A series of video tutorials to help you get started! (In collaboration with TradeHero & SGX)

3 Biggest Financial Regrets of Retirees – And How to Avoid Them!

Every person has regrets, and as one gets older, it is inevitable that one would start regretting certain things. And when it comes to finances, what exactly do our seniors quip about? What decisions did they make that they regret the most? And most importantly, what crucial advice would they give to those looking to retire comfortably in the future?


REGRET #1: NOT SAVING MONEY WHEN YOUNG

This is one of the most common regrets that is universal to all seniors across the world, with older folk lamenting that they should have saved when they were younger. In fact, saving $10,000 in your twenties adds up a lot more than saving in your 40’s or 50’s. Compounding works to your favour the earlier you start. Expenses also start to rack up as you age, therefore it is much harder to save when you are older.

1

Property, health spending, and raising a family take up most of your money, and saving money gets a lot harder when the children are begging for you to get the latest mobile device  for their birthdays.

Gambling and entertainment eats away at your nest egg, so stay clear of them! It’s never too late to start getting your money habits sorted out.

 

REGRET #2: NOT INVESTING TIME WELL

Back in the 1980’s, investing was a lot harder to learn without the internet. Now, it is an excuse to say that it is difficult to be financially educated. With kids these days being able to build a website from scratch (without supervision), I’m sure you will be able to find something to do that will bring you dividends in the long-run.

Most people complain about not knowing what to invest in. That is a reasonable complaint, but…

The reason why most people can’t invest money, is that they don’t even invest time to learn how to invest.

timeTime is sacred; use it wisely, and use it on what matters.

If your financial vocabulary includes any of the following:

  • buying blue-chip stocks for the long-term
  • mutual fund investments
  • investment-linked insurance policies

…you are missing out on a large chunk of the pie. A good diversified portfolio includes much more than just stocks. In fact, holding just stocks can be very risky, as seen during the 2008 financial crisis where most blue-chip stocks plunged by 60-80%.

Multi-asset class, multi-instrument investing is the norm now. If you’re not involved, it’s time to get started.

Another common misconception is that learning how to trade or invest is very time-consuming, but that is actually not true. Like any skill, it might take a while to learn it at first, but after a few weeks, you will soon get the hang of it and it will only require a few minutes a day to manage your finances and investments.


REGRET #3: SPENDING TOO MUCH ON THE CHILDREN

Many parents will look back on their days as young parents and quip that they should have spent less. Some of the bad outcomes include spoilt children, children who expect a lot but don’t contribute, and many more.

Among the many unnecessary expenses, parents could do well to reduce spending in any of these areas:

  • Extra-curricular lessons, like ballet, music, swimming (especially if the child is not enjoying them!)
  • Tuition lessons (the school system in Singapore is honestly quite robust)
  • Expensive pre-school education (they won’t remember what happened anyway)
  • Expensive holidays (we don’t remember them 1 year from now)
  • Toys that are thrown away 3 months later (we prefer iPads, honestly)
  • Expensive food at fancy restaurants (food, is still food)
  • Overseas university education (a local degree can be equally profitable for your child)
  • Expensive child-care services (reasonably priced ones will do the same)
  • A domestic helper / maid (teaching the kids to take care of the house makes more sense)

1We sometimes put too much of a premium on university education. Pay what is fair and reasonable; don’t go about spending half a million on a university degree.

Many parents have money but very little time for the children. Ask any child and you would know that he/she would much prefer spending time with their parents than having expensive holidays in Paris, Dubai, or Tokyo.

On hindsight, you would always know better. But hey, take the advice of our seniors, and spend what really matters; our time.

For what use is all these cool stuff, cool experiences, premium lessons and holidays, if we don’t get what truly matters?

Here are 5 Reasons Why You May Never Get to Retire Despite working Harder

As the cost of living continues to increase year after year, you probably would have spent some time pondering about your financial security. You probably would have heard stories of or personally experienced a company downsizing, a pay cut, the loss of your job, mounting expenses, or just a sudden realization that the world isn’t such a stable place.

No matter when you discover this truth, it is critical that you come to terms with it. Only by knowing the truth can you deal with the reality of financial troubles ahead. Last year was marked by uncertainty, and it probably is just the tip of the iceberg of what can happen going forward.

1For most people, wages will never be enough to sustain their lifestyle at retirement.
Source: media.cagle.com

Talk to any taxi driver and he will probably complain to you about any of the following:

  • Rising healthcare costs
  • Rising petrol costs
  • Rising food costs
  • Rising housing costs
  • Instability in the economy

These money issues are real. However, before we go into the solutions, we have to understand where these problems come from.

 

1. Low Interest Rate Environment

A low interest rate environment means that you need to go beyond your bank deposits to preserve your wealth.

However, despite having more mobile phones than people in Singapore, we are painfully ignorant in financial matters. We are educated, but not wise; we are connected with each other, but disconnected with reality.

Truth be told, most people have no idea how to even match up to the bank interest rate, much less beat the bank interest rate. The average level of financial literacy in Singapore is still shockingly low. To be a decent investor, it would be necessary to at least understand basic financial instruments, financial asset classes, methods of speculation/investment, and simple risk management.

Financial literacy is the first step to fighting inflation. You don’t necessarily need to know exotic strategies like statistical arbitrage, premium collection on SPY options, futures pairs trading, spread betting, or betting on changes in the yield curve. But a basic understanding of market cycles and trading principles will make a large difference in one’s investment results.

2. CPF Alone May Not Be Sufficient

In years of economic boom, Singapore tends to experience inflation of 4-5%. The CPF ordinary account grows at 2.5%, which means your money’s losing value when the economy grows. Counting on CPF alone may help you get by, but would it really sustain the lifestyle you desire? Even if the inflation rate falls to 1-2% a year, very few Singaporeans can say they are able to retire comfortably.

It is more prudent to have something besides CPF to fall back on.

Some solutions include:

  • being willing to downgrade your apartment
  • holding structured deposits (can yield 4% or more)
  • holding high-dividend stocks

However, these strategies will probably only help in wealth preservation, not wealth creation.

For wealth creation, you need far more investment sophistication and dedication.

Doing a refresher for the setups before we embark on live trading! ??? #tradingarcade #realtraders

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

 

3. Zero Inflation Could Be the Norm

A world of zero inflation is good for the average consumer (he thinks he won’t be paying more for his food/car/house/petrol), but it’s bad for wages.

Truth be told, when inflation suffers, it is normally a terrible situation for the economy to be in. Remember the productivity drive a few years ago? The government aimed for 2% productivity growth every year, because inflation was terribly low and the country had to do something about it.

sgInflation has fallen and fallen, and has even turned negative in 2015 and part of 2016.
Source: tradingeconomics.com

Stagnating or falling wages can become the norm. With wages in peril, it is even more essential to generate additional streams of income, or risk falling into financial destitution.

Examples of shrinking professions include:

  • F&B services
  • Marketing professionals (yes! because the supply has caught up with demand in recent times)
  • Insurance Agents
  • Property Agents
  • Logistics professionals (yes! because the supply has caught up with demand due to the euphoric onslaught of e-commerce firms)

If you have children, the best thing you can do is to advise them regarding these trends. Don’t be so concerned about their math scores, science scores, or whatever score; look to give them training in these skills, and to explore their interests in these areas.

 

4. Persistently High Property Prices

This is good news for existing property owners, but bad news for new property buyers. Singapore will continue attracting rich foreign buyers because that’s our value proposition as a nation. This problem keeps worsening as long as our property is affordable to wealthy investors from overseas. The government is likely to step in if property prices start falling.

The issue with high property prices is that most people end up taking 20 to 30-year loans and live with debt for most of their adult life. This keeps the economy stagnant and unable to experience growth like we’ve seen in the 1980s and 1990. A debt-ridden adult is much less likely to splurge. With an entire generation of people living with huge mortgage loans, we won’t see fantastic growth in a very long time.

Opening speaker for SMART Expo SG 2017! Thanks to everyone who came down to support! ? #suntec #property #guestspeaker

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

 

5. Rising Medical Costs and Falling Government Support

Take note: it’s not the government’s fault; blame it on falling birth rates. With a smaller workforce, tax revenues will fall and Singapore will be less able to provide for its elderly.

Singapore will age, and more and more sick people will depend on a smaller proportion of working adults in this country. It’s inevitable that the government cannot support the large number of elderly who will reside in our hospitals and hospices. It’s the same ‘graying’ problem that Japan is facing.

Falling government support, along with higher demand for doctors and strained infrastructure will cause medical bills to rise. Sure, it’ll be great for healthcare stocks, but healthcare spending on the elderly is not expansionary. Basic health economics would differentiate between healthcare spending that improves economic well-being (vaccinations on children, basic sanitation etc.), and healthcare spending that does not improve economic well-being. We’ll be seeing a lot of spending that does little to boost the economy.

 

So, “What Should I Do?”

The fact that you’re reading this shows that you are concerned for your financial future. Keep learning, reading, and exploring ways to combat this reality. After all, people perish for the lack of knowledge, not the lack of determination. Acquiring the right investment skills, financial management practices, and general knowledge will help protect you and your family from financial destitution.

My greatest hope is that you, the reader, would be motivated to start educating yourself financially, and to get your hands dirty in the investment world.

Cheers, and see you all soon! 😀

 

RESEARCH SOURCES & REFERENCES

www.blog.linkedin.com/2016/10/20/top-skills-2016-week-of-learning-linkedin
www.cnbc.com/2016/10/20/the-top-10-skills-that-will-get-you-hired.html

The 10 Financial Milestones that Every Millennial Needs to Aim For

Many people want to attain financial freedom, but most have little to no idea what it takes to get there. In today’s post, I will be sharing the 10 key financial milestones that every Millenial should be looking forward to, and it be a good chance for you to see how many you have achieved!

First things first…

Before one goes marching along the road of financial success, he has to get his house in order. Put it another way, he has to have a clean, honest audit of the current state of his financial health.

Also, the road to financial freedom is marked by progress. Overtime, as the person attains more and more milestones, he gets closer to his goal.

Some of these milestones are very critical; they can cause you to lose wealth in the future if they are not dealt with right now. Amassing wealth is great, but another key activity is preservation of wealth, which we are going to discuss in detail.

Here are 10 things that financial milestones that are often missed out in most people’s financial planning:

#1 HAVE A CLEAN CREDIT HISTORY

Paying personal bills on time is a great chore for many. However, the financially-free person has to attain mastery of this.

It’s quite simple really; don’t buy what is beyond you now. I’ve heard of startup founders who slept in basements to save on rent, bunking in with 4 other like-minded nerds who didn’t mind the initial shame for the future glory.

For many of us, truth be told, we are financially far-more secure. Even if we have debts, most middle-class families are able to get by and secure some savings each month.

Easier said than done; don’t spend what you don’t have.

Of course, business loans do not count, because they are much larger than personal loans.

Have you done a thorough audit of your personal debts? Getting a good credit rating is one big green tick on your financial health. Pay all your bills on time, avoid penalty fees, fines, and you can get a higher credit score on the CCRIS.

#2 LEARN THE SKILL OF BUDGETING

Before wealth is massed, one must learn how to manage small amounts of money. If he can be entrusted with little, he will be entrusted with much.

Budgeting is a simple skill, but truth be told, people don’t keep to their budgets. They adjust their budgets like their exercise schedule, their weight-loss plan, their study plan, and whatnot.

Budgeting without keeping to the budget makes budgeting useless.

The ability to keep to your budget is part of the skill of budgeting. No point having a great budgeting plan, but no resolve to get down to it. And you only have yourself to blame is you are unable to abide by your budget.

Parents have to instruct their children in this regard. If budgeting is taught to people when they are young, the attitude remains, and even when the amount of money gets bigger, the discipline keeps the person financially healthy over the long-run.

#3 BE A PROFESSIONAL TIME-INVESTOR

WRONG question to ask: “I have $10,000. What should I invest in?”

Anyone who asks this question is out of his mind. It’s not what you invest in; the correct question to ask should be “What skills should I acquire to become a proficient investor?”

Time is all you need to acquire skills. Many people complain about the lack of solid financially education in schools, but they remain at the complain stage. Being a professional investor of money requires you to first be a professional investor of your own time.

If you spend most of your time watching YouTube, great. If it makes you happy, great. But if that’s not what you want, do something about it.

Even after trading for many years, I make it a point to read good books, and stimulate my thoughts. They can be self-help books, trading-related books, or even fiction. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn from good, beefy fiction books!

#4 BE FINANCIALLY-INDEPENDENT

If you are still living off your parents, it’s ok. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, for all of us start that way. But you have to have a plan to get financially independent, where your livelihood is no longer dependent on who gives you money.

Many young people are truthfully still holding on to the security that their parents will save them if they mess up. That can be true, and no parent would want their child to suffer financial catastrophes. However, we all need to come to a place where we take responsibility for our finances, and keep track of where we are.

#5 ADEQUATE INSURANCE COVERAGE

As a responsible adult, your job is to not just protect yourself financially, but also the lives of those you love. You cannot compromise on insurance, because your life does not revolve around you alone.

Having a solid financial backing when something tragic happens will show your financial responsibility. It demonstrates that you have a clear plan for emergencies and know how to respond.

Investment-linked policies, in my opinion, aren’t really investments. Like I said above, invest your time, not in insurance policies. Take up the necessary protection, and that’s all you need. It gives you a peace of mind. You’ll be surprised by how uninformed most people are about insurance, and this is one key milestone that will set you apart from many others.

#6 HAVE AN ACTIVE PLAN TO KEEP YOURSELF FIT

Many people don’t even consider physical fitness as a key financial milestone. For what use is it to gain all the wealth you want, yet be unable to enjoy it?

Keeping fit is simple, but difficult to do.

Just like budgeting, many people know what to do, but don’t do it. Get yourself in shape if you want your financial health to be in shape.

#7 OWN THE ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD

Although there are stories of young people who’ve made it big, purchased a mansion with the $150 million they got from selling a company, most people don’t have that luxury. 

The majority of young people work their way to owning their first house, before getting anywhere major in life. When it comes to financial freedom, owning the roof over your head is the least you could do, because when an emergency strikes, you won’t be forced on the streets.

#8 MONITOR YOUR ACTIVE AND PASSIVE INCOME

Financial freedom involves having active and passive income. Monitoring them every 3 months or so is a good way to keep yourself up to date with your progress. It also gives a reality check every few months so that you won’t end up skiving.

A simple excel sheet will do the job. It’s just as easy as monitoring your expenses; most simple apps on the Apple Store of Android Store would do fine. It’s the discipline in keeping the routine that needs to be drilled in.

#9 KEEP 6 MONTHS OF EXPENSES IN CASH

Another defensive safety net; if you don’t even have a 6-month warchest, don’t even think about attaining financial freedom. It takes lots of effort and risk to achieve the goals that you want to set out, and the last thing you want to be worried about is whether there is bread on the table or milk in the fridge.

#10 MEET INVESTORS REGULARLY

If you are a pokemon card game fan, you probably spend most of your time around fellow pokemon addicts. That’s fine if you want to be Ash Ketchum, but if you want to be an investor, hang out around real investors.

Go to events, meet like-minded people, network like crazy, and find out what the scene is like. Know what is trending, what is out-dated, what people are interested in, and by spending time with these people, you will be in sync with the world of investments, and this expands your thinking greatly.

For example, when I first heard of options, it blew my mind; you can actually make money when prices do not move. You don’t have to bet on a rise or a fall; you simply collect premium. I won’t go into much detail, but this opened my mind when I was much younger, and kept me hungry to learn and explore.

Many people fall into a comfort zone once they reach their 30s-40s. It’s normal because the trials of life and the painfulness of toil takes a hit on people, but if you really want that fulfilling life you have, you got to step out and behave like you are going to live a fulfilling life.

Here’s a useful quote for those who are just starting out in the investment community:

If you’re 25, behave like you’re 35. Be mature, sensitive, patient, and be kind in your dealings with people.

On the other hand, if you are a seasoned veteran in your are of expertise, here’s a quote for you.

If you’re 55, behave like you’re 35. Be excited, passionate, willing to change, and accept young people for who they are.

In the past, I was criticized for spending too much time on my phone. Guess what? I now spend most of my time on the phone trading and analyzing charts, and I’m not confined to a desk in an office in Raffles Place. The things which society didn’t really accept, can actually become mainstream in a very short time.

stonesHave you got these 10 mile-stones laid out?
Image Source: Dimitri.co.uk

WHAT’S YOUR DECISION?

If you’re going to make any headway in the path to financial freedom, it had better start today. Make a plan. Go to your drawing board. Stop complaining about the past, and live a life of possibilities. Don’t know where to start? Look for help. Ask, learn, and seek.

But first, make sure you’ve got these 10 financial milestones set up. Of course, you could forgo a few initially, but to be really stable, you’ve got to build up your foundation very strong.

When the storm comes, would your financial house stand strong?

Here’s to a great month ahead, cheers! 😀

 

How Much Must You Save to Have $1M at Retirement? (The Answer is Surprisingly Low!)

a

These days, $1M seems to be the golden figure that everyone aims to attain before retiring. I know there is this great debate about whether $1M is enough, but hey, $1M can get you by for many, many months.

Here’s a table summarizing exactly how much you need to save (or rather, invest) every month, in order to retire with $1M. Using some formulas from my finance 101 class in university,

tableThere you go. I tabulated the figures for easy reference.
Source: MS Excel

It’s one thing to know how much to save monthly, but the real challenge is to get down to doing it.

Here’s 3 tips I have to help you guys attain your own financial goals. They are simple, but you might be surprised how hard they are to actually follow-through with!

 

TIP 1: SAVE MONEY, REALLY.

Yes, save money. This is so easy to say, but difficult to do.

I remember that in my younger days, after receiving my first paycheck, I went out and quickly spent half of my salary on a ‘gift’ to myself, as a reward for seeing the first stack of cash come into my bank account. I quickly learnt that I did not actually need that gift, and that saving money was very, very difficult, especially since you know that your income is certain!

If there was one piece of advice on how to actually save money, it is this: PAY YOURSELF FIRST! It is surprisingly difficult to get yourself to do this, but you must learn to pay yourself first. Paying yourself first doesn’t mean buying something for yourself; it means moving money out from your paycheck into a savings account or investment account on a regular basis.

Perhaps its tough for the first few months, but new habits take time to form and when you actually get down to it, you see that it is a very useful habit to have. In fact, if you have children, it would be good to start teaching them this from a young age. “Pay yourself first, and then spend what you have left” is a good way to instill financial discipline in the younger generation.

Before you ask “How much do I need to save?”, why don’t we just get down to the first step, which is to actually start saving money?

Once you get in the habit of saving, it because second-nature. After doing so for some time, we can move on to the next tip:

TIP 2: BUILD A TRULY DIVERSIFIED PORTFOLIO

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of investing strategies:

FAST money: trading income, bringing in quick gains.

Trading is the way to quickly build up a portfolio and invest in dividend-yielding counters or REITs. Once you’ve stuck to a simple trading strategy, repeating it over time is bound to yield significant profits, much faster than you would in a fixed deposit or by holding the stock index for 5-10 years.

SLOW money: passive income, bringing in smaller but consistent gains.

For those with lots of money, they can allocate much of their portfolio to more stable assets, like dividend stocks, the stock index (it brings a dividend as well!), or other longer-term bonds.

Most people want to use fast money  all through their life, but it is unrealistic. As we age, we have less and less energy and time to continually engage the markets, so the goal is always to have a large war chest that brings in true passive income.

You might be surprised how few people understand the true meaning of a portfolio. Sometimes, the word ‘portfolio’ brings in the idea that you can only buy 5-10 stocks and hold them over 20-30 years. I beg to differ; in a portfolio, one must be truly diversified across…

  • All asset classes (forex, bonds, stocks, REITs, ETFs, commodities)
  • Time horizons (fixed deposits / buy-and-hold dividend stocks VS trading income)

Learning to do so requires some dedication and bumping your head in the wrong places at first. That’s why I always recommend that beginners take up forex trading; they’ll be exposed to market volatility, intra-day and longer-term trading, and also different asset classes by trading oil, gold, wheat, the stock indices, and bonds. Furthermore, you need as little as $500 to start with, and the cost of failure is very low.

 

TIP 3: STAY CONSISTENT

It is remarkably difficult to do something simple over and over again.

Want to lose weight? Exercise and eat healthy. But how many people actually keep to this?

Want to become better at socialising? Spend more time with people rather than with your phone or computer. But how many people actually keep to this?

Want to learn to trade? Stick to 1-2 trade setups, and repeat these trades week after week. But how many people actually keep to this?

It is very, very difficult to do what is simple and boring. In fact, it is the boredom that kills most traders!

One thing that experienced traders fail to do that knocks them out of the game is this: they fail to keep reading, reflecting, and honing their craft.

Continuous learning has to be part of your investing plan. After all, most people only want to invest money, but don’t want to invest the time to learn how to be profitable.

How much returns is good returns?

Well, that depends on your goals. There is a trading strategy for every level of returns. A conservative 10-20% returns as a trader is possible and you generally take a lot less risk than someone who wants 100-200% returns a year.

Depending on when you want to retire, you need to find out how much % returns you need a year, and look for a strategy that gets you there.

 

IT’S BORING, BUT YOU NEED TO TRACK YOUR PROGRESS!

how-muchWith a Google search, I found a useful table to track your progress, credits to businessinsider.sg! Source: BusinessInsider.sg

Suppose you want to save $1M, it’s extremely important to track if you are on target, and see if you need to allocate more funds to fast money or slow money.

If you are proficient with MS Excel, you should be able to come up with a table for your income, expenses, savings, investment returns, and projected net worth by whatever year that you are aiming to retire by.

I hope this article brings you to your feet and gets you started on your quest for financial freedom. Maybe for you, the first step is to actually start saving money! Starting where you are is all you need to do. With every step you take, you’ll be one step closer to your goals.

Cheers! 🙂

RESEARCH SOURCES & REFERENCES

businessinsider.sg/compound-interest-monthly-investment-2014-3/
businessinsider.com/retirement-savings-guide-2014-3?_ga=1.199140719.1988080035.1478087095

 

Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Start Investing in 2017

copy-of-copy-of-not-allthose-who-wanderare-lost

Brexit, Trump, Italy, asset bubbles all over the world… you name it, there’s probably some financial market jitters that keeps most people out of the world of investments.

On the flipside, the financial world often quips about some investment that has made xx% over a certain period of time, trying to entice visitors with a glimpse of the profits possible for anyone. In the world of investing, it is easy to find spectacular returns on hindsight, and salesmen go through great lengths to market what has already happened.

As traders, we live in a constant state of uncertainty. Every trade we make has the possibility of going wrong, and this is taken into account when a decision is made. It is the knowledge of this that gives power to a trader; if he can understand the math behind his investment decision, he can have a positive expectation and a positive traders’ equation.

There are three main reasons why trading is even more attractive these days. Indeed, with advanced technology, there has never been a better time to step into the world of finance, and grab a golden egg while you still can.

GOLDEN EGG 1: TRADING GIVES A HIGHER INTEREST RATE THAN BANKS

fdThe best you can get on a fixed deposit is 0.35% a year in Singapore, as at December 2016.
Source: moneysmart.sg

While inflation is a constant enemy for our savings accounts, most people do not know what to do to combat inflation. The most common quick-fix is to work harder and earn more money. While that does feed us and our families for some time, the need to build a war chest for emergencies becomes more and more real.

 

How much can you make from trading? Institutional traders bring in a success rate anywhere from 30%-70%. Why is this so?

The greatest insight into the markets that can make you profitable is this: 90% of the time, the odds are 50-50, while 10% of the time, the odds swing 60-40 (slightly in your favor).

That’s right. While most of the time, markets are 50-50, it is those brief moments when the market gives some opportunity, and prices quickly move to take advantage of this opportunity. That means that if you were to buy or sell randomly, you already have a 50% chance of success!

Another insight to know is that a high success rate (hit-rate) brings a lower profit target, while a low success rate brings a higher profit target.

What do I mean by this? Institutions trade using a combination of low-probability and high-probability trades.

Example: 40% (low) success rate, win = +2%, lose = -1%.”

low

In this case, if you were to make 100 of such low-probability trades, you would make +80% on winning trades and -60% on losing trades, bringing a 20% return on capital.

Example 2: 75% (high) success rate, win = +0.5%, lose = -1%

high

In this case, if you made 100 high-probability trades, you made 37.5% on winning trades and -25% on losing trades, bringing +12.5% return on capital.

It is impossible for the market to give high-probability trades with a high profit potential. This would be quickly detected by institutional traders, who have mathematicians, PhD staff, and computer science experts who can quickly make adjustments and profit from it. With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, these people would do all they can to bring profits for their firm.

 

That is why if anyone quips that they have a 80-90% success rate, they are probably having many small wins but a few gigantic losses. If you don’t believe me, try trading forex and planting random trades with low profit potential and high loss potential. The numbers indeed prove to be true!

That is also why it is important to understand the traders’ equation. With a reasonable success rate and an appropriate win-loss ratio (or risk-reward ratio, RRR), you would be profitable over the long-run.

I have had days where I ran 7-8 trading losses in a row, but because I trusted in the probabilities, the next 3-4 trades ended up profitable, as long as I stuck to my trade setups and didn’t let the emotions get the better of me.

GOLDEN EGG 2: TRADING DOES NOT REQUIRE LOTS OF CAPITAL

If you have $500 to invest: trade forex.

In the Forex market, you are entitled to ‘get a feel of the game’ by risking a few dollars per trade. By trading the smallest lot size (0.01 lots), you can learn to make a few dollars here, lose a few dollars there, and rack up trading experience and learn to trade ‘live’ without incurring hefty losses.

By learning to make many decisions and experiencing all the different conditions of the market, you would become seasoned enough to trade a bigger size, and fine-tune your own trading strategy.

Many traders discover they have certain characteristics about themselves that hinder success. In trading a ‘live’ account with a small sum of money, they are putting in some skin in the game, and getting used to the ups and downs of their account.

The best part about forex is that there are no commission charges. The broker makes money from the bid-ask spread, which is the difference between the buy/sell price, and most brokers charge reasonable spreads, allowing you to trade with almost negligible transaction cost.

If you have $3000 to invest: explore stock CFDs.

Stock CFDs have low commissions and can be bought in small quantities – a few thousand dollars can allow you to have a portfolio of 5-10 stock positions.

For people with less time and more money, stock CFDs can be a great way to learn to deal with commissions, spreads, fee structures, and the whims and fancies of the stock market.

The stock market is only open during working hours, unlike the forex market. Someone who is interested to take longer-term positions may be open to trading stock CFDs, risking small amounts of money, and yet racking up trading experience.

Some people quip that the forex market is more difficult to trade than the stock market. I beg to differ, because it is your circle of competence that determines your success, not the actual characteristics of the market.

If I were to ask you to drive a Formula 1 race car, you probably would kill yourself within the next few hours or so. However, if you were progressively taught how to drive the race car, it doesn’t become dangerous, and because of the progressive nature of your learning, the high speeds don’t come as a shock to you.

f1Driving this car is dangerous, only if you are not trained.
Source: wallscorner.com

Many people get shocked at the speed by which forex markets move during the Non-Farm Payroll Announcements and FOMC Interest Rate Announcements; prices can move 10-50 times faster than normal during those crazy periods! However, with practice, these sessions can become a profitable time for traders with experience and proper risk management.

If you have $10,000 to invest: trade everything.

People with more money have the luxury of trading a combination of stocks, forex, commodity, bonds, and index trades. These can be accessed through any decent forex broker, and you’ll be surprised to find that most forex brokers let you trade forex, oil, gold, the Dow Jones Index, the S&P, the bond markets, wheat, corn, natural gas, and more. These of course come with higher margin requirements, but exploring all the asset classes makes you a seasoned, well-rounded investor that can take any market condition.

Sideways in the forex market? Maybe there is a trending opportunity in the oil market. There’s always something to trade if you have the experience and know where to look.

However, in my opinion, the greatest investment is Golden Egg 3.

GOLDEN EGG 3: TRADING BOOKS ARE CHEAP AND EASY TO FIND

John Murphy: Technical Analysis of the Financial Markets. One of the great trading classics that builds a strong foundation.

John Murphy’s book on technical analysis reveals the fundamental nature of financial markets. Prices move in patterns and cycles, and understanding history helps you to cope with what is to come.

In my trading journey, I’ve read more than 200 books, and found only about 11 of them that are useful in my trading career. These books were either borrowed from the library, or bought only for $30-$50 a book, which is a very good price (since stock commissions can be $15-$25 already!).

Buying a few good trading books can completely change your destiny.

If you are starting out, why not invest in 3-5 good trading books, before getting your hands wet in the financial markets? These books would build a strong foundation, and you would start off with a better understanding of why things happen.

bookSome of the more famous online bookstores.
Source: Company websites

Amazon.com and bookdepository.com provide great options and they ship almost anywhere in the world. Personally, I found that bookdepository has the more exotic books, but it is a little pricey (yet still worth it since you can’t find the books easily!)

Second-hand books: Carousell if you live in Singapore! If you’re lucky you can find good books at a discounted price. Even though the books may be a little dusty and yellowed, it’s the content that you want to really absorb. You can always find what you want if you search hard enough!

TRADING & INVESTING EDUCATION IS WITHIN OUR GRASP

If you are still thinking about it, here’s why you should pick up investing education:

  • Historical chart data is free (we used to need to pay in the 1990s and 2000s)
  • Free resources are available
  • Books are cheap and easy to find
  • Starting cost is as low as $500
  • Cost of failure is low
  • Experience can be racked up with very little capital
  • There is a market for every type of investor

And most of all, it can bring higher returns in the long-run than placing your capital in the bank account. Sure, you might risk losing a couple of dollars at the start, but the cost of ignorance is a lot higher when compounded over the next 5, 10, or 20 years!

Wishing you all the best in your trading journey, and I do hope this article serves as a pump to start you on your quest for investment expertise!

Cheers!

 

RESEARCH SOURCES & REFERENCES

http://www.moneysmart.sg/fixed-deposit
http://www.lifehack.org/articles/money/15-best-online-bookstores-for-cheap-new-and-used-books.html