Thursday, February 19, 2015

Some thoughts on career management for the New Year !

Happy new year of the Goat !

Gong Xi Fatt Cai !

The financial bloggers were goading me to write something pretty hardcore about Confucius today, but I decided to hold it off until a few weeks later as I think I've got something better to share today.

As it turns out, I was quite fortunate to be exposed to some ideas when SMU conducted its networking sessions for the folks in the JD Program. My first experience was with a tape recording of Davinder Singh's talk and I benefitted immensely from the only tip I got from him which was to read the Economist.

Last week was my first networking student as a law student. My first networking session was with a law firm called TSMP, a pretty awesome looking setup at 6 Battery Road. Once again I was fortunate enough to be exposed to a very short discussion with their head honcho Thio Shen Yi which was also very insightful and very applicable to folks in other industries.

The idea he shared briefly with Law students is that there generally three kinds of workers :

Grinders - These guys do the heavy lifting and analysis in any organisation.
Minders - These guys handle the grinders and they get them to work towards a common goal.
Finders - These guys are the rainmakers who bring business to the company.

Thio's central idea is that his workers start out as grinders before they are ready to become minders, but the guys who ultimately make partners have to be the kind of the workers who are finders. These people develop the core business and sustain the other workers in the business. Naturally, I asked him how can a minder develope the skills to become finders, to which he said that the trick to becoming a finder is to learn to make friends.

I was reflecting about the usefulness of the Grinder-Finder-Minder model and realise that it's a powerful way to look at anyone's career. It also explains why so many tech workers in their forties start to struggle with maintaining a good career.

Here are some on my insights :

a) Jobs which pay grinders well are rare.

Why does your stupid boss who worked in the mainframe era earn more than you even when you know so much about Ruby on Rails or functional programming ? Good paying jobs for grinders are rare because a grinder can at best be an optimal producer. A good minder who can squeeze 10% more work from his grinders can be worth 10 engineers if he leads a a team of 100 men.

Engineering does not pays grinders well. And unless you work a great MNC or a consulting firm like Accenture, it does not have a structured process to turn you into a minder. This explains why the smartest engineers try to do an MBA as quickly as they can.

Rare exceptions do exists : Specialist doctors like plastic surgeons are highly paid grinders.

b) Most knowledge workers typically start as Grinders but need to evolve to sustain their success.

Successful career management is not about looking at problems at work, which can your minder manager very happy, but to find ways to evolve into a minder role. The technology industry is full of grinder engineers who are very competent with machines and technology and fail to develop the EQ and work coordination skills to move into a supervisory role.

This is the essence of why an engineering career fails - you become so confident in your problem solving skills but lack the communication skills to project confidence and lead a team of grinders.

When you reach your 40s, the massive paradigm shifts in IT makes your grinding skills obsolete, so you either run to the government agencies if you have a decent Honours degree or pick up a taxi license otherwise. This sad career tragedy is played out on all engineers I bet there's one in your family.

c) Being a Minder is unsustainable unless you can transform into a Finder.

While being minder is better than a being a grinder, it comes with many disadvantages too. Management jobs are highly political in nature and you are always fighting for resources. Paradigm shifts are slower but typically result in massive restructuring exercises like IBM's Project Chrome.

Another problem is the isolated nature of a minder's domain expertise. A great manager in an organization has gathered a lot of social capital within one organisation. There is no guarantee that this capital can be retained, when the manager gets promoted, moves to a new department or a new company. Most minders are not particularly mobile in their careers and stuck to the organizations they work for.

Minder managers don't get it easier as well. I've seen so many management career when an executive from a tech firm jump into the government and can't carry their social capital with them and drastically under-perform the folks who have been with the agencies all their lives.

d) Being a finder is a talent and tied to your social economic status

Actually, I would have really appreciated a spirited debate with Thio Shen Yi over this issue.

IMHO, being a finder is not as simple as making friends as described by Shen Yi. It is a complicated talent to be at the right place at the right time. A consummate finder does not need to lift a finger if he has a taste for fine wine, art, and can operate in a network of individuals who may have legal work for him.

This level of ease and cultural sophistication is not cultivated within our school system although SMU's career office tries hard to instil this in its graduates. There is no PSLE subject called Charisma, English Literature may help as an O level subject but it's largely incidental and based on how much you apply yourself. An ACS kid can exude this cultural sophistication even if he gets 25 point for his O levels. A Bukit Batok Secondary school student who has hawker parents will not even know what a Cabernet Savignon even if he gets 6 points.

Making matters harder is that the great schools like ACS, RI and HCI have great alumni movements which dramatically increase the social capital of any knowledge worker.

If I were a business man, I would choose someone from such a network to be my finder to maximise my revenue earning potential. This practically locks B-Graders like me to be at best a Minder even if I work my butt out.

I have a small dream, at least for the industry which I am trying to get into in a few years time.

I think Law School has become so elite that finding someone with no ties to the Raffles, ACS or Chinese High mega-brands is so rare that it may even be possible to start a small association or sub-division for mutual benefit, it would be like a small gathering to just shore up our social capital and find businesses for each other.  ( We'll be like the NTUC Fair Price housebrands who have to fight against P&G and Unilever in the supermarkets everyday ! )

Maybe some of us will get that shot to become a finder.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Dating and Mating strategies for single men !

I finally managed to have a short date with the missus after writing my last article since my daughter had just fallen asleep. When I came back to the console after going for a late night Har Cheong Gai, there seems to be demand for an article for men on Valentine's Day

May God have mercy on your souls !

Initially, I felt that a men's article is unnecessary as I would consider this entire blog advice on how to live life for all men.

The other reason concerns how I feel about the guys in my JD class in SMU which makes a request for advice absurd. While it might sound silly, I have unearthed pseudo-mathematical evidence that the younger guys in my class are Masters of the Universe. 15 years ago, when I was in NUS, I had known girls who come to the Toastmasters to stalk the more eloquent male law students. They would go all the way from the science faculty to ogle at the guy, who is normally an NUS debater or king of the mooting competitions. This guy who was stalked once asked me what to do hoping that some troll would rub off on him, I told him to enjoy it because we engineering students want it but can't get that kind of attention even if we tried.  In conclusion, my classmates, who would likely be worth half a million after 13 of work at a 25% savings rate, don't need my help.

This advice is for the rest of the dudes :

a) Heads you win, tails you also win.

The world of male privilege is very simple. If you get married, congratulations. If you don't, congratulations to you as well.

The malaise of the 21st century is that there are too many sources of entertainment for men starved for sex and self-esteem. For pleasure, you can torrent porn into your system. For accomplishment, you can take out your level 100 Death Knight for a spin and organize a raid where doctors, lawyers, CEOs and high flying professionals may follow your orders to take out the Prince Arthas on WOW.

The only time you might not feel so WIN is when you crave for companionship.

This generally only happens on Valentine's Day.

b) Target 70% percentile in total income before you settle down.

At this stage you might be wondering why I was fixated at 70% percentile or $80,000 a year in annual income. The answer lies in an article I wrote for the Intelligent Singaporean 8 years ago on the night before I went for my ROM.   The article caused quite a stir and prompted some angry lady journalists from the Chinese papers wrote to me to get me to clarify my points.

Basically most women only 30% of the male population good marriage material. Of course, a lot men do get married in the end, but always be reminded that you are a compromise choice. She married you because are a good person who asked her.

The rest of my blog will show you how to generate income towards that end.

c) Go for women who can give you a stable marriage.

As it turns out, Mother nature can be a hypocrite when it comes to relationships.

Stable marriages need conscientious husbands but divorces generally come from neurotic wives. Neurotic women are negative, get anxious over small things and are emotionally of the high maintenance variety. Unfortunately, I suspect that evolution has also made neurotic women hotter because no guy would want them otherwise.

For your parent's and future children's sake, don't do neurotic women. Some possible markers of neuroticism are their propensity towards Goth gear, depressing Evanescence music and black clothing.

Set up a test. Travel with your girlfriend to a third world country and see if she gives you hell in a place without clean toilets or air conditioning. If she does, drop her like a ton of bricks and go back to your Playstation 4.

Your imaginary children will thank you for saving them years of psychological therapy.

d) Take your time and use your age to your advantage

Be thankful that your sperm will stay healthy well into your forties !

Men don't need Apple to freeze their sperm. They just need Google to find more porn.

The lesson for men is that they can wait. Old age and treachery will always triumph against youth and speed. For one thing, you need build up your income to reach 70% percentile, but access to the hotter women comes with higher socio-economic status.

But once again, don't make the mistake Millenials make with their lives.  Do not throw away your twenties, work hard and upgrade continuously and take steps to rise in this world. You can travel round the world in your 40s with your 18 year old wife once you make a million bucks following the advice from the rest of the Singapore Financial blogosphere.

But leave the intellectual masturbation to the 40 year old uncles.

e) Choose your venue with care

My advice for men and women are similar. I think bars and lounges are hot beds for crazy neurotic women to hang out, you are better off finding someone who is into self-improvement and some religious organizations.

Good luck if you go SDN.

f) Guys cannot fail in the relationship game

Personally, I think while marriage and children are great, single men run the risk of divorce, which can be so painful, it makes staying single so much more comfortable.

So what happens if no woman wants to marry you ?

Worst case, you travel to Europe so that you can avoid relatives on CNY. You might be depressed on Valentine's Day. You become a life-time member of the Geylang Community Club.

Of special note is that as single men get older and older, their bitterness grows and cynicism takes root. But that's also not your problem, its the problem of your friends who have to cope with you and self-righteousness. 

As such, unlike women, who have live in a world of glass ceilings and double standards built by men.

Guys cannot lose the relationship game.

Just don't be too fixated with wanting companionship.

Dating and Mating strategies for single women !

First off, happy Valentine's day to everyone.

A lady classmate asked me to do an article which summarises how I view the current dating climate in Singapore. I promised that I will do something to the best of my ability but first off - May God have mercy on her soul !

Some of the ideas I have today are based on how little I know about social science and evolutionary psychology. To temper my propensity to troll, I would have to consider whether this article would be practical if I were to instead give this advice to my daughter. So far, I think it passes that test.

So here are some of my pointers:

a) There aren't a lot of eligible of men to go by.

Men may fail to be marriage material quite easily. A small proportion are not interested in women at all. A larger number are stuck in jail. Even more struggle to support themselves because the world economy is slowly but surely destroying the middle class. Even the category of men who have decent jobs may not marry because technology has provided many alternatives through game consoles and social media.

So the first point is that this is not a good time for an eligible Bachelorette. 

b) Men in the 70th income bracket should be good enough.

I think women are not out to spend men's money. Their men's income is a signal of their own self-worth. It would be hard to justify their boyfriend's salary to their relatives, parents and colleagues, if it is significantly below their own. This is a significant defect in Asian society. Women are not fully liberated yet but they are starting to outperform men in schools and the workplace.  

As my classmate will be a lady lawyer in the future, she would expect a fairly high salary on her own. My concern is that she may reject many men who make less money than she does.

My advice is not to look for a guy who can match her income, but to find someone who can hold his own at 70th percentile on the income scale which is about $80,000 a year. I also think that men at above $80,000 a year can look after themselves and should not have a psychological hangup if their lawyer wives make several times more than they do ( Just go for better holidays lor ! ). 

c) Go for the men who can give you a stable marriage

Personality science has given some pointers on how to choose men for the most stable marriages.

The most important trait if you cannot assess a man's career potential is his conscientiousness. Conscientious men are neat and orderly. They are ambitious, have a set of goals for themselves and can plan for the future. You can see hints on how conscientious a guy is from his icon arrangement on his home PC but you need a certain level of conscientiousness to get into higher education and the highest-paid professional jobs.

The second trait is agreeableness. Whenever possible, go for a guy who is friendly and warm. I know some women find jerks and trolls irresistable, but you should try to avoid men who put you down.

But the economy makes this a difficult bargain - the most financially successful men are conscientious and disagreeable, so good luck sorting this one out as most divorces occur over money issues !

d) Play for keeps while you are young

Despite what feminists say, men remain stubbornly visual creatures. You will need to do something to ensure that you look presentable, but more importantly, as looks depreciate over time, you need to aggressively play for keeps in your twenties and early thirties.

Biologically, it does not make any sense for women to delay marriage if the right guy comes along ( That is, itself, a rare event these days ). Shows like Sex and the City send out the wrong message to women that there is a Mr.Big waiting for time when they hit their 40s. Mr Big will probably go after his hot secretary who is 15 years younger than him.

Worse, there is a train of thought started by Apple that a woman can freeze her eggs to be used the future so that she can work. I would agree that the technology can work, but do ensure that you freeze your appearance as well unless you are only looking for a donor and not anything else.

A Milennial's biggest mistake is thinking that there is a period of their lives in their 20s that they can dedicate for self-reflection and intellectual masturbation. They are wrong - they need to get their career's right, save for retirement and start a family if they can find the right person.

Leave the intellectual masturbation to uncles in their 40s who study in SMU and run financial blogs.

Your time will come later.

e) Choose the venue for your battles

I can't emphasize this more but choosing a venue to find a conscientious and agreeable man can itself be a science rather than an art. I never understood why some folks in my generation think that they can settle down with someone they meet in a discotheque or a bar. These places are not exactly the kind of place you will find guys who are conscientious. And sadly, neither are organized dating events, many guys are there because they lack the conscientiousness in the first place !

In that sense, the ladies in my class have come to the right place. Places of higher learning has plenty of conscientious guys who are out there charting a better future for themselves. I would also like to add that religious organizations are also full of guys who are high on the agreeable scale. 

f) Prepare to fail. And maybe win big as a result of that.

My heart goes out to my lady classmates. I worked with them  and confirm that they are no more neurotic and disagreeable than other women I worked with.

I think female lawyers may face some discrimination in the dating world. Asian men are intimidated by their intelligence and one or two neurotic women may inadvertedly tar the entire profession. So it is entire possible that some professional women may not find the right person in their lifetime which is not their fault.

Maybe that is is why they may have won the game of love. Their married peers have diapers to change and husbands who refuse to share in the house work. They can make their own money and travel several times a year.

At the end of the day, professional women in Singapore have a tough juggling act. Eligible men are getting distracted by technology and find it impractical to start families with so many viable alternatives. Society still have a traditional view on marriage and gender roles in the household while women's incomes and career potential speed ahead as the economy becomes more globalized.

That is why, in the end, with better education and economic prospects, professional women are stuck in the role of being daughters of a better age.

It is so much tougher to be  wives and mothers in this better age as a consequence of this.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Huzzah !!! Time for guys to spend NOTHING on Singaporean women !!!

I would like to build on Budget Babe's very interesting rant on The Real Singapore.

In this very exciting article Budget Babe extends the idea that it is not prudent to for Singaporean men to spend too much money to impress women.

As a financial blogger of the Income Investing school of thought, I want to take Budget babe's ideas further and insist that guys pay NOTHING when dating Singapore women.

Ok... That's not very honest of me... I'm proposing that guys pay nothing out of their salaries on Singapore women because dating can be free if you employ your investing income to pay for all dates, FOREVER !

The current market is pretty conducive to dividends investors, an investor can build a portfolio that has three components :
  • Large Blue-chips like Venture can give about 5-6% yields.
  • REITs like AIMS REIT which can give up to 7-8% yields.
  • Business Trusts one of which can be Rickmers Maritime which can give from 9-11% yields with corresponding risks.
Suppose by selecting equal asset allocations in each category you can create a portfolio which yields 6%-8%. Let's call it your Valentine's Day Portfolio.

Now let's move on to calculate the cost of a simple weekly dinner date :

a) Dinner for two -  $70
b) Movie for two  - $30
b) Transport          - $50
c) Gift                   - $30

A month of dates with different women would cost $720 a month or $8,640 a year.

A portfolio like the one above would cover all dating expenses would need to be $145,000 if you yield 6%

If you are fairly good investor who can stomach bigger risks you only need $108,000 if you yield 8%.

Of course saving enough money to generate this portfolio is not part of this article, there are plenty of bloggers who can show you how to accumulate $100,000 before you hit 30 years old, most fresh graduates who are diligent can do this before 33 years old.

This particular model of employing investments to impress your Singaporean women can lead to some more interesting insights about how single men can plan their love lives better using financial securities and why many men fail.
  • When in your twenties and building your career, you might what to be cheaper or have fewer dates. 
  • Your bargaining position as a good life partner improves after you hit more than $85,000 a year when you hit 70% percentile within the male population.
Another way of looking at the dating game is this : Use Social Science and Evolutionary Psychology to your biggest advantage. When your position is weak, another words, when you are young and struggling in your career, the last thing you should do is to blow your assets on a sweet young thing. All the bargaining chips are in her hands.

The only thing you have at your end of the bargaining table is your small erection.

Build your asset base, start scoping your lady friends to determine who is a good candidate for a life partner - someone agreeable, non-neurotic and conscientious, when you have a more stable career and cash flow, women your age will find that your relative position has risen compared to other males in your age group.

Only then do you make your move.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Downside of financial independence.

Initially, I wanted to put up a piece on who the Child in the Basement really is. I wanted to talk about the problems of trying to frame social ills by telling a story and how it distorts the issue for everyone, Then I became so tired that perhaps I should blog about something much simpler that more people can relate to.

So this will be short post.

A lot of people speculate about what happens when someone reaches financial independence.

Does the person turn good and end up doing a lot of charity work ? Or does the person turn and start bullying other people with their new-found freedom ?

Increasingly based on what I've observed, it is none of the above.

Financial Freedom takes away all pretense of who a person is.

In the past someone may have to get up early and show up at work on time. Once they get cash-flow every month, there will no longer be a need to hold a job. Similarly, a financially free person may not be all that reliant on the people around them because free-markets will now be responsible for putting food on the table, so expect many folks to become more anti-social.

There is definitely a good reason to conclude that all financial freedom does is remove the mask that we put on to cope with the challenges society throws at us everyday, the net effect is that your life after reaching your financial target will reflect who you really are in essence. In my case, I always wanted to recapture my happy days  in NUS when I was an undergraduate. It therefore comes with no surprise that I am once again back in school.

That being said, I am slowly learning that have a cash-flow may not work out for everyone.

Some people can be by nature lazy and lethargic. Others are anti-intellectual. A steady cash-flow will kill off every motivation to improve themselves and cripple their ability to ultimately find happiness in life.

As it turns out that beyond pleasure, happiness is a sum of person's relationships, accomplishments, ability to attain flow and how meaningful their life is. Without a job, goals, motivation or need to interact with people, financial freedom will sound their death knell and they soon find themselves in a limbo.

I've read a lot of books on self-help and personal development and as much as I know, I could not find a cure for someone who sets a low standard for their own lives.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What are the first principles in Investing ?

The awesome thing about the finance blogosphere in Singapore is that bloggers can build on each other's ideas.

BigFatPurse has put up a really good article on first principles and why it can often be better than just employing analogies. 

While it does not apply to every domain I know, analogies are not particularly good in investing. Many investors like to talk about Warren Buffett but forget that he can takeover entire companies and fire managers which destroy value, this has the effect of unlocking value from the stocks that he buys.

Retail investors like us will not be that lucky. A value stock can be undervalued for decades tying our money down for years before they can be put to better use elsewhere.

Of course the other problem of analogizing success is that we often come across successful relatives who brag about their investments becoming multi-baggers. This is a terrible fallacy which is often committed after Chinese New Year - If a cousin or uncle sports a fine piece of luxury watch or drives a Maserati, we automatically think that we can copy what they are trying to do. There is no framework which guides how we look at finances.

While I do not have the answers as to what all the First Principles of Investing are, I can share what can be conveniently written in one blog article.

a) Compounding is greatest thing known to mankind.

The first principle is simply that compounding allows you to create wealth exponentially. The theory is obvious even though the practice is not. If compounding is the 8th Wonder of the world, the savings you make in your 20s are a whole lot more important than the savings you make in your 40s, so why are so many young Singaporeans fabulous and broke ?

Similarly, return of 8% are astronomical compared with returns of 6%.

b) Your profits are your raw returns from your investments minus costs.

Another obvious theory which is seldom seen in practice. If profits are raw returns minus costs, you should be aggressively managing your investment costs by pruning out investment vehicles which pay too large a commission to the salesman or fund manager.

The superiority of ETFs over actively managed funds over the long term should be something to concerned about. You should be trimming your personal expenses as well, if only to channel more money into your savings.

c) Asset allocation can be a free lunch if you re-balance your portfolio.

This is more complicated. Asset classes do not move in tandem and complicated mathematics shows that by mixing up these key asset classes, you can improve your risk-adjusted returns. Another words, diversify your investments to cover different market situations. Buy a mix of equities ( STI ETF), bonds ( CPF-SA ) and commodities ( Commodity ETF from SGX ).

Rebalance your asset mix every year. Your human capital or unearned income is also an asset and should taken into consideration.

d) Performance of an asset class is a question of statistics and probability.

Generally speaking the best asset class over the long term are equities with a return 8% and a standard deviation of about 20%. While proponents can argue about the fallacious assumption about markets being normally distributed. We know with a simple understanding of statistics that promising returns over 7% a risky proposition for anyone selling an investment product. This allows an investor to immediately filter out deals which guarantee 12% a year - the deal is too good to be true.

In summary, there is a broader reason why we need to turn to first principles instead of merely analogizing from the investment success of others. First principles sets the boundaries between common sense and salesman bullshit, allowing you to avoid paying hefty commission and scams. With the right foundation, a person can craft a plan to make his first million without looking for a guru or role-model.

An obstacle towards understanding these first principle is that the study of finance is inherently difficult which costs may years of a person's life. It is difficult to get started in investing using first principles without a strong grounding in statistics, economics and accounting.

Which alludes to an bigger question : Is theory that worthless in a society that is now trying to turn to competence and skill ?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

For hands of gold are always cold...

Sometimes you wish that some classroom would erupt into full-scale political war. This almost happened the other day in class when we were discussing about the removal of juries in our legal system. A faction in class feels that the population is educated enough to being juries back but another feels that it is more efficacious to leave decisions regarding the facts of the case to the judges.

I have very civil classmates and the discussion ended pretty quickly, had this been other students, the discussion could have turned ugly very quickly. In an alternative universe, this would have become an opportunity to bitch about the strongman politics in the 1960s and some progressive will hijack the discussion to talk about human rights.

What is not obvious to most people observing this exchange is that underlying this discussion is that a specific ideology may have infected Singaporeans which go beyond their support for the PAP or the Opposition - The idea of Plato's Republic that there are Men of Gold, Silver, Bronze or even Lead. Our Administrative service is full of Oxford PPEs, living Philosopher Kings who determine national policy for the best of the country - readers do note that these super-scalar public servants cannot be voted out in 2016 no matter who you vote for. 

The abolition of the jury is just a small symptom of the underlying root cause. There is a notion that a judge, person of higher learning, is more capable of cutting through the rhetoric to dispense judgement in Singapore. This arose from the belief that there is someone more eminently qualified, or even better than a different class of persons.

This does end with the courts.

Opposition supporters, while upset with the PAP's elitism, are visibly impressed when Chen Show Mao has joined the cause of WP.

Some very silly Singaporeans abdicate the management of their finances to the so called Financial Advisors.

For now i would like to just like to invite the reader to see where they stand on this idea.

Strong-form of the theory

The strong form of theory is that not only are there men of gold, silver or bronze, children of parents of gold are also people of gold. This is the eugenics argument and part of the reason why many civil activists fought off the graduate women's policy which was implemented in the 80s ( Progressive are unlikely to give that hat tip to Vivian balakrishnan for fighting the good fight right ? ).

While this idea might seem repugnant to most readers, social science has lent support to the argument. In the US, assortative mating is now the root cause of income inequality with a whole lot of social advantages going to the children with graduate parents. Go read this week's Economist for more details.
Semi-strong form of the theory

The semi-strong form of the theory has more adherents. It is the idea that there are men of gold, silver and bronze but it is not an in-born trait. You can rise to your position based on your own talents and life is not an ovarian lottery.

This is an attractive idea for progressive change, but sadly this has less support in social science. You need to retool  and engineer society to make this a reality. This starts with more tax payer money to the poor and socially disadvantaged.

Weak form of the theory

The weak form of the theory would appeal to hipsters and art history majors. Whether a person is a man of gold, silver or bronze is contextual. A person can a man of gold if he chooses the right vocation and is put into the right situation.

This theory can be logical and I can imagine a lot of coherent arguements for it, but I fail to see what kind of consequences can arise from this belief. Since everything is contextual, do we leave things as status quo?

Fuck the theory

Some anarchists or communists will decide to simply fuck the theory. There are no philosopher kings, men of gold, silver or bronze, just human beings.

I can see the attraction of this stand as no one wants to be labelled a man of lead, the best way is to dispense with the labels. Problems might arise during CNY when your relatives start to label every cousin and nephew based on their income or academic performance.

As for my personal belief, I think that science does support Lee Kuan Yew and the strong form of this belief. But humanity should aspire toward a society that is semi-strong. If a clever kid did not choose rich parents, we need to elevate him to a leader, so tax payers must be prepared to pay to ensure that his disadvantage is reduced.

I am less supportive of the weak form of the theory because there are traits like conscientiousness which create all-round good outcomes for folks with such traits throughout his/her life so "better" people do exist ( try working with a flake if you do not believe me ) . 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Which periodicals do you read ?

Just a short article today, it's been kind of frustrating that I have to rush my readings tonight for tomorrow's lesson, I was not aware of the readings until this afternoon and I am not the kind of guy to do work last minute.

Just want to share the periodicals I currently read :

a) Business Times and the Edge.

Local investors should do their best to read these two periodicals on the local market scene.

Having no money to invest for about 10 more months makes reading this no longer mandatory. I continue to read the Edge to track my current investments, sometimes a very in depth article appears and it allows me to decide whether to keep a stock holding. Given that most of my stocks are high yield, I generally try to ride out a rough patch rather than sell my holdings.

Currently, I read the Edge every Friday and pick up BT for the Saturday issue because of it's Leisure section which is quite fun to read.

b) The Economist

For years, I was unable to have a breakthrough with the Economist. It was a magazine I admired and the folks who read it on a regular basis always seemed to have a lot of substance.

But I always found the Economist to be very dry and struggle intellectually with the articles. Finance class only helped me cope with the Schumpeter section but I still skip anything on Africa and South America. ( Does a REIT investor in Singapore give a shit about Robert Mugabe ? )

If the Harvard Business Review could be such a compelling read, why is the Economist so boring ?

These days, I look forward to my copy of the Economist as it summarizes the big news of the week and it's analysis is incisive as ever. Compared to my legal case readings, The Economist is as exciting as a fantasy novel involving Driz'zt, Elminster and a neo-Otyugh in BDSM action ( In the case of the Schumpeter articles, with Elminster wearing only diapers).

Of course my rationale for my new found obsession with the Economist is that it is the preferred writing style of the folks who mark my essays.

c) Financial Analyst Journal and CAIA Journal of Alternative Investments

The biggest reason why I kept paying my CFA and CAIA  membership dues is that it comes with the Journals on investing. The papers are fairly hardcore but I was able to dive deep into various new age investment strategies. (  latest being a treatise on covered call strategies. )

This is really an extension of my CFA studies and my independent has kept me updated with techniques like fundamental indexation and synthetic annuities after all these years after leaving finance school.

Just don't ask me why I can handle FAJ but not the Economist.

d) Special Mention : Malaysia Edition of Personal Money

There used to be a reason for me to go to City Square Johor Bahru every month.

Sadly, Personal Money, a periodical from the same team who brought us the Malaysian Edge, has been discontinued. I was a quite a big fan because of the human element of the magazine.

There is a certain quality of a Malaysian financial periodical which treats their readers as ordinary human beings. Personal Money had articles on hipster cafes, cheap gadgets and Chinese Astrology whereas the Edge Singapore views investors as the regular Singapore Tatler types who are only into expensive watches and fountain pens. It is dehumanizing to think that investors only eat at restaurants which charge $300 per pop.

If anything,take this as an appeal from me - At the end of the day, no matter how numerical or analytical  we are, we are ultimately human beings.

Investors do not exist so that you can rub into our faces the Ferraris, Michelin 3-star meals and Mont-Blanc pens. I'm fairly immune to envy but I am aware that this lifestyle proposed probably prevents many of us from building a decent portfolio in the first place.

The state of local finance periodicals is currently just that - hardcore analysis and then pages and pages of horological pieces which costs more than stocks which was just analyzed.