Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Early Retirement Masterclass

I teach an Early Retirement Masterclass course. More detailed information can be found here: 

Channel News Asia contacted me last week and asked me whether I would like to write a commentary on whether increased longevity would lead to working for a longer period of time. The result is a commentary on their website that you can access here.

Do note that I'm not exactly a financial consultant. I run workshops for now and I do not deal with buying or selling of any financial product.

Working with Channel News Asia was a breeze. I'd just like to point out something interesting in my original submission which was edited out by Channel News Asia.

In my original submission, I said a few brutally honest soundbites about the insurance industry because I found out that my students for the Early Retirement Masterclass may be over paying for insurance premiums. So in my original commentary, I said that I recommended either going to DIYinsurance.com or an independent financial advisor to get a second opinion. I mentioned that conflicts of interest will exist and so it needs to be dealt with where insurance is being sold by someone who can potentially earn a commission from that sale.

Another interesting edit was my original headline for REITS being a "silver bullet" investment due to its high returns and lower volatility. I totally agree with the editor because the original sounds like financial pornography.

Working with CNA has been fun and I will actually pitch future quantitative investing articles to them before putting it into this blog.

Ok, the next step would be to address the folks who comment on the article on CNA. Here are the comments so far :

a) I paid CNA money to do the article

Actually not only did I not pay to do the article. This project was initiated by CNA staff. Initially, I thought the DR Wealth guys introduced me to CNA but I confirmed that this was not the case.

The CNA guys may have read an article or two from this blog and liked what I have to offer.

b) I am a single with no wife or kids so it is easy to retire

Actually I have been married for over a decade and have a boy and a girl. No one works in my household beyond my freelancing as a trainer.

c) Impossible to get $10,000 dividends a month without a $1 million portfolio

This one is actually quite true. A reasonable portfolio of reits can produce 7% dividends, so $1 million will produce about $70,000 a year. $10,000 a month will require a substantially larger portfolio. I barely get five digits a month because I employ a bit of leverage in my margin accounts.

d) On market crashes

The longest market crash lasts about 700 days in 1998. I survived the 2007 recession by pushing more money into the financial markets allowing me to recover when the markets did.

This next upcoming recession triggered by the US Republicans should be no different. Persistence is key in investing.

e) This approach towards retirement is a gamble.

Too much space has been spent on this blog on addressing whether this approach towards early retirement is actually a gamble. One reader made this assumption without ever thinking about the size of my retirement portfolio.

Retirement feasibility is addressed by computer simulation which is the subject of two of my articles before this one.

f) I am technically not a retiree because I conduct a workshop

One possible argument is that I am not a retiree because I actually run a workshop. In my defence, I work barely 2-3 hours every two weeks to conduct a preview. A workshop occurs once every two months and it lasts 2 days.

I also reinvest proceeds of my workshop fully into a portfolio co-created with my students.

g) I came from a privileged background

This point is fascinating because CNA actually wanted me to address this point when conceptualising the article. A common attack from the public is that I come from a privileged background. Interestingly, at the time of writing, the comments from social media has yet to include this point.

I can't really change my past.

My earliest appearance in the Me and My Money section does contain pictures of me hanging out in my dad's semi-detached house. Even if I built up my retirement portfolio on my own IT salary, unlike many poorer Singaporeans, my parents did not get into my way. So I decided to just let my past be the past and let my approach to retirement speak for itself.

Privilege is a hard criticism to avoid.

The FIRE movement has a couple of academically brilliant ex-scholars who have 1st class degrees. It will always be used by critics one day to show why retirement cannot be achieved by ordinary folks.

As I get more comments throughout the day, I will amend this article to include more rebuttals.

In the meantime, if you are interested in my Early Retirement Masterclass, leave your details here.


  1. Yo Chris!!!
    Edwin here from so many years ago!!!
    I hope you still remember me!!! :-)
    Saw your article on CNA and really want to say hi!!!
    Damn... happy you are doing well.
    I think the last time I bump into you was at Borders where you show me your first book.
    Take care!!
    Catch up soon.

  2. Signaller Edwin ? Friend me on Facebook leh !

  3. Yes yes!!! Signaller Edwin!!
    OMG... we had good times in the past!!!

  4. Hello, thanks for sharing. In the article, you mentioned that most spent too much on insurance premium. Could you share how much is too much?

    Thank you

  5. Let's not share personal data of my students.

    What I do is that I go to Singstat to get data on household expenses broken down into categories. I then get students to come up with weekly expenses report.

    Comparing these figures, two numbers are glaringly big compared to national averages. How much is spent on insurance premiums and the amounts spent on home mortgages.

    I do not give advice on insurance matters, but I do ask them to see if they can get a second opinion from a qualified advisor who is not a commissioned sales agent. I also explain that one option is to refinance their home loans.

  6. Hi Chris,

    I can sense the writing style in CNA does not resemble your style in totality. I guess that this is the trade-off by allowing your write-up to be published on the website. This is subject to editing which will take away some of your style.

    My two cents' worth of view.


  7. Ben,

    Of course, I think if I get more artistic license, more trolls will show up to attack me !


  8. Chris,

    Leave your original style on this blog. There is no need to bother with the trolls' views. Be yourself and it's enough.


  9. Anonymous10:28 AM

    Hi Chris,

    Just wanted to find out how much your workshop costs? Thank you.

  10. As my workshop is only sold via a preview and done alongside my business partner Dr Wealth, I cannot be too direct with my price information.

    All I can share is that it is less than $1,500.

    Apologies for not being able to directly answer your question.

  11. Hi Chris!

    I am unable to make it for the preview for the Masterclass preview due to work commitments. Could I please ask for the details for the next full 2-day workshop? Is going through DrWealth/the preview the only way to register? Thanks very much for your time :)

  12. Dionne,

    The next preview is mid-November.

    Maybe you write to Dr Wealth to register for the course directly.


  13. Regarding insurance, it's basically an expense item. Rule of thumb is that adequate life and medical insurance coverage should not be more than 5% of ur income.

    Obviously this will disqualify BS products like wholelife, endowment, ilp. :)

  14. The FIRE community is fighting a pitched battle against these BS products.

    Unless we get better legislation, things will not likely get better, sadly.

  15. I became a so called Financial Advisor of a Independent Financial Advisory firm when I was asked to leave my corporate job of a global company due to restructuring. To become a Financial Advisor is super easy and I can tell you that most of my colleagues are more salesman than advisor with your interest at heart. One cannot blame them, they depend on the commision for living. The recommendations for insurance and financail investment products are those standard packages recommended by the financial advisory firm or its team leaders. Most of the products are those that give the highest commission to the advisers and the firm. So unless you are paying for the advisory services (not many people willing to do that), the advices you received from a commission-based financial adviser is more for his benefits than yours. My advice for insurance is buy terms insurance (maximum protection for your family) and invest the remainder yourself in market, Reits, ETF and Dividend stock.

  16. Thanks, that is quite an honest comment.