I was recently invited to blog on BTInvest, a new online portal by The Business Times, a cherished opportunity to learn from professionals more knowledgeable than myself and also share my personal views and personal experience on investments.
Just thought I’d share my first BTInvest post with all my dear readers here. I will of course still be publishing news and my views on the real estate market here, so please do continue to lend us your kind support by visiting regularly!
“Investing is not just for those who have accumulated enough spare cash to begin their portfolios. Investment should start from investing in oneself, and personal development is something that need not necessarily involve an initial cash outlay.
My career path is a manifestation of this belief. I graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Laws, and began pupillage as a litigator. As a fresh graduate from a sheltered family background, I felt immensely ill-equipped to deal with the often heart-wrenching problems faced by my clients. My solution? Leaving the legal sector to become a flight attendant, and get paid a generous allowance while traveling the world and broadening my horizons.
Reading is a great, cost-efficient means of self-improvement. During my overseas layovers, unable to sleep due to jetlag, I often flipped through the financial newspapers discarded by passengers post-flight. And this was what piqued my initial interest in investments and wealth management.
I decided that the best way for me to learn more was to join an international bank as a financial consultant, seeing it as a paid immersion program into the world of investing. My role was not limited to just insurance, equity and FX-linked investment products, but also included structuring mortgage loans for clients. And it was by virtue of the latter that I was privy to clients’ varied sources of income, and their property portfolios. It became apparent that building multiple streams of passive income was key to accumulating wealth.
The more I learnt about investing, the more disillusioned I became with the “scorecard” basis upon which I was paid – banks generally require sales staff to hit sales quotas for a specific range of bank products before commissions are payable, regardless of returns generated for clients or revenue earned for the bank. I thus decided to return to law for a change of environment. More specifically, I sought employment at a firm with an established real estate department, in the hopes of gaining greater insight into property investing.
The life of a conveyancing lawyer is not the most glamourous, but the tedium of vetting legal contracts does train you to be careful and precise, and of course there are plenty of opportunities to hone highly-portable skills when acting as a negotiator and mediator. What I enjoyed most was the daily interaction with a broad spectrum of clients:- first-time home buyers, seasoned investors, business owners and property developers. You’ll find that some of the best lessons you can pick up on investing are to be had from simply speaking to people from various walks of life – both the successes to emulate, and the pitfalls to avoid at all costs.
By the time my firstborn turned one, the attraction of self-employment had grown irresistible. With the support of my husband, and reassurance that our investments in properties and stocks provided us with modest but decent passive income, I felt able to let go of the safety blanket that my regular paycheck represented. Embarking on real estate sales was a natural choice, given our affinity for property investments, my love for client-facing interaction, and my experience in handling both the financial and legal aspects of property transactions.
And so here I am, still learning about investments and building upon what I’ve learnt. It is an honour to be given the opportunity to share this journey with others via BTinvest’s blog platform, and my hope is that through my candid sharing, you may also discover that investing is not just for the technically-inclined, the financial whizzes and the mega-rich.
There are no short-cuts to financial literacy, but tools are available to all that seek such knowledge and I believe that financial education is something that we should all take a personal interest in if we wish to attain a comfortable level of financial freedom. Thank you for joining me on this pursuit, I look forward to hearing your views too!”
First published at http://www.btinvest.com.sg/blogs/2013/07/22/thoughts-on-investing/