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Interview: If You Had $250,000, How Would You Allocate it?

Recently, during an interview, I was asked this question, to suggest a possible portfolio allocation for people (Singaporeans) in their early 30s, with $250k of investible cash to start with. Here is my answer in full:

If you only have $250k to start with, I would suggest a diversified approach of various asset classses to maximise returns.:

  • 25% allocated to cash (war chest)
  • 10% to cryptocurrencies
  • 20% to trading account
  • 20% to commodities
  • 20% to businesses, startups, angel investments
  • 5% to stocks, REITs, ETFs

Currently, the bulk of the holdings is in cash, since the market is pretty “risk-on” at the moment with much political and economic uncertainty about trade wars and real wars. Hence, I only included minimal stock holdings, as the stock markets (S&P 500)are at 8-9 year highs, so I will wait to buy in at a lower price should the opportunity arise.

One important factor is the 20% allocation to trading account, as this generate monthly cashflow from stocks/forex trading to continue growing the total portfolio size aggressively, which can then be allocated to other asset classes within the portfolio.

10% to cryptocurrencies is considered a “wild bet” which could be a zero or hero; lastly 20% to businesses is for people who have some prior experience to invest directly in businesses, or start their own. Personally, my portfolio includes several businesses, including a cafe and pub.

I have allocated 20% to commodities, as commodities are likely at their cycle low. The GSCI (Goldman Sachs Commodity Index) is one of the main benchmark for commodity prices, and the (GSCI/S&P 500) is used to measure the prices of commodities relative to stock prices. Currently, this measure is at a 50-year low, which suggests cheap commodities as a potential investment.

I have excluded real estate from this sample portfolio, as I do not include “own stay” property as an investment asset, and $250k is too small for any major property investment. For my own portfolio, i have invested in several properties as I feel that the Singapore property market will continue to rise for the next 5-10 years.

I have also excluded fixed income, as for Singaporeans, the CPF (SA account at 4%) is pretty much similar to a “risk-free” high-yield bond, hence it serves well as the fixed income component of the portfolio. For my own portfolio, i have hit the minimum sum, which will provide a good safety net for retirement.

I hope this has provided you a good template to start building your portfolio, but do keep in mind that ideally you should be looking to rebalance your portfolio every 1-3 months.

My Full Crypto Strategy for 2018 (And my Current Portfolio Holdings)

Recently, I have been getting a lot of questions about Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies, so I will take some time to address all of them.

Is  Bitcoin a bubble?

Its price action is certainly bubbly. If we look at the tech bubble, what happened in phase 1 is that people were buying based on potential growth and expectations, which is why you saw stocks trading at skyhigh PE ratios. After the crash, and after the dust settled, phase 2 was where the companies with strong fundamentals started manifesting the potential growth, so in a way the fundamentals were catching up to the expectations. I think we are in phase 1, but it is possible that prices just go sideways instead of a crash as we head into phase 2.

In addition, Bitcoin is just one application of the Blockchain technology, and there are also many other coins/cryptocurrencies to invest in.

Who is going to buy your Bitcoin from you?

If Bitcoin (or any currency since they are interchangable), becomes a currency which is used and accepted, there is no need to “cash out” or sell it to someone else, because you can simply use it as currency to pay for things. People are now hoarding Bitcoin because it is akin to buying a currency which will be worth more in the future. That said, it is unlikely that it will totally replace our fiat/paper currency (at least in the next 5-10 years), but my guess is that it will coexist side by side like common global currency.

Will Bitcoin become a global currency?

There are 3 main functions of a currency:

  1. Effective means of payment.
  2. Good measure of value.
  3. Effective way to store value.

Currently it is not that universally accepted, but that could improve in the future as more business accept it. There is a problem with its transaction speed and fees, which it will need to solve to get mainstream acceptance. And as its market cap gets larger, it will naturally become more stable and less subject to huge price fluctuations.

What are some positive and negative catalysts?

For the positive, Bitcoin could go up a lot more if banks, funds, institutional investors, and even sovereign funds start including cryptocurrencies (especially Bitcoin) as one of the must-have asset class in their portfolios. For individual coins, they usually get a big boost when they announce a major deal with a big partner, or when they get listed on a major exchange. For the negative, prices could collapse if existing holders start to cash out, and institutions start stacking short positions on the futures.

Is it a good time to get into the market now?

Before entering, take some time to read out list of resources which we have compiled. I have a couple of risk-minimising ideas for people who have missed out so far, but are unsure how to enter at current prices:

  • Dollar-cost averaging: Buy a small amount every month and allocate across 10-15 coins.
  • Portfolio approach: Create a diversified portfolio and rebalance weekly/monthly.
  • Lump sum market timing: Split your capital into 4-5 parts, and enter whenever there is a price correction.
  • Invest in a mining rig to reduce the risk of price fluctuations since your returns are spread over 3-5 years.

Personally, I started this new portfolio in December for my students to follow, and in 2 weeks I was up 150% on my portfolio. By actively rebalancing it and keep a certain percentage in cash, I am able to take a cool and systematic approach to riding on the crypto assets trend. For this portfolio, I have a 10 year time horizon, which means I am prepared to sit through any crash, but I will be rotating to cash/tether if I see a major crash coming. Lastly, it is also worth noting that this crypto portfolio accounts for roughly 5% of my total portfolio.

I have been updating my portfolio regularly in my forum, and if you are keen to learn more about Crypto, you can join our forum as well. (It is completely free!)

See you on the inside! 😀

Educational Video Series – The Safest Way to Store Your Crypto Assets

In this short video, our trainers share the different ways to store your Crypto assets for long-term value investing (appeciation/growth over 5-10 years), and reveal the safest way to prevent any losses from hacking.

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P.S. We have helped our members make over $300k of profits to date, and the number continues to grow!

5 Unconventional Ways You Can Make Money From Bitcoin (And Other Cryptocurrencies)

Firstly, what is Bitcoin and how does it work?

In simple terms, Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, which is essentially a currency that is not owned by any particular group or person. It allows fast and cheap transactions, and the more people start to use it, the more its value increases. In fact, if you had bought $5 worth of Bitcoins 7 years ago, it would now be worth $4-5M.

And bitcoin could still be in its infancy, since its number of transactions are only a fraction of what the banks and other financial institutions are currently doing. Which means there is a huge potential for more upside. So, how can we get a share of the pie?

1. Investing in Bitcoins

This is the most common way for retail investors to get in on the action, by simply opening an account and purchasing the coins. Some of the common platforms are Coinbase and Coinhako, and it is not hard to open an account and take a nibble. The challenge here is making sure you do not end up buying at the high, so take advantage of price dips (usually happens when there is some negative news about cryptocurrencies) to accumulate more coins.

2. Trading Bitcoin Derivatives

If you are more interested in profiting from the short-term movements in Bitcoin, then you can use derivative instruments that track the price of Bitcoin, for example products like CFDs (contract for differences). The price of the derivative will track the price of Bitcoin, moving up and down in sync with the actual price of Bitcoin, so by buying or selling the derivative, you can profit from the price moves in Bitcoin without actually buying or owning Bitcoin. To do this well, you will need to know how to read charts and price action.

Sharing live on #cryptocurrencies like #bitcoin and #ethereum ? Are you ready for the next big thing? #visionaryinvesting

A post shared by Spencer Li ?? Synapse Trading (@iamrecneps) on

3. Lending out Bitcoins

Lending is perhaps the oldest way to use money to make money. Basically, you loan out money to a relevant party and they pay you back, with interest. Interest rates will vary with the risk involved. If you get collateral in exchange for your loan, interest rates will be low. No collateral means higher risks, but it also means higher interest rates. So if you have already purchased some Bitcoins, you can loan them out for some extra interest instead of just keeping them in your account.

4. Bitcoin Mining

Bitcoins are created through solving complex algorithms that create blocks that are added to the public ledger. The public ledger is the history of all transactions conducted through bitcoin. Basically, miners build the public ledger and allow the whole bitcoin system to function. As they create new blocks, miners are rewarded with new Bitcoins. This encourages more miners to get in on the action, which allows the Bitcoin community to grow. In the past, people could use their home computers to mine Bitcoins, but over time mining has become more difficult as the algorithms have become more complex. Now, you’ll either have to buy a specially built mining rig, or join up with a Bitcoin mining pool that harnesses the power of multiple computers.

5. Bitcoin Arbitrage

This is perhaps the least common way of making money from Bitcoins due to its difficulty level. If you have started dabbling in Bitcoins, you might have noticed that the prices of Bitcoins can vary a lot across different exchanges. For example, if the Bitcoins in Singapore are cheaper than the ones in China, you could buy some Bitcoins here, transfer them to China, and cash them out over there. The challenge however would be bringing your money back to Singapore, and also you would need a bank account in China. But some people have managed to come up with creative solutions around theses problems.

The Top 5 Hobbies of Millionaires & Billionaires Around the World

Recently, I came across an interesting report by Wealth-X, which conducts research about the ultra-wealthy. In this report, they revealed the hobbies, interest and passions of the world’s richest people, and some are actually very different from what we think them to be.

The top 5 hobbies are as follows:

1. Philanthropy

It’s surprising that philanthropy features top in the list of hobbies of billionaires. While giving by the rich is often ridiculed by others (“Probably giving because they feel bad”), giving is a financial discipline that keeps the rich rich, and the not-so-rich to be on the right path to success.

Some ways to give your money:

Give regularly to a cause you believe in.

There are some people who frown upon giving to the poor just because they are poor, or perhaps you don’t have a very good perception toward charity. If that’s the case, find a cause that you believe in, and give regularly to it. Some causes that are worth giving to include humanitarian aid, sponsoring budding artists, supporting the elderly in society, giving to children’s education (or even a partial scholarship).

 

Giving is good for the heart.

The act of giving brings a healthy sense of awareness of where your finances come from; the more you serve and give, the more likely it is that people treat you with respect and have a positive attitude towards you, and your business grows.

Give physical gifts instead of financial gifts.

Some charities allow people to give physical goods instead of money. Doing your research, getting the right contacts, and finding a cause you believe in (and a sustainable one too!) requires patience and some hard work on your part, but it’s a worthy exercise. Although I personally give regularly to several charities, I do not like to publicise it.

 

2. Travel

Rich people travel because… simply because they can afford it. If you do have the spare cash, it makes sense to start travelling while you are on your way to financial success. This keeps you motivated, and you can always upgrade your holidays when your financial stability improves.

But the real challenge for most people is not just the money, but also the time. Given the nature of my job (trading), I have become the go-to person whenever any of my friends want to travel, and over the past few years I have travelled to 50+ countries while still making passive income along the way.

 

Christmas tree + Cape Town Flyer + National Geographic photo frame ???? #Christmas #southafrica #capetown

A post shared by Spencer Li ?? Synapse Trading (@iamrecneps) on

 

3. Art

Art is something that really enriches the soul, and adds flavour to life. And there is a wide range of selection to choose from, ranging from a few thousand to rare pieces that go into millions.

 

Personally, I have taken an interest in this after hunting for some pieces for my new house.

4. Fashion

I’m not much into the fashion scene, but the ultra-rich truly enjoy obtaining unique pieces of clothing.

Bespoke, boutique, and customized clothing are the rage for the ultra-rich.

While I don’t really splurge on costly apparel, I do recommend spending good money on key essentials, like a pair of decent dress shoes for men, or any other piece of clothing that you find to be something you want to pull out once in a while.

I also find that it’s a waste of money to spend on cheap clothing; it’s far more cost-effective to buy quality, reasonably priced products that can last you 5-10 years, than to buy-and-throw most of your wardrobe.

That said, I do enjoy the occasional indulgence, from quality brands like Mont Blanc, Paul Smith, AP, etc 😀

 

5. Politics

When people mention the word “rich” and “politics” together, Donald Trump is the first thing that comes to mind. Other people like Henry Ross Perot, Mitt Romney and Ronald Lauder are also rich people who forayed into the political scene, but with limited success.

 

What are your hobbies?

At end of the day, your hobbies and passion are activities that bring additional job and add colour to your life, so pick something that is fun, meaningful, and something within your means. (Not all hobbies have to be ridiculously expensive.)

On a personal note, my hobbies include hitting a gym (with my trainer), tennis (with my coach), yoga (private noob level class), reading (2-3 books a week), and not forgetting trading (15 mins a day). Oh, and travelling as well. I aim for 2-3 new countries each year. 😀