Sunday, 26 June 2016

Brexit - Rolf's View

Britain surprised the world with a vote to leave EU after being part of it since 1973. 

Honesty it was not a big surprise to me. Well it's not that I am bragging after the result is announced! “Very lame”, you may think, but there are several truths to it. 

The uncertainty of the world and Brexit to a certain extent had led me to starting a series of Gold and Silver articles lately. Refer as follows:


It is not to advocate any buying/selling, but to allow ourselves to understand the precious’s metals’ history and its impact on the world when uncertainty is looming.  

Expect the unexpected these days! 

Majority of people here are almost certain that Brexit is a myth and even speculated in stocks hoping to profit from the eventual result. It is not uncommon. It is like saying PAP will always win all Singapore elections. This is mainstream thinking and nothing wrong with that. Yet, counterintuitive to normal belief, the unexpected sometimes do take place! The world is apparently going through a stage of anomaly these days. Do not be surprise if Donald Trump is elected coming November. In fact, There should be no political rant here, but I seriously do not see much long term difference between whether Clinton or Trump being elected as the president of the United States.

Always understand both sides of the coin! 

Recently, I read many articles and videos relating to the Brexit referendum and majority of the articles on papers are inclined towards "Remain". For a start, I was convinced about the benefits of staying too. Nonetheless, me being me, I usually will not allow myself to see or hear just one side of the story. I did some research on the opposite camp and come across a video as follows: 



In another incident last year while having dinner with my former British boss, we discussed about the same topic. Back then, I was pretty sceptical about the viability of Brexit. My perception was jolted when ex-boss told me his side of the story about why Britain will be much better off in the long run to be out of the EU. It is always more convincing hearing from the horse mouth - a local Brit in his mid 50s who travelled widely and someone I look up to as always logical and sensible.

With that, my views are more balanced.

Do not be over-confident even with familiarity, it is not sufficient! 

For many years now, I had worked with the Europeans. My current company also has hundreds of British employees. It is not unfamiliar for me to travel to UK and other countries in Europe, working with both internally and externally with British and Europeans. Considering that, and in addition to all the articles I read relating to Brexit, you may think that it's no surprise that I will consider myself knowing this referendum much better than the average people on the streets. 

Nah.... absolute not! 

The reason is clear. I am not a British, neither did I follow Britain closely as compared to China and USA. It is also more difficult for us to judge politically or socio-economically a country if you do not grow or stay there. This is despite the business aspect which I may have experience in. Hence if the only exposures we have are just by reading articles online, it is without a question – insufficient! With that in mind, I did not make any action speculating on stocks before the result, neither is it any easy to take sides.

Rolf's final thoughts

Many people thought a coin has two sides. Nope, it has three sides – head, tail and edge. I prefer to stand at the edge of the coin, rather than to take sides of head or tail if Brexit is the right decision. 

Good for long term only if...
Nonetheless if you were to ask me for my truthful personal opinion, I believe that Brexit is actually GOOD for Britain in the long run. That is provided that the British citizens can stay strong and united to create a brighter Britain of their own just like centuries ago when they were such a dominant force. It is absolutely not necessary to be part of the bloc to become successful.

Didn't we Singapore survive after leaving Malaysia? There are countries like Norway and Switzerland who are doing relatively better than their rest of European counterpart being not part of the bloc as well. 

Many believe that after Brexit, Britain will be on the way to decline. In my view, EU as a whole is already declining and even at a faster rate than Britain. Except for Germany who is doing relatively better, but yet also being heavily dragged down by the rest of Europe countries especially those in the south, I really cannot figure out what efficient and effective strategies EU will employ to stimulate the entire European economy. Perhaps there are only two things they will do. 

1) More stimulus to the economy by means of printing more and more currency and continuing creating an absurd negative interest rate environment. 

2) Heavily reliance on USA who already is a bigger ship with holes sinking.

So what make us think that UK can actually benefit from an already declining EU economy in the long term? 

Britain has their own strengths 
Britain has a long history of superpower being as an independent country. Being colonial masters of many Asian countries in the past, they are one European country who has not only good understanding of Asia but also great trading relationships today as well. I went to many local Asian countries before and they are generally always happy to do business with the British. In return, as from my experiences, the British are always more understanding to Asian cultures compared to the rest of the European countries. As I speak, London has also overtaken Singapore as the second-largest offshore yuan clearing centre in terms of payments processing volumes, just behind Hong Kong. This can spell great relationships with the Chinese without having the bureaucracy of EU who is also greatly influenced by the Americans in one way or another.

Short Term Pain
That said, this separation like any other divorces after so many years will be extremely painful in the short term. There will be problems like the need to find a new PM and formed a new cabinet, renegotiate trade deals with an EU who may bear grudge and make life difficult for the new British government. It is not unlikely that UK will need to endure one of their difficult few years ahead.

Not the best timing though
And worst of all, all the impending problems ahead of Britain is going to be worsened in a current deflating world economy. It is definitely one of the worst times to get into a Brexit. And this is the one major reason, why I will not vote for Brexit in a time like this! 3-4 years ago, it will be perfect when the economy is much more stable. It is just like for the Fed, 3-4 years ago, it will be better to raise interest rate.

In a nutshell
Brexit is good for long term depending on British people how they brace themselves, very bad in the short term and above all, taking place at the very wrong timing now! Good luck for the British!


Monday, 20 June 2016

Venezuela - A Nation of Beauty Queens; Now A Nation of Hungers! Who will have thought this will happened?

“It was all a new reality for Gabriel Márquez, 24, who grew up in the boom years when Venezuela was rich and empty shelves were unimaginable.”

Read below news and you will be shocked that this is happening to a country that used to be extremely prosperous.

Venezuela had once the world's largest oil reserves and had been one of the world's leading exporters of oil. Besides, it is also the country which also produced many beauty queens!  TODAY it is in riot for food. In 2015, Venezuela had the world's highest inflation rate with the rate surpassing 100%, becoming the highest in the country's history.

THIS IS REAL AND NOT IMAGINARY!

Venezuela’s woes are results of years of DEFICIT SPENDING from populist policies leading to overspending on social programs and over-reliance on oil funds. 

As from Ray Dalio’s economic principles, very often a situation like this will lead to the poor resenting the rich and riots will take place. And the most worrying is that it will then lead to a dictator coming in power just like Hitler during the WW2.

Perhaps Venezuela too insignificant a country to have a big impact to the global economy. 

How about USA?


UMANÁ, Venezuela — With delivery trucks under constant attack, the nation’s food is now transported under armed guard. Soldiers stand watch over bakeries. The police fire rubber bullets at desperate mobs storming grocery stores, pharmacies and butcher shops. A 4-year-old girl was shot to death as street gangs fought over food.

Venezuela is convulsing from hunger.

Hundreds of people here in the city of Cumaná, home to one of the region’s independence heroes, marched on a supermarket in recent days, screaming for food. They forced open a large metal gate and poured inside. They snatched water, flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, potatoes, anything they could find, leaving behind only broken freezers and overturned shelves.

And they showed that even in a country with the largest oil reserves in the world, it is possible for people to riot because there is not enough food.

In the last two weeks alone, more than 50 food riots, protests and mass looting have erupted around the country. Scores of businesses have been stripped bare or destroyed. At least five people have been killed.

This is precisely the Venezuela its leaders vowed to prevent.

In one of the nation’s worst moments, riots spread from Caracas, the capital, in 1989, leaving hundreds dead at the hands of security forces. Known as the “Caracazo,” or the “Caracas clash,” they were set off by low oil prices, cuts in subsidies and a population that was suddenly impoverished.

The event seared the memory of a future president, Hugo Chávez, who said the country’s inability to provide for its people, and the state’s repression of the uprising, were the reasons Venezuela needed a socialist revolution.

Now his successors find themselves in a similar bind — or maybe even worse.

The nation is anxiously searching for ways to feed itself.

The economic collapse of recent years has left it unable to produce enough food on its own or import what it needs from abroad. Cities have been militarized under an emergency decree from President Nicolás Maduro, the man Mr. Chávez picked to carry on with his revolution before he died three years ago.

“If there is no food, there will be more riots,” said Raibelis Henriquez, 19, who waited all day for bread in Cumaná, where at least 22 businesses were attacked in a single day last week.

But while the riots and clashes punctuate the country with alarm, it is the hunger that remains the constant source of unease.

A staggering 87 percent of Venezuelans say they do not have money to buy enough food, the most recent assessment of living standards by Simón Bolívar University found.

About 72 percent of monthly wages are being spent just to buy food, according to the Center for Documentation and Social Analysis, a research group associated with the Venezuelan Teachers Federation.

In April, it found that a family would need the equivalent of 16 minimum-wage salaries to properly feed itself.

Ask people in this city when they last ate a meal, and many will respond that it was not today.

Among them are Leidy Cordova, 37, and her five children — Abran, Deliannys, Eliannys, Milianny and Javier Luis — ages 1 to 11. On Thursday evening, the entire family had not eaten since lunchtime the day before, when Ms. Cordova made a soup by boiling chicken skin and fat that she had found for a cheap price at the butcher.

“My kids tell me they’re hungry,” Ms. Cordova said as her family looked on. “And all I can say to them is to grin and bear it.”

Other families have to choose who eats. Lucila Fonseca, 69, has lymphatic cancer, and her 45-year-old daughter, Vanessa Furtado, has a brain tumor. Despite also being ill, Ms. Furtado gives up the little food she has on many days so her mother does not skip meals.

“I used to be very fat, but no longer,” the daughter said. “We are dying as we live.”

Her mother added, “We are now living on Maduro’s diet: no food, no nothing.”

Economists say years of economic mismanagement — worsened by low prices for oil, the nation’s main source of revenue — have shattered the food supply.

Sugar fields in the country’s agricultural center lie fallow for lack of fertilizers. Unused machinery rots in shuttered state-owned factories. Staples like corn and rice, once exported, now must be imported and arrive in amounts that do not meet the need.

In response, Mr. Maduro has tightened his grip over the food supply. Using emergency decrees he signed this year, the president put most food distribution in the hands of a group of citizen brigades loyal to leftists, a measure critics say is reminiscent of food rationing in Cuba.

“They’re saying, in other words, you get food if you’re my friend, if you’re my sympathizer,” said Roberto Briceño-León, the director of the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, a human rights group.

It was all a new reality for Gabriel Márquez, 24, who grew up in the boom years when Venezuela was rich and empty shelves were unimaginable. He stood in front of the destroyed supermarket where the mob had arrived at Cumaná, an endless expanse of smashed bottles, boxes and scattered shelves. A few people, including a policeman, were searching the wreckage for leftovers to take.

“During Carnival, we used to throw eggs at each other just to have some fun,” he said. “Now an egg is like gold.”

Down the coastal road in a small fishing town called Boca de Uchire, hundreds gathered on a bridge this month to protest because the food deliveries were not arriving. Residents demanded to meet the mayor, but when he did not come they sacked a Chinese bodega.

Residents hacked open the door with pickaxes and pillaged the shop, venting their anger at a global power that has lent billions of dollars to prop up Venezuela in recent years.

“We are now living on Maduro’s diet: no food, no nothing.” LUCILA FONSECA, 69

“The Chinese won’t sell to us,” said a taxi driver who watched the crowd haul away all that was inside. “So we burn their stores instead.”

Mr. Maduro, who is fighting a push for a referendum to recall him this year over the country’s declines, said it was the political opposition that was behind the attacks on the stores.

“They paid a group of criminals, brought them in trucks,” he said on Saturday on television, promising compensation to those who lost property.

At the same time, the government also blames an “economic war” for the shortages. It accuses wealthy business owners of hoarding food and charging exorbitant prices, creating artificial shortages to profit from the country’s misery.

It has left shop owners feeling under siege, particularly those who do not have Spanish names.

“Look how we are working today,” said Maria Basmagi, whose family immigrated from Syria a generation ago, pointing to the metal grate pulled over the window of her shoe store.

Her shop was on the commercial boulevard in Barcelona, another coastal town racked by unrest last week. At 11 a.m. the day before, someone screamed that there was an attack on a government-run kitchen nearby. Every shop on Ms. Basmagi’s street closed down in fear.

Other shops stay open, like the bakery in Cumaná where a line of 100 people snaked around a corner. Each person was allowed to buy about a pound of bread.

Robert Astudillo, a 23-year-old father of two, was not sure there would be any left once his turn came. He said he still had corn flour to make arepas, a Venezuelan staple, for his children. They had not eaten meat in months.

“We make the arepas small,” he said.

In the refrigerator of Araselis Rodriguez and Nestor Daniel Reina, the parents of four small children, there was not even corn flour — just a few limes and some bottles of water.

The family had eaten bread for breakfast and soup for lunch made from fish that Mr. Reina had managed to catch. The family had nothing for dinner.

It has not always been clear what provokes the riots. Is it hunger alone? Or is it some larger anger that has built up in a country that has crumbled?

Inés Rodríguez was not sure. She remembered calling out to the crowd of people who had come to sack her restaurant on Tuesday night, offering them all the chicken and rice the restaurant had if they would only leave the furniture and cash register behind. They balked at the offer and simply pushed her aside, Ms. Rodríguez said.

“It is the meeting of hunger and crime now,” she said.

As she spoke, three trucks with armed patrols drove by, each emblazoned with photos of Mr. Chávez and Mr. Maduro.

The trucks were carrying food.


“Finally they come here,” Ms. Rodríguez said. “And look what it took to get them. It took this riot to get us something to eat.”

A Message To My Children: 

Hereby, I will like to tell you kids NEVER to take things for granted just because you are Singaporeans living in a country well-sheltered like Singapore. Our success is not a coincident. Please have your eyes and ears wide open about the world outside Singapore. If possible, go out and experience the world, in particular that of developing countries (e.g. the poorer places of India, South America, China, Indonesia, Africa etc). You will then realise that Singapore is not the typical country you will find on this earth. Your father was lucky enough to travel to many of these countries and also spoke to the natives. Exposures can be one of the greatest gifts in life for you to have a better understanding of yourself and this world, and hence your life. 


Sunday, 19 June 2016

Gold and Silver – History always repeat itself (Part 3)

Of late, I was totally enthralled by the story of Gold and Silver dated back not just hundreds but thousands years back. This was also narrated in Part 2 of my gold and silver series. While I did my homework and owned this alternative investment since sometime back, it was not until recently that I have dug so deep into unravelling its past.

“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” - Winston Churchill

So I began to read lots of articles and watched many videos relating to the precious metals. And mind you, when I am engrossed into something I love or believe in, I will always pour my heart and soul into it, and often even in my dream! Just like before this, I was very into Mixed Martial Arts and devoted so much of my free time researching on it. I reckon MMA is going to overtook boxing in popularity going into the future.

Back to precious metals, I came across this guy by the name of Mike Maloney who founded and own GoldSilver.com. There are many valuable videos from Mr. Maloney that are free and in my opinion of great educational importance drilling out facts, without any boastful slogans! After benefiting from all his free videos on youtube, I decided on a win-win strategy. This is to reward Mr. Maloney and at the same time further enriches myself by buying one of his best-selling books "Guide to Investing in Gold and Silver."

In this article, I will like to reproduce one interesting pattern that Mr. Maloney pointed out in relation to our world monetary system and the precious metals. Excerpts from the book as follows:

The 7 Stages

1) A sovereign state starts out with good money (i.e. money that is gold or silver, or backed fully by gold and silver)

2) As it develops economically and socially, it begins to take on more and more economic burdens, adding layer upon layer of public works and social programs.

3) As its economic affluence grows so does its political influence and it increases expenditures to fund a massive military.

4) Eventually it puts its military to use and expenditures explode.

5) To fund the war, the costliest of mankind’s endeavours, it steels the wealth of its people by replacing their money with currency that can be created in unlimited quantities. It does this either at the outbreak of the war (as in the case of WW1), during the war or wars (as in the cases of Athens ad Rome) or as a perceived solution to the economic ravages of previous wars (as in the case of John Law’s France).

6) Finally, the wealth transfer cause by expansion of currency supply is felt by the population as severe consumer price inflation, triggering the loss of faith in the currency.

7) An en masse movement out of the currency into precious metals and other tangible assets take place, the currency collapse and massive wealth is transferred to those who had enough foresight to accumulate gold and silver early on.

Summary

1) Good money  
2) Over spend
3) Growing political influence to fund military
4) Military explodes
5) War funded by currency expansion
6) Loss of currency confidence
7) Hyperinflation

During hyperinflation, gold and silver will always emerge as winner as from the history of mankind.

Do you agree with this pattern?

I shall reserve my thoughts for now. 

Thursday, 16 June 2016

The Fallacy of "How to be Rich" from Investing in Shares (Part 2)

This post continued from previous post.

Learn to invest in shares? 

Ads of courses to be rich instantly
In recent years I almost devoted most of my free time into learning more about finance and investment. Then I realised that there are many ads from course owners advocating the learning of investing from them so that we can be financially freed fast and retire really early in the 30s or even 20s of age.  Very often you can see these course owners showing their face in front of sports car, bungalow or showing holiday trips with slogans like:

"How I retire before 30 from investing” or “How I generate massive passive income from my investment portfolio” or “How I generate built my 7-figure portfolio in a few years” etc.

It is just so captivating isn't it? You just hope to be like one of them too right! Who need that stupid job waking up early and coming home late with disrupted train services? You wish you can throw that resignation letter right into the face of your stupid boss?  

Inspiring bloggers
On a milder side, there are inspiring bloggers displaying their portfolio or some shouting aloud their unverified huge dividend income. Some have hidden agenda, some is due to man ego, but for some, their aim is definitely NOT to brag about their success, but just to keep track on their own progress learning to be better. This is not wrong and I respect the latter few bloggers. 

The problem arises when ignorant readers, as there always will be, follow blindly and reckon that this is the only way they can become rich! They then use investment as an escape from work and devote all their time studying investment instead of concentrating on developing their earning ability when young. Sounds familiar? 

You may not know! Your idol “Warren Buffett” (not mine) actually has remarkable earning ability even at a young age. He is a successful entrepreneur already in his teens, not yet a successful investor then. Otherwise how to build a portfolio big enough to generate the income? Read: To be a Successful Investor, Start Earning First – The Warren Buffett Story

Rolf’s view today

This is going to be quite direct and a little hurtful! 
Many of you can throw stones at me, but I just want to share my honest views. Reality hurts in the short term and some of you may be angry after reading the following. However sometimes it can really offer good reflections for us to have deep thoughts. Hopefully it can make a difference in your lives in the long term and create a better future for Singapore as a nation. I do not need your money from this blog, but if this article one day does improve your life, I will be extremely thankful and ecstatic to receive just your email. :-)

Frugality is the reason!
After being in the financial blogosphere for a while, I concluded that most of the wealth created by the so-called "successful bloggers” online were almost out of FRUGALITY, i.e. incredible saving prowess or mainly reduced expenses from being single or small family to feed, rather than them being really apt in earning money out of the stock market. So be honest, it is still and "earnings" from a job or business giving that bigger effect rather than the actual investment return. I call this “savings compounded portfolio”!

Undeniably, having good investment knowledge help to grow our wealth portfolio faster, but it requires tonnes of hard work in reading and understanding, plenty of patience, and exceptional ability to control your own emotions by learning more about yourself, learning philosophy, history etc. We ought to recognise that successful investment indeed can be “Turtle” and “Boring”.

That is why you have these two very good Bloggers “Turtle Investor – Kevin” and “Boring Investor – Lee Chin Wai”. You can also read articles from veteran bloggers like “Bully the Bear”, “CW8888”, “SMOL” and new blogger like “Tacomob” etc. What they wrote may be able to equip you with the necessary foundation to do well in investment later in a more sustainable manner, rather than the “so call” tips of what to buy and be rich instantly.

Impressive analytical skills, but why not earn a living out of it!
Ok, you do have to give thumbs up to the “long and impressive analytical skills” displayed online from some bloggers. I also find it really useful. Yet, sometimes they are just as good as the analyst reports that I received daily from my brokers. Analyst have access to the companies and more data although they may have favouritism towards their companies.  Hmmm... maybe this is why you choose to read from bloggers who have a more balanced views. Really? 

While not the same, but same same lar! 

Also one is working fulltime for the bank and being paid and the other one is working part-time for him/herself without being paid. It is the facts in that article that matters, not their viewpoints of buy or sell! Readers need to do the filtering. Hence the analysis from professional Analysts and Bloggers are in fact similar in nature. 

Sometimes I wonder isn’t then better to quit the day job and be a full time analyst. It is like killing two birds with one stone – stop working in that stupid job, and find an analyst job that you can do analysis from 8am to 5pm and STILL earn, and then at night you can have more time doing the things you want or like? Well, the problem: “It is too late for me to change career at this age?” Hehe…..Really for some of the younger ones without family or just starting family? Then we said "I want to be financially freed early, so that I can do my own things and have my own free time? Contradicting isn't it? 

Where did the initial funds come from?
We as readers also need to ponder where in the first place the hundreds of thousands of portfolio came from? Is it entirely compounded wealth starting from just meagre thousands of portfolio or is it already started from day 1, a bucket of gold made out from real estate boom or a gift from their wealthy parents, or if it is just “hard-earn money” from down to earth working in a day job?

With all due respect, the writer is never at fault and I often respect their devotion and unselfishness in sharing all the good information. Kudos!!! The biggest problem lies with the followers! Yes – you, the readers! Sorry folks, if you get burnt yourself, you deserve it!  Do not blame the bloggers!

Master Trainer – Seriously?
Then there are those who go attend courses to learn about investment in the hope of becoming rich fast. While I am one of those in the early stage too attending courses, it is not for reason of becoming rich fast, since way before that I was already invested in the market. Instead it was because I always want to learn more about finance, after already being equipped with Engineering and Business skills via my education and career. Furthermore I need a new hobby then, because I was forced to forsake another hobby due to an accident. Attending courses for beginner is extremely important and I encourage that, because it can help us organise our thoughts much better.

However we need to be mindful in overzealously idolising the trainer as investor guru. As I understood from reliable sources, most trainers STILL need income from their courses to finance their own personal expenses and their own investment portfolio. Hence, remember this, unless the course master do not need your money for their own bread and butter expenses, usually they are just businessman rather than the mistaken visionary investor. Sorry for being frank, but this is the truth! If they are so good, they should just start their own fund and “compound growth like mad” and compete against the best performing funds in the world. Do Singapore proud and not only advertise your 7-figure portfolio to earn money from the poor middle-class, who yearn to be rich each and everyday! 

That said, there are still course trainers I respected, because of their passion, knowledge and down to earth attitude. Ignore that so called 7-figure portfolio you were shown for a second, focus on the trainer’s attitude and his knowledge. It is not difficult to tell who will be the right mentor/trainer just from their faces and the way they talk Open your eyes and mind, do not be obscured by the self-proclaimed instant success. My blogger friend, SMOL, Jared called them “koyo” snake oil sellers!

One good course trainer I like is Alvin of Big Fat Purse, although I have yet to attend his course!

Do not be mistaken, I am not saying that learning to invest from bloggers or trainers are no good! I am just saying that we should respect them out of their KNOWLEDGE and SHOULD NOT idolise them blindly for the size of their portfolio or passive income. Worst of all, readers should never long for the tips on which stocks to invest. As for the bloggers, especially those who are really popular, I reckon we should also be matured enough or at least uphold the responsibility of not to mislead the readers.

Just put your money in Fixed Deposit
Stock market movements can be huge in times of crisis. For e.g. during the GFC, portfolio can be slashed by as much as 50%. And if you cannot stomach the huge paper losses, it is better for you not to stay invested. As I mentioned in my earlier posts here and here, sickness and longevity can be related to our emotions/characters especially in the stock market. Not everyone can stomach the fact to see tens or hundreds of thousands wiped off! Even on the lips many will say no problem (ego!), but deep down many will still feel painful. It can then also translate to worries and illness even without you knowing sometimes.

So why pursue for that every few % extra dividend and later lose your capital and even lose your health? Why don’t just put the money in Fixed Deposit or Singapore Savings Bonds!

Maybe it is also due to human nature of inherent GREED deriving from all the vibes of people trumpeting how you can get GUARANTEED or INSTANT wealth from the stock market?

My greatest reward of learning investment

For me, learning investing/financial markets is one of the best things that happened to me in recent years.

It did not make me very rich for god sake! Huh…why so stupid, you may ask? Learn investment is to make money mah…many will say!

To me, this is so mainstream, hence you cannot be rich if you are mainstream! 

Above being rich, learning investments widens my perspectives on the various types of businesses. It also intrigued me to study about the world economy which often gives me a bigger picture view in my life. Yes Warren Buffett does not care about the world economy and only focus on individual business because he is already one of the richest. I care because I am not as rich and have kids still at a young age!

From learning investment, I also drill deep down into HISTORY relating to all the Wars, Great Depression and the entire Global Monetary System of yesterday and today. And because the further you look into the past, the further you can see the future, this provides me with the ability to plan more prudently ahead of the rest. Via learning investment, I also get to know MEDITATION and give me a calmer mind when things go rough. My TEMPERAMENT improved also. All these led me to becoming a BETTER PERSON and I am sure thereafter over LONG TERM, I will be rewarded in my investment portfolio as well.

To conclude, learning investment equipped me with knowledge to do well not just in stock market but in career and life as well. And learning from the right mentor is important. For beginner, it is ok to learn from master trainers/bloggers. However once you pass that stage, you can possibly learn so much more from books or youtube from the “True renowned visionary investors” instead! And normally these true greats are NOT so MAINSTREAM! They go against the crowd to reap the best results. 

Sorry guys, it is still not the end…there is going to be a “Part 3” on “The Fallacy of How to be Rich from investing in PROPERTY due to my long windedness in this article. I will also discuss in Part 3, in my opinion the “Truth to Real Richness!” in life.


Stay tuned and best of luck in your investment journey. Cheers!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Fallacy of "How to be Rich" (Part 1)

My personal view of “how to become rich” has evolved over the years as I gone through several ups and downs in my life. Even the meaning of “rich” took a change within me. Today, it is not just money that matters. 


In the following, you will read about my views before and now.

Be academically sound

As a boy, I was told that as long as you get a good degree in Singapore, you can be rich. Even better, be a scholar (overseas one) and work in the civil service, your career will fly! My belief was strong then, because my family was poor stemming from the fact that my parents were not well-educated. Both were only primary school levels. This is despite I always think my dad is one of the smartest guy around in terms of IQ. 

Rolf’s view today
Yes, I did get my degree today, but it definitely did not make me rich. Education lays the foundation for learning and that is without a shadow of doubt! Yet, I also witnessed many so-called academically sound people who are NOT really doing so well in their careers or lives today, compared to when they were at schools. In essence, what we need most in today’s society is really to be able to be creative and think out of the box. By far, this is lacking in our current education system.

In my opinion, exposures, not just for our kids but also the teachers outside Singapore are of grave importance. After all, we started a nation with people from outside Singapore and are almost entirely dependent on the rest of the world today. To be well sheltered by our government will only do us good for the short term. In the longer term, problems may arise.

Today, most educators (not all) are still very academic focus. We want good results out of a student rather than getting the real potential out of a student. Lest not forget, parents are the main culprit since we are still having the mindset that academically savvy equals success in life.

So many times, I hear Singaporeans coming out top in international quizzes or examinations. Or at least in a competitive environment where we were subjected to with rules and boundaries, we always did fabulous! Rarely, I hear Singaporeans did well in the international arena when it is free play or creativity or when it is entrepreneurships.

Be a businessman or top salesman

As a teenager, I was working part time in my brother-in-law start-up business. He told me that the only way to be wealthy is to be your own boss. And for that to happen, first you ought to be a really good salesman. 

Rolf’s view today
Ok, I had seen and hear my fair share of people who were business or sales people becoming wealthy. While there are lots of truths in this, not all wealthy people know how to discern between work and family/personal life. So eventually the definition of rich has to be right! Furthermore it is not so easy being self-employed or in sales because the stresses are normally much bigger. I also know people who tried being a businessman or salesman even though their characters are not quite suitable. Eventually they are not very successful. And after discovering that their income is lesser as a self-employed, they went back to be an employee again. Henceforth, we need to truly understand ourselves before we jump into our so-called passion/aspiration sometimes.

Work in the banking and finance sectors

As I stepped into the working society, I had peers who were in banking and finance sectors doing really well and income rising quickly. On the contrary I slogged in the engineering sector doing real tough and at times dangerous work on-board offshore vessels/rigs. Yet, my salary is nothing to shout about. I transited to sales later and I admitted that I was better rewarded money wise. Back then, I was pretty convinced that working in the banking and finance sector is the only way to be rich. Nonetheless I did not regret and if given a chance to turn back the clock, I will still choose to start my career in engineering. For I know I am more suited to start as an engineer. I am sure I made the right choice.

Rolf’s view today
Before the GFC, it is a no-brainer to work in banking/finance sectors if you want to be rich! Well, today it still hold, although remunerations were significantly lower, albeit still higher than most other industries. The reasons why the banking sectors are flushed with money can be astonishing if you understand how the world monetary system of today works. It is a long topic and I will touch only briefly here. Today I firmly believe that the current world monetary system is flawed and in fact fraudulent. This is because since 1971, central banks in the world created currency out of thin air and via fractional reserve system, the banking system encouraged people/businesses to borrow future money even if they could not afford to pay back. Who cares, since it is future money as long as banks earn interest? And this is how wealth is transferred from the middle class to the hands of the central and commercial bankers who created currency out of nothing. Will the current world monetary system sustain forever?  

Step and carry your way up in corporate sector or civil service

Working in the corporate sector or civil service, I often hear you need great skills of “carrying" (hokkien: po) your bosses or “stepping” the shoulders of your colleague/ subordinates in order to climb the corporate ladder to earn big promotion and salary increment.

Rolf’s view today
True, but not always the case because there are indeed truly many successful people who rose in the corporate life. That said, they because they are subjected to the rules of the corporate game, they have to be good in politics as well. Managing politics is an art and it is considered to be a very important factor for success. As a result, it is less possible that you can be one hundred percent yourself and yet be very outstanding in corporate career. Sometimes you only need to be politically correct to climb.

Marry the wealthy

Then there were people, who said, just marry a rich wife or husband. It does not matter if you are henpecked or if your husband treats you no good.  

Rolf’s view today
Married for love and suitability and not for other reasons. Else, you will never be happy and never be “rich”!

Pray to be rich or strike lottery

Some like to pray hard that their next life will be born into silver spoon, or pray to be lucky so that they can strike lottery.

Rolf’s view today
Many of my peers who were born with a silver spoon often have their lives or wealth entirely dictated by their parents. No freedom! As for striking lottery, we also know that without money management technique, wealth is not sustainable even if you strike lottery. 

To be continued…

In Part 2, I will discuss the “Fallacy of How to be Rich from investment?” as well as the “Single greatest truth to becoming rich”.


Stay tuned. 

Sunday, 5 June 2016

His HEART wouldn’t stop beating… Muhammad Ali

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali passed away two days ago at age 74. He died of "septic shock due to unspecified natural causes", his family has said.

In the tweet below by Ali's daughter Hana, it said  

"All of his organs failed but his HEART wouldn't stop beating. For 30 minutes...his heart just keep beating...."



I am quite a fan of boxing and Muhammad Ali is my all-time favourite boxer. I had watched almost all his heroic boxing matches, notably the Rumble in the Jungle with George Foreman and the Thrilla in Manila with Joe Frazier. 

And it was not just his boxing matches that I had followed. I also watched so many youtube videos of Ali’s biography, his movie featured Will Smith and his intriguing interviews throughout the years.

What impressed me most was not Ali’s boxing skills, but his personality and how he evolved from a cocky young champion to man of wisdom and compassion. His faith in religion is also admirable not just from the standpoint of praising himself but to praise the lord he believed in. 

Many people also do not know that Ali travelled to Iraq during the Gulf War and met with Saddam Hussein to secure the release of American Hostages.

If you have time, below is a documentary of Muhammad Ali with David Frost who interviewed Ali countless times over a period of 30 years. This video used to be in Youtube but was no longer there. You can still watch it in the link below. 

Muhammad Ali -Then And Now (Documentary with David Frost)

"A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life" 

"There are black devils, red devils, yellow devils, anybody can be a devil, anybody can be evil, it is the mentality not the color!"
- Muhammad Ali

God Bless Ali and yes... his heart may have finally stop beating, but his legacy beats within my heart. 


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