Tuesday 26 July 2016

Equities and Bonds can't be both right. Right?

If you are a panda or koala bear (single asset investor), it doesn't matter. Move along now, there's nothing to see here.

But for those of you who practice portfolio management with asset allocation; or have engaged financial advisors advocating the merits of diversification into different asset classes... How now?

In the "old normal" before 2009, one of the simplest asset allocation strategy was to have our assets in both equities and bonds. And we do periodic rebalancing between these 2 asset classes from time to time to seek risk-adjusted return in line with our temperament and risk profile.

Other variants would include the Permanent Portfolio where we split our assets into 4 or more asset classes - with or without rebalancing.

In this "new normal", both the US equities and bond market are both in near all time high bull market territory.

Both of these asset classes can't be right? 

Can they?

If both equities and bonds can go up together at the same time, does it mean both equities and bonds can go down together too!?

Those of you taking Business Finance currently, you may want to "ki chiu" and ask your lecturer on this anomaly?

And for those with financial advisors, maybe schedule a "lim kopi" meetup session to review your portfolio?

If you are approaching retirement or already in retirement, this is not a rhetorical or moot question.

Its not fun and games. The last thing you want is to do everything right so far only to fxxk-up the end game...

Not so passive now, are you?

Thursday 21 July 2016

People who hate office politics

You know who hates office politics?

Those on the losing side.

If you're on the winning side, what office politics right?

Sunday 17 July 2016

Light Rain

See if you can relate to this video:

Psst. Did you notice who stayed behind? And what was this person doing?

I remember it very clearly even today.

I was in primary 3 and was in the school band. We had practice on Saturdays.

One Saturday afternoon after practice, it rained cats and dogs after training.

Instead of waiting for the rain to stop, I and 2 other classmates, who lived near each other in the same Queenstown neighbourhood, decided to run through the rain home!

From Margaret Drive to Stirling Road it takes about 20 minutes by walking.

I think we took more than 45 minutes to reach home :)

We took some interesting "detour" in the rain...

Ah... The innocence of youth! Not knowing what cannot be done ;)

That's why it's so memorable!!!


Got similar memories of your yesterday where you just "ran through the rain" instead of waiting for the rain to stop?

(Hello, running through the rain is just a metaphor)


Wednesday 13 July 2016

Staycation at Jen Hotel Orchard Gateway - 11 to 14 July 2016

Spending 4 days 3 nights right in the middle of Orchard Road.

Just a break.

View at breakfast looking down at Orchard Road

Pool view at the 19th floor. Looks like Hong Kong's bird cages right?  

People's Park, Raffles Place, Marina Bay Sands, and Lao Lee's place

Emerald Hill and Cairnhill - different from up here. Condos r' us?

Yes, another infinity pool. Eh? All ang mohs?

Today's view with drizzle. Only me there. Whole place to myself!

Sunday 10 July 2016

My Trading Edge

As usual, I shall lay out the context and perspective before I share what's my trading edge.

Paid to trade

Traders working for institutions like hedge funds, investment banks, sovereign wealth funds, etc; they all have one thing in common - they have a base salary.

That means they don't have to worry how to pay the bills every month.

With one thing less to worry, they can focus on making money for the landowners who hired them - knowing full well their landowners will reward them handsomely with big bonuses if they perform.

Ownself eat ownself

As for full time traders trading at prop shops, trading arcades, or at home, there ain't no base salary - we eat what we kill.

No kill; no meat.

We go hungry.

Multiple sources of income

Do you know how difficult it is if you want to trade for a living under the "ownself eat ownself" model?

Just ask any trader trading his own account and you'll know! Verify for yourself.

After struggling for a while, some of these traders will discover they need to find a more stable source of income like their "paid to trade" brethren.

If not, how to recover from big drawdowns or busted trading accounts?

Hence you'll see all these "I want to share my secrets", "I want to help others get rich", "I want to work for world peace", finger in the mouth kind of snake oil being peddled.

Pause and think for a moment.

If you are a successful trader, why do you need to burn your evenings and weekends finding other sources of income to complement your trading income?

Selling subscription services, giving seminars, and organising workshops and courses?

And you thought trading for a living gives you financial freedom? These multi-tasking traders cum training gurus are probably working longer hours than you!

Isn't it much easier to show your track record to the institutions and get yourself hired as a paid trader? (OK, institutions are better at verifications than retail; maybe that's a harder sell...)

My trading edge

I did my homework and when I started my journey as a full time home based trader 3.5 years ago, I made sure I do not have to trade with scared money.

The investment side of my portfolio pays for my lifestyle.

That means once I've seeded my trading account, I've no need to withdraw money out to pay for my living expenses.

All my trading profits stay in - that helps to grow and compound my trading account.

And it makes tracking and measurement of performance so much easier - I started with $1; now I have $11.

Simple. (What's with XIRR and CARG? Noticed the study types like to use percentages?)

No. That's not the edge. That's the pre-condition for my trading edge.

What's my trading edge?

I can afford to be standing on the sidelines.

Remember, if you are a "ownself eat ownself" trader, how to make money if you don't have a trading position on?

P.S.  Hang on! Some of you alert readers may be thinking to yourselves - I have a regular full time job that pays the monthly bills as I trade part-time. I can afford to be on the sidelines too! Why then am I still belonging to the 90% money losing group of traders???


Well, that's for you to figure out for yourself.

There's one big difference. Wink.

Friday 1 July 2016

View on retail from the selling floor up

If you visit Plaza Singapura on level 3 at the new wing extension, you will see lots of empty shops. Now that 1st Market by Chef Wan is also closed, the whole stretch on the left side is all partitioned up.

Before you jump onto the bandwagon of press articles (and ya-lor ya-lor new media blog posts) pontificating its doom and gloom for retailers today - and the biggest reason is high rentals - let me ask you a few silly questions:

Dead spots (you got no weaknesses to improve?)

Have you looked at the old wing of Plaza Sing? Very crowded with lots of people huh? How about level 1 and 2 of the new wing? All tenanted. So what's with level 3?

One exits and another moves in (one happy; one sad)

At Harbour Front, our Howard Storage World was closed 2 years ago as the landlord would like to increase the rental by 20% when the lease expires. Guess what? Mothercare, our neighbouring store, expanded into our vacated spot and converted that location into a huge store for them!

If you are the landlord, was it "wrong" to increase the rental?

If you are Mothercare, would you be complaining on paying the increased rent for the new unit?

Bad developments (Who's the architect? Who's the developer?)

Visited Orchard Gateway anyone? How's the layout? Weird right?

This one even better! Come visit Alexandra Central Mall if you happen to visit IKEA Alexandra. It's just next door. You won't believe what you'll see at this Alexandra Central!!!

Only in China have I seen retail properties offered at "undeveloped" (毛坯) conditions... Is it any surprise this retail development is 1/2 empty?

If you are the retailers opposite Queensway Shopping Centre, would you be celebrating your dumb luck?

New kid on the block (must try harder to gain attention)

What's the difference between Mandarin Gallery with established players like Paragon, Ngee Ann City, Ion Orchard; etc?

Can you remember a special reason why you should make a visit there to Mandarin Gallery?

Would you allow a new colleague come and overtake your position in the company just like that?

They have to earn it right?

Competent retail property management (people matters)

Anyone remembers Bugis + before its present look? Who took over and turned it around?

Same for Chinatown Point. Have you stepped into the old configuration especially the round about wing? Now? Big difference right?

How about JCube at Jurong East? With newer and sexier new retail developments like Jems and Westgate Mall, did JCube roll-over and blame the economy? Or did the property management did a great job reinventing and repositioning JCube?

You are not the centre of the universe (entitlement thinking begone!)

Far East Shopping Centre holds a special place in my memory. My first retail job was at Metro Orchard (present day DFS) opposite. I see the press and some websites jumping the gun on its current "decline"...  

Well, isn't it typical? As if people and competence don't matter.

Just because we open a retail shop, or develop a retail property, it does not mean we are "entitled" to succeed.

While we may have our SMART goals and "what can go wrong?" plans to succeed, others have their counter-plans to make sure we don't succeed. This is called competition.

So yes, if a retail store shutters its doors, or a retail development fails to live up to its business plan, its so easy to blame it on the economy, internet buying, shift to suburban retailing, and so on.

How come you don't hear retailers saying, "I fxxked up?"

No. Orchard Road is not losing its buzz.

On the contrary, I find it a fabulous shopping experience! We can hold our own against Ginza of Tokyo and Paris' Champs Elysees.

Just as long we let the free market weeds out the poorly prepared and rewards the competent.

P.S.  Some readers may realise, as much as I'm sharing my retailing viewpoints, I am also metaphorically writing on my investing and trading philosophies too... 


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