Sunday, December 01, 2019

Personal Update

Ok, time for a personal update again.

a) My father's matters

I am 95% done with my father's matters. Given the circumstances, getting over the 80% mark within 2 months is a fairly decent record given what I was taught in law school.

When a bank receives notice from a law firm that someone has passed away, the bank account becomes frozen. No withdrawals or deposits are allowed. Incoming CDP dividends will also be prevented from coming in (which is puzzling to me). According to CDP, cheques will be instead be issued under the name of the deceased. A $2 fee will be charged to convert each cheque to that of the trustee of the estate.

As of now, I have yet to receive my first dividends cheque. I do expect a torrent of dividends cheques to come in as early as next week. I would have to collect these cheques and then go to CDP office to get them renamed under me. If more cheques arrive, I may have to make more visits to Buona Vista.

b) Optimizing taxes end-2019

Even though I started earning an income again last year, my income taxes remain a big fat zero thanks to generous deductions for parents in Singapore.

As 2019 comes to an end, my period of paying zero taxes is effectively over.

I've opened a new SRS account and pushed the maximum amount of $15,300 into it. It will be invested in a mix of low yielding growth REITs. I think every reader needs to do this to lock in the SRS withdrawal age at 62 years old, if you delay your SRS withdrawal age may be postponed to 63.

I am not done with this yet. I am trying really hard to squeeze in another $7,000 into my wife's CPF-SA account. How to find that money is a first world problem I gotta solve.

If next year is anything like this year, I may max out my CPF-MA or even incorporate a company to handle my tax matters. Basically, my days of getting maximum GST credits and paying 0 taxes is over.

c) JB visits this year end

Not much luck in this department. I visited Toppen Shopping Centre in JB was quite disappointed that JB malls are now starting to all look alike. That being said, the Popular Bookstores in JB are a lot bigger there.

The project I'm really waiting for is Sunway Big Box. You can read about it here. BooksXcess will open for the first time in JB and it is a throwback to the good old days when I could hang out at Borders close to the Christmas period.

All this being said, we are likely to see peak malls in JB very soon. They look the same and I think they can't all survive on Singaporean financial support alone. Many of these malls will die out and turn into ghost buildings.

d) Leisure and Hobbies

Not much on this front. I refused to go to AFA because there is a huge mob there. I will be trying to get into Singapore Comic Con but I have a class on both days.

Right now I'm trying to see whether I can get back to running D&D games but finding a time slot when everyone is present is quite a pain.

I am binge watching A Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime. It is very depressing to watch this series because it is about the Axis wining World War II. I counteract the depression by watching Singapore Social.

e) What I am reading

As 2019 comes to a close. Magazines will be trying their luck with 2020 predictions. I have read what The Economist has to say and will be processing Bloomberg Business Week next.

f) PhD Ambitions

Life's been good for me so far. My investments are doing well. I completed law school and got myself admitted to the bar. I run a business that was successful on the third month and can say that it's been a superb run in 2019 betting me the highest income I ever earned in my life. And to think that last year I was so worried that I jumped the shark because I failed in making a career switch.

Over the longer term, I need to ask myself how to remain uncomfortable while educating myself and given what I already have, the idea of being a PhD candidate is becoming more attractive to me as I can find a way to sustain my training stint and do some research at the same time. Also having free Bloomberg terminals effectively make every qualification I earn almost free of charge.

But I am concerned that I will become too old to handle the research work. So I will test myself to see whether I can attempt a PhD.

Take a minor bet to see if it leads to anything.

I will read a hardcore text on Quantitative investing, the sort that has more equations than actual market discussions. This should be useful for conducting my course.

Then, I will start all over and pick up a Maths textbook on statistics and probability and attempt the tutorials inside the text. I don't seem to be able to remember the arcane mathematical symbols anymore so I need to get back to the basics. The objective is to be able to crack an introductory text on stochastic processes which is currently too difficult for me.

If I can self-study stochastic processes on my own, maybe I can consider a PhD candidacy in 2021 or beyond. I want my thesis to be consequential for investment managers.

If you, the reader has some suggestions on which text-books I should buy, let me know.


  1. Try Stochastic Calculus for Finance II: Continuous-Time Models by Steven Shreve.

    Getting knowledgeable in stochastic calculus, or programming does not make one a successful quant. Otherwise mathematical professors would be the richest club on earth.

    The effort goes beyond educating oneself, and into generating successful alpha strategies.

    The bleeding edge now is into linguistic portion of detecting nuances in companies management speeches, or of the Feds committee members.

    Computational linguistics could be the next black box.

  2. Where is your book available now if i may ask? cheers.

  3. Apologies, I no longer have copies of my books to sell.

    You can find them in the libraries.