Archives for category: Everything under the sun
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For those who’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I really think that most Financial Advisors in Singapore have never really moved on from being anything more than insurance salespeople.

This latest post over at Investment Moats show what’s wrong with the Financial Planning industry. While the data collected by Kyith is by no means comprehensive and only shows what has happened many years ago, I highly doubt that the Financial Planners in Singapore today operate very differently from the late 90s/early 00s and I’ll explain why.

Don’t get me wrong

Before I go and point out the issues I see, I want to state upfront that this is by no means targeting the people who have chosen this profession or in any way about any particular financial planner. I personally know a few and they range from very experienced ones to rookies in the field and by and large, they are not bad people.

I also think that insurance is a necessary expense to protect against low probability but high impact events. The problem with the Financial Planning industry is how the industry evolved from dealing primarily with insurance to one that moved into advising their clients on all areas of their finances.

Proof is in the pudding

Source: Investment Moats

If you look at the examples compiled by Investment Moats, you’ll see that most of the plans (which look like endowment plans) are basically plans where people pay a regular premium in return for an amount that gets returned at the of the life of the policy.

In short, it’s a forced savings account that only matures some years down the road.

A cursory look at the returns per year (XIRR) shows that investing in any one of those plans returns any where from 2-4+ % which is my opinion is pretty weak if you think about the fact that interest rates have been much higher in the past.

The worst part of all this is not that the plans delivered as they promised. In fact, if you go back to the 2000s, I’m pretty sure the plans were being marketed with non-guaranteed returns that were much higher, probably in the 5 – 6.5% p.a. range.

A test for all financial planners

I’ve spoken about how the agency problem is a big one for financial planners in Singapore. Furthermore, the barriers to entry into the industry is low and once they are in, the focus on most training is in terms of sales and not actual financial literacy.

If you look at the returns of the above savings plans, you should probably realise that savers could do better by putting their money in the CPF SA*. Using the same parameters given in the example in Kyith’s article, I came up with a figure of $34,569.07 if the yearly premium of $1,228.80 paid over 20 years was compounded at 5% per year.

Compare that with the $28,317.13 received by the policy holder in Kyith’s story.

Therefore, my test is this:

If presented with a plan by your financial planner, ask them how many of their plans have actually paid the non-guaranteed rate or more and to show you the data.

Given the low-interest rate environments, if any of the plans presented show you non-guaranteed returns close to 5% p.a., you should run and hide.

And if they show you returns of less than that, then why bother since CPF presently gives you that returns but without the additional corporate risk and fees?**

If you have a financial planner that is willing to say, “hey, you can get protection from me, but when it comes to savings, my products aren’t exactly going to be the best bang for your buck.”, then do let me know.

Notes:
*Less chance of default, almost equally long period where money gets socked away.

**I’m sure some of them will point out that the lower returns are due to the plans having some form of insurance as well. But if so, then why not just sell the insurance separately without the savings plan.

1 more until CB lifts! But then again, the phased reopening here in Singapore isn’t much more different from life under CB.

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The Industries Hit Hardest By The Unemployment Crisis (FiveThirtyEight)

Pretty much the same in SG. A good friend and I were discussing this relative to the markets and we have pretty much concluded that unless we see blood in the streets, markets are going to hum along just fine.

My thesis is based pretty much on the fact that even in the worst-hit industries, we’ve barely begun to see real damage in terms of closures or bankruptcies.

That wave should come in the next few months if the economy remains shut or reopens at a slower pace than anticipated.

Indonesia has a problem (Thoughts of a Cynical Investor)

Uh-oh. Last time Indonesia owed dollars that it couldn’t pay back… Funny enough, I’ve also heard other stories of how Indonesia isn’t getting the money it’s supposed to for major infrastructure projects because the Middle East is handing out dough like it used to.

How Do You Value Stocks When Earnings Plummet to Zero? (The Big Picture)

Maybe you CAPE-10 the earnings? I don’t know. Just saying that it still doesn’t look cheap on a normalised earnings basis. You have to believe in the growth story to believe the bull market is still on.

The statistical detective work required to lift the lockdowns (Tim Harford)

Good points made on thinking statistically.

Only 2 more weeks until Circuit Breaker is (hopefully!) over.

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Coronavirus Seemingly Tamed, Chinese Economy Starts to Recover (The New York Times)

Basically, even if supply comes back, where is demand? I don’t think demand is coming back so soon until we (a) get used to a new way of navigating life with Covid-19 and/or (b) a vaccine gets developed.

To combat climate change, release the brake (Tim Harford)

This is a pretty interesting way of thinking about things. Unfortunately, for the really big things, it seems like the government needs to be thinking this way for things to work.

Animal Spirits: Too Young, Too Dumb & Too Inexperienced (A Wealth of Common Sense)

I really enjoyed this episode.

Life goes on

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know that pretty much all of human civilisation is being affected by the Covid-19 situation and you would have heard about the various measures put in place by countries to curb the spread of the virus.

Here in Singapore, we’re into day 4 of what the government has called a “circuit breaker” which is effectively a lockdown of all non-essential services.

We’re basically asked to stay indoors unless you have to go out to buy groceries, get food, or to exercise. I can imagine that extroverts are already going crazy but for my wife and I, this is one of the blessings of life because we’re getting to spend a lot of time with our cats.

Reevaluating your priorities

From what economists and officials are saying, it seems that the economic damage due to the virus is going to be huge and the longer the movement restriction measures are in place, the worse it’s going to be.

Now, if you have been living from month-to-month, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes. Life before the crisis was probably already tough and if you are/were in a job that is considered non-essential; or in an industry that is badly hit by the crisis (think: airlines or restaurants), then this situation is going to hit hard.

You have my sympathies but if you wish to survive, then you must apply for the help that the government is giving and be willing to take on jobs, no matter how menial, in industries that require the help (think: healthcare).

If you’re someone with millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank but think that you need help, fuck off. There are others out there in much greater need of help. Just because you can’t afford the loan on your Porsche or the mortgage on the apartment that was much more than you could afford shouldn’t really be the rest of society’s problem.

The virus is affecting low-income households disproportionately more than anyone else. In Singapore, this is playing out in the fact that the spread of the virus among foreign workers is much greater than among the general population.

Reevaluating your finances

March was a scary month for who had skin in the game. Even seasoned investors said that they had never seen markets come down so much in such a short period of time.

As scary as that was, the recent rally means that losses have been confined to the 10-15% range. In a previous post, I showed that typical bear markets usually take much longer to bottom out but that valuations would be ridiculously cheap by the standards of even the GFC or the AFC.

Now, the recent rally may be a head fake, or it may not be. Who knows? All I know is that valuations remain relatively cheap by historical standards and if you are looking to get into the markets, now is as good a time as any.

I have seen how some so-called gurus out there have seen their leveraged yield strategies blow up and it just brings to mind Warren Buffet’s saying that “it’s only when the tide goes out that you know who’s been swimming naked.”

Many of these so-called gurus who claim to be able to teach you how to invest are probably just a level above rank amateurs. You don’t have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to have someone teach you to buy the index, diversify your portfolio across at least 30 securities (but not too much more!) and rebalance the portfolio on occasion, say every year or so.

The advice in the above paragraph will save you time, money and effort plus you’ll probably do as well as, if not better than some of these investment gurus reaching out to the mass markets.

Reevaluating your life

If you’re in Singapore, I think the circuit breaker is a fantastic time to rethink your life.

If you feel lonely while working from home, maybe it’s a sign that you need some companionship.

If you’ve never exercised in a while, maybe the change in environment will help spur you into doing simple things to keep yourself healthy.

If you find yourself with lots of spare time since you save time travelling to work, why not pick up a new hobby like drawing or pick up new knowledge through the power of the internet?

Prior to March, I was still expecting to travel to see my brother but I guess the Universe had other plans for me when it burned down half of Australia and unleashed a virus on the world in order to prevent that trip from happening.

And with the whole Circuit Breaker thing going in, I guess it’s another sign that the Universe is telling me to spend more time at home in order to prepare for the Chartered Valuer and Appraiser exams that is happening in the middle of May.

Stay Safe and Stay Home

If you really want to help things get better, then the only way is to stay home and hope that the burden on the healthcare system is lessened. There may be lots of things that you can’t do right now but if you put your mind to it, there’s lots of other things you can do as well.

Just don’t waste it all on Netflix.

Markets are somewhat more calm this week but don’t be mistaken – we’re most certainly closer to the beginning of the bear than the end. As quick and sharp as the fall in the markets have been, bear markets don’t usually end in the same month that they start.

We haven’t even seen the damage pop up in the wider parts of the economy yet. Here are some reads if you’re in home quarantine or if you’re practising social distancing.

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Fight the Pandemic, Save the Economy: Lessons from the 1918 Flu (Liberty Street Economics)

The Fed’s New York Branch finds that:

Our paper yields two main insights. First, we find that areas that were more severely affected by the 1918 Flu Pandemic saw a sharp and persistent decline in real economic activity. Second, we find that cities that implemented early and extensive NPIs suffered no adverse economic effects over the medium term.

NPIs refer to Non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing measures. If you’re worried about the impact of lockdown and social distancing measures on the economy, read the full post.

The Hardest Part of a Buy & Hold Strategy (A Wealth of Common Sense)

Just remember that buying and holding gold nuggets that have turned to turds is not a wise strategy.

Surviving Your Very First Market Crash (A Wealth of Common Sense)

This is for the beginning investor. I’ve been telling younger people that this is the best time to be in the markets. You rarely get to live through experiences like this without much to lose.

Been another wild week for the markets. Thankfully, we’re getting into the calm season as far as work is concerned.

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Feeling scared already? It’s not even a Bear Market yet! (Early Retirement Now)

I’m not sure about others but this is fairly early days if there is a major drop coming. If you can’t even take the volatility that we’ve seen in the markets the last few days, then you must be either (a) too young to remember how the markets were in ’08-09/ ’11-’12 or even ’15-16, or (b) you’re in the wrong game.

Markets will remain volatile as long as human incentives and behaviour are at stake. We can program the robots to do the tasks of trading and interpreting or even creating new signals but as long as the money belongs to humans, you can be sure that human behaviour will drive markets.

Why are young people so jelly about my Financial Independence? (Growing your tree of prosperity)

I’m not really sure why other people would be jealous of people who have been there and done that. Shouldn’t these people act as perfect examples of those who prove that what others think is impossible is actually possible?

I suspect that haters and disbelievers don’t want to confront the evidence in front of them because that would be an acknowledgement of their failure of imagination.

However, one should always be cautious. If you hear of someone getting rich quick through some clever scheme, the next thing you should ask for is evidence that it works. Typically, the scheme will have some stories of success so the next question to ask is “how likely is this scheme going to guarantee continued success?”

I suspect that it’s at this juncture that many investment/trading workshops out there will fail.

Xia suay: life insurance makes a person want to die isit? (Thoughts of a Cynical Investor)

My thoughts exactly.

The PAP government is pretty efficient and good when it comes to most things. Take, for example, how they’ve handled the Covid-19 issue in Singapore. Even if you are firmly in the opposition camp, you must give them credit for being able to marshal the necessary public resources in order to keep the situation in Singapore relatively contained.

However, whenever it comes to issues of social welfare, it seems that they have a imaginary bogeyman and to make matters worse, the figure in charge usually comes up with the lamest straw-man arguments.

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Thankfully, I don’t mean these kind of functions

Some weeks ago, I mentioned that I was going to do a piece of how individuals can get better at investing or finance by concentrating on function over form.

So I guess the first thing to answer is: what’s “Function over Form”?

Function over Form

I guess the simplest way of putting this would be to focus on the substance rather than the appearance of the subject. In other words, what the object/subject does rather than what it looks like.

For example, to most people, there is a stark difference between a Mercedes-Benz versus a Toyota. However, that is the form. The function, which is getting the person taking the car, from point A to point B.

Of course, people will argue that owning a Mercedes-Benz has other functions such as signalling to others that one is wealthy or it may provide a more comfortable drive (in my experience, this is marginal).

However, my argument is that those are secondary functions and the primary function of any vehicle is to get you safely from point A to point B. Once the focus shifts from primary to secondary functions, you know you’re in trouble as far as making sound financial decisions are concerned.

My epiphany

My realisation of how people lose sight of function in finance came when my wife and I met up with some financial advisors over the mortgage insurance that we currently are paying for.

In Singapore, regulation requires homeowners to take out mortgage insurance so that in the event something unfortunate happens to one of the mortgagees, there will be no problem paying off the mortgage. In a way, this makes sense because the government doesn’t want to have to deal with the scenario that the home has to be repossessed and the existing homeowner gets kicked out onto the streets.

The financial advisers we were meeting with suggested that we switch over to a term insurance that would cover us at a cheaper or somewhat similar rate for a longer period of time as the mortgage insurance only covered us until the end of the mortgage for an amount that was declining as our mortgage got smaller.

That made me realise that if the purpose of a mortgage insurance was to make sure that either my wife or I wouldn’t have trouble paying our mortgage should the other meet some unfortunate circumstances, then it doesn’t necessarily need to be branded as mortgage insurance. A term insurance for the length of the mortgage would have done the same job.

Unfortunately, these things aren’t so clear especially when the bank providing the mortgage suggests that you bundle the insurance in order to get a “good” rate on your mortgage.

Other areas of application

There are other areas of personal finance where it might also pay to pay attention to function over form.

(a) Whole life policies

For example, financial advisers in Singapore love to sell whole life policies on the pretext that on top of protection, you will get your money back after the duration of the policy whereas term policies merely expire.

The problem I have never heard any of these advisers point out that the above isn’t an apple to apple comparison. If we focus on function over form, we should realise that a whole life policy is effectively providing protection from unforeseen circumstances AND a savings plan.

Therefore, one should be comparing the premiums and returns on a whole life policies vs. the combination of a term policy and the returns on a fixed-income investment of a similar maturity.

For example, if the financial adviser is recommending a 30-year whole life policy, then the comparison should be made against buying a 30-year term policy and putting the difference in premiums paid into a fixed-income security of a similar maturity.

(b) Buying a house

Home ownership is one of the biggest myths that Singaporeans love to believe in and just like all myths, there are some truths to it but when EVERYONE believes that it’s the thing to do, you can bet your last dollar that it won’t work out for some people.

Buying a home effectively provides one function- a roof over your head. The alternative would be renting. However, buying a home for most people means taking out a mortgage and therefore, the total price paid for the home is higher than the sticker price. On top of that, there are associated costs of taxes, renovation and maintenance.

Of course, if you rent, we can assume that a rational landlord would have factored the costs of owning an apartment (such as interest, maintenance and other expenses) into your rent but this could be higher or lower depending on the state of the rental market at any point in time.

Therefore, the main question on whether to own a home or not, boils down to whether you think rents are likely to go up by much in the future. In short, what is your view on expected inflation?

I don’t want to go into too much detail on the tradeoffs because The Economist did a nice feature which you can watch here.

The main thing is that when you buy a home, it’s an expense. If you buy a home and treat it as an investment at the same time, you’ve effectively bought an investment in conjunction with a housing expense.

To conclude

You would do better at managing your finances if you break down the function of your investments and purchases, then no matter what the salespeople say, you won’t get hoodwinked.

First weekend of 2020. Gotta make it count!

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Learning from Julian Richer (Investment Masters Class)

Dodgy website name and logo aside, it’s interesting how many business personalities there are that I’ve never heard of but yet have very interesting stories to share. I think I might pick up his latest book. Even more impressive is the fact that this man’s business is in one of the toughest industries (retail) and yet his stores ” hold the World Record for sales per square foot of any retailer in the world for over twenty five years “.

Why Is Everyone Busting Buffett’s Balls? (Global Macro Monitor)

Good read on how to interpret Berkshire’s decision to hoard cash. Having said that, markets could go higher.

Or maybe not. Since Trump decided to assassinate that Iranian military guy.

‘Nobody is winning’: businesses go cold on food delivery platforms (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Good read on the economics of the food delivery business. Turns out it helps restaurants make more revenue but less profit. It’s crazy how businesses can destroy value and yet be valued like unicorns.

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This is one of those end of year posts so I guess it’ll be retrospective and yet forward-looking at the same time. However, being the end of a decade, I thought it’ll be interesting to look at some of the changes that has happened in my life in order to give myself an idea of what to expect in the next decade.

Career

At the beginning of this decade, I was a couple years out of school and working for the civil service. The job paid decent but was the scope of work was way out of my interest zone. Needless to say, I was there for another 2 or so years before I left for a teaching job in the public service.

Teaching foundation level economics has been fun but of course, the lack of depth impedes an understanding of real-world issues. Also, in this current day and age, economics has been applied in areas outside of the traditional business setting but being in the business school, the economics we teach doesn’t stray far from your traditional Econ 101.

In short, teaching economics at the school where I am right now is kind of limited in depth and breadth. Plus, it seems to be a business school phenomenon that economics isn’t all that important. Instead, the flavour of the times seem to be anything tech-related.

Fortunately for me, my interests and skills lie not just in economics but also in finance and in the next decade, the plan is to move further and further away from economics and more into the finance space.

Which area of finance? It should be in corporate finance and business valuation.

Health

It’s funny that I’m down with flu as I write this but my health hasn’t really changed much over the last decade. If anything, it has gotten slightly better.

I put on a fair bit of weight after working and in December 2017, I reached peaks that I had never reached before. That was the trigger for me to be more aware of my diet.

The thing is, I love beer.

So I searched and searched, and eventually I learnt that there was something called intermittent fasting. Long story short, I followed some version of it where I skipped breakfast except for a cup of coffee with evaporated milk, no sugar. And then I ate lunch at around 11:30am or so, followed by dinner at around 7:00pm.

I not sure I even did it right because some people say that you can’t have anything that has even a little bit of sugar in it (which the milk has) but anyway I lost about ten kilos and my weight has been at a comfortable level since.

I’m also sure it’s because I had light lunches on some days of the week but otherwise, I didn’t restrict my diet to any food groups. It was all about making sure you don’t overdo things.

The not-so-good part is that I haven’t managed to exercise regularly. Every time I’ve started to hit the gym again, the momentum somehow gets disrupted and the next thing I know, a week or two goes by and all my gym gains have gone down the drain.

I really need to start making a gym routine part of my week because I can literally feel my body getting weaker once I go without exercise for just a week or so.

Currently I try to do my gym sessions during lunch but I realised that’s not exactly a great idea because my timetable changes every semester which would be a deal-breaker for establishing a routine.

We’ll see how things go from here.

Life

Well, life is the big one, isn’t it?

At the start of the decade, I had a girlfriend. Now, I have a wife and three cats. Scratch that. Make it seven. How we got to seven is a funny story but we’ll get to that later.

So my wife and I have been married for almost 8 years now but it’s more than 10 years since we’ve met and gotten together. We’re not the perfect couple but we’re perfect for each other.

We can get upset at each other but we’ve never shouted at each other. We mostly just give each other the cold shoulder for a while before we realise that it’s not worth it and then we apologise and make up.

Most of the time, we just enjoy the simple things in life and each other’s company. Things like reading good books, eating good food (in moderate quantities) and relaxing.

In that way, we’re kind of like cats.

So, two years ago my wife (it’s always my wife who has the better ideas) asked if we could adopt a cat. She’s always liked cats but never owned one.

Since we don’t have kids, I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a cat to come home to and from what I read, cats are definitely lower in maintenance compared to dogs (or kids). I had dogs growing up so I kind of an idea about what kind of care you need for dogs.

And that’s how we got our first cat, Teddy. He wasn’t the cat we were going to adopt but then the rescuer suggested that as first-time cat owners, we adopt him because he was friendly and easy-going.

That turned out to be totally true because Teddy is the most low-maintenance cat I’ve ever met because you pretty much just have to feed him and make sure he has a clean litter box, and he’ll be a happy camper.

Then some time this year, the same rescuer asked if we could take in a kitten that was part of a litter rescued from Pulau Bukom, an island off Singapore, which is part of the oil refining industry in Singapore.

So cat number two, Pepper, came into lives and she has been a little ball of terror because she came with a parasite issue which caused diarrhea, refuses to leave Teddy alone hen all he wants to do it chill, and is super noisy when it comes to feeding time. But we still love her anyway.

Then a few months after we got Pepper…

One day as we were walking home, we noticed a cat hiding away at the bicycle rack, at the block of flats next to ours. We’d never seen her before and there are community cats in the area so it’s unlikely that another stray would have ventured into this area since cats are pretty much territorial. Plus, she was too friendly to humans which made us suspect that she was abandoned.

And so cat number three, Mudpie, came into our lives.

What we didn’t realise was that cat number three, was pregnant with four kittens. By the time we found out, she was two weeks away from delivering and so we now have seven cats at home.

They turned out to be such fluff balls

I think the next decade will easily see a mean reversion in terms of cats.

Wealth

Ah yes, and finally, all about the money.

I’ve been tracking this number ever since I started investing but my records for the early years haven’t been well-kept. The good thing is that I now have at least a decade worth of records so I can see exactly how much my wealth has grown.

The short answer is: a lot.

At the start of the decade, my portfolio was under $50,000. Today, it’s roughly eight times that. By the way, I only count monies that I can easily convert to cash. This means that I don’t include my CPF accounts nor the property that we stay in.

You could include those but that would mean giving up your residency status in Singapore. If that’s an option for you, then by all means, include those numbers. Otherwise, if you’re a Singapore citizen or PR, you have to ignore those numbers as those don’t mean much until you reach the age where you can cash out.

I’ve digressed so back to the increase in my wealth. Is that record impressive? Not really.

Because it could have been a lot more if not for two things: one, I was and still am, under-invested, and two, I was invested in the wrong places.

Let me explain.

I’ve had a huge allocation to cash in the last two to three years. This is despite the fact that as an investor, I’ve two things going in my favour. One, I’m relatively young and two, I’m still gainfully employed and likely to be in the foreseeable future (iron rice bowl, see above).

Therefore, I should have bumped up my allocation to equities, REITs or anything with a higher expected return than cash as I’ll be able to ride out any bumps along the way.

The second reason is that I was invested in the wrong places. Honestly, I started out the decade thinking that if I could read the financial statements, I would be a lot better than most investors. That is true but only to the extent that one is familiar, or willing to be familiar, with how the economic landscape that any company is in was going to change.

For example, there’s a company that I (like many other Singaporeans) am invested in where the shift towards online media has absolutely damaged the company’s main income generator. And this damage to their old business model means that the damage is irreparable despite their best attempts to diversify into other areas such as malls, nursing homes, and student housing.

Even if they are successful, trading a much higher-margin business where they had a virtual monopoly for one that is much more competitive and capital-intensive means that the whole business is unlikely to provide the kind of returns to investors as it once did.

Therefore, the market correctly priced in lower multiples and slower future growth which explains the situation that the company finds itself in. In case you haven’t figured it out, the company I’m referring to is SPH.

There are a number of other such mistakes that I’ve made in the past decade and honestly, I find it too much work for the extra returns that a broadly-diversified portfolio might return. Needless to say, I’ve had my successes but those aren’t anything to brag about either.

The main reason for the increase in my portfolio is simply the insane savings rate that I have. By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, more than half of that increase was due to savings. Another 20% or so due to returns from dividends and the rest from capital gains.

In short, while you are young, you can have shitty investing skills and still see a dramatic increase in your net worth if you save like hell.*

I still obsess about my net worth but ideally, I’d like to arrive at the day where I honestly don’t care about money any longer because what I have is more than enough for my wife and I to live how we want to.**

In the next decade and more, I have to stick to a better investing plan. I’m already fairly disciplined about savings because it’s pretty much on auto-pilot and I don’t spend very much compared to others.

The main focus now will be to stick to an investment plan that allocates a higher return to equities and be disciplined about the re-balancing process while keeping costs low. This will be the way to go as I have many decades of investing ahead of me.

Goodbye 2019 and 2010s

You’ll notice that I haven’t talked much about what’s going on in the world and frankly, none of it has mattered much to me.

We have politics becoming a joke in the U.S., strongmen steadily gaining power in Russia and China and in Singapore, we have our own Orwellian-esque POFMA.

The climate has also gone bonkers with records temperatures being reached and yet, people rode the wave to sell metal straws while the fear-mongering grows over solutions that smart people like Bill Gates are suggesting.

In the business world, startups that blow through cash (think Uber, Grab, the disaster now known as WeWork, or almost any other unicorn for that matter) gets seemingly unlimited amounts of funding for business models that pretend to be a tech spin to an older business model.

Even in my world, the mantra seems to be “tech” and “entrepreneurship” but the powers that be fail to realise that as a business school, it’s unlikely for us to teach “tech” well. And frankly, “entrepreneurship” isn’t something to be taught so I’m not sure how we’re going to justify charging the school fees for that one.

“Hey, splash some cash for us to teach your kids the rules that they have to break.”

That’s probably the most honest marketing you’ll get from a business school trying to teach entrepreneurship.

Despite what’s happened, the 2010s have been kind to me. I’m extremely blessed to be living in a place free from strife, have loved ones that care about me, and seven cats.***

Notes:
* Of course this has diminishing returns as your net worth grows. It’s unlikely that your salary will grow in line with your portfolio and therefore the same savings rate will gradually add less and less to your net worth as the years go by.

**Skeptics will say that the day will never come but based on my current lifestyle, I’m pretty sure I’ll get there sooner rather than later.

***Of course, we’re not going to keep all seven.

It’s been a tough week at work. Tough not because I had a lot of things to do but tough because idle minds lead to idle thoughts and my idle thoughts led me to question whether my current job is what I’d be doing if I had options.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my job and I’m relatively good at it. The pay’s also decent and given my current lifestyle, if I keep at this job for the rest of my working life, my wife and I would easily be financially better off than 90% of all Singaporeans.

But it’s boring

The problem with my job is that it’s usually the “same shit, different day” kind of thing you hear with most dead-end jobs. Many of us didn’t join for career progression but our bosses are kind of forced to ensure that we do something new all each year.

At the same time, people stuck in jobs like ours then to find interests beyond work.

Mine has come in the form of wanting to leave a legacy behind to help cats that get abandoned. Right now, cats that get rescued off the streets are usually placed in foster care which come at great cost to rescuers.

Rescuers have to bear large financial costs of bringing cats to the vet to ensure that they have no major health issues while they also tap on their own network of fosterers. If there are no fosterers, rescuers then have to pay for boarding facilities.

I think there should be a better model.

I digress

The main point is that I’ve been feeling that my current job pays me great for the amount of work I have to do (although I’ve been made to do more stupid things lately.) but I’m pretty sure it’s not something I’m going to end up doing for the rest of my life.

It’s still too early to make an exit but the thought of doing more exciting things is a constant distraction from focusing to do the mundane things.

The gears are in motion…