When I was a teenager growing up in Hong Kong, my dad preached to
me about the importance of investing – either through stocks or
unit trusts – in order to grow your wealth. He himself admitted he
was a late starter having only got into investing in his 40s.
Listening to my dad, though, made a lasting impression on me. But
it also posed the question of why he hadn’t started earlier.
For many people the question of “why should I invest?” is a seemingly simple one. But a much more common hurdle that is applicable to most people thinking about investing is “how do I start investing?” That is a much more complex question, and understandably so.
People tend to think that the investing is a mysterious and mystical world; sort of like Hogwarts Castle in Harry Potter when in fact it’s more akin to learning how to swim or cycle for the first time. Once you get the hang of it you can do it in your own way and as time goes on you will do it with more confidence too.
Have a plan based on YOU
Before starting out, it is important to remember that every
individual is different. Your own investment goals will differ
depending on your age, circumstances and stage of your life. A
Singaporean in their 20s will be thinking about saving and
investing in order to afford their first home while a fellow
citizen in their 40s may be more focused on investing towards
meeting their kids’ educational needs or perhaps looking after
Being in Singapore, as someone in my early 30s my own personal plan is to invest and save for my family with my wife and I expecting our first child later this year. How I would have thought about investing 10 years ago compared to today has changed, just as my circumstances have.
Do your research
The problem so many beginners have is that they listen to a “hot
tip” from a friend of a friend who suggests that stock A is going
to make you a millionaire. Take any advice like that with a pinch,
scrap that, a BUCKET of salt because if there was a set “method”
to becoming a millionaire overnight by trading stocks then we’d
all be doing it!
Doing your own research on stocks that you want to invest in means doing your due diligence on companies and ensuring they are businesses that you would want to own as a shareholder. How do you determine this? There are many various ways (which I will revisit at a later time) but the most important lesson is to make sure you are fully informed and comfortable before making a decision to invest. Remember, investing is a marathon and not a 100-metre sprint so you are in it for the long term.
This leads me into my final point; trust yourself before you go
out and invest. All of us will inevitably make mistakes investing
but we will also learn from those and be the wiser for it. Given
the importance of our savings and what we do with them, we should
be more pro-active in how we manage our investments and how we
want to reach our financial goals. I mean, you can see for
yourself the lack of confidence in the investment management
In Singapore, only 10% of retail investors (i.e. me, you or the man on the street) believe their investment adviser or firm always puts their interests first. This compares to the global average of 35%, according to a survey done by the CFA Institute.
Given this putative lack of credibility, it may come as a surprise that people are hesitant to take the plunge and invest themselves. It is understandable but we shouldn’t be afraid to take the responsibility on ourselves. After all, it is your financial future and who better to make a decision about it than you?
In the end, taking that first step in investing – just like taking the training wheels of your bike – is always the scariest part. But the satisfaction, and most likely the results, that you get from doing it will be immeasurable.
by Tim Phillips, English Editor @ FIGS
18 Aug 2018
(Please note that all views expressed in this article are solely my own and do not represent the opinions of FIGS or its related companies)
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