grand canyon

Many people have been asking me about my trading journey, of how I basically started from almost nothing, and steadily built my way to financial freedom.

It has taken me quite a while to document my whole journey, but I know it’s worth the effort if it can inspire others to do the same.

Well, here goes!

grand canyon

 

Broke College Student

When I first started my trading journey, I did not come from a well-to-do family, and I had to work several part-time jobs to pay my way through college.

I knew that if i wanted to succeed, I had to work hard, study hard, and learn the correct financial skills which would help me transform my life.

At first, I thought the most direct way would be to get a formal degree, because that would get me a high-paying job in the bank. So I worked my ass off to get into the best high school, and then to one of the best business universities in Singapore.

Basically, I was a straight-A student for every single subject, and I scored in the top 2-4% for my SAT scores. And on the side, I also became a nationally-ranked (7th) chess player.

 

In college, I pursued double degrees in Accounting (B.Acc) and Business Finance (B.BM), to equip myself with the foundational and research skills to understand the markets.

Heck, I even got onto the Dean’s list and won some awards.

But I soon realised that even though bankers are paid pretty decent, you kinda have to sell your soul to the job, and you won’t get any chance to enjoy that money. This is pretty much the same for any corporate job.

Determined not to get stuck in the rat race, I decided that instead of working for the bank, I would tackle the financial markets myself.

 

Learning from Books

So I read hundreds of books on trading and investing, spent over 10,000 hours studying the markets and looking at charts, while backtesting almost every strategy, indicator and system I could get my hands on. My research was thorough and almost obsessive.

Snapshot of my Goodreads account where I record all my readings. https://www.goodreads.com/iamrecneps

 

Getting Certified

I even became a globally accredited Certified Financial Technician (CFTe), which would normally require months/years of study just to pass the tests.I was also offered a scholarship by the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute, but after clearing level 1 of the exams, I decided not to continue, as I was very close to completing my ultimate trading system.

These scores are considered top percentile scores for the CFA exams.

 

Creating My Trading System

And finally…

After countless hours of studying, trading, testing, and tweaking, I finally completed my “15-Minute System”, which was special to me because it had a couple of very unique features:

  • It only requires 15 minutes a day to trade – allowing me to utilise my spare pockets of free time throughout the day.
  • It can work on any market, including stocks, forex, futures, commodities, crypto, etc.
  • I only need a mobile phone to receive the signals and execute the trades – allowing me to trade anytime and anywhere!
  • I do not need to spend any time monitoring the market – no wasting of time and totally stress-free.
  • It is based on predictive price action and behavioral analysis, instead of lagging indicators.
  • It works by capturing medium-term movements by using my 4 proprietary price action strategies.
  • Short-term movements are dominated by computer algorithms, while long-term movements are dominated by fund managers, so the medium-term movements are perfect for retail traders.
  • It is easy to use and apply – even a complete beginner will be able to use it.

 

The next few years were unbelievable.

 

Trading & Travelling the World

Armed with my mobile phone and an internet connection, I realised I could crank out profits 24/7, wherever and whenever I wanted.

Hence, I decided to fulfill my long-time dream of travelling around the world. And travel I did.

I travelled to over 60 countries and hundreds of cities across 6 continents, at the same time still spending 15 minutes a day “working” and “trading for a living”.

I also compiled all my travel photos and adventures into this travel log here, so feel free to check it out if you are looking for travel ideas.

 

Building Passive Income

At the same time, I started funneling my trading profits into other long-term investments, to build up my portfolio of multiple sources of passive income.

I invested my monthly cashflow of profits into a mix of fixed income, ETFs, tech stocks, REITs, properties, cryptocurrencies, etc. I also started actively buying and selling many local start-ups and businesses, including a cafe, a pub, and many promising tech startups.

I also started investing in properties, including a multi-million dollar penthouse which I use to host events. For my 30th birthday, I hosted a private party on a luxury yacht for my close friends and family.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to brag. I’m just showing you what is possible if you are willing to put in the hard work.

Having come from a humble background and working my ass off to earn every penny, I have no intention of squandering my hard-earned trading profits just to show off.

I spend my money on practical investments, or splurge occasionally on experiences (to share the joy with my friends and family), but I have no interest in wasting my money on flashy cars or branded goods.

In fact, I do not even own a car or any luxury watches or clothes or accessories. I am happy travelling the world in just my jeans and sneakers.

 

Media Interviews & Events

But soon, the media outlets started picking up on my financial success.

The requests for interviews started pouring in, but due to my travelling schedule, I only had time to do about 20 media features.

You can check out the full list of media interviews and events which I have compiled.

 

“Spencer has developed his own way of reading charts to understand markets” – The Business Times

“To date, the company [Synapse Trading] has provided financial education to over a million people worldwide through its articles, videos and seminars.” – ABC News, CBS News, NBC, FOX News

 

I even did a rare home interview with Societe General Bank, giving my market forecast and some trading tips.

 

Guest Speaker & Trainings

Verified by media features and interviews, I started getting headhunted by many professional funds and financial institutions (such as the Singapore Stock Exchange) to share my strategies, trade for them, and to provide training for their staff.

I tried being a “professional trader” for 1-2 years, and it was very profitable, but in the end I preferred the freedom of trading my own accounts, and not being desk-bound in an office.

But I found that I really enjoyed the training part, and I thought it would be very beneficial to retail traders and investors if I could share with them the same level of training which was given to funds and financial institutions.

Hence I embarked on my global speaking tour, doing workshops, seminars and full-weekend trainings to share my strategies to thousands of people worldwide, while at the same time trying to fit as many guest speaking invitations I could into my travelling schedule.

For such events, I used to charge up to 5-6 figures for my trainings or speaking engagements, and the events were always packed to the brim. Some events even had crowds of up to thousands of live audiences.

Sharing the Stage with Famous Speakers

On many of my speaking tours, I got to share the stage with many other famous speakers, some of whom you might find familiar:

  • Chris Gardner – The guy who went from broke and living in the streets to a multi-millionaire stock broker, and was the inspiration behind the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness”
  • Jim Rogers – Co-founder of the Quantum Fund and Soros Fund Management
  • Jay Abraham – One of the top 5 Executive Business Consultants in the World (Forbes 2000)
  • Brian Tracy – Legendary speaker and trainer, and author of over 70 books
  • Mike Bellafiore –  Proprietary Trading Fund Manager

 

 

In 2015, I was also selected to speak at the National Achiever’s Congress, the largest of such events in Singapore, with a live audience of more than 2,500 people. It was a wildly awesome experience with such a success-hungry and energetic crowd.

 

My New Mission

Fast forward to today, after several years of teaching and training, and countless batches of success stories and grateful students, I have decided to take a break and “retire temporarily” from guest speaking and events.

But my mission to reach out to help more people on a global scale has not changed.

By taking a step back to consolidate all my teachings, I have now made them available worldwide to anyone who is willing to invest the time and effort to learn this valuable lifelong skill.

I have compiled all that I know into comprehensive free guides and training programs to make it access to anyone who wants to make the effort to learn this valuable skill.

Which means that no matter where you are living, you can now have full access to all my trainings and benefit from my full trading system which I used to build all my wealth and success.

The only question is…

Are you ready to embark on your own journey?

As I slowly edge towards my mid-life crisis (just joking!), I want to thank all my friends and family who have always been there for me as my pillar of support.

With no opportunities to travel this year, i have had more time to reflect on life, and here are some of my musings:

  • Finding a life partner has been the top of my priority, and though it hasn’t been easy or successful, I have learnt quite a lot in a short period of time. In this area, it is useful to talk to people who have successful relationships and to learn from them.
  • Many people tend to neglect sleep, but optimising it can improve all areas of your life, by boosting your energy, mood, etc. Aim for a consistent sleep cycle of 6-10 hours, depending on each individual. Invest in stuff to make your sleep better, such as mattresses, pillows, diffuser, blackout curtains, white noise, etc.
  • Meditate daily to improve concentration, clear your mind, enhance your focus, and enjoy many more health benefits. Start with 5 minutes a day, and slowly increase to 1 hour a day. If it feels like a waste of time, think of it as sharpening your axe instead of using a blunt axe to chop a tree.
  • Do not neglect your health as well. The main areas of focus are physical exercise, stamina (cardio), flexibility, and most importantly, nutrition/diet. Aim to eat healthy, and take note of caloric surplus/deficit if you want to increase/decrease your weight.
  • Learn useful skills, and take up fun/creative hobbies, for example driving, cooking, dancing, learning a new language, coding, etc.
  • Read widely. The more I read, the more I realise I do not know. Stay humble, stay hungry. This year, I have focused my readings on relationships, philosophy, and psychology. for less serious reads, I also enjoy science fiction.
    • Philosophy helps one ponder the meaning of existence, and sheds some light on the fabric of reality. Most people blindly accept what has been spoon-fed to them, and do not stop to think for themselves and question whether it is indeed true.
    • Psychology helps one understand other people, and more importantly oneself.
  • When people near the end of their life, the thing they cherish most are relationships. These should be cultivated throughout your life. Learn to listen and help others, and be present. There are many levels to relationships – learn to connect with people on a deeper level.
  • The only way to be content is to embrace gratitude. Instead of wanting more, learn to give and contribute. Life is not a competition, there is no prize for struggling to reach the top in everything. The journey matters more.

Once again, thanks for all the birthday treats and gifts, and I will compile them below:

 

 

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Last weekend, we conducted another online workshop on the basics of trading and investing, and since it is a SkillsFuture SG-Approved course, participants could use their SkillsFuture credits to pay for the course instead of cash.

Thanks for the support! 🙏

During the 9 hours of training, participants learnt portfolio strategies to build and protect their wealth, as well as trading skills like market-timing, chart-reading and risk management to improve their trading results.

Here is some of the feedback and learning points from participants, after our hands-on market analysis session to find trading opportunities in the market.

If you are keen to learn more using your SkillsFuture credits, you can check out our courses:

P.S. To ensure optimal learning, we have capped the maximum class size.

Register early to avoid disappointment!

SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies, have been championed as a way to “democratize access to high-growth companies” while “dismantling the traditional capital market.”

In other words, they allow companies to raise money more easily, while at the same time giving investors a way to invest in these companies. However, it also comes with higher risk.

In this post, I’m going to talk about the difference between a SPAC and an IPO, and the benefits and risks of investing in SPACs.

 

What Does ‘Going Public’ or “IPO” Mean?

No matter how big or small, every company needs one thing to thrive in the market: capital.

Yes, every organization requires funds to sustain operations, pay staff, repay loans, etc.

But what happens when a company’s profits fall short of expectations, or it needs more capital?

They raise money. For many private companies, going public has become the most attractive way to raise capital.

When a formerly private company decides to go public, it opens the door for new investors to invest in the company. In other words, it is selling its shares.

The investors obtain ownership of a tiny slice or share of the company by paying a specified sum. This is beneficial to both the company and the investors—while the company raises capital from investors, the investors receive a portion of the company’s profits in the form of dividends.

Going public is a win-win situation for both sides.

What we are calling “going public” is actually known as an Initial Public Offering (“IPO”). So, when a private company offers its shares to the public for the first time, that is called an IPO.

What’s the Downside?

While going public can work wonders for private companies, the process of filing for an IPO is exceedingly time-consuming.

So, if you need to raise capital urgently (say, to pay off debts), using the traditional route of IPO filing can be incredibly inconvenient.

Furthermore, there is a laundry list of disclosures that you must consider. You will be required to reveal your prospects, finances, and the whole shebang.

Before you get to pitch to your future investors, you will need to work with investment banks, risk assessors, and underwriters.

In other words, you must pass multiple checkpoints before you can list your company on the stock market.

Because there are checkpoints (and so many of them), the risks of rejection are higher. Not to mention the significant cost that companies must incur to become fully functional private enterprises.

How would you bear the costs if you are already cash-strapped?

Overall, there are many drawbacks to going public the old-fashioned way.

Isn’t there a more efficient way to go public? There is, of course.

This is where SPACs come into the picture.

What are SPACs?

SPACs, Special Purpose Acquisition Companies, are an efficient and quick alternative for private companies to go public.

A SPAC is formed by a group of investors, business owners, industry experts, financial market experts, and high-network individuals. These individuals of high value help private companies become public without going through the traditional IPO process.

SPACs are also called “blank check companies” or “shell companies.” This means that these companies do not sell or produce any product or service; they have no commercial operations.

How do they make money then?

Well, SPACs raise capital through IPO, and the money they make is further invested in ‘acquiring’ a private company.

The funds raised by SPACs are collected in a trusted account until the SPAC finds a suitable company to acquire and invest in. This trusted account is called an interest-bearing account as all the members of the SPAC receive a certain amount of interest from the money collected in the bank account until they find a suitable company to acquire.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a SPAC cannot look for an ideal company to acquire forever. Every SPAC has to find a suitable firm within 24 months.

What if the SPAC does not find an ideal company to acquire in this period?

In this case, the money collected in the account is returned, and the SPAC is considered non-existent.

However, if the SPAC acquires a company within 24 months, there are two options that its founders have: they can either:

  1. Redeem their SPAC shares and book a profit or
  2. They can convert their SPAC shares into the shares of the newly acquired company.

Going public through SPAC benefits both the SPAC’s founders and the firm acquired.

The firm goes public and is listed, gaining access to liquidity. The SPAC members, on the other hand, become shareholders in the acquired company.

Benefits of SPACs

There are numerous benefits to going public through SPACs. Let’s have a look at some of them:

Quick and streamlined IPOs

Securing capital through SPACs is extremely easy and quick.

While IPOs usually take anywhere from 12 to 18 months, a SPAC merger takes only 3 to 6 months. So, if a company is in urgent need of money, going public via SPACs is the way to go.

Furthermore, any company can raise funds through SPACs irrespective of its size and experience. Growing companies usually find it hard to access liquidity due to the lack of a proven track record, but this is not an issue when a company chooses the SPAC route.

Cheaper IPOs

The cost of going public through an IPO is quite high. Small companies struggle to pay this amount because they lack the capital.

As a result, going public remains a pipe dream for many.

However, if they go public in a non-traditional, SPAC way, they will easily attract a large pool of valuable public investors.

This is attributable to the fact that SPACs price their IPOs at only $10 per share. And this amount is set in stone.

As a result, many public investors can purchase the shares, and the company receives the money it needs.

Liberty

SPACs are much more liberal when it comes to pricing the stocks.

They give a chance to the target company that they wish to acquire to negotiate and set the price of their stocks.

This is not possible in the traditional IPO process.

When a company goes public in the traditional manner, it is expected to set a price that is neither too high nor too low.

This means that there is a risk that the company will not receive the amount that it is worth. However, the valuation risk in SPAC IPOs is minimal.

Access to operational expertise

The founders of SPACs are highly skilled and experienced individuals, and they choose a target company from the industry they themselves belong to.

This means when a small, growing firm gets acquired, it receives access to its founders’ expertise.

Secondly, the professionalism of the SPAC founders boosts credibility and ensures returns and investor confidence.

Potential Risks for Investors

Though SPACs have been considered a risk-free route for companies to go public, there are a few risks for investors. Here are some of those:

Longer waiting period

As mentioned above, SPAC founders have up to 24 months to find the target company they will acquire. If you invest in a SPAC, you will have to wait that long before seeing any actual returns and earning your return on investment.

The unfortunate thing is that there is a possibility that a SPAC will not find its ideal to-be-acquired company within this time frame. For investors, it simply means a waste of two valuable years that they could have used to seize some profitable opportunities.

No guarantee of what your returns will look like

When a SPAC is formed, the founders have no knowledge of the company that they will acquire in the future. As a result, investors have no idea what their returns will be or whether they will obtain a higher return on investment.

Furthermore, SPAC founders are constantly under pressure to find their target company before the deadline, which is two years.

They often accept a terrible deal in the rush because they are afraid of not bagging any deal at all. This bad deal has a direct impact on the returns received by investors.

High chances of fraud

One of the primary reasons many private companies opt to go public through SPACs is fewer checkpoints and lenient screening.

The target company may not meet certain requirements due to a lack of stringent protocols and scrutiny.

This does not bode well for investors. If the target is of poor quality, the returns will be nothing to write home about.

Sole reliance on sponsors’ reputation

Investors must take a risk and invest based on the reputation and image of the sponsors in the market.

They become enthralled and eager to invest when they see the high-profile sponsors who launched the SPAC.

Aside from the sponsors’ reputation, there is no substantial document on which they can rely. As a result, they encounter a slew of roadblocks after investing.

Concluding Thoughts

SPACs are the biggest thing on Wall Street right now.

While it is an excellent opportunity for private companies to go public and raise much-needed funding, investors should weigh the pros and cons before investing to ensure that the deal is profitable for all parties involved.

Personally, I am not a big fan of SPACs, because I prefer to have more control over my investments, instead of giving a blank check to someone and hope that they pick a good investment on my behalf.

Now that I have shared all about SPACs and their pros and cons, what do you think of them? Do you think SPACs are a good investment?

Let me know in the comments below.

Last weekend, we conducted our first online workshop (SkillsFuture credit-claimable) on the basics of tech stocks and crypto, and it was a very fruitful session.

Thanks for the support! 🙏

During the session, we learn how to combine technicals and fundamentals to find undervalued tech stocks.

These are exclusive methods used by investment banks, hedge funds and industry insiders, so you won’t find them anywhere online or in books.

Here is some of the feedback and learning points from participants, after our hands-on market analysis session to find trading opportunities in the market.

At only $500 for 2 days of training, it is really a steal! (The value you get is equivalent to those $3000-$4000 courses you find out there, which only cover textbook knowledge.)

If you are keen to learn more using your SkillsFuture credits, you can check out our courses:

P.S. To ensure optimal learning, we have capped the maximum class size.

Register early to avoid disappointment!