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Active investing is hard

Market returns are usually defined by the benchmarks e.g. STI index returns. Active investors should not be satisfied with achieving market returns. Significant efforts are undertaken to pick stocks and customize a portfolio. This must be compensated by above market returns. Otherwise, isn't the time spent unwarranted? How do we pick stocks? This is as simple as entering the stock code and clicking the buy button. Or it can be as hard as doing balance sheet analysis, profitability forecasts, valuation calculations, industry research, peer comparisons, studying of historical and forward trends. Each topic by itself may require some significant technical knowledge and is not easily available for the average investor. However, all the effort incurred to determine that a stock is worth a place in our portfolio doesn't guarantee that it will outperform the market. Unsystematic risk is always present. The industry might be hit by black swan event. An obvious example during t

SG votes 2020

The SG 2020 election results are out. The outcome is a historic victory for the Worker's Party, claiming one SMC and two GRCs. In a certain way, this election might be considered as a "defeat" to the PAP. Popular vote fell closed to all time lows of nearing 60%. There is some soul searching to be done for the ruling party. As voters becomes more educated, the current ways of reaching out to them have not worked well. Top down approaches are definitely outdated. Advanced concepts like civil liberties are increasingly valued. There can be more patience, respect and opportunities for the opponents with the necessary qualities and calibre. The current dominant party system confers an advantage of pushing key policies that works, more efficiently. The disadvantage is the unchallenged nature of passing bills advantageous to perpetuate the system. As the country's democracy matures, perhaps the natural evolution is to lean towards having a two or multi-party system where by

Market's disconnect

The word "disconnect" to describe the link between the market and the economy has been quite common nowadays. The stock market had ran in the opposite direction of the economy. It is an obvious conflict for any investor reading the current situation. On one hand, the world's greatest shutdown is still in progress. On the other hand, the market continues a vertical climb out of a hole it fell into. As most people believe, the market leads the economy. Meaning that if we translate the market action into a prediction of the future economy, we will be out of the woods within the next few months? Frankly, I am clueless. I'm not sure if anyone can answer this question confidently, given that there is no precedent of a virus like COVID-19 in the modern era. I always like to understand the market sentiment. Market sentiment is important because it gives us a perspective of the crowd's behavior, and how the crowd is moving is quite critical to investment decisions of succe

Converting to DBS multiplier account

I used to be on the DBS cashback program. I already had salary crediting and a housing loan with the bank. With a token spending on the card, I had met the minimum 3 category criteria to receive about $45 worth or cashback per month. The rest of my funds were parked at either Maybank iSAVvy or StandChart e$aver, both which offers higher interest on fresh funds deposits. Rotating funds between the two accounts once every 2 months kept the "fresh" status. However, interest rates have fell significantly this year. Last checked, the 1-month SIBOR is only at 0.5%. Correspondingly, deposits at the accounts are returning only 1.3% for iSAVvy and 1.1% for the e$avers for amounts of $50k - 200k. For the DBS Multiplier, the interest rates gets a 0.2% boost when one more category is added. It's easy to add the investment category by setting up a RSP (Regular Savings Plan) to purchase the Nikko AM STI ETF monthly. Minimum amount is $100 only. Sales charge is 0.82%, meaning that about

Good times, bad times

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Any investor would have made money in good times. When there are positive company guidance, a robust growing economy, increasing corporate and consumer confidence, optimistic forecasts and a bubbly market, higher stock prices are observed. Any investor could have lost money in bad times. When business conditions turn sour, corporate profits disappears, the economy goes into a tailspin, black swan events happen like an oil crash recently, and now facing a global pandemic in full swing, stock prices fall violently. The maxim "buy low sell high" is so simple to understand but in reality, not simple to put into practice. It conflicts with our natural human behavior. During good times, investors rejoice on their stock gains. A rising tide lifts all boats. Prices continuously goes up and making money is deceptively easy. Knowingly, this is when the market could be inflated and the risk is high. However, our desire for more pulls us to join the party. We sometimes let our g

A rebound

An unexpected and quick rebound was staged by the STI. T he market came back alive with the index climbing up from the lows of 2200 levels to the 2500 levels last week. From another perspective, YTD returns went from -30% and recovered to -20%. This bounce returned 10% in 4 weeks as volatility receded. Did you catch the full range of returns? Maybe half of it? Or possibly much more? If you stayed the course and held tight without selling, you would have caught the full rebound. If you sold something during the plunge, you would have lost some returns presented by the turn in market direction. If you have bought on the way down, continuing at levels below 2600, you would have recouped more than 10% because your base cost was lowered when averaging down. No one knows if this market action is a dead cat bounce. It may or may not retest 2200 levels. It may go lower from here. The economy does feel bad with an extension of SG's circuit breaker, but the stock market is not pe

The way ahead

Naturally, people gets interested in investment when the stock market plunge hits the news on TV and newspapers. It's simply logical to deduce that when the mainstream media says the market has fallen by this much, it also means this is a good time to invest. In my opinion, this might be true. The best time to start from zero is always now. And if one has already started, consider progressively putting more spare cash to work. The next question for investment newbies is what to buy? I hope to write about this in future. However, for investors already knee deep or appropriately neck deep in the markets, this question is probably no longer relevant. He would already own a carefully constructed portfolio, whose formation is likely on the basis of the investor's view of having the best growth, income, value or undertaking of the most comfortable risk level he can stomach. Recently, I've read that for an investor who spends such great effort to curate the list of stocks