Financially Savvy

With higher level of financial literacy and greater awareness of the importance of investing, investors today, be they young or young-at-heart, have access to a wealth of Information to guide them on how to manage their money and build their portfolios to attain different goals – be it to pursue a desired lifestyle or prepare for milestones in life, such as marriage, parenthood or buying a first property.


Read the stories of SMU students, faculty and alumni who share their investment approaches and risk appetite, recount their hits and misses, and outline plans to take control of their own financial future. These stories were published in The Straits Times and Business Times.

Investing has always been in his blood

Family dinner talk about stocks fuelled interest of this engineer-turned-corporate investor

Published on 2 Jul 2017

Learning about different asset classes as he watched his father invest not only fascinated Mr Lester Chan as a child, but ultimately shaped his career.

Mr Chan, chief executive of Fund Singapore, an equity and lending-based securities crowdfunding firm, says: "I decided if I wanted to be a good investor, I needed more than just luck or trying to time the market. Knowledge and experience was essential so I joined the banking sector after graduation."

Even though Mr Chan, 37, studied mechanical engineering, business and investing was always on his mind, leading him to minor in technopreneurship.

Despite being a top performer in banking, he left the finance sector in 2008 and set up investment and consulting firm BeaconRock Group - now known as BeaconRock Investments - a year later. He put in about $500,000 from his own savings for the capital.

He, later, took up a scholarship to pursue an MBA from Singapore Management University (SMU) in 2012.

Mr Chan says: "After working for several years, I felt I had enough corporate experience and maturity to appreciate the course, and wanted to master the hard and soft skills of business."

35 his target age for financial independence

32-year-old father of two sons aims to achieve that through value investing and momentum trading

Published on 14 May 2017

Investor Brian Halim has a lofty ambition - to be financially independent by the age of 35.

At 32, he has three more years to go, and his current projection shows that he is on track.

He documents his progress at foreverfinancialfreedom.blogspot. sg. The blog also advocates financial literacy.

Mr Halim, the financial controller of a logistics company, started investing in stocks when he was 24.

The Singapore permanent resident was born in Indonesia and has lived here since he was in primary school. He studied accounting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds an MBA from Singapore Management University.


The science behind investing in property

Investor looks at location, area's future development plans and unit layouts, among other things

Published on 30 Apr 2017

Property has become a big part of Mr Quek Fu Jin's life.

The 36-year-old has just one property to his name but seven years at Zacd Investments, a regional investment strategy firm with a real estate focus, gave him a front-row seat on property investing.

He has other property investments, including commercial and industrial real estate investment trusts (Reits), in his portfolio.

Mr Quek, who has since set up his own consultancy, Assets Advisory, acknowledges his Zacd Investments job introduced him to good- value property projects and taught him the ins and outs of the business.

All of this knowledge came in handy when the senior adviser decided to purchase a place of his own about five years ago.

Foodie's recipe for success

Banker turned entrepreneur says he was taught from young to always be independent

Published on 12 Feb 2017

One of the early triumphs of Mr Anant Hada's life was to secure an investment banking job when he was aged just 21.
He was one of only a handful of graduates from Singapore Management University (SMU) to achieve this feat, back when SMU was a new university. But after more than five years in the job, he followed his love for food and invested in Baja Fresh Mexican Grill at Rendezvous Gallery in Bras Basah Road in 2012.
In 2013, he felt confident enough in the business to leave investment banking to join his wife, Ms Jaya Hada, now 30, as a full-time Baja Fresh director.
Now aged 31, Mr Hada, who was born in Kolkata but is now a Singapore permanent resident, says: "I was 27 when I started Baja Fresh and with a venture capitalist coming on board in 2013, it just felt right. If not, I wouldn't be able to take the risk 10 years down the line."

Investor's must-read: Daily newspapers

Where others see bad news, analyst Terence Chua looks for opportunities

Published on 9 Oct 2016

Waking up at the crack of dawn to devour the day's news is a must for this young investor.

"Sometimes I wake up at 5am. I read a lot in the morning, such as the local and business newspapers. They are not always the best source but it helps you understand what's happening around the world.

"I don't enjoy reading brokers' reports. Instead, I read the newspapers, and spot issues where opportunities could potentially be," Mr Terence Chua, 28, says.

Mr Chua, who is an equity investment analyst at an institutional fund investment house, believes the way to get to the heart of the financial markets and investing is through reading, and there's no short cut.

Every dollar adds up for ShopInSEA's co-founder

Customer base for 'South-east Asia's first online dollar shop' has been growing by 70% to 80% month on month

Published on 11 Sep 2016

While exploring futuristic technology as a bank management associate, Mr Andre Loh just could not ignore the allure of entrepreneurship.

After stints at DBS Private Bank, in the family office, and the investment bank within the equity capital markets division, Mr Loh, 31, landed in the DBS technology team, in what was called the Future of Work department.

"This was where we tried to discover the latest technology that could be adopted at DBS, and that was where my interest in start-ups developed."

But the recently minted start-up founder didn't go into fintech, a path that some would assume to be a natural option.

Instead, he and three other co-founders identified the potential of the dollar-store or discount store segment - where items are sold at unbeatable prices - to bloom in a slowing economy.

Nudged by dad, but going her own in money matters

Published on 5 Sep 2016

While many of her peers in university are still building up their financial knowledge, Grace Lim, 21, has been busy teaching others about financial literacy.

The third-year accountancy undergraduate from Singapore Management University (SMU) has conducted more than financial literacy lessons with students from the Institute of Technical Education colleges.As vice-president of the Citi-SMU Financial Literacy Club, she endeavours to inspire other young adults to start managing their finance early.

However, teaching financial literacy is a passion that has come her way somewhat unplanned.

"Initially, I joined the club because I wanted to learn more about personal finance," Ms Lim said. She was attracted to a 10-week financial literacy course that the club conducted for its members. 

His only regret? Not learning to invest sooner

Civil servant started investing at 22, with $50k from NS and temp jobs

Published on 21 Aug 2016

Instead of spending excessive sums of money on material desires, civil servant Chan Choon Yuan prefers to spend most of his time on investing and personal finance.

The avid reader of this column is so dedicated to encouraging financial literacy that he started blogging at Investmoolah in August last year while in between jobs.

Mr Chan, 28, also took accounting modules while he was studying at the Singapore Management University so that he could better understand financial statements, even though he was then a political science student. His academic background has helped him tie in what he learns about the world and the economy, but a large part of it was achieved through self-study.

Stint at marine firm charts his course in life

SMU student’s 2-month stint in Dubai after NSturns into a year-long job, laying the ground for his business ventures

Published on 7 Aug 2016

An initial two-month stint at a Saudi marine firm in Dubai after national service ended up charting the course ofMrEric Chean’s life.
Not only did that turn into a year-long job from 2011 to 2012 – which involved giving up a spot at university – but it also laid the ground for his businesses.
“I slept in the office. I followed my boss around, during which I exchanged name-cards, gotsomecontacts to start with, and learnt how to network,” saysMrChean, 26.

Heartland boy is happy to invest and make losses

He cites his grandfather, who started off as a rag-and-bone collector, as the greatest influence in his investment decisions

Published on 26 Jun 2016

His pals at school and university complained that getting rich was not possible if you were not from the "cream of the crop" but oil industry worker Lim Ding Jun had no time for that fatalistic view.

He told The Sunday Times: "I believe all of us have plenty of chances to grow and to accumulate our own wealth... independent of our financial background."

Mr Lim, 26, a settlement executive at PetroChina International, believes strongly that it's not where you come from that shapes you, nor is it a matter of family wealth.

After all, he grew up in a middle- income family and lives in an HDB flat in the heartland.