my father.

Unlike my colleague, my late father was not so fortunate and was not given a second chance. He survived the stroke but …

Stock Investing: Sheng Siong Group

ThaiBev share price

In July 2015, one of the stocks I am tracking, Sheng Siong Group, delivered another stellar set of results. The company is one of the largest supermarket chains in Singapore and recently declared an interim dividend of 1.75 cent per share on the back of a 23.1% year-on-year increase in net profit to $13.6 million for the 3 months ended 30 June 2015.

Notably, the revenue increased because of the increased sales from the four new stores. According to Mr Lim Hock Chee, the Group’s Chief Executive Officer, “We are pleased to open four new stores since the start of the year, bringing our total retail area to 426,000 square feet. This represents a 5.4% growth in our retail area, compared with a retail square footage of 404,000 square feet as at December 31, 2014. We remain committed to our store expansion plans, particularly in locations where we do not have a presence, so as to reach out to our customers. At the same time, we will continue to nurture the growth of both our new and old stores, improve the sales mix and work towards reducing input costs by capitalising on our Mandai distribution centre.”

SGX stocks

One of the factors …

Stock Investing: Ascott

CapitaLand Limited’s wholly owned serviced residence business unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott), has made its first foray into the popular destinations of Cebu, the Philippines and Pattaya, Thailand by securing five new contracts to manage 875 apartment units.

With 14 management contracts signed in Southeast Asia this year, Ascott has added over 2,700 serviced residence units in the region; more than triple the number of units added in the same region for the whole of 2014.

Mr Lee Chee Koon, Ascott’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We have ramped up our expansion in Southeast Asia as we see strong growth potential in the long-term. With more than 13,000 apartment units in 73 properties across eight countries in Southeast Asia, over 30% of Ascott’s global footprint is now concentrated in this fast-growing region. Southeast Asia is shaping up to be one of the most vibrant and attractive markets for foreign investors – with a young population driving domestic demand, growing export figures and various economic policies in place to attract foreign capital. The upcoming ASEAN Economic Community will not only boost economic integration in the region, it will also transform Southeast Asia into an economic powerhouse with a population of more than …

Online Hiring in Banking and Finance Sector Remains Slow in South East Asia

Below is data released by Monster Employment Index, which provide insights on the job market for banking and finance. At the moment, the market doesn’t look good for job-seekers wishing to enter the financial sector, especially in global wealth hub like Singapore. 

Launched in May 2015, with data collected since January 2011, the Monster Employment Index is a broad and comprehensive monthly analysis of online job posting activity conducted by Monster India. Based on a real-time review of millions of employer job opportunities culled from a large, representative selection of online career outlets, including Monster.com, the Monster Employment Index presents a snapshot of employer online recruitment activity nationwide. 

Southeast Asia, October 5, 2015 – As economic conditions continue to falter, online recruitment activities across Southeast Asia’s Banking and Finance sectors are registering weak growths.

This is according to the latest Monster Employment Index (MEI), a monthly gauge of online job hiring activity by Monster.com, which records the industries and occupations that show the highest and lowest growth in recruitment activity in Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines.

Among the three markets surveyed, Singapore exhibited the weakest year-over-year growth in the BFSI sector, at -13% between August 2014 and August 2015. This is …

Future-proof your wealth

Many investors and financial professionals struggle to make sense of gold and silver bullion as a form of wealth-building asset. After all, precious metals do not offer dividends like stocks, nor do they provide investors with interests like bonds. In addition, unlike real estate, they do not allow investors to establish steady stream of passive income through rental collections. So what is exactly the basis for wealth builders to buy physical gold and silver? The answer is simple: risk management and future-proofing your wealth.

When you invest in stocks, there is a possibility of losing your capital invested. Of course, the potential rewards can be much higher than owning gold and silver when the management of the companies deliver on earning expectations. Conversely, if the companies are poorly managed and consistently making losses, your stock prices may also plummet. The frightening thing about investing in stocks is that whenever the stock market crashes, novice investors who put all their life savings into stocks watch in horror as their retirement funds evaporated overnight.

I feel sad whenever I read investors committing suicide as a result of losing all their life savings after dabbling in the stock market. They certainly don’t deserve …

Time is money

After almost two months of waiting, my new car finally arrived last Friday. I was pretty excited because it is my family’s first new car. Previously, I had owned two pre-owned Japanese cars – my first car was Toyota Vios and subsequently, Nissan Latio. So after driving for 5 years, naturally my next car is another Japanese brand, this time its Honda City.

As a wealth builder, I am fully aware that car is a form of liability, this is especially so in Singapore, a city state that discourages car ownership. Given that the cost of a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) is so high, it would seem like an unwise decision to purchase a new car at this moment. As a matter of fact, I bought my car at $105,000 and took a three year loan. Forking out so much money is not matter to be taken lightly and for sure it was not an impulse buy. My wife and I had been planning to buy a car for the past one year because my pre-owned car’s COE was about to end in 1.5 year time.

There were a few factors that prompted me to buy our new car. Firstly, …

Sell gold and silver bullion in Singapore

BullionStar

Many investors deem gold and silver bullion as “bad investment” because they don’t yield interests and furthermore incur storage costs. Even the famous Warren Buffett expressed a disdain for gold but it should be noted that the world class investor bought 129,710,000 ounces of silver through Berkshire in the 1990s. In this regard, I don’t deny that gold and silver are a form of bad investment. Because they are never meant to be an investment tool in the first place.

Gold and silver are actually money and have been used as money historically. From a wealth builder’s point of view, gold and silver are meant to hedge money portfolio during time of volatility, high inflation and financial crisis.

Another concern of precious metals is its level of liquidity. This is indeed the case in Singapore where there are not many precious metal dealers willing to buy back gold and silver which are not sold by them. For example, as far as I understand, UOB does not buy back gold bars and coins not sold by them. This is where BullionStar comes in and address the gap in the industry.

Gold and Silver Bullion

Gold and Silver Bullion

Sell Gold & Silver to BullionStar

Sell …

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