Year: 2015

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 permanently lost control of his left side of his body. At the tender age of 38, there was a terrible blow to him. Just imagine losing half your body functions at the peak of your career. Overnight, dad lost everything. Including his dignity, ego and pride. To top it off, he received very little education and was the family sole bread-winner. Under such dire circumstance, the prospect of having to feed three young children, an aging mother and a housewife when partially handicapped can drive even the most normal person depressed.

My dad’s stroke had certainly changed our family’s lives …

Stock Investing: Sheng Siong Group

Medtecs 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 I like about Sheng Siong Group is that the balance sheet is pretty strong and that the company had no borrowings as at 30 June 2015 and 31 December 2014 respectively. The Group’s balance sheet remained strong with cash and cash equivalents of S$131.7 million as at 30 June 2015.

Although investors might think that the management is conservative when it comes to putting the amount of cash to good use, the company is quite aggressive when it comes to margin enhancement initiative. For example, they are increasing direct sourcing and bulk handling, improving sales mix of higher margin products …

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 600 million.”

Citadines Cebu City

Mr Lee added, “Ascott has been expanding beyond the capital cities to other areas with significant growth opportunities for serviced residences. For instance, Cebu is the second major business capital in the Philippines after Manila while Pattaya is a major city in Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard region with many multinational companies. Both are also popular tourist destinations. This year, we have also secured properties in Jakarta and Yogyakarta in Indonesia; Kota Kinabalu, Nusajaya and Miri in Malaysia; Bangkok and Sri Racha in Thailand as well as Binh Duong province and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Ascott is also …

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 a further dip from July’s -9%.

Both Malaysia and the Philippines witnessed positive year-over-year growth in the BFSI sector at 10% and 2% respectively, where the sector emerged as the top growth industry in Malaysia. Between July and August 2015, the Philippines registered the most notable growth in the SEA region, as annual growth improved from -8% to 2%.

 

BFSI Industry:

MonthMarket20142015% Growth Y-o-Y
MaySingapore126122-3%
Malaysia10011616
Philippines11891-22%
  
JuneSingapore129120-7%
Malaysia1001055%
Philippines10191-10%
 
JulySingapore134122-9%

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 this and something should be done to educate investors the perils of the stock market. It is true that you can make money from stocks but if you don’t practice risk management, you would end up losing your pants as well.

Bond is a form of financial instrument that allows investor to collect interest payment in exchange for investors’ money. In Singapore, the bonds issued by the government (SGS) consistently achieved very high rating from international agencies, so they are considered very safe investments with very minimal risk of default on the debt obligations by the Singapore government. However, the …

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, my pre-owned Nissan Latio had been giving me a lot of problems lately. The ignition coils and radiator were down, costing me a lot of maintenance fees. Also, due to wear and tear, the engine was not as powerful as before. So we thought that it was better to trade in now for a good price. Secondly, we don’t know if COE prices would be higher or lower one year later. There were a lot of uncertainties and for a wealth builder, uncertainty was definitely not a good thing when it comes to planning. So after some budgeting, we felt …

Sell gold and silver bullion in Singapore

gold price

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 orders for bullion products are placed on this page. To sell bullion stored under My Vault Storage®, click here.

Guide for how to sell to BullionStar:
1. Select product/s and quantity.
2. Enter your personal customer information and payment instructions.
3. Submit your order by clicking “confirm”.
4. Hand over the metals to us in our shop at the address below within one business day from the order confirmation. You can walk in with your metals. No appointment is necessary. Alternatively you can send/ship your metals to us within one business day to:

Address:
BullionStar Pte Ltd
45 New Bridge …

CPF Retirement Planning

One of the financial mistakes made by Singaporeans is that we always procrastinate retirement planning until its too late. Money issues may dominate your golden years and affect your quality of life if you are not careful with financial planning in your early years.

As a wealth builder, I tend to make this mistake as well but I always force myself to think about what kind of lifestyle I want when I am in my golden years. To do so, mindset needs to be changed. This is because our needs and wants change with time. It may not be realistic to project your future income and expenses based on current situation.

The major reason for so much frustrations among Singaporeans on the CPF Minimum Sum is because most of us depend solely on the amount as the main source of retirement fund, which may not be sufficient given the rising cost of living in Singapore. You need to start investing early and develop sources of passive income, while constantly upgrading your skill and knowledge to achieve better salaries from your day job.

Indeed, you need to have discipline and adopt a long term view when it comes to retirement planning, especially if you have just embarked your working life. But what if you are in your forties and fifties and yet to start planning for your twilight years?

To this end, the Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB) will be organising a series of retirement planning roadshows from August to November, in a bid to help Singaporeans aged 40 – 54 prepare themselves financially for their golden years ahead.

[ROADSHOW No. 3] Planning for your Retirement 
[DATE] 10 October 2015
[TIME] 11.00am – 6.00pm 
[VENUE] Jurong Point (opposite Boon Lay MRT and MoneyMax)
[PRICE] Admission is free
[WEBSITE] Visit  www.cpf-bigrchat.sg  to

Profit Mastery Seminar

To succeed in your personal finance journey, you need to acquire the right knowledge in the various form of wealth building strategies. One of the ways is to achieve this is through reading. However, reading is a very passive form of learning because you are merely downloading information. There is lack of interaction and exchange of ideas which would otherwise, result in a better decision-making outcome.

That is why I believe that attending seminars would help to broaden a wealth builder’s perspective. Make no mistake, I am not advocating you to sign up for those investment seminars that attempt to hard sell you their so-called secret money making formulas. Neither do I believe that you pay thousands of dollars to attend a wealth building or internet marketing seminar.

However, I do think that there are many affordable yet credible money seminars in the market that offer investors the opportunity to learn and at the same time, network with successful investors. One of them is the Profit Mastery Seminar conducted by Wealth Directions.

The local company is celebrating their 5th year anniversary the best way they know how. That is to share their knowledge about financial planning and investment. During this one day event, they have lined up a few speakers that will talk about:

1)      Getting the right investment mind set

2)      Key to good retirement planning

3)      Market outlook and many more

Similar to past event, Wealth Directions is keeping the cost low to encourage more participants to join. For only $20, you can get to hear what the money gurus’ views on the markets and their investment insights.

Here are the details that you might want to take note:

1)      Name: Profit Mastery Seminar

2)      Date: 27th Sep 2015 (Sunday)

3)      Time: 1 pm to 6 pm …

CPF Special Account

Keppel REIT

For the longest time, there were several investment bloggers who had been talking up the merits of topping up CPF Special Account (CPF-SA) with cash or CPF Ordinary Account (CPF-OA). They gushed and purred about how parking those extra $7000 into CPF-SA can earn risk-free 4-6% of return. Apparently, many readers were so impressed that they were pretty sure that these two fellows had uncovered the sure-win secret formula to wealth building. One of the readers almost kissed the foot of one of the bloggers.

Finally, today SG Wealth Builder came across one fellow blogger who had the guts to stick out his neck and pointed out 6 Reasons not to Voluntary Top Up your CPF Special Account with cash or CPF Ordinary Account.

If you have not read the article, I would urge you to read it (at least once) because it is one of the most well-balanced investment article I have come across with regard to CPF matters. The author described the approach of topping up your CPF-SA as “dangerous” and cautioned Singaporeans to consider carefully before doing it. As a wealth builder, I fully agreed it!

SG Wealth Builder

I shall not list down all the 6 reasons written by the blogger but fundamentally, his points on cash-flow and business opportunity costs were exactly what I had in mind whenever I came across bloggers espousing the merits of voluntary topping up CPF-SA.

Look, in life, there are always trade-offs. You don’t expect free lunch and if things are too good, they probably are! Whilst I don’t deny the fact that CPF-SA interest rate is indeed hard to beat and can be considered risk-free, investors must realize that such an approach is a one way ticket. This mean you cannot take out the money as and when if you need it …

The Wealth Dragon Way: The Why, the When & the How to Become Infinitely Wealthy

SG Wealth Builder is excited to be given the opportunity to review the book “The Wealth Dragon Way: The Why, the When & the How to Become Infinitely Wealthy (April 2015; Paperback; ISBN: 978-1-119-07783-1). The authors of this work, John Lee and Vincent Wong, reveal intimate stories from their past, right up to the present day.

I like many of the key money principles defined in the book because they are aligned to my philosophies as well. I agree with the authors that money solves the problem that not having money creates. In life, we cannot deny the fact that money plays an important role in our society and in many cases, can help to solve many of our daily problems.

The current haze situation in Singapore drives home the importance of what money can do for you. If you have infants or elderly at home, would you not spare some cash to buy air purifiers so that your loved ones can have better quality of life? Conversely, if you are financially struggling and have been living from pay check to pay check, would you not feel guilty for not doing anything for your loved ones?

Wealth Dragon

Having money certainly gives you choices, to either do good or to keep the money for your children. Having money allows you to enrich yourself, like going for vacations or taking courses to upgrade your knowledge. On the other hand, if you are poor, if you are restricted to do less things because you can’t afford to give your loved ones a better life, much less helping others.

The reason for so much frustrations among many Singaporeans stem from their anxiety and fear over their retirement savings, or the lack of them, for their twilight years. The problem is further exacerbated …

Buying gold and silver from BullionStar

BullionStar

SG Wealth Builder was alerted to an article written by fellow finance blogger on “Precious Metals: The warning signs are already here”. Personally, I like that article because it provides me value-added information on the latest updates on precious metals. The blogger highlighted that there is currently a tight supply of bullion even though the spot prices for gold and silver are falling. He also cited several notable reputable precious metal dealers to buy from, such as BullionStar. The challenge now is finding trustworthy dealers who have inventory to sell bullion to investors because of the huge demand.

As a wealth builder in Singapore, whilst I have been tracking the prices of gold and silver for quite some time, I did not really note down the price premiums for the gold bars that I bought like what the blogger did. This is because I have always been confident on the long term prospects of both gold and silver, as such, I don’t see the point of monitoring the price premiums. Nonetheless, I was really impressed by the blogger’s research and I must say he really knows what is considered the “normal price premium” for different products.

BullionStar CEO

In his post, he wrote “Today spot silver is at $14.65, but American Eagles are selling for $29.16. When I bought my American Eagles 2 months ago when spot silver was $14.80, I bought the Eagles at $24.57! Spot prices are 1% lower, but physical prices are 18% higher? Whoa, that’s weird, isn’t it?”

Perhaps I can help to address his query.

Even though the blogger has been tracking the price premiums for gold and silver bullion, he failed to realize the difference between spot price and market premium. The spot-price is the price for which someone can buy certificates or futures …

Morningstar: Changes in Chinese Equity Market

Morningstar Asia Limited, a subsidiary of independent investment research firm Morningstar, Inc. (NASDAQ: MORN), has published a research report, “Change is Afoot in China,” which examines changes in the Chinese equity market and the indices and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track the market. Authored by Morningstar’s global manager research team, the report investigates:

 How index providers are changing the way they ”define” China;
 How some of these definitional changes may affect investors;
 Factors investors should be mindful of when evaluating Chinese equity ETFs; and
 How benchmark changes might affect investors in Chinese equity ETFs.

“Change is afoot in a number of respects from economics to demographics to the very definition of ‘China’ and investors need to be prepared as they consider an investment in Chinese equity ETFs,” Jackie Choy, ETF Strategist for Morningstar Investment Managament Asia, said. “Our research report can help investors navigate these changes and make better informed investment decisions.”

Key highlights of the research report include:
 Major index providers, including MSCI, FTSE Russell, and Standard & Poor’s, are considering adding China A-Shares, which are companies listed onshore either on the Shanghai or Shenzhen stock exchanges, to their global benchmarks. MSCI announced that it will include overseas-listed companies such as Alibaba and Baidu in the MSCI China Index in November 2015. Major index providers are creating new indices that include A-Shares to serve as the basis of index-tracking ETFs and mutual funds. All these indexes could be used by active fund managers as new benchmarks for existing and/or new funds that better reflect their rapidly evolving opportunity set.

 The inclusion of China A-Shares in emerging markets and global benchmarks will likely alter the risk/return profile of the indexes, while also conferring some diversification benefit given the low historical correlation of …

Importance of trust and reputation in the bullion industry

For many years, there were reported cases of Singapore wealth builders fallen prey and lost huge chunk of their wealth to various gold scams. This is not surprising as many bullion dealers set up shops following the implementation of GST exemption of investment grade physical precious metals in 2012. To avoid being ripped off by dishonest bullion dealers, always buy from reputable and trustworthy bullion brokers. Don’t ever go for the ones that offer the lowest premiums because good things don’t come cheap, and cheap things don’t certainly come good.

Developing trust is critical in the bullion industry. To this end, BullionStar has recently reported a good FY2015 report. Revenue grew 43.8% as compared to FY2014. This growth was remarkable given that it took place in the wake of falling precious metal prices. Asian demand had been strong as investors took the opportunity to accumulate bullion to their portfolios at a bargain. So clearly, BullionStar’s CEO, Mr Torgny’s bet on Singapore being Asia’s gold hub had paid off.

BullionStar CEO

In terms of financial strength, BullionStar had been profitable since FY2014 and FY2015. The company also has no outstanding long term debts to financial institutions. Going forward, the company foresee that FY2016 will deliver even better results with a slew several features going to be rolled out that would allow international customers to trade with BullionStar.

BullionStar is also fast gaining market share in Singapore. In FY2015, more than 10,700 customers placed order with BullionStar, with the average order being SGD5894 and median order SGD970. 100 gram gold bars was the most popular choice and made up almost half of its products sold. The second most popular product was the 1kg gold bar.

What sets BullionStar apart from its competitors is its extensive use of technology which revolutionizes the traditional way of …

Singaporeans should not depend solely on their CPF savings for their retirement

Singaporeans who thought that they can depend squarely on their CPF savings for their retirement need to adjust their mentality. Given today’s high cost of living, that amount of savings would probably last you a couple of years. So, before you and your partner knew it, there might be a need to press the panic button during your twilight years. Also, in today’s society where Singaporeans must compete with cheap foreign talents, all of us must not take things for granted and assume that we would be gainfully employed until the age of 67.

In fact, you are probably just one step away from financial disaster if you are hospitalized in ICU. The medical costs would probably wipe out all your hard-earned savings in your Medisave if you didn’t make a proper retirement plan. Clearly, Singaporeans need to establish alternative pathways to accumulate and build wealth so that we don’t have to suffer the pain of “money no enough” in retirement age.

CPFB employees guiding participants how to use the Retirement Estimator

Firstly, the purpose of this article is not to question nor criticize the merits of CPF. The aim is to highlight to fellow Singaporeans the importance of taking charge their personal finances and empower their future. Far too many young Singaporeans ignore the importance of retirement planning in their prime age and also tend to regard their CPF savings as their sole ultimate saving plan. This should not be the case because if you do not have alternative sources of wealth for your retirement fund, you are probably not going to enjoy the fruits of your labor when you are old, or at least not to your desirable level.

To address the issue of retirement planning, the Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB) will be organising a series of retirement planning roadshows from August to November, in a bid …

SATS to join STI

Medtecs share price

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), Singapore Exchange (SGX) and FTSE Russell announced on 3 September 2015 that UOL Group, Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Holdings and SATS will replace Jardine Matheson Holdings, Jardine Strategic Holdings and Olam International as constituents of the Straits Times Index (STI) following the conclusion of the semi-annual review.

The STI is widely followed by investors as the benchmark for the Singapore market and is used as the basis for a range of financial products including Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), futures, warrants and other derivatives.

SGX stocks

SATS Ltd provides gateway services and food solutions in Singapore, Japan, and internationally. The company’s gateway services comprise airfreight, baggage, ramp handling, passenger, aviation security, cargo, warehousing, perishables and cruise handling, and terminal management services, as well as ground handling and in-flight catering services.

Its food solutions include airline catering, food distribution and logistics, and industrial catering services, as well as chilled and frozen food manufacturing, and linen and laundry services.

The company also provides apron, flight operation and load control, aviation security, aircraft interior and exterior cleaning, and cruise center operation and management services. It serves airline, hospitality, healthcare, food, and airfreight and logistics industries, as well as the government.

On 17 August 2015, SATS Ltd. and Singapore Post Limited (SingPost) announced that they have signed a commercial agreement for SATS to provide airmail consignment handling services to SingPost. The new automated facility, to be called SATS eCommerce AirHub, will improve efficiency and space utilisation, as well as enhance the consignment handling capabilities for both SATS and SingPost.

To be located at SATS Airfreight Terminal 1 within the Changi Airfreight Centre, this 6,000-square-metre facility is expected to be operational by December 2016. Under the terms of the agreement, SingPost will outsource its airport consignment operations located at Changi Airmail Transit Centre 2 (ATC2) to …

My gold journey with BullionStar

BullionStar announces their 3rd Year Anniversary celebration! Time really flies and it seems like yesterday when I forged a working relationship with BullionStar to promote understanding of gold bullion among Singapore readers. Since then, the company has grew from strength to strength and has became a leading bullion dealer in Singapore. It never fails to amaze that the company has managed to achieve this incredible feat within such a short period of time. In this regard, I am proud and honored to be part of their journey, even though I am not their staff.

Even though the gold and silver price premiums of BullionStar are not the lowest you can find in Singapore, what differentiates it from the rest of its competitors is its reputation and content authority on precious metal. The founder of the company, Torgny Persson has a strong conviction in gold as a form of wealth building and firmly believes that Singapore is the most ideal country to invest in gold bullion.

I have gained much insights on gold and silver from my conversations with Torgny and through the years, my perspective on wealth management has been broaden. Like many Singapore investors, I used to think that investing is all about buying and holding stocks. Now, I realized the importance of allocating some of my wealth in gold bullion. I look forward to many years of relationship with BullionStar.

BullionStar 3rd Year

Join us in celebrating BullionStar’s 3rd Year Anniversary

Tuesday the 25th of August 2015

Join us in celebrating BullionStar’s 3rd Year Anniversary!

Click here to register!

When:
7 pm – 9 pm, Wednesday 16 September, 2015

Program:
– Speech by Torgny Persson, CEO BullionStar:
Gold Trends & The New Gold Rush
– Speech by Luke Chua, COO BullionStar:
The Key to Understanding Gold & Silver Prices

Why automated trading stop losses are not always ideal (especially now)

Below is a guest post from Cynthia Siantar who is the co-founder of Call Levels, a Singapore fintech that provides free real time financial monitoring and notification service.

I’m sure we all agree that last night and this morning was a total bloodbath in the markets. But one group of people got it worse than others and who are they?
Those that had their automated trading stop losses triggered prematurely (see below), crystalised their losses, only to see the markets rebounded sharply soon after (ouch!). Not to mention there will always be that group that slept through the turmoil and wake up massively poorer. Don’t laugh, they might be someone you know.
And this is the reason why institutional investors and traders still choose to leave Call Levels: Call me when the price reaches this level with salespeople despite having the ability to set their own stop losses. They want peace of mind. When the markets go into panic mode, and none of your technical indicators make sense anymore, they want to be aware when certain price points are HIT but they don’t necessary want to execute that trade.

Inline image 2

As my co-founder, Daniel not-so-fondly recalls that one night many years back, he had at least 20 salespeople calling to update him because almost all his Call Levels were triggered. He didn’t sleep much that night, but was at least made aware of the situation and was able to react appropriately, mitigating the losses.
Now friend A, a retail trader who didn’t have the luxury of salespeople covering him, but set trading stop losses got the biggest shock of his life when he woke up the next morning. Financial institutions are not going to extend premium services such as Call Levels to all their clients, because it is tedious

My favorite personal finance blogger

It was a pleasant surprise to see my favorite personal finance blogger, HYOM back in action after more than a year. For the uninitiated, HYOM stands for Help Your Own Money. HYOM started his investment blog at the same time as me (in 2010) and I have always respected his work. In fact, I am one of his biggest fans and enjoy reading his articles. However, after he suffered from retrenchment in 2011, he begun to blog less often. Since then, the local investment blogging fraternity had taken a different dimension altogether. Sadly, the scene is now crowded with many bloggers who cannot match HYOM’s writing standard. Nonetheless, in his maiden article for 2015, HYOM touched on a very interesting subject that resonates deeply in my heart and that is, entrepreneurship in Singapore.

HYOM’s post was triggered by an article from a former high flying civil servant, Mr Devadas Krishnada who commented that Singaporeans are too risk averse and lamented that this is bad for Singapore’s future growth. Devadas’ frustration stemmed from a recent recruiting experience in which an applicant demanded more money in exchange for the risk in joining a SME like his. While I can relate to Devadas’ pain point of recruiting a local talent to support his company’s business expansion, I agree with HYOM’s that Devadas’ arguments are not well balanced.

Whether you like it or not, entrepreneurship is always risky and if you are not the type of person who can accept failures, then it is certainly not for you. This is especially so in our society which places so much focus in our academic and job achievements. You are deemed to be in the “successful” bracket if you graduated from a top university with prestigious scholarship or if you hold the position of Vice …

Last Chance for Gold Investors

Dow Jones plunged 2 percent on 20 August and seemingly continued its slide on 21 August as uncertainty over the Fed’s timing on interest rate hike and global growth weighed on investors’ confidence in the financial markets. Weak data on China’s growth also dealt another mighty blow to investors and heightened fear on the world number two economy. Given the volatility in the stock market, it is no surprise that investors turn to gold.

Widely seen as a safe haven, investors drove gold price up 7% from a 5-year low in 5 August. This development is a reverse on the recent bearish sentiment on precious metal. According to World Gold Council, demand on gold dropped 12% on a 6 year low in 2Q 2015. The gold market also faced weakness from jewellery buyers in China and India. However, it should be noted that the 2nd half of the year would be more encouraging given the anticipated responses from investors in view of the recent price correction.

Investors seeking wealth protection should diversify their assets and allocate a certain portion of their wealth in gold and silver. The current window is a good opportunity for wealth builders to adopt buy gold on the cheap and preserve wealth. In Singapore, if you want to buy gold bar or coins, you can easily place your order online in BullionStar and withdraw the physical metal from their store. BullionStar offers two different options for buying and storing precious metals.

1) Bullion Products

Segregated allocated bullion products held under legal ownership. If you buy a 100 gram PAMP Suisse gold bar, you get one identifiable serial-numbered PAMP 100 gram gold bar stored separately from BullionStar’s own inventory.

Your bullion products are inspected, photographed and stored securely under your legal ownership. When we have received

CPF Retirement Planning Roadshows

According to a HSBC survey conducted in 2013, more than 50% Singaporeans felt that they are not planning adequately for their retirement. The study also revealed that poor health and not having enough money to spend in their later stage of lives are among Singaporeans’ greatest fears. The results of the survey are not surprising, given our aging population and high cost of living. If you are not careful with your personal finances in your twenties or thirties, chances are, you might not have a positive retirement lifestyle.

To prepare for retirement, the first thing we must ask ourselves is how much is needed in order for you to feel comfortable in retirement. The amount of money is subjective and varies across individuals but the rule of thumb is that the retirement fund should include your dependents’ needs, traveling, medical and other unforeseen expenses.

Once you establish your desired retirement nest egg, develop the financial roadmap to achieve this goal. For example if you need $2 million to retire, work out the monthly or annual savings you need to set aside. Besides the cash components, acquire income generating assets and passive income investments to support your retirement fund.

A common mistake made by Singaporeans is that we often fail to future-proof our financial planning. In their pursuit of wealth, many Singaporeans overlook the importance of protecting their abilities to generate income when they are young and healthy. Thus, it is not surprising that many wealth builders ignore the significant impact that life insurance coverage has in their wealth building journeys. It should also be emphasized that having adequate insurance coverage is one thing, it is also important to purchase the right insurance. Selecting the wrong insurance policy can potentially affect your financial planning and derail your retirement goals.

Retirement
The second …

Money no enough for digital marketing talents

Agencies and organisations in Singapore are not fulfilling the needs of marketing, digital and creative talent in terms of remuneration and professional development, a new study by specialist recruiter font talent has found.

font’s Market Pulse 2014/15, which surveyed 500 respondents across Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore, found numerous disconnects between what employers claim to be providing for employees, and what talent are actually receiving.

Money is the number one consideration for marketing talent in Singapore looking for new roles (81%), yet just 54% of professionals feel they have been fairly remunerated in the past year. Worryingly, just 35% of employers said they offer competitive base salaries above the market average, and only half offer incentives and bonus programmes. However, bonuses appear to be paid adequately, with 22% of talent receiving a bonus between both $3,000-$4,999 and $5,000-$6,999.

In Singapore, the top median annual salaries were found in Digital, Design and Production roles, followed by Creative and Creative Services, while the lowest was in Media (Media Planning, Digital Ad Sales, etc.)

When comparing in-house and agency wages, agencies came out on top with a median annual salary of $58,800, compared with $43,200 in-house. From a benefits perspective, in-house respondents reported more healthcare, company paid training and car park allowances, while agencies offered more flexible working hours, travel allowances, and phone allowances.

A large disconnect was also reported with flexible working hours. While 65% of employers surveyed said they offer flexible working hours as part of their overall benefits package, just 33% of candidates said they received them.

Similarly, just 34% of talent said their company had crafted a career development plan for them, despite 70% saying this is the second-most important factor they consider when looking for a new role.

“While cash is still a main motivator for …

Gold demand falls in Q2 2015 as reduced consumer appetite in Asia outweighs increased buying in some western markets

Below is an update on gold trend from World Gold Council. Notwithstanding the recent gold’s price drop and declining demand, gold investors should take a contrarian approach and seize this opportunity to buy gold. In Singapore, you can purchase gold and silver bullion from BullionStar, one of the leading bullion dealers.

The World Gold Council’s Gold Demand Trends report for Q2 2015 shows total demand was 915 tonnes (t), a fall of 12% compared to the same period last year, due mainly to a decline in demand from consumers in India and China. However, demand in Europe and the US grew, driven by a mixture of increasingly confident jewellery buyers and strong demand for bars and coins. Looking ahead, there are encouraging signs moving into what are traditionally the busiest quarters for gold buying in India and China.

Gold and Silver Bullion

Gold and Silver Bullion

Alistair Hewitt, Head of Market Intelligence at the World Gold Council, said:

“It’s been a challenging market for gold this quarter, particularly in Asia, on the back of falls in India and China. The reverse is true for western jewellery markets, as increased economic confidence led to continued growth in consumer demand. It is  fair to say that investment demand for the quarter remained muted given the continuing recovery in the US economy and booming stock markets in India and China during the quarter.

Jewellery market prospects look healthier for the remainder of the year with the upcoming wedding and festival season in India. In addition, falls in the gold price have historically triggered buying in price sensitive markets and we are already seeing early indications of this across Asia and the Middle East. Conversely, sharp falls in Chinese stock markets have shaken the largely consumer investment base and we are seeing early indications of interest in …

The Ins and Outs of Mortgages in Singapore

Deferred Resale Levy

There is much to consider when the time comes to take out a housing loan in Singapore. Though it may seem intimidating and confusing at first, understanding the terms that you are dealing with will help, you get a head start on making your decision. Tools like the mortgage calculators offered by Property Guru can help you plan out payments and what fits best into your budget, but it’s best to start by learning about some aspects of mortgages in Singapore that may be unfamiliar. You’ll want to learn a little bit about how the SIBOR affects interest, the different types of rates that are offered on home loans, and how this factors into why refinancing is common in Singapore. Here’s a bit of an introduction to these concepts to start you on the way to your home loan.

Mortgages in Singapore

Getting a Grip on the SIBOR
To put it simply, the SIBOR, which stands for Singapore Interbank Offered Rate, is the reference by which banks in Singapore determine interest rates on loans. Experts indicate that the SIBOR is predicted to rise to 2 percent by the end of 2016. You’re probably wondering what this means to you. Basically, the SIBOR will help you determine the initial interest you will be paying on your bank’s home loan, and can in turn help you decide on whether or not a fixed rate home loan or a floating rate home loan is the best choice for you. Though the SIBOR is predicted to rise, it can also fluctuate up and down, and will be added periodically (usually monthly or every three months) to the interest rate your bank already has set in place. Therefore, the SIBOR can cause your total interest rate to either rise or fall over the length of your loan.

Fixed-Rate

My Career Low

career

This year marks the 10th year anniversary of my working life. It seems not so long ago that I stepped out of the university, fresh and ready to take on the world. I was driven, curious and hungry for success back then. Yet now, I feel like a spent force, jaded and weary of my journey. So many things have happened to me for the past 10 years, both good and bad, and they have inevitably shaped my character and thoughts.

I like my current job because of the opportunity to make significant impact in the industry I am working in. Yet, I came to realize that there is another side of the job equation that cannot be decoupled, and that is human relationships. Having the soft skills to deal with day-to-day issues are important in career success and unfortunately, this is not taught in school. Through the years, I came to realize that successful people are those with strong Emotional Quotient (EQ) and they tend to get ahead than those who are smarter or technically stronger. And this is the area which I fare the worst – the ability to manage my emotions.

career

For the past few years, I have lost my temper in office on a number of occasions and my bosses had noticed my outbursts. On hindsight, I should have kept my cool and swallow my pride. But in moments of madness, I let my emotions got the better of me, much to my regrets later.  Perhaps its due to the work stresses. Perhaps its due to the pressing project deadlines. But no matter what, I recognize that this is a worrisome problem that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, it can cost my career.

One of the things that annoys me the most is when unhelpful co-workers

CapitaLand to boost digital efforts with technology stalwarts as members of its newly formed Technology Council

Below is a press release from Capitaland, one of the companies that I respect the most because of its foray in China over the years. The Singapore listed giant recent move into the use of technology to boost its real estate business would definitely help to give the company competitive edge in China. It is interesting to note whether such trend would take place in Singapore.

CapitaLand Limited has formed a new Technology Council consisting of high-calibre digital visionaries to boost its digital efforts to drive its real estate business. The council members are notable venture capitalists Foo Jixun, Managing Partner of GGV Capital and David Su, Managing Partner of Matrix Partners China, both of whom have strong tech focus and a keen eye for the next tech game-changers; as well as Gabriel Lim, CEO of the Media Development Authority of Singapore, the agency key to Singapore’s Smart Nation vision in mapping innovative infocomm media solutions. Together, the council provides strategic critique of CapitaLand’s operations and insights to the digital universe.

Mr Lim Ming Yan, President & Group CEO of CapitaLand Limited, said: “CapitaLand’s technology drive is part of the Group’s efforts to sharpen our customer-centric focus to develop real estate of the future – integrated and interconnected smart communities through smart buildings as well as seamless online and offline customer experiences. We are privileged to have stellar tech visionaries join us in the CapitaLand Technology Council. With the wealth of experience and fresh perspectives of the council members, CapitaLand will gain much insight on using digital technology to decode the art of human needs and wants, so that we can create smart buildings for smart customers.”

Lim Ming Yan, President & Group CEO, CapitaLand Limited

“The council will also identify tech trends, challenges and opportunities to sharpen CapitaLand’s smart focus. This includes offering advice and guidance on how …

The sky is falling for Singapore shares investors

Many Singapore investors would be happy to see the back of July as it capped an awful month for the stock market. A total of $37.4 billion was wiped out and the combined value declined sharply by 3.9 per cent. I also saw an article in a local finance blog where one reader wrote how depressed he was to see his hard earned money evaporated away because of the market correction.

To put things into perspective, I have always advocated readers to only invest in monies that you can really afford to lose. If you have only $30,000 hard cash, you don’t invest all of it in shares. That’s pretty stupid and risky. The worse case is concentrating all your investments on a couple of shares when you are just learning how to invest. Obviously, such an approach is akin to asking for trouble. A market rout would have wiped out all your monies.

The mayhem in the China stock market is not surprising, given that it had surged to record highs for so many years. A correction is inevitable and would of course inflict mighty pains on many investors. Such is the growing pains of an emerging market. On this note, investors worldwide should be cautious of this development because the fallout from the China market, coupled with the Greece debt crisis and the potential adjustment in interest rates, can affect investors’ confidence drastically and induce unstoppable financial crisis. Given the current situation, it would take a very brave investor to enter the market and buy shares which had dropped in value.

One depressed stock is Noble’s shares, which closed at 47.5 cents today. Like a fallen angel, Noble’s share price collapsed and its market capitalization has shrunk  to about $3 billion from $7.6 billion. Veteran investor, Michael …

BullionStar explained the merits of fractional gold coins

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. 

Often, customers come into our shops and ask for the gold coin with the lowest premium. In this case, our answer is always the Royal Canadian Mint 1 oz Gold Maple Leaf. The Gold Maple Leaf offers not just the best value for money, but you also buy into a brand that is globally recognized for high manufacturing quality.

Why then, do we offer fractional coins in the form of fractional gold maples, kangaroos, pandas and lunar series and why do people purchase them even though the premiums are higher? Today’s editorial will discuss the different reasons people who buy gold buy fractionals.

Liquidity

Fractional coins offers the advantage of liquidity. Should one need a sum of money, one can sell a ¼ oz coin for example instead of selling an entire ounce. Now this is especially useful when the price where one bought the coin at is higher than current prices when you are deciding whether or not to sell.

singapore_gold_bullionstar_front_100g_2Allow savers to start

Though fractionals have higher premiums they also cost lesser in absolute terms than their 1 oz counterparts. They allow people who do not have the discipline to save money in precious metals to put aside whatever small amounts they have into gold so that they can build up their stacks. It might seem like a 1/10 oz is nothing but over time, all these add up and one would be glad that they put aside the money!

Variety

When Should You Resign?

selling combs

Last year, during my reservist in-camp training, I had a chat with one of my platoon mates on when is the right time to resign from a job. He was much older than me and was in his early forties. So obviously, given his wealth of experience, I thought what he said would probably be true.

In our conversation, he shared with me that when your boss starts to load you with many assignments or meaningless tasks, its a sure sign that he is trying to force you out of the company. Clearly, my friend wasn’t happy with his job but I didn’t urge him to be positive because at that point of time, I couldn’t really fathom what he was driving at.

Fast forward to a year later, his point really hit me. On thinking back, I am able to empathize him now as I am now going through the same situation as him then. For the past 6 months, I was loaded with many key projects with pressing deadlines, and also many small trivial tasks that don’t add value to the organization or myself.

On a daily basis, I was chased by colleagues from other divisions for trivial issues that could really be solved if they had bothered to put in some efforts. My boss, seemingly unaware of all these, continued to load me with more work even after I sounded out to him that I am maxed out already. His reply to me was that he was grooming me to take on more responsibilities and position me for promotion.

resign

However, recent developments in my organization validated my thinking that I would not be promoted, at least not for the next 3 to 4 years. I felt somehow frustrated, cheated and angry with my boss for “dangling carrots” …

Making a Smart Move for Your Mortgage

An Information and Networking Luncheon by Property Club Singapore

In the coming months, my mortgage loan will be due for refinancing. Under the loan agreement, I am supposed to be paying interest fees at board rates set by the bank and the interest fees payable are scheduled annually accordingly. The fees payable is of course much lower than the HDB concessionary rate.

However, last month, I received a surprise upward revision in the interest fees, probably due to the soaring SIBOR rates in the market. This triggered me to check the term and conditions in the loan agreement, which stated that the bank actual reserves the rights to revise the fees according to market conditions. In my opinion, this is a fair clause and I am not complaining about the bank practice. But I thought that as an engineer by profession, I should have factored in safety margins in my mortgage loan to cater for such unexpected circumstances.

While the additional amount to be forked out is small because my mortgage loan is not much, many others in Singapore may be starting to feel the heat from the rising SIBOR rates. Aspiring homeowners, upgraders and investors are starting to feel the pain as banks start to adjust the refinancing and repricing packages. Incidentally, Property Soul, Singapore’s leading property blogger, invited me to her mortgage luncheon Making a Smart Move for Your Mortgage Information and Networking Luncheon this Saturday at NTUC Centre.

Synopsis
With the rising SIBOR rates hitting the home loan market, how would it affect homeowners? What precautions should property owners and investors take to cushion the impact of interest rate hike? How to make a strategic choice out of refinancing, repricing and restructuring? What are the legal implications that all borrowers should know when financing their properties?

Get …