Self cultivation

Very often, we get so busy making a living that we forget to live a life. The woodcutter story never fails to drive home in me the importance of self cultivation. The story goes like this:

One day, a timber owner advertised for a helper to help him cut the trees. A very strong woodcutter applied and got the job. The pay was good and working condition was excellent. Eager to impress his boss, the woodcutter was determined to do his job well and so started work the next day.

In his first day, the woodcutter was extremely motivated and managed to cut 20 trees. The boss was delighted and praised him “Good job and well done!”

On the second day, driven by his boss’ praise, the woodcutter tried even harder but surprisingly could only deliver 10 trees. The third day, he tried his very best but managed to bring in only 5 trees. The next day, he could not cut a single tree and began to panic.

The woodcutter went to see his boss and profusely apologized for not delivering in his job. Curious, the boss asked him “Did you sharpen the axe?”

“Huh? Sharpen the axe? Gosh no! I have been busy cutting the trees that I have no time to sharpen my axe!”

financial destiny

Learning points

In today’s context, most of us are so busy in our daily work that we sometimes forget to sharpen the “axe” in us and do self cultivation. Like the woodcutter, we all want to impress our boss so that we can get our work noticed and get promoted. There is nothing wrong with that because as a wealth builder, our goal is to make money and build a better life for our loved ones.

But in the midst of our busy schedules, …

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Singapore gold bullion market

In the aftermath of the Singapore’s GST exemption for investment grade precious metals since 2012, many bullion dealers has set up shop to take advantage of gold liberalization by Singapore government. In its latest financial results, it was revealed that BullionStar led in Singapore gold bullion market.

According to data released by World Gold Council, the overall bullion demand in Singapore decreased to 1.2 tonnes in 1Q16 from 1.6 tonnes in 1Q15. The sluggish demand in physical gold could be attributed to the surge in gold prices seen in 2016. Gold price exploded during that period of time because of the crash in China stock market. As a result, the high gold prices cooled demand among wealth builders. Interestingly, BullionStar sold 0.5 tonnes of gold bullion, thereby contributing to 42% of the total Singaporean bullion market.

As we enter into the 2nd quarter of 2017, the world continues to witness uncertainties arising from USA trade protectionism and the negotiations of Brexit with European Union. On the other hand, the recovery of USA economy and the positive employment data drive America stock market to new highs.

Wall Street continues its mighty bull run and at one point, broke the record of 21,000 points. It is unknown whether there would be further upside in stock prices but investors should exercise asset allocation to diversify risks in their portfolio. Gold bullion offers one of the best opportunities for wealth builders to de-risk their portfolios in the face of market volatility.


Gold spot price had held up surprisingly well in the first quarter of 2017, rising by 9% year-to-date to USD1255 per ounce. At a time when the US Federal Reserve signaled at least three interest rate hikes, many thought that gold spot price would crash because of the opportunity loss …

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Singtel share price in supreme form

At a time when Starhub and M1 share prices are dropping like flies, Singtel share price is in supreme form. The corrections for Starhub and M1 shares are due to the announcement of the entry of the fourth telco player, TPG Telecom, which made the winning bid of $105 million for the licence in December 2016.

When investing in stocks, always place your bets on the players with the biggest investment moats in the industry. Size matters and you don’t want to catch a falling knife investing in smaller companies which cannot withstand changes in market forces.

Singapore market

Over the past twenty years, the telecommunication industry in Singapore has witnessed an explosive growth in mobile phone penetration rate, growing from 20% to the current 150%. In view of this, the market is already very saturated and the potential for growth is also limited because of Singapore’s small market size. Investors who had placed their faith on domestic players like Starhub and M1 must have reality check as these companies’ growth hinge purely on Singapore market.

Starhub and M1 have amassed huge following among Singaporean investors because of their attractive dividend payouts over the past decade. But experience has taught me that while past performance is relevant, it cannot guarantees future performance. This principle also applies for dividend. Changing market dynamic and competition often impact the smaller players because these factors bite into their market size. Inevitably, companies that lack investment moat will see their profits erode and would be forced to “right-size” their dividend payouts for sustainability purposes.


To put things into perspective, both Starhub and M1 recorded really disappointing financial results for 2016. Starhub’s net profit declined from $372 million in 2015 to $341 million in 2016. M1’s fate was even worse – net profit declined 16.1% year-on-year …

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KFC founder got rejected 1009 times at age 65

This will be a short post that I hope to inspire readers. Recently when I tried to order Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) online, I wondered how come the logo consists of a picture of an old man. Why not a picture of the founder in his prime? It was then I found out that the KFC founder, Colonel Sanders, got rejected 1009 times at age 65 before he found success.

Colonel Sanders was forced to start life all over again in his twilight years. But more amazing was that he got rejected 1009 times before his chicken recipe was accepted! That was a crazy number of failures and to be frank I don’t know how many folks in Singapore can manage to handle so many rejections.

Nonetheless, it was fortunate that Colonel Sanders persevered and went on to build a “finger licking good” global empire. His true life story is very inspiring and made me rethink about failures. On looking back, I feel that I should have remained sanguine in the face of some setbacks and managed certain situations with the spirit of Colonel Sanders.

financial destiny

Like many people, I find it hard to remain positive when dealing with rejections or setbacks. It is definitely not a nice feeling when you are being criticized or having your idea being thumbed down. Maybe I had been too negative in those situations and did not see the opportunities to improve. Perhaps I had given up too easily and did not put up a good fight.

But through the KFC success story, there are a few enlightening learning points. Firstly, to achieve our dreams, we must have the conviction and the will to put in the effort and energy. Colonel Sanders did not let his age became a handicap for him nor did he …

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Money values

The recent court case of a Singaporean technician who stole to finance his wife’s chemotherapy set me thinking. Money, or the lack of it, has always been the root cause of many family tragedies. This tragedy certainly reinforces the importance of having the right money values.

The accused worked as a technician in the same company for 23 years and drew a salary of $1210. Having to support two school going children and his ailing wife who was diagnosed with cancer, the technician was driven to desperation to steal copper wires from his employer.

Like many readers, I sympathize the plight of the accused and can fully empathize his situation because I have been through similar rough patch in life before. Thus, the objective of writing this article is to highlight the lessons we can learn from this tragedy.


Dignity in poverty

First of all, being poor is not a sin. But the Chinese has a saying that goes “dignity in poverty”. It simply means that even if one is poor, one must have dignity and not let poverty erodes his values in life. Indeed, our money values define our legacy and whether you like it or not, stealing is a form of dishonest act and should not be condoned. We must not lower our moral standards just because of difficulties encountered in our lives.

When my late father was diagnosed with a massive stroke that caused him to be half-paralyzed, my family situation was even worse than the one that the accused is facing now. Being the sole-breadwinner, my father was unable to work because of his condition. He also had to support three school going children, my ailing grandmother and his wife. That was in 1993 and in those days, it was almost “mission impossible” to qualify for …

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The Hour Glass Limited

Recently, I received the following email query on The Hour Glass Limited, one of the famous brands for luxury watches in Singapore. Hence, I decided to craft a post to capture some quick thoughts on this SGX-listed stock.

Hi there,

Chanced upon your blog while doing research on The Hour Glass Limited. Could I know whats your take on the management shuffle going on now? Quite a few board level executives are moving on.


To be frank, apart from the resignation of Ms Wong Mei Ling as the Managing Director of Singapore, I am not aware of any major management shuffle going on within The Hour Glass Limited.

I have previously written an investment analysis on The Hour Glass Limited. Check out the report here.

According to the SGX filing, Ms Wong was responsible for the business development and management of The Hour Glass’ Singapore Division and her departure was due to her pursuit of other interests. Prior to that, Ms Lim Jee Yah resigned as Managing Director of Luxury Enterprises in July 2016.

Family feud

Ultimately, investors must note that The Hour Glass is a family-owned and family-run business. So the departure of Ms Wong and Ms Lim should not be major concerns as the company founders are still managing the business. Nonetheless, behind the successful story of The Hour Glass Limited, lies a bitter family feud between founders Dr Henry Tay and Jannie Chan.

Dr Tay and Jannie Chan were divorced in 2010 and were engaged in a high-profile legal dispute over money issues back in 2012. Apparently, Dr Tay obtained an injunction to prevent Ms Chan from signing cheques for a family company, TYC Investment. Dr Tay also asked the court to order his former wife to return more than $3 million to TYC Investment. …

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Scary truth about accredited investor rule

As an investment blogger, my commitment is to deliver quality content so that readers can benefit from reading my blog. Beyond this, I also hope to build a community by engaging my readers. Thus, if you find this article useful, please email subscribe to my blog for free or share your thoughts in the comment block. Today, I will share the scary truth about accredited investor rule in Singapore.

I learned about the accredited investor rule a few years ago from a local entrepreneur who worked in the financial sector for many years. He candidly shared with me his experience as a wealth manager and touched on how the industry made money from investors based on this rule.

I have previously written about this rule in this blog but apparently many readers still have many doubts about it. You may check it out here.

Make your money work hard

Like many people, I share the same aspiration to enjoy the good life through building wealth. In this regard, my conviction is that investing offers the possibility of a ticket to financial freedom.

But have you ever wondered why so many Singaporean investors lost big sum of money in financial products like Minibond Notes, High Notes 5 and Pinnacle Series 9 and 10 Notes back in 2008?  Instead of making money work hard for them, ironically they lost substantial wealth. Last year, many investors also got burned after investing their hard-earned money in Swiber corporate bonds.

Singapore banks

Many of you would presume that you would not suffer the same fate but you may be wrong. This is because these investment products are not scams, but legitimate products sold by reputable banks and financial institutes to retail investors. This means that it could happen to any one of us.

Many of these …

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Analysis on Raffles Medical Group

On 20 February 2017, Raffles Medical Group announced a record revenue of S$473.6 million for the year ended 2016, demonstrating its ability to maintain growth amid challenging economy. The result was impressive because it presented a 15.4% growth from 2015, driven by positive contributions from all business divisions.

Investment moats

Raffles Medical Group is one of my favorite stocks which I am not vested in but am constantly monitoring its progress for future investment purposes. Being one of the leading private healthcare service providers in Singapore, this company sets itself apart from the rest of its competitors with its strong investment moats.

Raffles Medical boosts RafflesHospital as its flagship, offering a wide range of specialist medical and diagnostic services for both inpatients and outpatients. Raffles Medical clinics form one of the largest networks of private family medicine centres in Singapore while RafflesDental is a team-based dental group in Singapore comprising of a specialist dental practice at Raffles Hospital and a network of general dental clinics. RafflesHealthinsurance provides healthcare insurance to corporate and individual clients.

Raffles Medical

However, Singapore market is too small and with local competition heating up over the past few years, it is inevitable for Raffles Medical to expand overseas to seek growth. After all, with so many players from the public and private sectors, how many Singapore patients can RMG rely on to spur growth?

The Group’s acquisition of 55% equity interest in International SOS (MC Holdings) Pte Ltd (MCH) for a cash consideration of $32,661,000 in 2015 elevated it into a regional healthcare provider with clinical facilities serving patients in thirteen cities across Asia. This is a strategic move that resulted in the 15.4% revenue growth seen in 2016. Excluding the revenue contribution from MCH, the Group’s revenue would have grown by only 7.5%.


Scaling for growth

One …

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Online frauds in Singapore

Recently, SG Budget Babe wrote a very interesting article on online frauds in Singapore and I thought it would be useful to share a quick post on the same topic.

But before that, it is important to note that like many fraud victims, I share the same perspective and argument if I am in their shoes. But for argument sake, this article shall attempt to strike a balanced viewpoint from the perspective of the service provider (the bank) and the consumer. Hopefully readers can benefit from this sharing and avoid the undesirable fate of being a fraud victim.

Understanding the law

In Singapore, the law that governs electronic transactions is the Electronic Transaction Act (ETA). This law covers two important components of online transactions – Electronic Signature and Secured Electronic Signature. For an electronic signature to be legally recognized, it needs to be able to authenticate the person signing the document and ensure integrity of the document signed. However, if the service provider implemented secured electronic signature, the law automatically presume that these requirements are fulfilled.

SG Wealth Builder

The 2-FA authentication used by many local banks is deemed as a form of secured electronic signature and the system works based on “what you know (PIN or password)” and “what you have (two factor authentication token)”. There are two types of tokens – hardware key-chain size token and SMS. The former generates One Time Passwords. Each time you log in, press the button on the hardware token to generate the One-Time Password. This will be displayed on the screen. An SMS containing your password will be sent to the mobile phone number registered with your bank whenever you log in with your user ID and PIN.

Hardware token is considered more secured than SMS because unless you lost your token, it is almost …

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