Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lead by Action - Walk the Talk

I was in Shanghai around 1 year plus when HR approached me to be one of the facilitators to evangelise the new process-driven way of looking at supply chains.

You know how it is. Previously, each player in the total supply chain will have their own "silo mentality" and corresponding KPIs - which sometimes do conflict with one another.

The left hand may not be always talking to the right hand.

So here we come as agents of change evangelising the new gospel that's emanating from the Head Cathedral in Sweden.

What's the new unifying KPI? 

It's availability at the selling floor from the customer's perspective.

In each class, there will be participants from different organisations and functions within Shanghai - Retail, Transport, Distribution, Trading, Shared Services (accounting, admin, etc).

You know what? In my first class of 15 participants, 4 giggly young girls from Accounts at Shared Services walked in nonchalantly 5 minutes late.

Yup, I started my workshop on the dot sharp as stated in the agenda.

I sent these 4 girls packing.

My parting words to these 4 girls and to the stunned class:

"Now you know from first hand experience what's the essence of availability at the selling floor from the customer's perspective."

It was a calculated gamble.

And it paid off.

After the workshop, the "news" spread like wild fire. It has never occurred before in any of the Shanghai organisations before.

Immediately, I got a complaint email from the furious manager (local mainland Chinese) of the Accounts girls. LOL!

HR, and all the expat facilitators who done the workshops before me all poked fun at me and patted my back in congratulations. 

Yes, I am the boy who pointed out the Emperor has no clothes...

Oh! What happened to the the manager that complain against me? Well, HR and his boss (non-mainland Chinese) have a good talk with him on leadership in Swedish MNC...

When I do change management, I start at the serpent's head and work my way down to the tail.


Friday, January 23, 2015

There is more to Life than "success" or "financial freedom"

What good is success if there is no one to share your joy?

What's so great about wealth if there no one to share it with?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"Investor" in Unit Trusts, ILPs, Wholelife, and Endowment Policies?

Hands up anyone who "bought" Unit Trusts, Investment-linked. Wholelife, and Endowment policies as their first "investment"?

Now after having 5 to 10 years of building up your financial literacy knowledge - putting hand to heart - how many of you will admit they were sold to you, and they were some of your worst financial "mistakes"?

Know any fellow investor who voluntarily knocks on the doors of land banking or MLM companies to buy their products or memberships? I don't think so!

Anyone in sales would know what I'm going to say is true:

If a product or service sells by itself, there is no or very little commission in it. Company not stupid. Salespersons reluctantly offer these products as part of their "service". At best, these products are "loss leaders" to draw customers in so we can trade them up.

If a product or service is very profitable to the company, the commission or incentive will be super juicy for the salesperson who can push these products out to customers. Why? Ask yourself how much you knew about Unit Trusts, ILPs and Wholelife policies when you first "bought" them?

Today's post is not about being sold to per se.

It's more to share my observation of what I see when an "investor" with the above products hit their epiphany, mind-flip, ah-ha, or sudden enlightenment moments....


Let sleeping dogs lie

Of course there will be rabid vested interests who will argue till their faces are blue that these product and services I've mentioned are the most suitable to people who do not have the time nor inclination to get themselves financially educated.  

Wait a minute.

I am in total agreement with you!

Next! (下一位!)


In the financial blogosphere, we have read quite a few sharings when "investors" realised their past follies with the above products, and how they were willing to undo their mistakes, often at a loss to their capital.

Their reasoning - a short term pain is better than a drawn out journey of bleed and misery. 

Fork in the road

These "born again investors" will now have a new mantra - Buy Term; invest the rest.

How invest the rest? That's where the fork in the road will separate the active from the passive investors.

Do you see any Financial bloggers sharing their journey of financial freedom showcasing Unit Trusts, ILPs, Wholelife, and Endowment policies as their main vehicle of choice?

OK, a tiny few may show Unit Trusts, but these are usually "investors" just starting their journeys; we cut them some slack. They can be nice goldfish test cases to observe when their fish bowls will "crack" and they start sharing their mind-flip moments.

Passive investor but active in living!

This group of people have searched within their hearts and found they value living a good life is way more important than monitoring the markets and constantly tracking how many beans they have in their pockets.

Investing is just a part of their lives. 

Time should be better spent building relationships; developing their careers or businesses; and enjoyment of their hobbies, sports, and other leisure activities.

Frequently, these investors will end up with Dollar Cost Averaging with low cost Passive Index Fund Investing.

Please note: Singapore does not have Passive Index Funds (yet). So please don't say you are into passive indexing when they are no such funds in Singapore! 

Unless you are using Passive Index Funds from US or other countries outside of Singapore. (But then, I doubt you are that sophisticated. Most would take the active route after having spent so much time on self-research, and research is very active in nature!)

Low cost ETFs are not the same as low cost Index Funds. I'll leave you to research the differences on your own. What? You didn't expect me to spoon-feed you did you? If you always going to be like that, go buy an ILP lah!

And if you are constantly "re-balancing" your low cost ETFs every month, hey you! Yes you!

You have taken the wrong turn. Walk back till you came to the fork and take the other road called "active".

And stop lying to yourself.

Active investor but are you living in the here and now?

Here the journey can be more exciting!

Must be, if not you would have gone to the passive route. Duh?

1.  Traders R' Us

Some may realise they are more into trading and they switch. Ladies can attest to this - no man is more attractive than a confident man who knows who he really is.

Traders have the most interesting stories to tell: 

"Limpeh lost 100K on that stupid Liongold trade!"

"I made 1 million on that short EUR/CHF trade last week. Who's your daddy now?

We can also be the most crass and obnoxious people - its' always about the money and having a bigger "one" than the next trader. We can be super competitive. 

And cut the crap it's a trading "community". It's a zero sum game and we are constantly trying to move the money in your pocket to my pocket. 

It's what Wrestling fans would call a Royal Rumble! 

2.  DIY investors

Here, we are more into country club territory. No breaking of keyboards or cussing at the PC monitors.

A little bit more refined. We can carry a conversation in full sentences and have a robust debate without sending regards to each others' family members.

This group have come to the conclusion that we can't "outsource" our financial freedom journey - no one have our own best interests other than ourselves.

So its to individual DIY stock pickings and our very own DIY asset allocations. 

And that's the nightmare of financial planners!!!  If the majority can DIY, what's the point of their roles again?

Thankfully, going by the millions that were lost to scams like landbanking, Brazilian properties, Gold trading, Fine Wine, questionable MLMs and what not, chill. There's still a big market out there!

Another interesting thing about DIY investors is that they like to form different Guilds.

One Guild for Value Investing, another for Income Investing, and another for Growth... The list is endless.

But looking at the Singapore financial blogosphere, I see 2 titans each with their own fan base.

One is the 10 bagger I tell you so; the other is the 6 digit annual dividend bleeding heart.

I guess this makes sense.

Aren't we forever debating whether capital gain comes first or should we prioritise yield?

Is net-worth more important or cash flow?

And naughty me is having fun watching one of them trying to bait the other into a fight. 

Give it up lah! Come sit down, have a sip of tea, and have a cha shao bao!

3.  You got a life?

Most of these DIY investor or traders have school to attend, a career or business to take care in the day.

I wonder where they find the time to invest and trade? 

Something has to give right?

All we need is 10 minutes a day what!?

Eh? If you want to be so passive, might as well be honest to yourself and join those passive indexing investors and focus on having a life! 


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