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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own, not those of my employer and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

China Overtakes Japan

>> Friday, July 30, 2010

According to a senior central bank official in an interview. China has moved ahead of Japan to become the world's second-largest economy.

Yi Gang, a vice-governor of the People's Bank of China and also the head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), did not explain how he had arrived at the figures, according to the comments posted on the SAFE website.

China economy grew 10.3 percent in the second quarter and 11.1 percent in the first half.

China's gross domestic product in the first six moths stood at 17.284 trillion yuan, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. That comes to 2.5324 trillion dollars, using the central bank's average monthly exchange rates.


MM Lee Says There Should Be No Retirement Age

>> Thursday, July 29, 2010

He said: "You work as long as you can work and you will be healthier and happier for it. If you ask me to stop working all of a sudden, I think I'll just shrivel up, face the wall and just that."

He said: "Many of our workers have a preferred retirement, and then they die early! It won't be long before the message sinks home that if you keep doing what you're doing for almost the whole of your life, the chances are you will stay interested and engaged in life, there's something to do tomorrow and you keep going. If you start saying,'oh! I'm old!' And you start reading novels and playing golf or playing chess, well, you're on the way down."

Our healthy 86-year-old MM Lee is a living example of aging gracefully.

It is important to plan for the desired retirement lifestyle.


Doing Things Right Or Doing The Right Thing

>> Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In an article by Wilfred Ling, he talked about a mother who would like to leave her estate to an adopted child.

So, in her Will, the lawyers probably did things right by fact finding the number of children and drafting the Will the typical legal way. However, they did not do the right thing by seeking the client's wishes and listening to their actual circumstances.

I think in sales, one can get caught up in making sure all the compliance and regulatory requirements are done properly. But it is actually more important to do the right thing as well, by listening to the actual needs that need to be addressed.


Excuse me, are u an independent adviser?

Some key points of the letter published in the forum page of the straits times:

Jul 26, 2010
What it means to be an 'independent' financial adviser

WE REFER to Mr Larry Haverkamp's letter ('Onus on insurers to boost transparency'; July 12).

1) The use of the term 'independent' has been a much debated issue, and rightly so. The Association of Financial Advisers (Singapore) recognises that the use of the term 'independent' under the Financial Advisers Act (FAA) connotes a serious undertaking to provide clients with objective and unbiased advice. So the term should not be used by financial advisers and their representatives if they are unable to demonstrate that they do not have financial or commercial links with product providers that are capable of influencing their recommendations, as spelt out under Section 64 of the FAA.

2) Investors in Singapore must recognise that they need to take responsibility for the decisions they make and cannot expect the Government or the institutions to look after them all the time.

Raymond Ng
Association of Financial Advisers (Singapore)


1) It is not rocket science to determine if a firm is "independent" or not. However, it takes enforcement to ensure that it is used appropriately. And that is lacking.

2) Consumers need to take responsibility. Many are so ignorant and expect the Government to protect their interest while they take no responsibility in educating themselves. Blaming everything else when things go wrong.


HDB to build more new flats

>> Monday, July 26, 2010

With HDB resale flat prices hitting new highs recently, causing cash-over valuation (COV) to go up, Mr Mah made the promise to push out enough flats for first-time home buyers.

His advice for them is to go for new flats, where there is no COV.

"What HDB is going to do is to build more new flats for first-timers, so this will help take care of the first-timer market, and that will help to reduce some pressure on the resale flat market. So over time, the resale flat market will stabilise. I think at this point in time, there is still an imbalance," said Mr Mah.

"It is the second-timers, upgraders and downgraders who have to go into the secondary resale flat market," Mr Mah said.

He continued: "If you are a first-timer buyer, there's more than enough flats for you. But if you are a second-timer, obviously you have to compete in the market with the first-timers and others.

"This equilibrium in the prices will be reached at some point in time in the medium term as we push out this supply. So I would expect in another year or so, it should be able to stabilise everything."

However, he said three years is the "norm" waiting time for new flats.

Those who do not want to wait have other options, such as resale flats. But he added this is one reason resale flats are more expensive, as the "cost difference reflects the time difference".


Lapsing Of AXA Insurance Sold By Finexis

>> Saturday, July 24, 2010

It was reported in the Straits Times today that AXA is trying to claw back $7 million from Finexis. Because, last year, Finexis had a promotion where they were giving away free 1 year term insurance (FutureProtector) to its customers and potential customers.

Being from the industry, I had met clients who claimed this. I did not know the mechanics of how this was possible, but through the explanation in the article, all has become clear.

It takes 2 to clap.
1. AXA was silly enough to give 117% commission! Where are they supposed to get the extra 17% from? It is a losing contract no matter how you look at it. No wonder the CEO resigned.
2. Finexis being a MAS licensed firm did not carry out proper needs based selling professionally and objectively as per their code of ethics as financial planners required.

Well, from a purely sales point of view, if they are giving 117% commission, everyone would call up everyone in his phone book to just sign up for the MAXIMUM free coverage and pocket the 17% FREE MONEY from AXA. THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE FREE LUNCH DEAL!

I wonder on average how much did each agent pocket from the free $7 million. In fact, I puzzled why they managed to lose only $7 million.


Kishore M Reprimanded By MAS

>> Friday, July 23, 2010

Was looking for information for Kishore M online after seeing his advertisement in the newspaper about his courses and stumbled upon this MAS website.


Time To Invest In Apple?

Telecommunications operators, SingTel and StarHub, will be launching the iPhone 4 on 30 July.

The iPad will be available in Singapore from 23 July.

Looks like the Apple phenomenon is very strong, is it an opportunity to invest in Apple shares? Is there still growth potential?


Maid Inherits Millions

>> Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A devoted Filipina maid inherited six million Singapore dollars from her late employer after more than 20 years of service.

The maid refused to be named in public for fear of possible threats to her life in the impoverished Philippines, where wealthy people have been kidnapped for ransom and some killed by their abductors.

The windfall, including cash and a luxury apartment near the Orchard Road shopping belt, came from the estate of her employer Quek Kai Miew, a medical doctor and philanthropist who died last year at 66.

The maid had also taken care of the doctor's late mother, and was told that she would be a beneficiary of her employer's will when it was drawn up in 2008.

Looking at a different angle, this is excellent estate planning if it is being executed to her intentions. Will was carried out properly even though it is to an unrelated party.


Prudential iPhone App

Noticed on Digital Life today of the Prudential ad for their new iPhone app "What's your number".

The application is available for free download to the Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod touch at the iTunes App Store.

It enables users to calculate conveniently and quickly their retirement "number " - the savings required to enjoy a retirement based on their selected lifestyle.

This new application is an extension of Prudential's successful "What's Your Number?" retirement planning campaign that was first launched in 2005.


Sunshine Empire

>> Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The founder of Sunshine Empire, James Phang Wah, his wife Neo Kuon Huay and Sunshine director Jackie Hoo Choon Cheat were found guilty by the court for their roles in running a fraudulent ponzi scam, Sunshine Empire.

They will be sentenced on 30th July 2010.

Their packages promised high returns. In reality, the returns were derived from the money that were from newer investors. Encouraged by the attractive returns, the initial few drew more into the scheme. However, after 15 months, this was not sustainable and they were eventually found out.

Do not fall prey to such schemes, refer to MAS website for the Alert List.


Mortgage Protection

>> Sunday, July 18, 2010

In the Sunday Times today, Lorna Tan talked about protecting the roof over your head and the importance of mortgage insurance.

Summary of the main points highlighted:

1. The amount of cover
Is there other insurance or other means to meet repayments if needed?

2. Buy on a joint life basis

3. Buy early
The older you are, the higher the premium you have to pay.

4. Interest rate assumption
There is a risk that the insurance proceeds might not be enough to pay off the outstanding loan.

5. Guaranteed premiums

6. Check the supplementary benefits
Check the definition of what constitutes total and permanent disability and whether the payout comes in a lump sum or as instalments spread out over a few years. A mortgage cover that offers to waive the premiums if the insured is diagnosed with critical illness.

Mortgage insurance is indeed important, another option is to consider downgrading or alternative living arrangements if necessary.


One Died In Collision At Bedok

>> Saturday, July 17, 2010

The accident happened on Bus Service No 87 on Friday around 3.30pm along Chai Chee Street.

A stationary lorry was being used to prune trees. The crane mounted on the bed of the lorry smashed through the rear left upper deck of the bus.

A 50-year-old man, Mr Ahmad Lispa, who was seated on the top deck of the bus, was killed.

The bus was trying to overtake the lorry and may have misjudged the clearance of the top deck, coupled with negligence of maneuvering of the crane to a safe position for traffic.

Life can be so unexpected, condolences to the family of Mr Lispa.


AXA Motor SmartClaims On iPhone

Now you can get on-the-spot assistance with AXA's new motor claims iPhone application.

* Locate the nearest AXA Premium Workshop or Glass Repairer by GPS
* Access AXA 24-hour hotline for towing services & further advice on the accident
* Take photos of the accident scene & damages
* Record 3rd party & witness details
* Submit all accident details to your selected AXA Premium Workshop instantly
* Get easy access to all Emergency numbers
* Contact AXA or your agent for further assistance

This will be a very useful app to have on the iphone.

More details here.


Singapore’s Economy Grew At Record Breaking Pace

>> Thursday, July 15, 2010

Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry reported yesterday (Wednesday) that gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 18.1% in the first half of the year, expanding 26% in the second quarter from the previous three months, and 19.3% in the second quarter from the same 2009 period.

The rise is the country's biggest since record-keeping began in 1975. This has prompted the government to predict GDP will rise 13%-15% in 2010.

If Singapore were to achieve that, it will be among the fastest-growing countries in the world this year!

Let's not be too happy just yet as we can expect a strong possibility of inflation because of these numbers.

Our property prices have surpass the 1996 peak and COE prices have increased, however, the CPI is a lagging indicator. It is a dangerous period as the interest rate environment is still at a low and we will see our value of money decrease due to inflation.

So do invest wisely to avoid the effects of inflation.


Maybank Pocket Me Giro

>> Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Get rewarded when you charge your Maybank credit card payment to GIRO.

Under the Maybank Pocket Me Giro payment system, your Maybank credit card bills will be automatically paid each month using giro.

In addition, you will receive cash rewards into your bank account based on the bill size, "rounded up to the nearest $5".

For example, if your outstanding credit card bill is $103.50, you will get a $1.50 cash reward for that month. If the bill is $200, you will get $5.

The promotion will run from 15 June 2010 to 30 June 2011.
The cash reward awarded will be up to a maximum of S$5 per month till 30 June 2011.

Reading through the T&Cs, they did not state any minimum charge amount.
Therefore, if we charge only $1.00, would Maybank still give $5?
Anyway, by charging to your card wisely, you potentially can get 5% cashback for a $100 bill and no worries about forgetting to pay the bill.

For more information.



Part of financial planning is better understanding ourselves, increasing our awareness of who we are and what we want.

If you could create your perfect calendar, how would you spend each day, each week, each month and each year?

At first glance, many quick answers come to mind.
But the question is very specific that it covers the whole year, every year.

What do you really want to do? i.e. What would make you excited to wake up and look forward to doing everyday?

Spending time with loved ones? Sometimes too much interaction would lead to more quarrels and disagreements.

Traveling? Can you be traveling everyday, for the whole year? It is probably too tiring to do on a regular basis.

The point is, sometimes, we complain about our circumstances. However, have we really thought about the alternative we wish for?


Paul The Octopus

>> Monday, July 12, 2010

What is with the craze over Paul?
To make things worse, he correctly selected Spain to win the World Cup 2010!

Picking the winner is a 50-50 chance. It is either one or the other. It is not too difficult to have picked the winner of 4 out of 5 games by pure random chance. But it is still fascinating how fate plays its dice.

Similarly for investing, a fund can either out perform or under perform. It is a nearly 50-50 chance of picking the winner. Hence, it can be by pure luck that the financial adviser has selected the winning fund 4 out of 5 times.

The analogy of selecting stocks by using a dart board or through monkeys have yielded similar performance from fund managers. But the fund manager who managed to be one of the lucky few to pick all the winners acquire fame much akin to Paul. Their legendary status will last unless their "prediction" powers fail them the next time.

I wonder what they will be asking Paul to choose next?


World Cup Winner

>> Sunday, July 11, 2010

Germany has beat Uruguay for the third spot.
Either Spain or Netherlands will claim the second spot.
There can only be one winner.

Who remembers the runner up of the past World Cups? How many times has the country qualified for the finals but lost? No one bothers! We only know who is the winner and track how many times a country has won.

It is a winner take all world.
Even in business, which is the most successful fast food chain in the world? I am sure most would think of McDonald. So, who is second? Subway, KFC, Pizza Hut, Wendys? Who cares.
Try this with other lines of business, automobiles, mobile phones, beverages, etc and you get the drift.

If we wish to be successful, we cannot settle for second best.
In investing, we need to identify and select the winners as well.



>> Friday, July 9, 2010

In statistics, an outlier is an observation that is numerically distant from the rest of the data.

"Outliers: The Story of Success" is a non-fiction book written by Malcolm Gladwell. In Outliers, Gladwell examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success.

In part one, he examines opportunity.
1) Looking at why the majority of Canadian ice hockey players are born in the first few months of the calendar year.
2) "10,000-Hour Rule", claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.
3) How Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates achieved his extreme wealth, partly due to the year he was born.
4) How two people with exceptional intelligence, Christopher Langan and J. Robert Oppenheimer, end up with vastly different fortunes.

In part two, he looks at legacy.
How culture and upbringing actually affects to a great extent our decision making process in response to different circumstances. Examples include the reasons for plane crashes and why Asians can do math better.

Well, basically, he shared some fascinating reasons and examples for success and failure. Some there is no control over like birth month/year/location and in addition, the minimum of 10,000 hours hard work.


The Matthew Effect

>> Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Matthew effect in sociology is the phenomenon where "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer".

It takes its name from a line in the biblical Gospel of Matthew:
"For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away." — Matthew 25:29

This was illustrated in the first chapter of "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell.

Being a year end baby, I had felt first hand the effects of the disadvantages faced for being born late in the year. I had shared my ideas with others only to be brushed off.

Malcolm Gladwell shared that certain selection process has resulted in an unfair bias towards the time one was born. Most talent is scouted at a certain young age to be groomed and those being born earlier, has the advantage of being more developed physically for sports or more mentally developed for music and ultimately, they have more time to practice. Those born in the later part of the year has nearly zero chance of ever being selected.

Similar to Singapore education system, children are streamed into EM1, EM2, EM3 previously at age 10. I am very sure that if we were to separate it to birth month, there will be proportionally more Jan, Feb, Mar babies in EM1 and more Oct, Nov, Dec babies in EM3. Is such a system fair?

Well, I am just glad that finally someone is agreeing with my sentiments since I was in Primary school!

So, chances of people being successful is proportionate to the time of the year he was born.


DBS Massive Failure

DBS suffered a major IT outage on Monday that took down its computer systems for seven hours.

The problem surfaced at 3:00 a.m. (Singapore time) and was gradually restored from 10:00 a.m.

The outage affected all of DBS' consumer and commercial banking systems.

"The bank has multiple levels of redundancy to protect against such occurrences and this is the first time a problem of this nature has occurred. We are now conducting a full scale investigation with our main vendor IBM," said David Gledhill, managing director and head of group technology and operations at DBS, in the statement.

This looks like an occurrence of a black swan. With multiple checks and redundancy in place, yet this uncertainty this managed to happen and crippled the bank's entire banking system.

"What can go wrong, will go wrong." We need to expect the unknown and make sure we are adequately prepared when it does happen.


Trading For A Living

Just received an email with the title: "Is it possible to trade for a living?"

In a nutshell, it promises to create second source of income that requires just 2 hours a day of trading and it only takes a 3 days course to equip everyone with the skills to achieve that.

Are there any experienced traders out there who think it is possible to enable a beginner to trade for a living with 2 hours a day after a 3 day course?


CPF: My Golden Egg

>> Monday, July 5, 2010

Just received an email from InTouch with CPF.

There are 3 iPads and 50 vouchers worth $55 each to be won!

What's your retirement wish? How much do you wish to have to enjoy your retirement? Share your retirement thoughts with us and you could win a prize in our monthly lucky draws from July to December 2010.

Click here to participate.


Median Income Of $3,100

In a vision sketched by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at a dialogue organised by the Singapore Business Federation.

He said that the current median income in Singapore is $2,400 per month.

But if Singapore succeeded in remaking the economy and seized opportunities that played to its strengths, the median income will rise to $3,100 in 10 years time.

And after accounting for inflation, the figure will be around $3,800, Mr Tharman calculated.


Median income means half of the population earns more than that and the other 50% less than that.

So currently 50% of the population is earning less than $2,400 per month? Some how, it just does not feel that this figure is reflective as most tertiary graduates have a starting pay higher than $2,400.

I wonder what was the median income 10 years ago, because I believe income has not kept up with inflation for the past 10 years. Hence, going forward, how exactly is the increase going to be carried out? Transferring more of the lower paying jobs that no Singaporeans want to do to foreigners?


Peak Private Home Prices

>> Saturday, July 3, 2010

Prices of private residential properties have crossed the peak reached in 1996 in the second quarter, according to flash estimates by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The property peak of 1996 had been fomenting in 1994 and 1995, when home prices raced ahead of gross domestic product growth. However, the Government's anti-speculative measures and the Asian financial crisis reversed the rise in prices.

Will we being seeing a reverse again? Or will it continue to rise to new heights?


Wealth Management

>> Friday, July 2, 2010

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

Wealth management can be very complex, but the way to be successful is to actually do it yourself. Do not leave it entirely to your spouse or to your bank or listen passively to a sales person.

You can start investing in a small way initially, it serves as a good education.


3 Dimensions To Investing

>> Thursday, July 1, 2010

SIAS & MoneySense highlights 3 simple dimensions to consider before investing.

1. Know Your Self
- Understand your risk attitude
- Consider your time horizon
- Determine your own circumstances, constrains and goals

2. Know Your Product
- The product risks
- Investment tenure of product
- Fine text, assumptions, complexities

3. Know The Strategies
Unfortunately, this is to be continued...

Enjoy the video here




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