Saturday, 11 July 2015

Half Year Review - Rolf's Life & Investment Strategy Towards The Current World Turmoil

World and Personal Turmoil

The world is in shambles lately. Greece facing EU exit; Oil crisis; Fed potential interest rates hike; China stock markets dive; MERS spreading; Malaysia 1MB and PM probe; Currency depreciations in Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia etc.

Due to oil crisis, my company is not spared either. Talks about cutting workforce in Europe started. In my opinion, the worst in the O&G is yet to be felt!

Personally, things aren’t so perfect lately too! I had six overseas business trips in the last two months.  The days when I am back home, I hosted four different groups of overseas visitors and attended two industry-networking sessions. Not only my personal time and sleep were stolen, I fell ill on many occasions.

If you think this is it? No it isn’t!

Last month was school holiday kids are at home all day! This month, my domestic helper is back to her native country for three weeks.  My wife is also extremely busy and work long hours in office.  The house is in a mess and all my kids are making so much noise at times when I need peace. Moods naturally are aversely affected for everyone. Quarrels are commonplace.

What Should I do? Bottled stress up and explode eventually.

Not quite my style!

Right State of Mind First

Step one, which is most basic and fundamental. Get the state of mind right! I know that tuning my mind to the right frequency is extremely important. Although I had always been positive, but seriously there had been too much pessimism surrounding lately.

Therefore, I felt that It pays well to inject “more positives” into my brain. So I borrowed a book titled  “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale.

“Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate.” - Norman Vincent Peale

When I have worries or feels tired after a day of hectic schedule, I will close my eyes, take a deep breath, and mentally throw all my worries into the ocean!

Stay Positive and it helps.

Continue to Invest Even When World is in Turmoil

The crazy world lately did not stop me from continuing my investment. Earlier in March, I wrote an article titled “Stock Markets Toppish – What Should I Do?” In it, I discussed about why we should continuing investing (with precautionary measures) even when Market is Toppish. 

Notwithstanding all the negative news plus my busy schedules, I continue to invest.  

In the month of June and July, I added twice Coca Cola Amatil ASX (9.5 & 9.25) due to the retreat of share price of close to 20% since Apr.  The depreciating AUD, which I reckon over long term should rebound, fueled my buy actions further.

Silverlake a company with strong balance sheet was not spared the slides when its share price tumbled more than 30% since the high in Apr. I took the opportunity to add this counter twice (1.05 & 0.92) during this period.

Then I “nibbled” on traditionally strong counters such as Raffles Medical (3.85 Apr) and Comfort Delgro (3.05), while disposing entirely China Aviation Oil (0.79)   

I also added Vicom twice (6.3 & 6.05) and Woolworths ASX (28.3) while selling Courts, OUE and Lippo Malls (partial).

Overall my portfolio is still in green. This excludes dividends that I have been receiving. Had it not for Oil and Gas stocks (<15% of my portfolio) which I am still holding Swissco, Ezion, Sembcorp & Krisenergy, my portfolio results will be fantastic. Still, I am happy with the overall results (in green) in view of the current bad market situation.

For more about my portfolio, refers to my earlier post “ My Portfolio – 1Q15 Review”.

Devise Your Investment Strategy

For the past half year, I had been patient and build up quite a sizeable cash reserve funds. This cash buildup of more than 25-30% of my portfolio comes from my monthly savings as I reduce my investment expenditure per month compare to last year.

Therefore I did not really trim my portfolio size to have a huge warchest.

The reason is simple. I still have confidence over long term on most of the stocks I handpicked earlier. Admittedly I do make many mistakes in buying the wrong stocks and those are the ones I sell to rebalance my portfolio. I also sell for strategic reasons when there exists better investment opportunity around.

Last year, I will always try to buy each counter at a higher $ (>7K) to reduce commission fees paid. On the contrary, for this year, I will acquire each counter at a lower $ (<5K). Yes, commission is proportionally higher but you have to realize that market is volatile. By buying lesser per trade, you can dollar average the share price cost better and safer over a longer depressed period.

Bear in mind that I am no “George Soros” who knows when is the right time to invest!

This is my nibble and dollar average strategy!

It eliminates the need of very precise timing, although general timing is still needed! For instance, after each bad world news, you could nibble “good company with great fundamentals” that has fallen in price. Another bad news comes months later… you nibble again. Slow and patient…NO CATCHING OF FALLING KNIVES all at once!

No Time, But Still Continue to Do What I Like

The discouraging economy did not stop me from continuing investing. Likewise the super hectic schedule is not going to stop me from pursuing my interest in investments, blogging or exercising.

Be it at home or overseas, I will always read financial papers or online articles during breakfast daily. At night, I will spend at least an hour going through stock news or investment blogs. Of course intensity is reduced, but who cares?

Reading books and writing blogs on the plane and airport terminal is my best way to optimize time and yet doing things I enjoy. That does not mean I will skip my free Kris-entertainment movie on the plane. However I try to limit to one movie per trip and mix it with reading and writing blogs.

No Time, No Health? That is an Excuse!

My sleep is affected badly with so many nightout with visitors and colleagues and yet having to work next morning. Health is badly affected. To prevent my body from further deteriorating, DISCIPLINE is needed. I remind myself to eat healthy and never miss a meal. Try to exercise in hotel during overseas trip even when extremely tired after long day of meeting. The 15 minutes workout is better than none! During days at home, I will swim or jog with my kids. Again, optimize time, exercise and yet family time!   

Family Time Sacrificed? Manage Properly!

To say my family relationship is not affected is a lie, since I spend so little time at home recently. The constant reminder to my wife and myself, that this busy time is only temporary provides relief. To have a work life balance, I already applied a week’s leave this month to recharge my battery at home. Yes on leave but, no overseas family tour. Some people may say it is a waste of annual leave but I think this is necessary. Using online Apps to catch up with family members while outstation also reconnects our bonds while distance apart.

Friends & Relatives Must Not Be Ignored

Most people will have ignored their friends for this kind of crazily busy period. But not me! I attended two wedding events and two baby showers over four weekends. Wait… I do have a choice of not attending, since I had so little time for myself. Wouldn’t personal time at home over weekends more enjoyable? Then I think about it…Hey...but these are my loyal friends and relatives who also attended my weddings and baby showers!

Building Career By Building Relationships

After the company acquisition, I already anticipated busy times ahead. See my earlier post “Oil & Gas Crisis – Time to Take On More Work Even with No Pay Raise!

Overall for me, the positives outweigh the negatives for my career.

While my salary satisfaction is stable and inch up slowly per annum, my job satisfaction levels rise tremendously lately. The satisfactions were mostly attributed to:

1) Learning new products and getting to know new colleagues and clients from all over the world
2) The gratitude I received from my fellow more junior colleagues after giving them advice about work
3) The appreciations from my overseas colleagues for bringing them around this beautiful Lion City. And for working so well together tackling new projects as a team, something they may previously lack with our local office.

So overall, I am continuing to build a good relationships both externally with clients and internally with colleagues.


  1. Rolf,

    People first,

    then business,

    then KPIs.

    I presented the above to a our Ang Moh IT top management at Shanghai.

    I knew what was coming and why they were learning from us in Trading on "Vendor Management".

    We finally caught on the in-house to outsourcing bandwagon.

    So even in good times, nothing is taken for granted.

    It's all about efficiency remember? Earn more, save more?

    I do my best provide the counter-balance so we don't go overboard!!!

    Like you, I focus a lot on relationships.

    1. Hey SMOL,

      You says "pple first, biz second, KPI third."

      Jack Ma says "customers first, employees second and shareholders third.”

      Notice that all are people related, so that is why Relationships are paramount in Biz particularly in Asia. If u combined that with Product excellence (look at Apple)... "Scary!"

      Business is about efficiency and effectiveness, no denials. In addition, asian values is also built upon trust, integrity and relationship! Ang Moh who does not know ought to be educated on this!

      But life in general, probably not about efficiency and effectiveness. It's about knowing who u r, finding what u like n eventually doing wat u like!

    2. Hi Rolf,

      Great reminders.

      Life is all about people. People drive businesses and people generate KPIs. Without people no KPIs nor businesses.

      By the way the best people I worked with weren't the smartest, but the nicest. A pound of emotional intelligence is worth a ton of book intelligence. I wish they'd teach this in our schools.

      People care whether you're pleasant to work with, whether you're good at your job, and whether you make them feel good about themselves (in that order).

      But I see you do know all that already.

      Cheers from an Ang Moh who likes to learn

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Hi Tacomob,

      Thanks for dropping by. It's really well said "a pound of EQ is worth a ton of book Intel."

      Indeed Life is all about people.

      As for teachings in school, there is a saying that you only start learning when you step into the society "real world"!

      I think your "Ang Moh" hair are all black already! Hahaha... You are what we call the "reverse" of banana LAR!!!


  2. Hi Rolf,

    Good set of priorities. Really no excuses, if you want to do something. As they rightly pointed out, if you want to do something, you'll find a way. If not, you'll find excuses :)

    Having a grateful mindset helps a lot in looking at the positives when mired in negatives. It's these positives mindset that makes us 'luckier' than the rest ;)

    1. Hi LP,


      Positive mindset is so powerful that it can even influence state of health, I think.

      You know I hate reading as a boy, and hate the "master reader!" program. But now is the contrary.

      From your blog, I see that you read so many books, that probably makes the difference in the depth of knowledge and mindset within a person.

  3. Hi Rolf

    Your mid year review looking good.

    From your writing, the general sense seems driving to "too many things, but with limited time." It is good to see so much drive in you :)

    Sometime, we just need to constantly review every aspects of our life to streamline, simplify and value-add to our daily experience. Easier said than done, life-time challenge. :)

    1. Hi FD,

      Thanks for dropping by. Hope ur Sunday is great.

      I have to agree that I am lacking time lately. But as I mentioned it is only temporary. If we cannot even take temp challenge, it is a challenge itself in life.

      It is without much choice for the business travel stealing time. But the utilizing of other time to do exercise, reading, blogging, family n friends is probably not to further exhaust myself. Conversely, It is actually ways of "recharging" and "balancing" by doing things I like, which is beneficial to the overall state of mind.

      For the last two yrs, I am sure I have more time in my work than most employees in Sg as I m not confine to a 8-6 schedule and manage my own time. So there is probably little to complain that now it is more hectic as life for me is never a straight line. Anyway the next 1-2 month is foreseen to be quiet times!

      Nevertheless if it is like this busy for a prolonged period of time, it's time to review like what u mention. The most worrying part for me is Health. Nothing else matters more.


    2. I agree with you, health and family time are priceless :) I am sure you are on the right track. Let walk this journey together. Cheers

    3. I agree with you, health and family time are priceless :) I am sure you are on the right track. Let walk this journey together. Cheers

    4. Hi FD,

      Yeah... I will like to boldly assume that most of us here if still slogging as employee are actually selling our time for money. If ur money many many one day, then you can start selling less of ur time for your health n family.

      Thanks and let's walk the track of happiness.. all of us.

  4. Hi Rolf,

    Wow. I personally felt "hectic" just from reading your post.

    You are really juggling many things and some trade-offs are inevitable. Hope everything's well and look forward to seeing a healthier you in the 2nd half of the year!

    1. Hi 15HWW,

      Yes.. definitely not healthy to juggle so many things at one time. That is why I am enjoying my week off this month also.

      The good news for second half of the year is I am sure to be more free. The bad news is very free means no business!

      So Busy is better than Free! :-)

      I hope you are getting on extremely well too!

  5. Hi Rolf

    Like everyone else, I can feel your frustration and stuffed up trying to organize everything in a perfect manner though the busy schedule might have impacted you somehow.

    I hope everything goes well for you and your family. The overseas trip can take a toll on your private life but I think you are a man that I know will treasure the more important priority in life, whatever it is. I hope the good short break will rejuvenate you and you will come up stronger than ever. In the meantime, please take care my friend :)

    1. Hi B,

      Thanks for asking.

      Yes, our body either mentally or physically both need to be recharged! Just like all the ancient top Pugilist who retreat into the mountains or caves.

      I am just going to enjoy Singapore and home during the one week break.

      I hope you are going to enjoy your upcoming long weekend break also. More time for family and yourself!

      You too, take good care!

  6. Hi Rolf,

    At least you still exercise in hotels overseas.. normally I just want to drop dead on my bed after the long hours of meetings and travelling on the road. I am considering to swim in the hotel pools, perhaps you can try it too.

    Happy for you that you are making full use of your time and being busy for the correct things/reasons!

    1. Hi Jes,

      When I was traveling in my late 20s, I did not exercise while overseas. I am young and strong - I thought! I only work and work and more work. Eventually I collapse at the age of 30 while scaling to the peak of my career.

      As experience and wisdom grow, meeting nowadays is easier. So also feel less tired. Hence exercising is ok after that. By the way, I exercise to feel good and not to be an Olympian.

      Thanks for the suggestion of swimming. I will try next time, but I think it's compulsory to wear a cap! Hahhaa...