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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 wild bets
  • 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.

The Past 6 Years Summarized in One Chart – Are We Headed for Deflation?

market overview 221115 synapse trading

Since the post-2007 crash recovery starting in 2009, how have the markets fared?

Stocks, represented by the S&P 500, have steadily climbed, gaining an impressive 130% over the 6+ years.

Commodities, represented by oil, silver and gold, did not fare so well.

Oil peaked in the first half of 2011, consolidated for about 3 years, then made new lows in 2014.

Silver and Gold peaked in late 2011, then steadily declined all the way till today, giving up almost all its gains since 2009.

As the Fed gets ready to raise the interest rates, this is likely to give a boost to the US dollar, which will further suppress commodity prices. For oil, this is especially bad, since there is already an oversupply forecasted for 2016.

A higher interest rate will also bring down bond prices, ending the 30-year bull trend, and in months to come, act as a drag on stock prices. This means that the stock market is a ticking time bomb.

If all these happens, we will have a scenario with:

  • Bullish US dollar
  • Bearish oil, gold, silver, commodities
  • Bearish bond prices
  • Bearish stock prices
  • Bearish economy?

That would be a pretty gloomy deflation scenario. 🙁

What is my current portfolio strategy?

Stay tuned for my monthly portfolio update (November 2015) and current portfolio strategy at the end of this month!
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