Should I Start off with Trading or Investing?

This is one of the questions I get the most from new traders and investors, who cannot decide whether to start learning trading or investing.

Most people end up only focusing on either one their whole lifetime, without realising that combining both is essential to building long-term wealth, and achieving it faster.

But how exactly do you combine both these skills?

Enjoy the video! 😀

How to Build a $1M Dollar Portfolio by 30 (The Practical Stuff)

This is the dream of many millennials, to build a million-dollar portfolio as soon as possible, so that they can live off the passive income, and focus on pursuing their dreams, interests or hobbies, without having to worry about money any more.

When I was in my 20s, that was my dream as well, which was why I read hundreds of books ranging from investing, trading, psychology, motivation, philosophy, biographies, businesses, digital marketing, finance, accounting, etc. And that was when I realised that most of wealth creation boiled down to 3 simple core principles.

1) Multiple sources of Cashflow

The first thing you need to get started is a solid base capital, so at the start if you do not have much capital, almost all your time and resources should be focused on generating as much cashflow as possible to build up your ammunition.

If you have a well paying job, then you can start saving aggressively, but to speed up the process, most people will seek to generate multiple sources of income or cashflow. Some examples include working a side job, starting an online business, etc.

For me, I decided to use forex trading, because it did not require much capital to start, and also because I did not have much spare time, and could only afford to spend 15-30 minutes a day. Now, it provides me a steady monthly cashflow, which allowed me to move on to step 2.

2) Timing your portfolio purchases

Once you have sufficient capital and consistent cashflow, the next step is to start building your long-term portfolio. Start by having a rough idea oh what your ideal portfolio is, and what kind of risk/return profile you are looking for. Look out for assets that have a good chance of capital appreciation, as well as passive returns in the form of dividends or rental yield. Over time, I tend to favour having more “passive income” type of investments.

Do not be in a hurry to buy everything at once. Watch and study the market cycles, and aim to buy stuff only when they are cheap or “undervalued”. This can be done easily by looking at the charts of any product over the past 50-100 years of history. There is no need to spend hours reading financial reports or analyst reports. Remember, our goal is to get the most out of our limited time.

3) Re-invest the passive income

As your portfolio grows, and you continue to add to it via your monthly cashflow contributions, the real kicker is when the effect of compounding kicks in.

The best way to do this is to also re-invest the passive income which you get from the portfolio itself, creating a snowball effect which will literally grow your portfolio exponentially.

Once you have assembled your ideal portfolio, all you need to do is to check on it once every 3 months or so, and do some rebalancing. In the meantime, you can pretty much enjoy the fruits of your labour, and focus on living your life instead of having to worry about money.

For me, this means travelling around the world (50+ countries to date!), and sharing my knowledge to inspire and help others do the same.

Now, are you ready to start building your own portfolio?

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.

Why I am Planning to Liquidate my Full Portfolio of Singapore Stocks


It has been a while since my last update on the Singapore markets (as well as my SG portfolio holdings), largely because the market doesn’t move much, so I only check on them once in a while.

Interestingly, I noticed that the STI has had an impressive run, coming off a low of 25xx to break past the 3000 level in the past few months. However, is this move sustainable?

Taking a closer look at this weekly chart which shows the historical prices over the last 20 years or so, one thing which stands out is that the market has been in a 7 YEAR sideways stagnation.

If we look back at the whole history of the index, this is somewhat unprecedented.

Which could explain why popularity in this market (as well as trading volumes) has been waning. In short, it does seem like a dying market.

Not to mention that during this same time period, the US stock markets have been steadily creeping up.

If we look at the most recent red shaded circle, that is where the current price is, and it seems to be running into massive headwinds. This means that the potential upside could be quite limited.

If we observe the large sideways range that prices have been moving in, the price is now at the top of the range. And we know that the best strategy in a range is to “buy low, sell high”, which means that the odds do not favour much more upside, unless there is some new strong positive price catalyst.

However, a cursory glance at recent news headlines seems to be painting a rather gloomy picture, with muted growth forecasts and ominous employment statistics. This tell me that downside catalysts are more likely that upside ones. In other words, there is more chance of a negative shock rather than a positive shock for prices.

In light of all these factors, I am planning to cash out most or all of my profits, and wait for more favourable odds to redeploy my capital. As a trader and investor, timing is always key.

Good luck, and trade wisely! 😀

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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