Thursday, December 9, 2010

Investing in Singapore, Part 1: First Things First


Juan dude,

"You're so money!" - Swingers

Got to read some of your articles and found them enlightening, haha. So, here I am hoping for a dash of your opinion bro.. Ok here's my situation. I am 28, an engineer working in Singapore and I recently got to think of getting my feet wet on the "investment thing". For now, it's baby steps though. So I'm gonna need an insider's point of view on this... As they say, engineering and accounting, do mix well like oil and water, so help me through it bro. Question is how do I start? For now, I am willing to break my piggy bank of 50,000 pesos for investment. Long term or short term? I'm thinking of maybe around 6 months? If it's longer-term, maybe a lesser figure then. At first I'm thinking of starting up a microbusiness, considering the amount, but then, since I am based here in Singapore, I think it's out of the question already. So my next idea is to invest through the bank. UITFs? Money market funds, equity funds? What do you think? My knowledge regarding this is so minimal, that my understanding of it is... one's higher risk/higher profit, and the other ones lesser risk/gain, hehe.. (Tama ba?) and I think I'm open for higher risk, hehe... Another thing is since I'm in Singapore, is it possible to start an account locally there (BDO? Internet banking?), or would I have to invest with a local bank here (DBS is my trusted bank here. I did look through their trust investments, but I can't really make any decision about it); you might wanna check it out too, if you have the luxury of time, 'cos I can't seem to understand or decide if it's worth it.

To sum it up, I'm still clueless, but ready to jump in, hehe...  So, appreciate to hear from you pare, privately, or publicly.



Yo, Jay, dude! :)

Nice to hear from you, and even better to know that you have decided to "get your feet wet" and invest. That's a very, very good first step, believe me; a lot of people have trouble even getting past that.

You have a handful of concerns, so let me go through them one by one so that I won't miss anything.

1. Amount? 50,000 pesos is enough money to start with. With 50,000 pesos, you can invest in most available funds, and even individual stocks, both in the Philippines and in Singapore. But it does not mean you should end there. Try to set aside 5 to 10% of your monthly salary in a savings account and invest whenever you accumulate 50,000 pesos or thereabouts.

2. Short or long term? Definitely long term, regardless of the size of your investment. Why? I'm sure you neither have the time nor the patience to actively play the investment game; don't get me wrong, most of us wouldn't. The best thing to do, in my opinion, is invest, close your eyes, and cash out at the opportune time (when you get married, decide to buy a new house, retire, etc.). Remember, the longer you wait, the higher the chance your investment will have grown appreciably, and that's a fact.

3. Microbusiness? Like a franchise or something? One thing that kind of investment requires is time, yours or someone else's. I've actually been thinking of the doing same thing: I've playing around with a business idea or two this past year, but I know that all of that will have to wait for either me to come back to the Philippines, or find a suitable and capable business partner who can manage the business in my stead. So until you find a way to resolve this issue, like me, you'll have to stick with investments you can easily manage while you're there.

4. Philippines or Singapore? Even before coming here, I've been looking for ways to manage investments in the Philippines (specifically, in UITFs) while I'm in Hong Kong; suffice it to say, I was not able to find one. There are advantages to investing in Philippine funds: fees are lower and the entire system is significantly more conservative than what they have in the US, Hong Kong, and Singapore, so we are somewhat less affected by global financial crises, like what happened in 2008.

Of course, there are also valuable advantages to investing in more developed markets like Hong Kong and Singapore. Unfortunately, I now have to go back to studying, so I will have to talk about all of these things in Part 2. :)
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