Monday, December 03, 2018

Just completed a full house Retirement MasterClass

I think the best way to learn about investing and finance is not to attend my Early Retirement Masterclass.

The best wat to learn about personal finance and early retirement is to teach my Early Retirement Masterclass. As such, beyond the financial aspect of being a trainer, I can say very frankly that I probably learnt the most from my students.

This time, I had a full-house with 50 pax. The thing about having a large class is that it is actually easier to project your energy when class is going on, but for some strange reason the tiredness kicks in much harder when the class ends. For now, I think that the reason is because I stopped coffee on the course day itself and was going through some withdrawal syndrome. I am writing this blog article because I just had two cups of coffee!

This class is slightly different from Batch 1. Batch 1 has CFAs, wealth managers and even a government regulator.

As I start to refine my marketing message, I realise two things about the kind of folks I am attracting to sign up for my course. A large number of students are engineers like me with many coming from the IT industry. I'm not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing - engineers and IT guys naturally warm up to my quantitative investing style and are much easier to teach, but I would always question whether I my message is getting through to those folks who are not as quantitatively inclined. 

One incident was actually quite funny - A student asked me to reseat a few engineers into her group because she felt she may need more assistance to understand the numbers before class began. I was thinking to myself that this would have been great if engineering undergraduates were equally popular in university campuses two decades ago. In future classes, I will try to detect the CFAs and STEM guys and try to spread them out so that every student can benefit from the team work exercises in class.

Another very interesting observation is the number of students who have an MBTI personality profile of INTJ. My best friends in life are INTJs but I am not an INTJ myself, half of my life as an engineer was spent as an ESTJ but after Law School, my MBTI shifted to ENTJ as I started to get a more strategic perspective in life.

As it turns out, INTJ is possibly the best MBTI profile to have if you wish to FIRE early in life. Many financial bloggers, such as Jacob Lund Fisker, belong to this personality profile. 

I will try to reproduce my letter to this batch of students here. Unfortunately, I can't share details on the co-created portfolio we built together as a class. For this batch, I worked them pretty hard to come up with the portfolio as I will be eating my cooking next week.

< Letter to Batch 2 >

Dear Students of Batch 2,

It’s been a great honour and privilege to be able to conduct a 2-Day Early Retirement Workshop for you. 

One of the repeating themes of this workshop is the mention of Asia Pay TV. I felt a certain closeness to a few students because we’ve all lost a bit of money on that counter.  It is comforting to know that there are folks out there who are sitting on bigger losses than me for this counter.  Interestingly, in Batch 1, the class was asked to extract the fair value of Asia Pay TV as projected by professional analysts and tha price was projected to be $0.35. 

This is an important lesson for not just for the class but for all investors. Creating a strategy purely based on dividend yields is the surest road to personal tragedy. Therefore, no matter how attractive an investment is, try to keep your portfolio well diversified, this means developing a sense of intellectual humility. No matter how good your quantitative models are, you will still end up making a lot of investing mistakes. 

This class has taught me a lot about personal finance. Topping up the CPF-RA to the Enhanced Retirement Sum or 3 times the Basic Retirement Sum is a rare move to increase annuity payments beyond age 65. Healthy and live-lived folks benefit a lot more from annuity payments. I recommend that you do so only if you are in good health and have long-lived ancestors. 

It should also be noted that that during the workshop, too much depends on the outcome of the Trump-XI talks in the G20 summit.  The US and China have agreed to a ceasefire in the trade war which is likely to result in a nice boost to the markets in December 2018.

As of now, I continue to believe  that the markets are entering into contraction in 2019. A ceasefire on tariffs does not signify an end to a trade war. As such,  I continue to adopt  a defensive stance for most investors. 

Finally, I attached our co-created portfolio in Annex A of this message. I look forward to investing $20,000 of my own proceeds into my margin portfolio at a equity multipler of 2. 

It has been fun teaching you guys and co-creating new leverage portfolios together as  a class !

Christopher Ng Wai Chung


  1. Hi Chris,

    I believe that you would have gained valuable insights from these two classes. A different perspective from the classes.


  2. HI Chris,

    Will it be challenging to teach a cohort of financial literate personnel whom are more likely to challenge your assumptions / quantitative methods? There are many routes to investing and some may have strong opinions for / against your quantitative style.

    Be careful with managing your leveraged portfolio and all the best to your investment results. Hope your portfolio will be successful along with your masterclasses for the years ahead!

  3. I don't have so much a problem being challenged because I'm also looking for weaknesses in my own investing style.

    The issue I have is that the challenger is often incoherent and those who prefer a more value oriented style towards investing are also unable to produce an objective basis to support their investment thesis.