Wednesday 28 August 2019

Recession came early to some...

Yesterday, I had a friendly tap on my shoulder while buying breakfast at my usual Tanglin Halt hawker centre. 

Its my childhood neighbour from Stirling Road! 

He's the same age as me - 52 years young.

After the usual, "Wah, you still alive?" ribbing, he confided to me that he's now on 6 months no pay leave...

No, not the ownself take ownself sabbatical kind to discover yourself...

Its the kind that's forced upon you. You don't argue or complain for fear if you make too much fuss, they'll retrench you on the spot instead...

The hope is after 6 months, business will recover, and your beloved company will take you back. Yes, hope springs eternal...  

Those of you in your late 40s or 50s can relate. Maybe.

Its just a datapoint of one. So don't read too much into it.

By the way, I'm curious. Do you know anyone in your circle that got retrenched recently? Or know any organisations that implemented a headcount freeze?

Don't get into specifics. 

Just getting a feel for what's happening in the corporate world.


  1. Retirement age raise to 65 can only happen when economy is still solid. Else it is forced early retirement

    1. CW,

      The official retirement age is there to protect workers as employers can't terminate the services of their senior workers without valid reasons.

      Cannot discriminate against older workers. Period.

      Got money, anyone can retire anytime they want.

      But then again, if company is not doing well, got official retirement age or not, the first thing the company would do is to jettison the dead weights...

  2. 6 mths npl?

    Hmm if co gives retrench benefits I'll rather get retrenched & try my luck elsewhere. 😛

    1. Spur,

      If I can easily get another job, I would prefer to get the retrenchment benefits here and now instead of waiting and hoping...

      Then again, if I'm highly employable, I would have jumped ship long ago ;)

      Its a bit like investing.

      Some prefer to cut and move on.

      Some just buy ad hold; hoping their salted fish can come back alive...

  3. Hi smol

    Recently my company kana cut headcount also...
    Even my bro company also same... but lucky that we both still got our job. _/\_

    1. Sy,

      So its not a datapoint of 1...

      You take care now.

      Focus on what matters most to you.

    2. Thank you very much !
      Now is body health most Important to me :)
      U too take care...

  4. Hard truth is... you only have yourself to blame if your company thinks you're non essential. Probably means you have just been cruising along at your work.

    1. tw,

      I'm all for taking personal responsibility.

      Hope you'll remember what you've said when it happens to you ;)

      Let's just say, during my shepherd days, its wasn't fun sitting in a room with other butchers, deciding who is essential, who is good to have, who is dead weight...

      Things are not always black and white...

    2. hi tw,

      There is much hard truth in your statement, even though it is politically incorrect. As a starting point for deep reflection over personal failure, blaming oneself is a good place to start.

      Among friends who feel unsafe about their jobs, I keep those comments to myself. Only someone with negative EQ will make such a remark, even though it contains some hard truth.

    3. hyom,

      I've subtly switched "blame yourself" with "taking personal responsibility".

      I have faith youth can read between the lines ;)

      I got more experience in "poking" others; and I'm a snake oil mah.

      Yes, by chosing what words to use, we can elicit whatever response we want from our listener.

      Be it to twist the bayonet, or to salve the wound.

    4. Use the wrong word, and a good message will be lost. Takes some skill and EQ to use the right word.

      Easier to deal with computers. Binary 1 and 0. No need to think about which word to use when they refer to the same thing.

  5. Hi Jared,

    I know of friends who work in the public sector. Even in the "iron rice-bowl" government sector, I'm hearing people losing jobs due to contracts not being renewed. Can't be too specific.

    1. hyom,

      A lot of companies now are following the Japanese example of 2nd class contract workers. (That's one way to reduce/fake the "official" headcount)

      Don't belive the "spin" about flexibility and diverse experential working environments...

      We have the same in my workend gig.

      Some promoters are on part-time contracts even though they work 9 hours a day, 6 days a week.

      Lower pay, lower benefits. Wny?

      Weak negotiation skill/power...

      When we can't walk away or say no, we can only take other people's "take it or leave it" :(

  6. Personally, I haven't heard about any friends who got retrenched. But yes, headcount frozen, many many. There, one more datapoint for you, I hope? ^^

    1. bb!

      OMG! How long has it been? Its been ages!!!

      I missed those free dinner gigs you've so kindly invited me ;)

      Good times!

      So it seems some organisations are already preparing for autumn...

      Thank you for the heads-up ;)

    2. Haha, really, you missed them? Be careful what you ask/wish for, LOL! I'll be back inviting you again soon then ^^

      P.S. Actually even though I haven't heard of friends who got retrenched, but all the signs and numbers are pointing towards recession. I believe the Govt is also ready with some stimulus package since PM has mentioned it at NDR. Over at our end, we're also watching really very closely to see how we may/can step in and help.

      Talk to you, or see you soon!

    3. bb,

      You have an edge as you sit between big daddy and labour ;)

      Singapore very unique.

      Pro business capitalist shepherd - big daddy.

      Landowner - big daddy.

      Labour movement - also big daddy!


  7. Hi SMOL,

    I sure can relate to the part about chopping board and that it is not fun even if u are the butcher...

    For iron rice sector, it is now easier to " leave " ...

    I never heard of freeze or cut yet.

    But promotion games and reentry rules have all changed years ago when demand and supply favour seller

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      During recessions, those who struggle outside will seek to join you as part of your flock.

      During good times, the enterprising ones know you can earn more outside. Hence there's always attrition to makeup for...

      So its more a matter of hire more or hire less.

      Unless we don't hit our population targets...

  8. Btw...
    If forced to take 6 months and in the end say bye bye...

    Need retrenchment???

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      No pay leave and retrenchment after the no pay leave are two separate issues.

      Yes, you still can be retrenched after taking no pay leave.

      Singapore is pro business (I am too; I'm not socialist).

      Its not mandatory to give any retrenchment benefits at all. Big daddy only "asks" companies to be "responsible employers" - whatever that means...

      The only thing that's mandatory is to give affected employees the minimum days of notice depending on length of employment (for sheep), or in accordance to our employment contracts (for shepherds).

      If one is shepherd (executive/manager), we should not depend on MOM or others. Everything should be negotiated and included in our employment contracts.

      That's why there's such a thing called golden handshake agreements. CEOs have been known to get millions after getting fired!

      Of course, this only works if they want you more than you want them ;)

  9. Glad to see you back blogging again. There are some anticipation for next year and this MNC doing major changes at different management levels. People were asked to leave and jobs distributed to the survivors.... the caveat is retrenchment benefit is good. This should be the basic dignity in today worlds for most aren't value savvy to get better jobs.

    1. Hi Cory,

      Welcome back to this watering hole ;)

      I very "woman". Feel like blogging; blog. Don't feel like blogging; stop. LOL!

      Not a fun exercise for HR people...

      That's the advantage of working in a MNC. At the very least must not appear to be "mean" as everyone watching...

      I remember there's one year a non-listed big daddy linked company asked quite a few employees to go just before CNY!?

      Twist the bayonet some more by saying those affected were "incompetent"...

      Lucky labour friendly ministers/MPs spoke up. I hope the CEO got some "counselling"!

      I have no problem in being business friendly. But like you've said, we can do better than step on the fragile dignity of those who already feel quite betrayed...

  10. Hi Smol,

    This is the reality of employment. One has to rely on ownself for survival.
    Employment is just exchanging time for money (channeled into investment portfolio which generates the dividend on a continuous basis). The generated dividend will shift one from relying on the employer and has the options to leave at any point of time. This is with the assumption of one not taking debt during the course of the journey.


    1. Ben,

      Personal responsibility and decision making.

      Do we want to be a master in our little dog kennel or be a eunuch in the grand palace?

      Who we are today is the sum of the decisions we have, or have not, made in the past.

  11. Smol,

    The obvious choice is clear as per my perspective. I believe that the same applies to you based on your characteristic. Unless you want to experience "pain" in the other option.

    I totally agree with you on the decision. To add on, what will be in future will be the combined decision we make in the present context. I foresee that there will not be much difference in respect of me.

    My two cents worth of opinions.


    1. Ben,

      OK, let's smile the next time someone "exalts" goal setting and planning... Wink.


  12. Glad that you are still active!
    I work in the retail banking of a foreign bank in Singapore. Business is good due to volatility. In addition, local banks are hitting record profits. I guess you can say the economy is slowing down at 0 to 1% growth from government's records. However, there are still some pockets of growth in other industries!

    1. White wine,

      I still alive and jolly :)

      Yes, our local banks are keeping the STI afloat ;)

      Elsewhere, especially in Europe, the banks there are suffering under the negative or near zero interest rates... How to make money when you have to "pay" borrowers to take a loan from you?

      In UK, its no so fun if the bank you working in wants to relocate to Germany or France due to Brexit.

      Things also not looking so rosy for the financial sector in the States right now from the recent earnings releases...

      That's why HK and Singapore have been attracting lots of interests from current and/or ex-bankers looking to relocate to Asia to tap the growth here.

      With the current situation in HK, Singapore is looking mighty attractive right now ;)

      Enjoy and make hay while the sun is shining on Singapore!

    2. Hi SMOL,

      I really question the "negative interest rates." At the end of the day, businesses are out to make a profit; surely there are other additional miscellaneous fees in place within the footnotes for them to benefit. ;)

      Meanwhile, there has been consistent inflows into the crypto money market funds. My yield is getting compressed badly, but I am thankful for the increasing liquidity.

      Oh, and another data point for you. My aunt just got retrenched.

    3. Unintelligent Nerd,

      My regards to your aunt.

      Well, they don't call it "unconventional measures" for no reason...

      Its an upside down world where savers are "punished"; while speculators/spenders are "rewarded"!?

      Yield gets compressed means capital gains ;)

    4. Hi SMOL,

      Thanks for your regards.

      Not quite though. In crypto land, there are the volatile coins (bitcoin, ethereum, etc) and the stable coins which have zero/near zero volatility because they are pegged to a fiat currency (USD).

      Unfortunately, the yield compression happened to my stable coins. Yield lower and neither capital gain nor capital loss. Got good and bad.

      Could call them bonds with no upside and all downside if peg breaks, LOL!

    5. Unintelligent Nerd,

      Ah! I learn something new today ;)

      Hmm... Then stable coins not for me as its "CPF like"?

      I'm trying to grind my way up to become a speculator. No capital gains; no sugar.


    6. Stable coins generates at least 2.5% compounding gains?

    7. CW,

      I'm responding to what Unintelligent Nerd has said, "Neither capital gain nor capital loss".

      That's savings.

      Just like CPF.

      To me, investing is putting captial at risk with the hope of making MEANINGFUL returns.

      Nope. 2.5% is not MEANINGFUL returns after inflation to me.

      I remember a time when CPF interest rates much higher and big daddy was already worried the returns "too low" to fund the CPF member's retirement.

      After the well intentioned attempt at earning higher returns became "not fit for purpose", the new strategy is to patch the east wall with west wall using CPF Life. Creeping socialism.

      For CPF Life to work, we need...


    8. Hi SMOL,

      Different lah. CPF is "safe"; stable coins got downside. I think it would be more appropriate to call stable coins within money market funds as "high-yield, high-risk savings account", using traditional financial parlance.

      Uncle CW,

      Yup. Crypto money market funds offer compound interest. Depending on the money market fund and the stable coin used, the interest rate differs greatly.

    9. Unintelligent Nerd,

      Got you!

      You're the one who "said" got neither capital gain nor capital loss ;)

      Old wine; new bottle.

      Its like those who were clueless they were risking all their capital by "investing" in corporate junk bonds at only 6% yield.

      Those who "invested" in risker peer-to-peer loans would feel better since they are getting 18% for their trouble.

      Then again, credit card companies are doing the same by making unsecured loans at 25% interest.

      Ah longs are the smartest of them all! Go find out how much they charge per month ;)

      What do so called educated and financially literate people do?


  13. Today ST headline news

    More staff put on temporary arrangements to reduce costs, but retrenchments fall


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