Recently, during an interview, I was asked this question, to suggest a possible portfolio allocation for people 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 10-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 and startups 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. For non-Singaporeans, any pension/retirement scheme which offers a fixed payout would serve the same purpose.

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.

*Note: This article is adapted from Quora (written by Ziad K Abdelnour, Wall Street Investor), and the source to the original article is listed at the end of the article.

 

Given the nature of my business, I am often asked by friends how does it feel like to deal with billionaires on a daily basis and what really makes them tick. Understanding after all the billionaires psyche is key in unlocking potential not seen anywhere else.

Well for a start…let me tell you that the main thing I realized after starting dealing with billionaires a decade ago is that billionaires tend to be really good at understanding systems of value creation and placing themselves into those systems more effectively than anyone out there.

Billionaires tend in fact to view the world as a tangibly fungible place. They see the world and want to move the puzzle pieces entirely around. They look for the faults in the ecosystem and identify massive holes and what could be added to fully capture that value. Then they spend about 10 years maniacally attacking the gap, organizing people, recruiting and generally creating a “cult”. They create a bible so to speak of values and ideas that bundle together in such an appealing way to attract the smartest people around (aka the future millionaires).

The billionaires I know don’t look forward to the weekend. They don’t drink. They work from 5am to midnight everyday including weekends. They don’t socialize with friends and they often mix friends and work. It’s all one big chain that supports their vision of the future and tying up the value. This is a different internal programming than most people have out there.

What do you do if you live in Trent, Michigan today? The auto plants around you are closing. It’s tough to be a billionaire potential person in that environment, but 100 years ago in 1912 it was actually possible. Ask the Ford family about this. So overall, location, timing, industry and proximity can be a major factor that comes into play. Tech is what’s happening now, but other industries happened before. 1950s Texas oil well drilling, 1910s autos Michigan, 2010s Silicon Valley. There is much to discuss, but the mindset pieces are the key and are universal.

So what to make of it all?

Well, I see billionaires having 3 types of focus

1) Inner/self: a keen sense of where you want to go, and self discipline to get there.
2) Empathy and the ability to inspire others.
3) Awareness of where the greater world is going, and what can be done to shape it.

The young millionaires I know seem to spend a lot of time working on 1 and 2, talking about emotional self discipline & company culture.

The billionaires & ultra high net worth power players have on the other hand mastered all 3, particularly the 3rd. They are the “unreasonable” ones who adapt the world to their vision. They are absolutely fearless. Perfectly willing to move mountains, change cultures, lobby regulation to achieve their vision and kick real ass..

Come to think more of it, billionaires would seem to have more in common with a homeless man on the street than a millionaire in the sense that they are completely unconventional and independent thinkers. They are outcasts from regular society and most probably will always be.

A millionaire might have more sense about her-himself and scale back to preserve wealth and “quit while they are ahead” sort of speak.

The billionaire mindset defies logic and decisions are made against all outside reason. They really don’t give a rat’s ass about the money and frankly have a clean detachment to it, therefore with that clarity of thought mixed with pursuing their passion, make most of the money.

One common theme that I see all the time in my billionaire friends and that’s the theme of failure before success. Self-made billionaires NEVER give up if they fail. They just go on and on and on until they stop failing and become a success.

Now that you know the basics of the billionaires psyche, go use those priceless tips to make a killing and never turn back.

Source: https://www.quora.com/Whats-it-like-to-be-a-billionaire/answers/7455932

 

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

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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. 😀

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?

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

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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

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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