Monday, March 29, 2021

Insights from Gen Z lingo


Every generation has its own lingo that reflects what matters to them. Today I will be sharing three really amazing words/phrases I picked up from hanging around younger colleagues and influencers and why older folks should add them into their vocabulary. 

As I have also finished The WEIRDest people in the world by Joseph Henrich, a masterpiece in the evolution of Western societies, I will attempt to interpret these Gen Z ideas in a novel way. The book was a tough read and took me more than a week to cover. It felt like reading a piece of work by Thomas Piketty. Maybe one day I will flesh the book out in a more amateur review.   

Here's what I learnt from my younger friends :

a) Flex

When people say that you are "flexing", what they are saying is that you are showing off your brand and wealth. For young people, there exists a flex culture. Some FAs who earn a lot of commissions may drive a flashy European car. Other young men may buy sneakers that are now collector's items. Of course in financial groups and forums, flex culture is currently experiencing a backlash because everyone hates a showoff.

I have bad news for Gen Z - humanity has been flexing for thousands of years. The correct anthropological term is potlatch - where leaders flex their power by destroying their wealth and gift-giving.  

One way of framing flex culture is that they are largely perpetrated by younger males who are seeking attention from females. When a young male buys a European car, in essence, he is playing the script of a male peacock, displaying his wonderful feathers to attract a mate. As peacocks can attest, there is an evolutionary price to having such a beautiful plumage. It is easier for predators to eat them. In similar vein, it is also easier for speeding European cars to smash into buildings resulting in great tragedies.

b) Simp

If you are very attentive and submissive to women, gen Z will label you a Simp. It's quite nice already considering that liberal men are called cucks in the US. Some guys are really nice and will go quite far for a Beautiful lady. I'm sort of sympathetic because my generation has its own SNAGs or Sensitive New Age Guys.

If you can't flex, maybe you can simp. 

Human societies got out of polygamous relationships only after intervention by Churches so for the broad part of human history, powerful men have multiple wives. It's worse for us Han Chinese as Polygamy only was banished by the Communist Party only in the 1950s, so we're still playing an ancient script when it came to dating and mating. 

Polygamy created a lot of social instability as 70-80% of men, naturally would not have sexual access throughout their lives. For men to spread their genes, they either had to signal more power wealth or signal willingness to share this wealth. 70-80% of men fail to spread their genes under the old system.

This maps exactly to the Flex or Simp strategies.

c) You do you

When I was young, I did not have enough wealth to Flex. I also refuse to Simp. Many guys, however can't decide and want to know which strategy to employ.

One of best lingos I picked up from Gen Z can be applied when a guy asks for dating advice, but you know will devolve into a basic Flex/Simp script depending on where he is in terms of economic resources. 

The solution is to just reply with "You do You." 

"You do you" can affirm someone's action if it is something that they genuinely believe in. It can also dismiss "askholes" - those folks who seek your advice but will not follow it anyway.

Example #1

"Dude, should I buy an Audi so I can park tor with my girlfriend in Labrador park ?"

"You do you, man  !"

Example #2

"Dude, I bought $100k of binary options on Dogecoin after applying for a home equity loan. What do you think ?" 

"Cool ! You do you !"

I love the idea that different generations have their own lingo. 

If you spot a mistake and I misrepresented the application of these terms, do let me know. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

How deep tech skills can become irrelevant in the working world

In a chat with Gen X IT uncles, an ex-colleague had a grand theory. His hypothesis was that all the director-level IT guys he knows relied upon the coat-tails of another senior manager to climb up the career ladder. In fact, he asserts that skills don't really matter. So it's not what you know but who you know.

As we had the same colleagues in two US MNCs, I thought his observations are not too bad, but they can't be applied to all cases. The folks who are now directors in my generation cannot possibly be incompetents, they had some basic level of skill to supplement their political savvy.

From the last post, I sensed that younger tech workers largely disagreed with my analysis but the older guys agreed with my enlightened position on dealing with CECA and career obsolescence. 

But I need to make a clarification.

In this current economy, by all means, develop your technical skills. Computer Science graduates command the highest pay and employment rate in employment surveys and I do envy the jobs, my money-making buddies, Evan Koh of Stocks Cafe and Ivan Fok of Pyinvesting have. They are not just financially rewarding, but they involve a lot of data science and software development and involve negligible office politics. I was never to do work like this until I became self-employed and could build up my own web app development for my students. In the good old days, SGX staff would call me into a room to bash me for all sorts of horrible things my engineers did, and they did horrible things - like trip on a UNIX server power cable and halt trading in financial markets for half a day!

In my last meeting with Evan Koh, he said something really insightful about AI and software development. He actually felt that getting into the deeper end of AI ( tensors, back-propagation, neural network activation styles which I still struggle with ) may not be necessary for a future career because neural networks may be "pre-tuned" by someone else ( I suspect another AI ), many professional jobs should focus on practical application instead.

So here's my position :

  • As it stands, the economy does reward workers for having deep knowledge of tech. This is undeniable and developing it will give you a very high income without long and painful working hours. If you can do it, just do it.
  • However, tech workers should not think that it is your intelligence and skills that will carry you moving forward. Your rising star is similar to lawyers in the 90s - 00s. There was a supply-demand mismatch. If you look at the hordes of law students returning from England and Australia, even having a Guild to protect their interests now would still mean slowly declining salaries over time. 
  • You have to do a thought experiment - what happens if thousands of engineers descend into Singapore from India, Eastern Europe and China who can do your work for $2,000 a month. Are you still worth $8k-$14k? 
  • The tech dividend was paid out because of a political process that gave Aljunied and Seng Kang to the Worker's Party in 2011 and 2020. This constrains the ruling government from opening a CECA floodgate and benefitting the employer instead. The government's utilitarian calculus will always be that cheap engineers make Singapore competitive. Engineers must lose for everyone else to win. They'll do it until the MRTs break-down. Gen Y does not understand this, but Gen X does. Your money comes from disgruntled voters. 
  • You don't have to wait for CECA II to be signed to panic. You can chew gum and walk at the same time. While building your top-flight tech skills will take time, also build a financial portfolio with a focus on what happens when more foreign workers do arrive, even if it just to train us to be better engineers. Some argue that Silicon Vally landlords made more money than software developers during the boom. 
  • Even if you decide to do more tech, I see some developments that may shift the paradigm so abruptly, you can become obsolete overnight. In this regard, it may be safe to read up on Quantum Computing and understand its implications today. Evan explained this elegantly to me - an Algorithm that runs slowly with O(2^n) may become blazingly fast at O(n).
Before I end, I like to categorically say that I am not against CECA. 

In fact, I am for these floodgates to open via some new CECA, but my reason is that I have devoted the greater part of my life building a portfolio to benefit from that when my colleagues are looking for a pillar of support or patron to become directors in tech firms. 

I don't expect most Singaporeans to agree with me on this. I acknowledge that more competition and innovation is good for the overall economy and investments. But career dislocation in middle age is painful - I had a European IT colleague commit suicide after his contract was not renewed. 

[ Just for fun here's the list of IT certifications I held in my previous life: MCSE, MCSE-W2k, MCSD .NET, SCJP, LPIC-1, CCNA, CCDA, CISA, CGEIT, CISSP, PMP, Novell CNA, TOGAF, HP-UX Admin, AS400 admin ]

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Brutal lessons from the Gen X experience in the Technology sector

Recently, there have been many articles in mainstream media that celebrate women in Tech. If you examine closely at the career profiles of Gen X women making it big in Tech today, you will find that most of these profiles are those belonging to successful saleswomen with degrees or diploma in business, hardly the knowledge workers that are facing a shortfall today. While we should celebrate inroads made by women in Tech, much less is said about Gen X men in Tech who are driving Grab, selling insurance or hawking real estate today- often doing so because they were retrenched by management decisions made by the top directors who used to have a sales role in those Tech firms. 

Contrast this against news on graduate surveys that show Technology degrees riding high with record starting salaries and almost perfect employment numbers within 6 months upon graduation.

I think the mistakes of Gen X tech graduates should be a cautionary note to millennials and Gen Z riding high today.

Successful career outcomes for a generation is not the result of meritocracy or talent. 

A prominent NUS Computing professor openly scorns the engineers of my generation for taking up project management roles and exhorts his students to level up their skills to take on more difficult technical problems. He ignores the fact that many engineers actually prefer solving technical problems and took on project management roles when the government signed agreements to open the floodgates to foreign engineers and diluted the earnings of professionals to stuck onto technical roles. This was years before companies realised that they may need a dual-track to manage technology roles to retain and nurture tech talent.  

Eventually, it took the fall of the ruling party in  Aljunied in 2011 and Seng Kang in 2020 to create such wonderful numbers for Computer Scientists today. My opinion is that the professor overvalued skills and talent when it was politics that saved the day for technologists of this generation.  

Gen Y and Millenials need to reflect upon the failures of Gen X. While you are having the time of your lives drawing $8,000+ starting salaries, maybe you should observe to see whether you can find 40-something colleagues in your offices. If not, you need to start having some plans before you hit your 40s, maybe you, too, would mysteriously disappear from the workplace. 

I have a strong conviction that levelling up your skills will not work and I don't care if the person who disagrees with me was a GEP alumnus. If the pendulum swings the other way one day, and Singapore opens the floodgates again, you can get top software engineers here at Fine Arts graduate prices. 

You might even rue the day that you did not read Philosophy instead!

The solution is to adopt the Stoic position - just believe that the party will end one day and subsequent flooding will take place again once the ruling government collects more political capital. 

If a sequel to CECA gets signed tomorrow, what will you do?

Here are some possible remedies for technology professionals in the future :

a) Join the sales or business development team

If you can't beat them, join them.

If there is anything these successful executives can teach us, it's that pivoting to sales or business development can help. Sales roles are not for everyone, but an engineer can pivot into sales engineering before getting an accounts management role. Of course, guys can't really pull a Cecilia Sue while doing sales, but a technical background can ease the main concerns of the customer and someone else can be *ahem* hired for the Cecilia Sue role.

b) Emigrate to a place where you will be more valued for your skills

When the well began to dry up in Singapore after 2005 when CECA was signed, a number of my friends in Tech emigrated and left Singapore for good. I know of one who was retrenched and found himself in Canada and about two who could not get an account management role locally left for Australia. 

This is a good solution because Singaporeans are generally welcomed in many places and that the country you go to may protect their local workers more putting you in a better position when you become a local there. 

c) Position yourself financially to benefit from the floodgate of talent entering our shores

This is obviously my favourite solution since it was what allowed me to thrive post-2005.

If you read CECA, the terms are not unanimously disadvantageous to us, our banks have ready access to emerging markets so investing in banks would be a good idea. It comes as no surprise that my backtests have shown outperformance from the STI for the past decade as DBS extends its reach in India.

When you read about the transformation of Silicon Valley, you might think that the engineers made a lot of money from stock options. But it was the landlords who ultimately got richer who rented their rooms to software developers coming in from other states.

Similarly, while CECA may not be great for local technology professionals, it was fantastic for investors who bought real estate property in Singapore.

It should come as no surprise that I like (c) the most. 

I'm not a people person so I may be too disagreeable to be in a sales role. As an only child, I can't just walk away from living with my parents. So in my view, positioning my investments to benefit from immigration is the best defence against a second CECA. If a foreign expert will be renting your premises and paying you a fee every month to be here, it becomes really impossible to be xenophobe. If anything, landlords may even want a new CECA signed immediately with China or some African states tomorrow. 

We can own shares in the Development Bank of Africa!



Sunday, March 21, 2021

Channel your "arts brain" for more financial security

An acquaintance was recently outed by Rice Media and Chinese mainstream newspapers as running a vending machine business which led to many unhappy franchisees. You can read the details here.

When I saw the article, I had a short private correspondence with a friend who is a thought leader in Singaporean linguistics and a poet and found that he was also being sold aggressively by our mutual acquaintance. My poet friend said something interesting - he said that he never bought into those schemes because of his "arts brain". Making a living in the Arts constrained him into living life with a level-headed philosophy so he was less vulnerable to get rich quick schemes. 

There are too many ways to deconstruct what an "arts brain" really means when it comes to financial savvy. My educated guess (with my very-limited  "STEM brain") is that living in the arts and cultural realm often means being more prepared for leaner times and being compared against wealthier counterparts in banking, so I guess what emerges from many years of arts and cultural practice is strong resistance to envy and a large reservoir of mental resilience. This mental reserve can be useful in avoiding scams.

This is something folks who are not the Arts should do their best to cultivate. In the investment realm, the challenge for most of us is to ignore the news of folks making it in big in the latest fad of the day. 

( Yesterday it was DeFI, today it is NFTs )

Two examples in literary works contain financial lessons that may be worth more than 10,000 hamburger meals in MacDonalds with your commissioned financial advisor. 

a) Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice understood a man's worth in passive income 

Folks who keep getting ghosted on Tinder would know that classical literary works show that making a demeaning remark to a woman will still allow you to win her over in the end. That is exactly what happened between Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. But negging may not be enough...

What is less prominently mentioned in the English Literature study notes is that Mr Darcy derives passive income from his ownership of Pemberly estate, a large estate in Derbyshire England. His passive income, by modern standards, is a pathetic £10,000. Sources on the web translate this to $13M a year! 

Are Pride and Prejudice also the reason why modern men love negging women? I think its almost the same as the Mr Darcy manoeuvre but without the dividends to back up the negging. 

( Incidentally, Pride and Prejudice was the first book I was forced to read as part of some Primary School English reading exercise when I was in Pri 4. )

b) Terry Pratchett's Captain Sam Vimes's Boots theory 

I don't really care that Terry Pratchett is not part of any English Literature syllabus. His works are relevant to the modern world and his observations of human nature are super sharp. 

Captain Sam Vimes is a recurring character in his series on the city of Ankh-Morpork and first showed up in his cop-dramedy series which began with Guards! Guards! One of Captain's most astute observations is celebrated in many financial blogs.

The theory is that what differentiates the rich and the poor is this - The poor need to pay $10 for a pair of boots that spoil easily and needs to be replaced very quickly. The rich, however, can pay $500 for a pair of boots that can last them for life. Over a long period of time, the rich pay far less for boots than the poor. 

As I built up more and more passive income, I started to adopt Sam Vime's theory when it came to using technology even though I'm still a cheapskate when it comes to clothes. 

I find it really hard to leave the Apple ecosystem for my tablets. (I'm still on a 1st generation iPad Pro and it's still getting OS updates !) I also use a Google Pixel phone for at least 4 years before upgrading it to the latest and greatest of that time. Even my laptop is a high-end Microsoft Surface Pro2 that's almost $4,000 a unit.

Hopefully, the pandemic will create a new kind of artist. It was rough being labelled irrelevant, experience revenue and job loss, and then have their religious shrines like the Substation cruelly taken away from them. 

Some will whine and bitch and get upset that the Government don't sayang them. 

But pay attention to those artists that survive or even thrived amidst the pandemic. 

They can teach a lesson or two to the most astute investors. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Career advice for civil service farmers


I'm fairly used to getting questions I'm totally unqualified to answer during course previews. 

Last night, after hearing my story on how I performed a career-limiting manoeuvre in the public sector, someone asked me to give him advice on whether he should join the government in spite of not being a scholar. I think there are a lot of successful officers who are non-scholars who are in a better position to answer the question, but I try my best in every Q&A. 

I told him that the advice I failed to follow from my government senpais, which is this very simple act.

The secret to succeeding in government work for non-scholars is to swallow.

Swallow what, you might ask? Swallow your pride. Accept that the best assignments will be given to those with the highest CEP. Some officers will be blue-eyed boys. Those who swallow can expect generous bonuses and a better work-life balance than the private sector. I failed because I refuse to swallow.

That's a simple answer that might earn me a "B" in SMU Law School.

For an "A" answer, I would recommend Lim Hwee Hwa's Government in Business which explains painstakingly why private and public sector work is very different and why some of the best attitudes in the private sector will never translate to government work. If I read it before I took the leap, I may not have left the private sector. This would have saved me a lot of pain. 

My favourite idea is Lim Hwee Hwa's assertion that innovation is all about exploiting the lacuna of the law. Grab is essentially exploiting the fact that you can get an army of contactor drivers without trying to give them the perks of employees, resulting in a more competitive company. Here's another example - what is an ICO but an attempt to avoid prospectus requirements?

Here's the rub. If you want to exploit the lacuna of the law, there is a lot of money that will follow you to the ends of the earth. VCs have a lot of liquidity and they want to be onboard your innovation train. 

But if you are on the opposite end and functioning as a regulator, you will scant support from the tax-payer to plug these loopholes. Guys like me spend weeks using every tax-deductible there is to reduce the money I give to my former bosses, why should I pay top dollar to someone who would plug my next big innovative idea?

So no matter how good a government is, the government will lag the private sector and is perpetually in the process of playing catch up. In fact, if the government needs to compete for top talent to plug up these regulatory lacunae, they need to get the best brains (scholars) to predict where future regulatory challenges are, possibly bonding the scholars, giving them a high CEP and, hopefully, ruining their ability to join the private sector after they become really good at what they do. 

It is quite clear that Lim Hwee Hwa is not using this book to explain why she lost the 2011 elections in Aljunied. I find her examples very clear and she does not apologise for some of the more dramatic failures when private-public sector cooperation failed (particularly in SMRT). In her defence, the opposition parties who clamoured for SMRT to be nationalised after 2011 did not make any noise when PWD was privatised to become a leaner CPG years ago. Sadly, every good government would need to keep eliminating pockets of inefficiency by privatization every now and then. This ensures the best services for the people. 

There are some insights I picked up from the book. At the end of the day, term limits before an election drastically reduce the ability for governments to make tough decisions that pay off over the long-term for the people. In this case, the median voter theory is incomplete. The median voter today may contradict the median voter tomorrow. 

When Low Thia Khiang invited me to join the Workers party more than a decade ago, I told him that I want to be a man of economic means and not political means. Money managed well is a power source of its own. 

I think I made the right choice. 

If I have a time machine, I will tell my younger self not to leave the private sector. Just stay on, and get retrenched when it happens, and go start a business if necessary. My personality is to RED to play catch-up with the private sector - I should be leading the disruption instead. 

If I won't touch a China SOE with a ten-foot pole, I should never have entertained joining a statutory board. 

Those entertaining a stint in the government should put this on your reading list. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Is love a concept invented by losers ? Now 80% of men are not marriage material !

I continue to be haunted by the ghosts of the past. 

During the interview with MissFITFI, she mentioned the article I wrote in 2007 about why 70% of men are not marriage material. This article was dated 1st July 2007, which was the day I went to ROM. It sparked so much controversy that I was questioned by journalists on the Chinese press. In those days, evolutionary psychology has not become popular yet and I was quite proud of my thought leadership regarding that topic 14 years ago. Now we have a lot of experts who use it to provide advice for men i.e Jordan Peterson.  

We will never know whether psychological research conforms to real life. The field has been known to be plagued by problems of replicability. Nevertheless, my assessment is that situation has possibly gone worse. My cousin was forwarding me some discussion about Sugar Baby websites in Malaysia and I reproduce some snippets here :

First, we have a 2015 study on Tinder with regards to how the men and women were liking each other's profiles to determine the dating economy. 

"It was determined that the bottom 80% of men (in terms of attractiveness) are competing for the bottom 22% of women and the top 78% of women are competing for the top 20% of men." (1) "

The introduction of dating platforms like Tinder and Sugarbook have the effect of commoditizing relationships and we're starting to see a shift towards the Pareto principle or 80/20 rule as markets become more efficient. So it comes as no surprise to see that the top 78% of women are competing for just 20% of men.

Unfortunately, I don't have access to where this research on Tinder comes from, but the idea that only 20% of men are marriage material can have a huge impact on income requirements to be eligible for marriage for dudes who do not look like a BTS band member.

The median income for a Singaporean worker is about $4,534 in 2020. Household income at 71st-80th percentile is approximately double that of household income at 41th-50th percentile. So if we can estimate the monthly threshold of a guy who is marriage material, it would be in the region of $9,068!

Commoditization of relationships would ultimately be damaging to single men. 

Imagine you are a single guy on campus with no income and some vague notion of your earning potential based on salary data of university degrees and our thought experiment supposes we normalise dating websites like Sugarbook. If a female undergrad knows that she can fetch a tidy sum from a dating app, why would she consider spending time on you when there are wealthier men who are willing to pay a fee for her company?

This can have damaging consequences for the emotional development of single men. For one thing, the campus will not be a training ground to learn how to relate to women emotionally. If they are lucky, maybe they will get to work on a few academic projects with women. 

(Good luck my juniors in engineering school!)

Many of them will join the working world with a lot of bitterness and will aggressively climb the corporate ladder so that they can get a Sugar Baby of their own. Of course, given that our Women's Charter will not allow men to take on more than one wife, so these women in commodified relationships may find themselves sidelined as they lose their physical beauty. 

But there is good news.

We're probably not at this extreme state of commodified relationships in Singapore yet because women do look at men holistically and many have a high degree of financial independence. But I think Singaporean men live in a precarious state with huge questions about industrial relevance and stable employment. If you want a guy to settle down, he needs a good stable job.

This may the real reason why I tell guys to emphasize pay over passion when choosing their first degree.

Still, I think there is nothing wrong if a guy makes the assumption that the age of commodified relationships is already upon us, so dudes need to buck up and focus on achieving greatness in the economic sphere. Even if women don't expect it, it may give their future wives more latitude to choose between career or family later on. 

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Collaborating and hanging out with Millenials and Gen Z content creators

What do I not wish to become?

I don't want to be another 40-something year old whose musical and pop culture interests were stuck in the regressive 90s. Where Gen X would speak fondly of Sandman graphic novels by Neil Gaiman, music from Depeche Mode, and maybe even cry every night to sleep because the Substation is closing down. Imagine trying to remain relevant by invoking these outdated aspects of cultural capital.  

One of the most important lessons I picked up in Law School is that if you hang around enough with younger folks, you will also feel younger. You'll never catch up with them, of course, but you'll be miles ahead of peers your own age. 

This is why, as far as possible, I find ways to collaborate with younger influencers and content creators and this article shed light on some of the stuff I'm doing with younger folks.

a) Jenson Chen - Superstar of the Central Providend Fund

Jenson approached me because he has a posse of young folks who wish to try out Dungeons and Dragons. As I wanted to influence an educator on the usefulness of this hobby, I was happy to do so. So I ended up conducting a pen and paper D&D game for a team of four players almost half my age. In spite of the group's inexperience with the rules, they seem to be better coordinated than many gaming veterans I played with. 

Here's the picture that was drawn by players to depict the final brawl with a Ghast in Triboar.

In particular, I was entertained by the way they played with the Prestidigitation cantrip and amused by Jenson's obsession with the Command spell. 

Jenson is now a bonafide superstar having ascended to CPF Sainthood. You can access his video on CPF here.

b) MissFITFI - At the cusp of greatness as a financial influencer

My money is on MissFITFI attaining prominence in financial blogging. 

I will not spoil the podcast I made yesterday with MissFITFI. I spent yesterday evening creating an hour of the recording where we discussed whether pay or passion should dominate when choosing a vocation. The material should be useful for listeners and I really hoped to reach out to MissFITFI's younger listeners. 

Like many female finance influencers, MissFITFI has been the target of attacks by toxic masculinity trolls just because she accumulated $100,000 before she was 30. But I think we don't give her enough credit, for her first degree she's formally trained in Finance and worked in M&A. She probably also runs 2.4km in a shorter time than me. 

One of my biggest regrets over this effort was that it was International Women's Day this week and we should be debating on whether women need a separate forum to discuss financial issues. This would have been a lot more controversial. But maybe in a future podcast, we can do this.

The podcast is being edited and likely will be out next week. You can follow this link here.  

c) RealMelTan - Already a Youtube superstar

The most pleasant surprise of the collaboration yesterday was in fact the really patient and unassuming cameraman for the event turned out to have a major Youtube presence and is a Youtube star in his own right. RealMelTan has a Youtube channel (link) that specialises in building gaming rigs. According to him, he has built rigs for commercial purposes that can cost up to $13,000 each.

As fellow gamers, we clicked immediately so right now, I'm brainstorming with RealMelTan on appearing on his Youtube channel and I have no idea where to begin. One possibility is financing gaming hobbies with dividend income. 

Readers thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

In the midst of generating content for everyone, I think the best bits when interacting with young creators is when everyone's guard is down after a hard day generating content. I think if the evening tea conversation was turned into a podcast, I think we can get 2-3x the audience.

Some stuff discussed included wide-ranging topics on Gay Guardsmen, why Mortal Kombat is like Happy Tree Friends, Wife hunting via Language classes, and how to become a subject matter expert in BDSM. 

Unfortunately, I will not further details on these topics on this blog. 

If you want the salacious bits, invite me for a collaboration on your channel. ( But I'm choosy )

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

New Developments on the ERM Tool.

No substantial updates this week as I have a podcast with MissFITFI tomorrow, and I have to ramp up to my community event on Saturday. On the community event, I will be showcasing some of the new upgrades for the online tool my students use to crowdsource information in our lab sessions. 

The project was originally built to replace a spreadsheet that I used to update in class with the help of students who do their research on stocks by reading analyst reports. I felt that the web-site should allow multiple updates simultaneously so that I can comment and lecture on the work that is being completed earlier which frees up more time for students to research and debate their investment choices. In fact, the original codebase was a blog. I merely changed the database fields to reflect what I normally expect of my students.

Since its first version, I've picked up more programming and quantitative skills and managed to program the web page to start fetching data over the web. The biggest challenge then was to pick up price data and then turn it into a chart on a web-page. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources on the web to make this possible.

The work has become more complicated as I've added PDF reporting into my web application. With the new Introducer offering, a tool needs to be rapidly engineered to assist in justifying investment decisions to the FA. From a technical perspective, I am lucky that there are tools to convert HTML to PDF. I cannot imagine learning how to format text for PDF separately. 

More will be said in my talk this weekend, but here are screenshots of the PDF my tool can now generate. Optimising the best parameters for MACD, Momentum and Mean Reversion trades was tough but I managed to incorporate it into the tool. 



Saturday, March 06, 2021

ERM Community Event - 13th March Saturday 2pm

It is time for the quarterly ERM Community event. I conduct a more advanced lecture for students of my program that is open to members of the public. Naturally, alumni can have access to recorded materials and lecture notes. 

In the upcoming session, I will showcase some advanced concepts I am reviewing for introduction into future courses.

The programme on 13th March 2021 will be broken down into the following:

a) ERM Tool

The most recent development is the launch of the course tool to do data entry for the two latest batches. I will be doing a quick demonstration of the tool to let everyone have a glimpse of how students interact with me in the future. We've started with Powerpoint, then we brought Mentimeter to improve classroom interaction, and now I've written a tool for students to data entry after researching on the stocks.

There is only so much that off-the-shelf software can do my program. 

Maybe one day, I'll become the SAP for investment trainers. 

b) ERM Tool advanced metrics

A data-entry tool does not stay dumb for very long. Even students in the latest batch are aware that I have managed to combine all the quantitative finance concepts I picked up from online courses into a dashboard for the stocks they analyse. 

The material is too complex for most investment courses for retail investors as I clearly am more interested in metrics that most stock investment portals do not have. On the webinar, I will be describing some of the statistics. 

c) Marketing Timing for ERM Alumni

The next section is a set of slides on marketing and technical analysis. I'm not a TA specialist, preferring to buy and hold dividend stocks, but my coding skills have evolved to the point that I can interrogate a stock to spill some it's TA secrets perhaps some other experts would be unable to generate. 

Adopting TA to the ERM program will mean showing dividends investors how to use charts to minimise regrets when making a timed entry into stocks. The material includes bespoke charts that will be added to my ERM tool hopefully before Batch 20 comes around.

d) Collaboration with iFast 

Some folks are curious as to how I intend to go ahead with my Introducer role with iFast. I have invited my collaborator Ko Yang Zhi to talk about iFast and will explain in detail how ERM alumni can maintain an ERM-inspired portfolio with minimal fuss and work through an iFast Financial advisor. 

Consistent in all my interactions with my students, I intend to be super candid about commissions and fees.

e) ERM Refresher Programme  

We will be taking orders for Batch 20 for the ERM Alumni who might be interested in seeing just how much the program has evolved from 2018. We've negotiated extremely attractive pricing for students who wish to attend the program again.  

I'll give a hint - There's almost no interest in wanting to earn money from students a second time-round. 

You can register for the ERM community session by following this link

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Failing your way to Fame - My speech at a Rotary meeting

Coming out with a Law degree and not getting into legal practice is not a badge of honour. 

In Singaporean society, there are basically three career options :

a) Doctor
b) Lawyer
c) Disgrace to the family 

Folks will challenge you if you study Law and decide to do something else with your life. I find particularly kuai lan are the Boomers with children who are lawyers - they think I am chickening out and love to ask whether my degree went to waste.  

So I was kind of surprised that the Rotary Club would invite me to speak to young Rotarians on pursuing alternate career paths for law students. In spite of one half of my family having proud Rotarian roots, I never developed any Rotarian ties, so giving a speech to the Rotary Club was a very novel experience for me. 

I had about 40 teenagers who probably scored really well for their A levels and the host's Linkedin profile displayed an intimidating array of H3 humanities subjects. More surprising to me is that session's main speaker was none other than Prof Tan Cheng Han who authored the company law textbook I used throughout my days in SMU. 

With a Senior Counsel as part of the panel, I realised that I'm not in a "Toastmasters Table Topics" session. Rotarians are a serious bunch of do-gooders who can muster quite a number of resources to assist their student members. 

So I delivered my speech which lasted about 15 minutes on these main topics.

a) My dishonourable intentions behind my law school application

I spoke candidly about legal departments and how they can ruin and slow down IT projects and why I felt a legal education, a reward for my financial independence, would allow me to fight back against my ignorance on contractual and compliance matters. 

b) The difference between theory and practice 

I gave glowing feedback on my days in SMU and showed why the law is an inter-disciplinary subject that appreciates input from multiple domains. Then I contrasted it with the primitive legal work practices that often involve reams of paper, verbatim note-taking, and the emotional burden of dealing with divorcing couples. I told students that going to a field that grabs the lions' share of GEP students is like bringing a knife to a gun-fight, and most of them will not end up remotely close to being a Harvey Specter of Suits. 

Finally, I said that there are parallels between the IT Sector in 2005 when CECA is signed and the current state of the legal industry that is coping with a surge in supply from overseas universities.

c) How to get out if the industry does not suit you

I said that law school is not a bad place to find out what your strengths are. My exam and research paper grades were mediocre but my investment training career was built from the idea that I rarely get below A for group work and class participation. 

Basically, I won't starve if I use my mouth and Powerpoint slides to earn a living. 

d) The resistance if you choose an alternative path

I spoke about resistance from family if they pursue a different path since parental investment must have been huge to get them into law school. In this section, I was deeply influenced by my readings on involution and why Confucian societies build mental risons for folks in all strata of society.

My only regret is not making a quip about lawyers becoming struggling artists. After all, the worst National Day song came from one.

Anyway, you can fail your way to become famous. I'm grateful to my pals who thought of me when they wanted to showcase possibly the least-lawyerly alumni from their JD program.

So what's next ?
  • On 10th March, I will be doing a special segment on the Graduate Employment Survey of 2020 with MissFITFI. This will be an unusual collaboration and I sense that she can be a rising star in the financial blogosphere. So uncle just want to be hip, ok? 
  • On 13th March Saturday afternoon, I will be conducting a community event to talk about how dividends investors can incorporate some marketing-timing DNA when building portfolios. It will be a fairly advanced talk for my students and really cool for intermediate TA investors. The link to book a slot for members of the public is here.
  • Finally, on 1st April, I will be recording the Seedly event and I have to contend with Cathie Woods and Jamus Lim as fellow speakers. It's the biggest event in Personal Finance and you'd probably don't need a link for that if you read my blog.


Monday, March 01, 2021

I will be speaking on SeedlyFest 2021!

On 1st April, I will be descending on Suntec to do a pre-recorded session for SeedlyFest 2021.

This is going to be a really prestigious event with speakers like Cathie Woods of the ARK ETF fame fronting the event. 

Details of my talk will be as follows:

  • Date of event: 10 April 2021
  • Audience: 5,000 pax, mostly millennials and young adults (couples etc)
  • Topic:  Is Early Retirement a Dream for Young Singaporeans? - Retire early on passive investing - How to generate income through the stock market with safe, strategically leveraged, dividend strategies.
  • Duration: 20 mins with keynote sharing with slides with 5 min QnA
  • Promo code: TREEOFPROSPERITY40 for 40% off 
Links to the purchase of tickets can be found here.

Over the next few days, I will be creating the slides for the presentation and will spoil parts of it on this blog to generate some excitement for this event.

More information to come later this Wednesday!