Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Rolf's Updates - My Priorities in Life - Health, Finance, Family, Friends & Hobbies – 2018 1Q

It's been awhile since I last blogged. Apparently, this is only my 2nd article this year. My priorities had changed drastically since awhile back.  Some of you may know. No longer is my happiness or joy derives from the material success or personal glory, but instead for the true purpose in life. Anyway I took this Labour day rest day to update based on my 5 priorities in life that I blogged about before- H2F3. Things have changed so much since then. 

Health

Generally very good with no major sickness except for some small hiccups due to the drastic hot and cold weather lately.

Financial

Career
Despite primarily in the O&G industry, with so many changes including several rounds of retrenchments over the past 3 years, I managed to survive in the same job of more than 5 years. Never have an industry be so depressed for so long. And it is not over yet. Frankly, it is no joke and very tough mentally. You may be laughing over it, but to tell the truth, people I know had been losing sleep for the last several months already due to the stresses, and had even sought help from IMH.

Without the blessings of God, I will never have endured through the oil crisis and even still have a job that pays the same as during the heydays. Not only that, I manage to spend lots of time being physically there for friends with listening ears and mentally encouraging them, so that they will not fall into depressed condition, resulting in health problems. Simple treats of meal to them also help. This is the joy I have by giving and helping.

Sadly, I had seen so many friends who were retrenched and heard many are driving Grab now, even including those of director level in the past. Those who are still in the jobs are often stressed out or really unhappy. It may not be just in the O&G industry, but I feel that the general “job culture” in this country is really not the healthiest. Everyone is chasing the wrong things in this present age that the world had manipulated and misled us.

Investments / loan
Portfolio wise, I had >40% cash, 40% metals, with the rest in stocks and bonds (cpf excluded). This year, I had also paid down a substantial amount of my outstanding housing loan. My only loan now is housing loan. This is now comfortably less than 50% of the value of the house. Me and wife also own another flat providing regular rental income. Although I did not profit much with the global stock rage, I am joyful and stress-free, sitting pretty comfortable with my current portfolio with no intention to invest it on stocks in the short run.  My salary savings were accumulated in cash earning meager interest.

Charitable acts
The more you give, the more you receive. This includes not just money but time. It is easy to understand, but to put in practice, you have to deny yourself, something that I am still trying to improve as time goes. I had also apportioned a part of money for charitable acts each month. That said, I am careful that the monies given will channel to those who are truly in need, and not to the undeserved people or institutions.  

Family
I am now living happily with a household of eight. Me and wife are supporting our 4 kids, parent and helper. By God’s grace, we are managing really well, although it is not as easy as it seems, both financially and mentally. The fourth junior member of the house just turned 1 year old. He brought so much joy to the house that money cannot buy. Of course, lots of personal time is sacrificed but it is all worth it. My mum, siblings and relatives’ relationships are relatively good also as we organized regular gatherings.

Not to be boastful but to be truthful and hope that I do not offend anyone. I have to say humbly that it is so easy to talk about financial freedom when you are only supporting yourself or your wife or just a small family. But when you have a big family of loved ones to manage, the stress level is really different. That said, the intangible joy of a well-managed family could never replaced by how big your portfolio or your business is. So many rich and powerful while having worldly successes, had failed to taste the true fruits in their family lives. Of the list, includes Steve Job, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk or perhaps even our very own Lee family. So why are we chasing the worldly things that we had been chasing all our lives?

Perhaps the day you attain your financial freedom after many years of pursuing, may just be the day you are diagnose with an incurable disease that may make everything you have been pursuing futile? 

Friends

I try not to neglect my long time friends as we still have gatherings now and then. My new friends are also expanding at a rapid pace as God opened  many doors for me to do His work, by offering my time for those who are experiencing problems pertaining to career, health and family. Relationships at work place for me continue to be very good, although it is really harder to maintain when politics are abound due to the so many changes in the top management.

Hobbies

I still go gym but with less intensity as I do not want to injure myself when age is catching up. Swimming is usually with the kids for bonding. I did a lot of reading, researching and writing still, but almost all is related to the bible almost every day.

LIFE
Please note that I am not preaching here, neither going to make this a controversial blog. I am just sharing my own truthful experiences as follows, hoping it will be able to shed some light about the purpose in life.

The bible is without doubt one of the most startling book I ever read and it does not matter how many times I re-read it, every time it refreshes and never fail to give me the true wisdom and the important messages to make the most out of lives. For all the time I use to spend in investing and blogging, I am spending it in bible reading etc for the last two years. 

In essence, the bible is actually like a mirror. When I am reading the bible, the bible is actually reading me helping me to re-examine my mistakes, and helping me to become a better person. And not just for myself, but also to the lives of many others who needed help regardless of race, religion or social status. I am thankful that my own family was often used as the instrument of righteousness to help those in need, and often in the most miraculous way you ever can imagine.

It is definitely not about just going to church or having a religion, or just being spiritual as many mistaken. In fact, the day when you truly knows the contents of the bible is the day when you stop being religious. My family is not member of any listed institutional churches. The focus is truly living the right way of life. The bible wanted us to put our faith in the Word, and to lead a life that is humble with selfless love, and having a mind that is always hopeful on the right thing, and always doing good and to share. And it is not just a set of doctrinal teachings, but the Word in the bible has supernatural power and authority.

Then there will be some who called themselves a faithful ones, who never fail to go to a certain church/temple, or never fail to follow a set of rules, and “think” that God is always behind them, when they are truly only motivated by their own interests all the time? Is this correct? Or is this the truth in today’s society where all that matters is about the love of self and pride of life? 

Seeing the light, is the real reason why my life change so much. This led to the growing of fruit in my life via many trials and sufferings to humble me, to reexamine myself and to repent. Thereafter, all glory to God as He had consistently led my family, indiscriminately and miraculously to help ourselves and the people around us. By God’s grace, He also used me humbly to preach to many senior pastors with decades of full time pastoral and missionary experiences, in their understanding of the truth. Likewise and of course they also helped me when my family and myself faced with problems. It is always mutual, as we need one another. Many will be skeptical and but it is hard to explain here.

Ok, enough said. I prayed for the blessings of love, peace and joy be upon all my friends and readers here. Bye. :-)




Sunday, 14 January 2018

Big losses in listed O&G /marine companies…But salaries still big

It’s been awhile since I delved into the reading of annual reports. Last night I decided to read reports of several listed O&G/marine companies in Singapore.

Big losses

Undoubtedly many listed O&G/marine companies were in dire straits and outlook ahead were uncertain. There is no question that balance sheets of many these companies are strained with piling debts. Liabilities exceeded assets with limited cash to keep business going. Not to mention the reliability of the “assets”, if they truly worth what it was stated. Auditors also raised going concern doubts for many companies.

Many companies had loses in 2015 & 2016 that cannot even covered what they had been earning for the last 5 or more years during the hey days when Oil prices were soaring. Loses can be as high as tens or even hundreds of millions per annum for companies with market cap of less than 100 millions. Year 2017, which was yet to be reported, is likely to be even worse.

Perhaps it left us wondering where did these companies manage to get the cash to incur the huge loses and yet still able to sustain salary packages and continue their operation.

Big salaries

Due to the bad results, cost cutting is often one of the inevitable measures cited by Chairman and CEOs to weather the storm of the sector downturn.

Ok, cut the salaries of CEOs, directors and top management then in proportion to the company’s performance then!

Hmmm….. a peek at the annual salary packages of many of these companies’ top management reveals that most of them are all still drawing annual income at levels of >250 or >500 thousands. Perhaps it is not much lower, if not even same or even higher as during the good times before the oil crisis.  Independent directors, who usually are acting as advisors attending few meetings a year, are also still getting their fair share of very good money.

Imagine the top management trying to cost-cut those earning less than 50k p.a. and making work life difficult for them, when they are still lucratively earning 500k yearly, and may still traveling on first or business class flights on company expenses.

Isn’t the top management the ones who are responsible for the profit and losses of the companies? With the companies incurring far-fetched loses, yet those responsible are still getting fat pay-checks, but squeezing and stressing those employees who desperately need the paltry salaries to sustain their family expenses.

The main culprits

The banks are of course even worse and the main culprits who started all these in cahoots with the CEOs. They were the ones who introduced the various debt instruments and cheap money to the CEOs for expansion during the good times.

When crisis struck and things got screwed, it is evident that on paper, companies and banks suffered huge loses. Yet, these losses incurred for banks and companies are somehow all paper money only. Individually, many of the top employees are still filthy rich.

Oh… by the way, the worst it can get is that banks and companies can always introduced all sorts of complicated debt-restructuring programs to continue to keep the companies afloat, cleverly “playing” time delay. Even if listed companies were to undergo bankruptcies or judicial management, many of these companies still keep the top management and pay them good salaries.

The material winners and losers

Regardless of crisis or not, bankers who introduced the various debt instruments still get their lucrative commissions. CEOs and top management still get their fat salaries. Even many major shareholders who lost lots of their “paper stock money” were really not that affected financially, having already cash out during the euphoric share price rise during IPO.

On the contrary, employees who work their ass out, earning meager salaries get stress up now or lost their jobs and struggled to pay their bills! Small investors of these companies lost their hard-earn monies and cried foul.

The root of the roots

Of course all the debt instruments have no chance to be introduced, unless the governmental/regulatory authorities allowed them.

Remember that during the crisis of 2009, many of the O&G/marine companies were not that badly hit, primarily because they were not so indebted by all the “bonds and MTNs”.

It is all greed! 

And going back to the source, perhaps it is not even the CEOs or bankers, or bank CEO…. but perhaps the country herself. You can either call it “the ambition of an aspirated accelerated economic growth”, or simply “evil gimmicks”. 

The scenario in the O&G sector is merely a small warning and maybe even very mild in its evilness. 

Consider all those tech companies who have been making losses every year, all you need is a good story for the fund managers or even governmental agencies to buy into it, then the owner will be able to cash out, paying themselves good salaries using public or agencies’ monies and the success story will continue. 

Not complaining, just to bring awareness

Anyway, I am not complaining, and am never the kind who rants and complains.  I just want to inform that this is truly the world we are living in today.  

And a disclaimer that I am not one of those suffering in the above-mentioned companies listed in Singapore. In fact the company that I had been working for many years now, is seeing record high order intake lately that as a group that we are really running short of capacities. It is definitely a unfamiliar situation considering that in 2015 and 2016 we are also laying off hundreds of people as a group and significant retrenchments in Singapore also. Please accept that I am not boasting of the fortunate situation my company is experiencing now, but instead I am sincerely humble and grateful. All is by the grace of higher powers maybe, lest anyone should boast and claim credit?

Somehow this article is to bring to the awareness that it is quite ridiculous how this world has become, chasing the material aspects of life, especially in affluent city like Singapore. And people are becoming more and more selfish, self-loved and self-centered, always only thinking “what is it for me?” or “what can I get out of it?” rather than how can I help the needy looking at their root problems? Undoubtedly the rich are becoming richer, and the poor, poorer…the evil becoming more evil, and the righteous becoming more righteousness still (hopefully).

Final thoughts

Although it is totally unsurprising for me that this kind of unrighteous ethics is going to be more commonplace or even more wicked as time passes, it does disgust me a lot to continue reading on the annual reports, last night. Haha…

So I stopped reading the reports, and this also contributed to one of the reasons why I am blogging lesser nowadays about all the stocks and the material aspect of life. Material wealth and power of this world after-all is temporary and will just disappear once your time in this present age ended. So why are we spending so much time on it anyway. I did chase that a lot once upon time and are glad that I see the light now. 

Are you now still chasing? 

Instead I am concentrating more on the true wisdom in life, which is making the most out of life, rather than making lots of money. It is about impacting and changing lives of people around me with the true purpose of our existence. 

You may not realise. The more a person becoming more selfless in a wise manner, the more eventually all the things will fall in place peacefully. It includes relationships with families, friends and in work place and even your finance will miraculously fall into place, lest you even keep focusing on it. 

Enough said. If you are reading this article till now, I am truly thankful. May you and your loved ones be blessed with true love, peace and joy, and keep on becoming more and more righteous and selfless, making the most out of life.  

Oh yar.... this is my first blog article in 2018. Happy New Year to all the readers and have a splendid 2018 and beyond ahead.