Sunday, December 14, 2014

How to invest in gold in Singapore

 I would like to know how to buy gold and invest for my future? Thank you - Ridhwan

There are many ways to invest in gold. Typically, you may buy gold jewellery, invest in gold mining stocks, ETF or gold derivatives. But personally, I prefer to invest in gold bullion, such as coins and bars. This is because in Singapore, the government has waived off GST for investment precious metal (IPM). Last year, in one of my articles, I touched on Singapore's exemption on the investment precious metal (IPM). 

Singapore's regulatory framework for gold
Basically, with effect from 1 Oct 2012, the importation and supply of IPM in Singapore are exempt from GST. The supply of IPM which is exported continues to be zero-rated. However, only precious metals in the form of a bar, ingot, wafer and coin which meet certain criteria can qualify as IPM. To provide certainty, precious metal coins that qualify as IPM are prescribed in the GST Act. Precious metals which do not meet the criteria cannot qualify as IPM and the supply of non-IPM continues to be taxable. Examples of non-IPM are jewellery, scrap precious metals, numismatic coins and precious metals which are refined by refiners who are not on the "Good Delivery" list of the London Bullion Market Association or the London Platinum and Palladium Market. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ruthless paycut

Last week, my colleagues had a briefing session conducted by HR Director who announced that our variable specialist allowances would be removed with effect 1 January 2015.

When he made the announcement and solicited for our feedback, there was at least 5 minutes of silence. Everyone was too shell-shocked to react.

Since last year, there were lingering rumors that HR was hatching some plans to adjust our variable specialist allowances but we thought that the most drastic move that they would resort would be to incorporate the variable component into our basic pay. We never expect in our wildest dream that they would remove all our allowances. For many of us, the amount is a huge amount and make up at least 30% of our pay. So obviously we were very unhappy. The only consolation news was that the organization would remove the allowances in three years phases, so that affected staff would have time to adjust their personal finances.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Achieving financial freedom in Singapore

Dear SG Wealth Builder,

Sorry to message you out of the blue (you may consider to publish my email but kindly oblique my name and email).

I am 37 as of this year and I am a civil servant (which means I cannot do part time jobs or start a business) who have difficulty achieving financial stability.

The only good thing now is that I am not in debt (finally), apart from the $10,000 medical bills incurred recently (I have a exclusion for heart) which I am paying $300 per month interest free.

I tried reading all your posts from day 1 and more or less understand your objectives and purpose of the blog. 

I am a person whom is very keen on being financially free in time to come and hope I can do it via investment. (one of the ways if i choose not to leave this current employment). 

However,  being an engineering student from polytechnic, I find it hard to kick-start my investment journey and often feel lost. Are you able to recommend me some books or what kind of topic I can look for before I can understand how this whole investment thing come about and how can I start doing it as time is definitely not on my side as I am approaching 40? 

A concerned 'father of one'

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Be the Architect of your Own Career Graph in Investment Banking

The dynamic sector of investment banking entails mustering equity and debt capital for corporations. Its attractive and lucrative nature with competitive salaries has made it a much sought-after career option. If you have already elected investment banking as a career and gathered the qualifications you require to make it big in this field, the logical next step is to look for ways to advance in your profession. 

The suggestions below will aid you in making a slow, but steady growth so you can soon be a banking bigwig in the sovereign city-state. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Secret formula to win the property game

For the past two months, I was really busy with my day-job as I was tasked to be one of the course instructors for my organization. Being an instructor was really challenging because of the need to be the subject matter expert. Mastery of classroom techniques is definitely important because you have to speak confidently and at the same time, capture the participants' attentions. And of course, there was the need to develop the course materials, which was really a chore. But to our surprise, the course turned out really well and there were a lot of engagements between the participants and the instructors. In the end, my team really enjoyed the process because we helped each other to answer the queries.

Knowing what you don't know
During that busy period, I read the e-book "No B.S. Guide to Property Investment – Dirty Truths and Profitable Secrets to Building Wealth through Properties" for the second time during the MRT rides to work. Property Soul gave it to me and I had written a book review for her in my previous article.The reason why I re-read the book was because I believe that to be a successful wealth builder in property investments, you must acquire the right knowledge. Simply put, if you know what you don't know, you can always avoid the potential pitfalls by seeking help and guidance from others. But if you don't know what you don't know, then you are likely to lose money in the property game. So even though I am not looking at buying a second property for investment purposes right now, I am positioning myself to win the game going forward in the long term.

Secret formula revealed
From Property Soul's book, I gain new insights on how to make money from properties once again. Notably, the author highlighted the secret formula called "STAB". I am not going to reveal what STAB means but essentially, this concept emphasizes the importance of being specialized in one area, leveraging the expertise from the others, conducting risk assessments and planning for the worst. Most investors thought that buying a property is all about selecting the right location and buying and selling at the right time. However, throughout the process, there would be many stakeholders involved, like property agents, conveyancing lawyers, mortgage bankers and etc. Thus, you need to recognize that you cannot be good at everything and there are always something that others would do better than you. Therefore, building a team would help to mitigate the downside risks in property investments.

The paperback can be purchased online at
The ebook can also be ordered online at

Property Soul teaches you how to build wealth through property investments
Drawing on my experiences as a course instructor, I realize that the learning curve for every subject matter is always shorten through class interactions, participation and exchange of ideas and information. Therefore, buying and reading the book is just one part of the equation. To better understand the art of property investments, it is always good to attend courses to internalize the values that are espoused in the book. To this end, Property Soul is conducting a 1-day workshop on Buying My First Private Property 1-Day Workshop.

First-time property buyers often ask questions about ‘when can I buy’, ‘what to buy’ and ‘how to buy’. When you are about to buy the most expensive item you pay for in your life, you better get it right. This one-day workshop offers you countless smart tips to buy your first property, saving you tons of money from making costly mistakes in property investment.

“Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.”- T. Harv Eker

Workshop details Date   : January 24, 2015 (Saturday)
Time   : 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
Venue : National Library
Trainer: Property Soul, Author of No B.S. Guide to Property Investment
Fee     : Member – $299 (1 pax), $499 (2 pax)
             Non-Member – $449 (1 pax), $799 (2 pax)

Target Audience
1. First-time buyers of private properties
2. Aspiring property investors

Topics covered:
Morning Session
1. Understanding the key concepts of money, wealth and financial management
2. How to speed up your savings to buy that first property
3. Exercise – Improving my finances in 90 days
4. Successful tips to buy properties at a young age
5. Affordability – Am I ready to buy it now?
6. Setting your property investment goals
7. Exercise – Make your step-by-step property investment plan
8. Group Discussion - How to avoid falling prey to property scams and traps

Afternoon Session
9. Where to find properties suitable for first-time buyers
10. Why some cheap properties are cheap for a reason
11. How to spot the gems in cheap properties
12. Exercise - Calculating return of an investment property
13. Dealing with property agents of the sellers
14. Driving out competition to bag your target property
15. How to master negotiation techniques in property purchase
16. Role play – Negotiate successfully to buy at a bargain
17. What to expect from Offer to Purchase to Sale Completion
18. Getting the most of housing loans
19. Tips of engaging a conveyancing lawyer
20. Quiz – Everything you should know buying your first property
(Note: Strictly NO marketing of local or overseas properties, property-related products or services.)

About the trainer
Property Soul is a property enthusiast who bought her first condominium unit for rent since 2002. In the next 4½ years, she built up a portfolio of five private properties. By 2008, its total value had more than doubled. In 2010 and 2011, she sold four of the properties, realizing a net profit of 80 to 120 percent.

In 2010, she set up a personal blog to share her experiences as a property investor and to exchange ideas with fellow investors on accumulating wealth through properties. In April 2014, she published her first book No B.S. Guide to Property Investment. The first print was sold out in bookstores within 8 weeks’ time. The book was a bestseller in Kinokuniya and Times bookstores.

Property Soul is also the founder of Property Club Singapore – a neutral platform for the learning and networking of like-minded private property buyers, investors and owners. Seminars, talks, workshops and networking sessions are organized regularly.

Payment can be made by one of the methods below:
1. By bank transfer to DBS Bank Current Account number 066-902-8008.
2. By crossed cheque made payable to “PROPERTY CLUB SINGAPORE PTE LTD”.
   Mail to Choa Chu Kang Central Post Office, PO Box 251, Singapore 916839.
3. By paypal (add 4% paypal service charge).

For members, please log in and register here.

Magically yours

Monday, November 17, 2014

Property Investment Insights

A few months ago, Mediacorp Channel 8 broadcasted a programme about a Singapore lady who got the shock of her life when the CPF Board froze her CPF account which she is using to service her outstanding HDB loan.

Apparently she is 54 years old this year and she mistakenly thought that her CPF monies was frozen because it would be transferred to the Retirement Account (RA). But actually what happened was that she had reached her CPF Withdrawal Limit and thus, she was not allowed to use further CPF savings to pay the remaining home loan in cash. Her plight is not surprising to me because I believe many Singaporeans are not aware of how this CPF rule works and how it would affect them when they reached their fifties.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My financial journey


That was the total amount of savings in my bank accounts when I just started working in 2005. On looking back, it was really a "touch and go" financial situation for me. I had depleted all my life savings because I had stopped receiving allowances from my parents when I was studying for a full time degree at NUS. I did not want to burden my parents because my late father's business was not doing well and my mom was a full time housewife. Our household income wasn't that ideal back then partially also due to my father's stroke condition. So I had to supplement my savings with part-time jobs like giving tuition during the school holidays.

So if you ask me what is it like to be poor, I can fully empathize. After all, I have went through this dark journey before and I am thankful that I had emerged from that challenging period to become a stronger person. For those who are born rich, social mobility may be a strange word to them, however I do not blame them because they do not know what is it like to worry for money. For the rich and wealthy, Singapore is like a playground where they can indulge in expensive toys like fast cars, yachts and lavish landed properties. But for people who are born into low income families like myself, the need to improve the quality of life and move upward in the society is not an option.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Guest Posting: 5 Forex trading metrics you’re probably not tracking but should be

Guest post by CMC Markets Singapore

Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned veteran in the forex arena, there are several common metrics that we all know we should be tracking. Such as support and resistance levels, pay-off ratios or lows and of course, profits and losses. There are many more but let’s look at 5 lesser tracked but equally critical metrics that could change the game for you:

1) Hold duration

Do you hold your long positions for a few days or are you comfortable with intraday trades? How long you hold a trade can reveal your appetite for risk. Short-term traders will exit at the first sign of a dip while traders who keep their position for more than a day jump in with a fairly good idea of what to expect from a pair. Then, there are position traders who may hold on to a currency for months or even years. 

Keeping a journal of your holding duration will help you to understand your risk profile. This information can then be used to frame a suitable trading strategy that sits well with your risk level, earning goals and trading style.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Buying a Property – Use up CPF before it vanishes into Retirement Account at 55

SG Wealth Builder is pleased to form a partnership to syndicate articles from iCompareLoan Mortgage Consultants, a research focused independent mortgage broker based in Singapore. I share the same passion with Paul Ho, the editor of iCompareloan. He is passionate about helping people enhance their wealth through financial literacy and in making money work harder for them. We must understand that property can be your key to financial success - but only if you play the game right. To this end, mastery of knowledge is important in building the foundation. So join me in the Property Investment Series and start your wealth building journey as early as possible.

For Singaporeans, reaching 55 years old marks a major milestone from the perspective of personal financial planning.

At 55, you can withdraw a portion of your Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings.

Yes, finally after years of waiting, you can use the money locked up at CPF!

But hang on… before you start planning for your next holiday destination or researching for your second property…reaching 55 does not mean you can simply go to the CPF to withdraw any amount you want.

The CPF, Singapore’s pension scheme, has other plans for your funds.

First, you need to make sure that you have enough savings in your Special Account (SA) and Ordinary Account (OA) to make up the Minimum Sum (MS) of $155,000 in your newly set up Retirement Account (RA).

Sunday, November 9, 2014

What is Return on Invested Capital?

This article was written by Willie Keng and was first published in Value Invest Asia on 17 July 2014.


In a previous article, Stanley explained the Return on Equity (ROE). While the ROE focuses on the equity component of a company’s capital investments, the Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) measures return earned on investments funded by equity and debt.

It shows how much profit a company generates for every dollar of investments it makes in the business. ROIC is expressed as a percentage and shown in the formula below:

Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) = After-tax Operating Income / (Book Value of Invested Capital)
where Invested Capital = Fixed Assets + Current Assets – Current Liabilities – Cash

We can calculate the ROIC using an example from Banyan Tree Holdings’ (SGX: B58) financial statement:
Annual Report (SGD ’000) Fiscal Year 2012
Property, Plant and Equipment 729,558
Current Assets 349,304
Current Liabilities 231,875
Cash 120,824
Invested Capital 726,163

Fiscal Year 2013
Operating Income 51,641
Tax Rate 42%*
After-Tax Operating Income 29,951

Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) 4.1%
*The high tax rate was due to the different geographic segments the company operates in

Based on the calculations above, we note that Banyan Tree generated an ROIC of 4.1% for FY2013. Do note that either an average of the past 2 years or the prior year’s book value of invested capital should be used.

Analyzing a firm’s ROIC is complementary to the ROE because it gives investors an idea whether a company has efficiently utilized both equity and debt financing. A company that generates excess returns over its cost of capital is earning is expected to trade at a premium over a firm which does not earn similar excess returns. An investor can measure how the company has fared over the past 5 to 10 years in its capital utilization and can also compare the ROIC between peer companies to have a better understanding of how each company utilized their capital investments.

Value in Action
ROIC is a good complement to the ROE. The ROIC measures an after-tax operating income of a company given its capital investments in its fixed assets and non-cash working capital (current assets – current liabilities – cash). A company which earns a return above its cost of capital is expected to trade at a premium over a firm which does not earn that same excess returns.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The REIT Association of Singapore

As a financial blogger, I received a lot of media invitations from various financial institutes, banks and companies. Most of the times, I declined the invitations because of work commitments. Recently, I was invited to attend the official launch of REIT Association of Singapore (REITAS) on 17 November 2014. I would like to attend this event to find out more about the role of this association but as usual, I am unable to attend because of work schedule conflicts.

It seems to me that the association consists of big players from Keppel, Mapletree, Capitaland, Frasers and ARA Asset Management and their key thrusts are to engage Monetary Authority of Singapore on regulatory issues and to promote the understanding of REITs. This is a good development because as the industry matures, the association can help to look into areas that can be improved, especially on the structure of REITs. For example, in my previous article on REITs, I don't understand why is there a need for external manager for REITs. Such requirement only incur more costs which would be eventually passed down to investors.

Most retail investors claim they know about the REITs they invested in but I suspected they are none the wiser than me on the business model. I hope the newly-formed association can conduct courses and seminars to promote the understanding of REITs and the risks involved investing in them. This would help to address a lot of myths on REITs and enhance investor's knowledge.

Magically yours,
SG Wealth Builder

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

SmartKarma: Popping the Startup Cherry

SG Wealth Builder was recently approached by Ms Chong Li Ying, who works in SmartKarma. The fintech start up provides a platform that helps clients make intelligent investment decisions through discovery of highly differentiated insight. It also enables people who produce research/insight to collaborate and monetise their work. Below is an article from Ms Chong to illustrate her experiences working in a start up.

We moved into our new office just before the new paint smell wore off. I excitedly emailed a photograph of our new meeting room to my parents, expecting a reply about the dirt-attraction properties of white shelves, or our unusual and possibly headache-inducing wallpaper — laminate that looks like bricks of rock. As always, my father’s brevity and practical-mindedness surprised me. “Very nice. But the chairs look uncomfortable.” He would be pleased to know that no bottoms were harmed in the meetings we have had there since. My father is a Buddhist and his respect for the sanctity of life extended to respect for body parts he feared might not last into his old age.

My parents have always been confused by my career choices, but it was not always thus. I started out promisingly, in the eyes of the parents, as an engineer in a large, established company, and they would proudly distribute my name card to relatives and even to neighbours we bumped into. I don’t think they knew what I did then either, but as part of the holy trinity of careers (Asian edition), the other two being medicine and law, other Asian parents would nod approvingly at my sensible career choice. I later joined a hedge fund and even though I was quickly promoted to Chief Operating Officer (partly to fill in the vacuum left by the previous COO), my parents could see the shiny veneer of their world crumbling. “What do you do? Are you a secretary?” asked my mother, perplexed by what she should tell the neighbours.

Shares Investment Insight: SPH in panic mode and invested $30 million in CoSine Holdings Pte Ltd

In October 2014, when SPH announced a decline of 6.8% in advertising revenues from newspaper and magazine, it was a sign of things to come. After all, the media giant derived the bulk of its income from advertisements and with the proliferation of cheaper and more effective online marketing platforms, they are beginning to feel the heat. In fact, social media and online blogs like SG Wealth Builder are giving SPH a run for their money. This is because with online blogs and websites, clients can market their products and services to the international market. In today's context, the motivation for companies to advertise in Singapore newspapers and magazines is becoming less appealing due to the limited market reach.

Indeed, SPH might have seen this coming many years ago when it invested $18 million in ShareInvestor Holding Pte Ltd. Given the high internet penetration rate in Singapore, it made sense for SPH to make its foray into the digital media and establish revenue from its online media arm. Other notable online investments by SPH included Sgcarmart (bought for $60 million in 2013) and Hardwarezone ($7.1 million in 2006). Apart from these mega acquisitions, SPH had been relatively slow in acquiring new online start-ups. The reason for the inertia could be because of the risk in e-commerce and digital start ups. That is probably why SPH only invested in tried and tested online business models with established track records. But then again, if these companies are already successful, why would they want to be sold off cheaply? To invest in these companies, SPH has to make large amount of investments which could take many years to break even.