Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chaos is a Ladder !

The blogger for SG Wealth Builder, Gerald,  has been very kind to mention me again in a book review :


To help supplement his review, I just want to say that I have not read the book The New Retirementality, it's also not very fair for me to claim credit for practicing the 4 pillars mentioned in Gerald's review. I do not know contextually what Vision, Work, Balance or Successful Aging meant from the author's POV, but judging from the dictionary definition, I actually think I practice none of the above !

This is especially so for successful aging, my biggest weakness. As a person who has serious trouble controlling my blood sugar due to my genes, part of the motivation to quit my day job is to see if I can reduce my need for diabetic medication, otherwise I expect most Type II Diabetics to age faster and have a lifespan 15 years shorter than most of you healthy readers. Maybe the right term for me is Accelerated aging - this is something I'm working on aggressively, reducing my food intake and exercising every other day so that I can live to see my daughter get married. ( Penang White Curry mee does not help ! )

But more importantly, I want to share my approach and philosophy towards Balance and Vision.

I don't subscribe to a balanced lifestyle. Never did, never would. I just think that to have audacious goals, you will need to make the right sacrifices. My financial independence could not have been achieved if not for the 4 years where I did the CFA, FRM and CAIA exams while holding a day job and maintaining all my older IT certifications. The key component is while studying I had to put some theories into practice and my dividends investing strategy originated from a Clifford Asness paper on dividend counters having superior growth rates to non-dividends yielding counters in the Financial Analysts Journal ( which you can get as a CFA associate member ). Prior to the article, I was losing from my investments in value stocks and making only a small profit from unit trusts.

Sacrifice is more important than balance. While my peers are travelling or getting distracted by computer games, I was trying to just increase my knowledge in the hopes that I can find a chink in reality's armor that can be exploited - that takes time, effort and, in these days, proficiency in statistics. I doubt very much has changed in my current life as a JD program pre-matriculant. ( I just hope that my ambition does to push me off the edge and I try to to score a CPA and JD simultaneously. ;) )

The last component I want to talk about is Vision. Some people claim I have vision, which I disagree. Instead, I do read  a lot more than other people. My ideas and take on the future is hardly original but it may come from multiple books on history, economics and technology. This is not a deliberate process, all my knowledge just stews in my brain and ideas then start to pop in my mind.

People who like Vision may see Strategy as  deliberate goal setting and then relentlessly attacking the goal by taking aggressive action. This means having a clear idea of what the end-point of their life means and finding ways to make it work - I admire that. I used to take that approach, but it gets tiring as you get older.

Life does not turn out your way all the time : Some people you meet at work will get that promotion that you desire because they deserve it more. The economic situation can change and make that shoe-box unit buy a bad idea.

Change is the only constant in life.

My life strategy these days is more inspired by Petyr Baelish or Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones.

Petyr Baelish, first made Master of Coin, invested in his network of spies, then created a series of events to bloodlessly capture the Vale of Arryn. Fans who read the book are only guessing what he has planned for Sansa Stark. Tywin Lannister exploited the unravelling of the Stark-Frey alliance to enact the Red Wedding, this is in spite of losing every battle to Robb Stark prior to hatching a plot with the Freys and a the Boltons.

For the folks who read, accumulate capital and network aggressively, you can play by a different set of rules.

Capital creates capital. Perhaps a shift in political situation in Thailand can create a bargain stock in the SGX. Ask yourself how can we exploit a Modi victory in India by making adjustments to your portfolio.

Time is as good as capital. Too much time freed up after leaving the workforce, what if I can invest in gaining legal knowledge to open up new forms of arbitrage involving the prediction of stock price movements on law suit outcomes. Other readers can attempt an MBA. The possibilities are endless.

Life strategy for me today is to sit tight and exploit any situation which arises. Prepare yourself with assets, time and knowledge and some interesting options will unfold itself in time.

After all, chao is a ladder !



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