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Saturday, 12 December 2015

Eavesdropping at my broker - sentiment that bad huh?

Yesterday afternoon, I was at my broker's office to drop off this stupid W-8 form for trading US shares (I'm vested in some US ETFs; I find them good trading vehicles).

It's an annual ritual thingy.

When leaving the office, I took the same lift with one of the 70 plus Director (always smiling face gentleman) who dressed like our President - high waist pants, white long sleeves shirt with tie.

And sharing the lift with us was a remisier in his late 50s?

Rolled-up sleeves, shirt tucked out, with casual pants, and weightlifting a humongous luxury sports watch. He is built like an ex-rugby player - you know, the look that fits in well at country or yachting club. Exudes power and success.

I was caught off guard by what he said to that director inside the lift.

"Market is very quiet," laments the remisier with a tired face.

The Director smiles with a nodding head.

"During these 2 years, a lot of people have lost money until scared," continued the remisier. Shaking his head.

The Director kept his smile and continues nodding.

First thing that went through my mind...

That Director really experienced and knows the meaning of quiet strength! The current market now must be nothing compared to what he has been through!

Second thing that came to mind is this remisier must be having a really bad day.... But you don't talk like that in front of strangers. Since I entered the lift at the same floor, surely he suspects I'm a client?

All that physical image of strength and power crumbles when you lose your composure by whining...

And then a slight smile beamed on my face as I walked out the lift. Outside it's really pouring. OK, let's kill time with some window shopping while waiting for the weather to clear.

I'm glad I did what I did last year and early this year.

I guess unlike sex, being early is not as bad as over staying our welcome.


  1. 2008 was a fast death, now we enter into slow death, fuel by deflation and low interest rate preasure.

    the pain will not be so strong but it will continue and continue and continue that seems no end.

    1. we have so many investors who shoudn't be investing at all, and so many businesses(men) who has no business in the bueinesses at all.

      not to forget about the traders, it is a real test of time including myself.

    2. 2008 the market came down in one shot, everything came down together, no time to run.

      now it seems like it will come down in stages, in different sector and in different cycle, one after another, sector by sector, stage by stage.

    3. coconut,

      Tell me about it!

      This year has been a lot more choppy than last year.

      The setups that worked for me the past 2 years are not working so well this year... The retracements and reversals can be brutal :(

      Yup! Markets are passing baton on the way down. First was commodities, now it's high yield junk bonds.

      Let's see which asset class is next to crack.

      Even "cash" is not spared. Just ask our Malaysian friends who have their wealth denominated mainly in MYR.

      Singaporeans don't care since SGD is appreciating against our neighbours... Even though it has weakened against USD.

      Thank goodness my trading account is 80% in USD :)

    4. i feel the pain (as an investor) too cos i had some money in the market. my trading volume also cut by half cos of illiquit and less volatility (yap you hear that right).

      overall not a good year for me knn.

    5. i think the next to collapse is the car market, many are stuck with cars that they can't sell, especially the high end ones. dealers showroom are pack with many unsold luxurise cars. few months back i just got mine cos the seller make an offer i just can't refuse, incredibly cheap for a high end car!

      also in auction market, cars are basically offer near their paper value. if one is not worry about the heavy proceedings, he can get very good bagain there.

    6. needless to say the other over supply assets are property, both residential and commercial. it will be a long and winding down the road.

    7. coconut,

      I'm still banging my head how can I miss the trade on WTI crude :(

      OK, did make some money on other long USD trades, but short crude long USD was the best long USD trade this year!!! So angry with myself :(

      Car market I no ideas since I not into cars; I more into women. Have you noticed Singaporean women are getting prettier? Or am I getting more lecherous? LOL!

      As for property, I think big daddy has done reasonably well in managing a soft landing. Developers are asking big daddy to ease up; but big daddy has to be wary on hot money from China, Japan and Europe. Those funds that are now leaving emerging markers have to find a safe haven to park...

  2. Hi SMOL,

    The last paragraph is like silent "boasting" lol.

    My reaction when I read your post is also: that bad huh...

    Although I dun have you skills of exiting early or CW war machine in standby mode.

    I think I more or less can accept paper losses in my stride ... Maybe another 30% I will capitulate ?? I hope no ...

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      I'm merely doing something that you don't do often enough - cheerleading myself ;)

      It's wasn't fun to take some money off the table to reduce risk and see STI keeps going up...

      And to keep hearing cash is rotting in the banks...

      No one cares about risk management?

      Well, based on what you say, I suspect you have not been through 2007-08. And you're definitely not a fan of Warren Buffet ;)

      You are investing based on hope? Planning in advance would mean if your portfolio tanks another 30%, it would be crystal what you would do - capitulate and sell; or add to existing positions based on your "conviction" market will revert to mean or some other strategies.

      I got a stock that went to zero. I learned the hard way it's better not to be so blasé about paper losses :(

    2. SMOL,

      I went through 2007 - 2008, but I just started. So really, it didn't count. CAO is 2005 if I remembered correctly ...

      Then I was out of the market... So the roller coaster wasn't that bad. It was the 2009 that I picked up courage to re-enter the market again...

      30% I want to add.... But who know if I have the balls with me then?

      So far, my balls are with me and I am really quite sanguine about paper loss of quality dividends paying companies.

      Another 30% down. I tell u when it happens ok :)

    3. Sillyinvestor,

      Yup, that doesn't count. I meant being fully vested and living through 2007/08.

      Like many out there, you have started from 2009, so what you write reflects it.

      Another 30%, let's discuss your reflections and compare them with mine and the fisherman who have lived through at least 2 bull/bear cycles ;)

    4. When it's another 30%, maybe I will jio u out again for a drink to drown my sorrows !!!

      I don't want to assume anything before living through it ... Decision made is a thin line at the point of time.

      I am thinking of living beyond market cycles if I get it wrong ... If I can get it right, of course I will go in and out for more "cash" lol

      If market goes up 20% I will be increasing cash too.

      But maybe then, the battle scar will change the way I invest too...

  3. Oh... For the pure fun of fortune telling...

    I felt the doom and gloom
    Now is more bark than bite lei...

    I could
    We'll be wrong but at least this is how I feel:

    Currency crisis ... Leading to bond crisis ... Possible.

    Commodity crisis ... Like low
    Crude ... Benefit importers so the total destructive effect should be "milder"

    Even oil and major commodities are "cheaper than cabbage" where is the risk of runaway inflation that will
    Let US hike and hike fast and furious? Maybe a signaling ? So currency risk reduced ...

    China slowing ... But 6% growth ... That bad meh... ? Or media makes it up to be bad. Really need 7% otherwise jobless rate go up and up meh? I think 5 or 10% jobless rate depend on PMI more than GDP... Although they are linked ....

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      Anyone and everyone can do predictions and fortune telling.

      It's more profitable to focus on the here and now - what's the price action in the markets are telling me now?

      If I believe the market has overreacted, I'll fade the market - contrarian trade.

      If I believe the market is right., I'll join on the bandwagon - trend following trade.

      If I no clue what's happening? I'll stand on the sidewalks. And wait. And wait ;)

  4. Hi SMOL,

    For the forms, I thought you just need to post it? Haha, I know lah, you prefer to have an excuse to meet up with your broker to let her know you're still alive and kicking ;)

    I think long term trend for brokers is down, haha

    1. LP,

      Nah. I don't even know my broker/dealer. They change quite often which says quite a lot about the industry...

      You think why SGX and some local brokerages are promoting remisier or dealer as a career? If the property market is hot do developers need to take out full page colour ads in the papers?

      I know can mail, but since I'm home-based, I'll take every opportunity to kick the tyres by observing the real economy.

      Marina One, Shenton Way, and Robinson Road now very happening! Lots of interesting skyscrapers.

      I always take a quick glance at the directories. All floors occupied or some floors not tenanted out yet ;)

      But you're right. Watching the customer service babe in tight skirt and heels ain't so bad ;)

  5. Hi SMOL,

    I look at the global economy and the policies being dished out...which pushes back the pain factor while hoping that the results won't be that awful....trading in very testing times after last year's easy run....

    1. Joyce,

      So it's not just me?

      I think all investors and traders - experienced or newbie - have sort of a level playing field for the first time.

      No one has lived through a period where the majority of the major central banks are printing money at the same time!

      It's anyone's guess what the end game will be... New monetary system? Military strife?

      I'm trying my best to recall the events of the last US Fed rate rise from June 2004 to June 2006.

      But then, no man steps into the same river twice.

      I always have a laugh when some 2 bit peddler says all we need is 5 minutes a day for investing/trading.

      Investing/trading is simple. But easy?

      Rolf has written an interesting piece on how Warren Buffet spent so much time on his work that he neglected his first wife, ending in divorce.

      Success is indeed what we have to give up to achieve it :(

  6. Hi Smol
    I'm with Si on this, it's a slow down yet the worst is yet to come ? ( judging from 10 years cycle ? 2016 is the 9th year I presume )

    More barks than bites from friends and colleagues ( some aren't even vested in anything maybe except their ilp if considered it )

    Well let's see what aunt yellen got to say

    1. Small Time Investor,

      With your experience, you'll know those who are the least vested talk the loudest.

      We who are "seriously" vested are quietly preparing what we have lived through.

      Making mistake is OK; it's part of our learning.

      But making the SAME mistake twice is NOT OK ;)

  7. Frm the description maybe i noe which broker u r referring :)

    Anyway i guess sg market as a whole is really not v "exciting", especially after the 3 counter (blumont etc) saga

    1. Welcome to my watering hole Black!

      Ah! Interesting...

      Ex-forex trader turned index investor?

      Well, at least you got the path of index investing right ;)

      I always have a naughty look when I read people vested in STI ETF and calling themselves passive index investor!?

      I guess they don't quite know about narrow-focus country risks...

      You said it right. Our local market has not fully recovered from the Blumont saga.

      8 bloody BILLIONS of market cap just vanished within weeks.

      Luckily, no major damage to most brokerages except perhaps AMFraser securities - but exposure was relatively "small" at 47 millions.

      That means our brokerages have sound risk management practices? That's good!

      I don't wish for a MF Global event to happen in Singapore.

      Imagine making money yet can't get the winnings out because our broker went bankrupt!?

      What the f...!

    2. Thanks bro, i am still in the learning stage of index investing, if i happen to get things started right, it is also a tough discipline to stay on the right course in this arena - learned the hard way thru forex trading those years.

      And yes amfraser got hit so hard, ambank sold them to a taiwan brokering firm. I guess that incident risk management plays a part, snr mgmt "foresight" also shd play a part.

    3. Black,

      Have fun and enjoy your journey of self-discovery!

      It's OK to change our minds and make detours.

      If we didn't enter the shop, how would we know there's nothing inside that interest us?

      The vehicle we choose should match our temperaments.

      I myself like Forex since I'm more a macro guy. Forex is one of the cleanest way to express my world views.

      And of course no intraday trading for me since macro top down is expressed in months and years; not seconds and minutes ;)

  8. Hi Jared,

    Sometimes some people just forget that there ought to be time when "silence is golden!". The more u talk the more u err!

  9. who say we can't get our money back?

    just got news from MF that the remaining will be refund fully in due course!

    see, die die they will refund back but no one seems responsible for what happen!?

    1. coconut,


      In due course... Can mean 1 month or several years.

      Meanwhile, part of our funds are stuck and can't be deployed when opportunity appears...


      See? Select broker also must research their financial backing and risk management practices.

    2. %#*^)!(*%
      !$#%^()!*^%*(%*(&*)(@(*(!!@^%$*&^%, but will get back very soon, already get official reply liao.

    3. All the best to you!

      After Lehman, AIG, and the events in Cyprus and Greece, cannot take things for granted.

      I'll never say if xx bank fails, Singapore also fail mah, ever again. Countries have failed before!

      I better mimic the landed class in putting some funds outside of Singapore.

      And I did.


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