Tag Archives: Stock investing

Final post for the year 2017

Yesterday marked the end of the last trading day for the year. On the whole, it has been a great year even though the advancement of STI could not match that of the other markets like Dow Jones, Nikkei 225 or Hang Sheng Index. Still, it has been a decent climb of about 18%.

Looking back, it has been a good year in the backdrop of the stock market performance. It is also a year that 2x baggers or even 3x baggers touch-lines were crossed after having invested and accumulated those stocks for some time. Apart from the need for good stock selection, other essence such as patience and mental fortitude to act against times of adversity are also the necessary ingredients to make them happen. But again, life has not been without woes. Comfort Delgro did not perform as expected as it tussled between the bulls and bears the whole year long. The only saving grace has been that a huge percentage of this stock holding was purchased at an average cost of about $1.50 level many years ago and partially sold around its all-time high 2 years ago, thus providing a good cushion as the stock price fell from about $2.48 to $1.98 this year. Another was Midas Holding, which perhaps, was one of those things that we act out of character from time to time.

Taking a longer term snapshot of my stock investment journey, I would have considered that it has been a great blessing. Despite the close to nothing active income for the past 9 years, the stocks advancement had well-compensated for it. The focus on long-term goal has worked well for me to continue to accumulate stocks slowly. It has also taken a lot of pressure off unlike the younger days. This has enabled me to do and develop things that we do not have opportunities to lay our hands on while working full-time.

Perhaps, the generally low interest environment, coupled with the generally mild inflation, in the new millennium has benefitted stocks. By this time, many of us would have forgotten the hardy times when the fixed deposit (FD) rates of around 5% in the late 90s and around 10% in the early 80s. Going forward, I believe going back to the days of FD at 5% could still be some way off, but still, 2% or even 2.5% could be within striking distance in the next 2-3 years barring unforeseen circumstance.  So, to expect the stock performance for the next 2-3 years to be as good as this year would probably be too far-fetch. It could even be down significantly if the unexpected happens.

Until today, I still lament over the first 10 years of my investing journey. It all started even without knowing that a cheque-like paper attachment on a perforated A4 paper was indeed dividend from this company call Singapore Bus (a predecessor of Comfort Delgro). Unfortunately, it had been trial-and-error methodologies that lasted a good 10 years until the Asian financial crisis struck in the late 90s. The greed in me then was trying to chase every single so-called money-making opportunity that came along, attending countless hours in seminars on Saturday afternoons and weekday evenings. Still, I did not make good money in the early nineties when the stock market was red-hot and end up incurring losses when the Asian financial crisis swept across Asia in the end of 90s. In hindsight, I could have probably done much better if I had sought proper guidance and adopting strategies that suited my personality. By today, I do not attend any of these seminars or even some annual general meetings (AGMs) anymore. I think I could have spent those times to learn and improve other skills and to develop things that I can leave a legacy. That said, that was also the time of awakening that had helped laid the foundation stone that enabled me to rely on this investment mode to this day. After all, we cannot learn how to swim without drinking some pool water or learn how to cycle without falling off from a bike. There are always learning lessons no matter where we are in this journey.

Going forward, maybe it is also time to tone down on stocks and focus on other developments as stock investing may become a weary chore.

Brennen has been investing in the stock market for 28 years. He trains occasionally and is a managing partner for BP Wealth Learning Centre. He is the instructor for two online courses on InvestingNote – Value Investing: The Essential Guide and Value Investing: The Ultimate Guide. He is also the author of the book – “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks” which is available in both soft and hardcopy.

Learn from the rich

It was a pleasant surprise that I receive this message from someone whom I did not keep in touch for the past three months.  With consent from the sender, I put this short message in quote as follows:

Dear Mr Brennen Pak,

It's been 3 months since my last message to you here. I'm happy to report that I was able to boost from 2% to 8% after the course. I kept my discipline and stuck with value investing instead of trying to catch and predict the charts daily. It has done well for me so far and better stress management even when I see what I'm holding is in the red. Overall, my account is now 8% capital gain.

Very happy indeed to have found your course and happy investing!

Best Regards,

Time flies. That was already three months ago when I received a message asking about whether day-trading suited him given that the interest offered by banks was extremely low. He further mentioned that trading psychology was low. (I believe he meant that he could be very sentimental and had low tolerance for market volatility). Noting that he was probably young and had a good future ahead of him, my first reaction was why waste his time in front of the stock monitor, especially given his low tolerance for market volatility. Going for day-trading should not be a solution against the low bank interest rate. It could be made worse if the trades were going against him. However, what I liked about him was that he was frank and upfront about his own weaknesses, and that made things easy for him. What he really needed was just a helping hand and he should be able to manage himself well. Certainly, an 8% return is nothing to brag about in this investment climate, but given that he has only about 1 year experience in this business, it is probably fine. What really concerned me going forward was that his investing character could swing to the other extreme to become over-confident. It could be a lot more damaging by then. I sincerely wish him well and hope that he could continue to apply restraints and not to be over-confident. Many of us almost always started off carefully but became over-confident, thinking that we could out beat the market. That would be the beginning of disasters ahead.


Actually, if we look at activities related to stock investments, the buy and sell actions that we make only take up several minutes of our time. Most of the other activities are time-wasters such as monitoring, communications, emotional build-ups and worrying etc. Those probably take up 80%-90% of our time. Actually, once we have made up our mind to buy or sell a stock, it is that few minutes of keying in to buy or sell that determines whether we win or lose in the trade. The other times could have spent on many other activities like our day-jobs, improving ourselves, playing with children or household chores. As small investors, our stake in the stock is at most a few thousand dollars. For this we should learn from a lot of rich founders who own huge stakes of their company stocks. At appropriate times, they invest millions of dollars of their personal money to buy their own company stocks. In my opinion, I do not think they monitor as frequently as several times in a day. Even if they do, I do not think they spend a lot of time worrying or getting too emotional even though their stake is in millions of dollars. For them, perhaps, it is business as usual in their day-to-day activities. I believe they are more focus on the business to ensure that it is on track than on the share price. On the contrary, it is the small investors like us who appear to be more worried about whether the stocks that we hold go up or down. Perhaps, if we are the type that gets very emotional, we should take a step back and think of the beautiful world around us. Distancing ourselves from the stock market can sometimes restrain us from buying and selling at the wrong times.

Brennen has been investing in the stock market for 28 years. He trains occasionally and is a managing partner for BP Wealth Learning Centre. He is the instructor for two online courses on InvestingNote – Value Investing: The Essential Guide and Value Investing: The Ultimate Guide. He is also the author of the book – “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks” which is available in both soft and hard copy.

5 reasons why stock investing is so difficult to start


Ethan Ho is a guest writer for our blog. He is part of the investing & financial literacy team that helps build the investingnote community. We thank you for his invaluable contribution. 


You have probably heard stories of people who’ve made investments. These people range from veteran institutional investors like Warren Buffet, Carl Icahn to associates, friends and little known hearsays. The similarity is, all of them have made some sort of money. But what stops everyone from doing so?

You’re probably reasoning that the big boys can make money because they already have the capital, skills and maybe some insider info.

Isn’t it obvious enough? True only to a certain extent.

Let’s break down the 5 actual reasons why investing seems difficult for most:

Steep learning curve

If you’ve never taken a finance course back in school or know absolutely nothing about finance, the thought of investing might scare you. Assessing the valuation of a stock through the company’s profile, financial reports and even research firms’ projections is terribly time consuming. There’s fundamental analysis and then there’s technical analysis. Each is a separate school of thought in investing. Learning both to hone your trading skills on your own is just way too time consuming.

Barriers to entry (a) Knowledge

Let’s face it: to be able to learn finance in school is a privilege. A privilege that is often invisible to those who study it as part of their majors. For the same amount of time taken to take a bachelor’s degree, business finance majors spend all their time honing their skills that aids them in making informed investment decisions as compared to their non-finance peers. Many of us who’re not specialized in finance can definitely relate to this. Of course you can learn it by yourself, but what we’re really saying is that the high barriers of entry due to the inherent complex nature of finance makes it harder to do so. Furthermore, finance courses by stock educators and professionals can cost thousands of dollars just for a few lessons. All these are barriers to entry. Sometimes to the extent to which people give up on learning and being interested midway.












Barriers to entry (b) Capital

Another barrier to entry is capital. Let’s just talk about the local stock market. Before shares trading were reduced from 1,000 shares to 100 shares per lot, it implied that only people with a decent amount of money could invest. Let’s take for example, Singtel’s stock. It trades within range of $3 to $4. So the minimum capital required to buy just one lot of shares would be $3000 to $4000. To some, it might seem reasonable. But remember that a stock bought is an opportunity cost to diversification.

Lack of role models

We all know that when it comes to learning about investing, it can get really lonely. Like with every skill, role models are an important contribution to the learning process. A role model can either be a professional or someone with experience. In the world of investing, nobody can be held responsible for your gains or losses. However, it would help if there was a role model or mentor to guide your learning process with a certain direction and investing styles. It makes the entire learning and investing process much pleasurable and easier to follow. Most the ‘mentors’ and ‘role models’ out there usually charge a fee for students to take up their classes and workshops. Hence, role models seem to be an optional and expensive choice, rather than serving as modest mentors.


Fear & Risk

You’ve probably heard stories of how people got ‘burnt’ by trading stocks. It can range from big losses to bankruptcy. Such stories aren’t exactly encouraging with the steep learning curve in the complex world of stocks. Studies have shown that people are also more contented with not losing, rather than not winning. As a result, fear ensues and stops many people in their tracks to invest.

Another key deterrent is risk and uncertainty. As you already know, every reward begets a certain amount of risk. If it doesn’t, it probably harbors a scam. In the stock market, risks are aplenty. Other than just stock-specific risk that stems from the company of a particular stock, there is systematic risk. Systematic risk unlike stock-specific risk, cannot be diversified. For example, the recent oil glut has impacted many companies in the oil and services sector. Most of these are fundamentally strong companies, but were still heavily affected by adverse market conditions.

Market volatility and uncertainty caused by geo-political risks are also part of the equation. Terrorism, global warming, law and the increasing interconnectedness of the global economy- makes it very much harder to divert risk, especially when you’re new to the game.

These are the 5 reasons that I’ve personally struggled with before I started and some of these reasons are still relevant.


What are some of the reasons that didn’t get you started?

Written by Ethan Ho – from Investingnote [www.investingnote.com]

Investingnote is a free-membership social network platform designed specifically for stock investing. It is the only platform that empowers the stock investing community, through free access of stock data, research reports and technical charts, combined with sharing of  investment ideas and up-to-date news. Members can even pitch their stock investing skills by setting stock price targets against real time stock prices. Each member is accorded with reputation points based on the number of followers, likes and posts.