Investment

My portfolio, before and after.

Disclaimer: This is not an investment advice. I am not a CFP by training so I do not recommend an investment, do not sell products, and are not affiliated with any of the financial tools providers.

Investment is something that my family dreads. I grew up hearing my mom talks (and still talks) about the 1980s crash like it was yesterday. She stops working in the late 80s, which limited her exposure to what is happening around the world. At home, the 80s never ends.

As we grow older, my younger brother got close to a family that believes in investing (a bit like the Rich Dad Poor Dad, the local version and less the drama), and he has invested in the dollar averaging method since day one.

But I continued to live in the coming end-of-the-world moment and hold on to cash mostly. I do a little trades, holding a stock for a quarter or two for dividends. Then, something on the news will snap me into putting a sell order. I haven’t lost money, but I lost all the opportunity cost.

March 2020 was a good time to invest, and of course, the Fed acts so quickly that I have hardly caught on the dip, but I haven’t got an opportunity to panic sell either, so I survived.

Come Oct/Nov 2020, I find that I can leverage 0% funds, so I maxed out my credit card for investment. Perhaps everyone else also caught on to free cash resources, the market rose to a new high in November. Once again, I ask myself if I have the guts to invest. And if I do, what would that be?

My current portfolio

The textbook tells us that we need to allocate a bond-equity mix based on our age. But market product offerings can be so complex these days. The general marketing pitch is you can directly buy a share or bond for higher fees or a cocktail mix for lesser fees (you can’t say that’s entirely true). The result? Even before fully investing, I already use 8 different platforms 🤔. I have a mix of products here, there, or nowhere (Dole Foods have shares they didn’t know floating in the market).

While I like to think I understood the products I have invested in, I actually don’t know what’s the end risk ratio looks like. It’s much harder to see the underlying assets I am investing in, especially with Robo-advisors and Mutual Funds. Here’s how they look like, categorial speaking:

Excluding insurance. Fund 1, 2& 3 is related to private retirement scheme, so it’s not included here.

I do have investment too, but as you can see, that it’s just too much cash. And if I look at the underlying asset level, the chart is a tell-tale of “low-grade” investments.

I know that I am risk-averse, but charting this tells me the heart issue I have refused to address.

I have always known that I am risk-averse. Charting this tells me the heart issue I have refused to address – there is too much low performing, sleeping fund. I need to move my cash to serious investing.

Must I invest?

Maybe the question is must we invest if we can keep cash well? Yes, it’s possible to retire if I stay single but it’s near to impossible to build a house, sent the kids to private school or eat truffle everyday. I also realized that as I save more, it gets harder to save. Be it spending on myself, donations or just feeling like it’s okay to pay the bill when dining out with friends. These RM1 or RM2 adds up to thousands. So, having money tied down to investment is good stewardship (at least to me).

How to move to better performing investments?

That’s my first question. Actually, I don’t know the answer yet. I’ve always given advice to my friends, so here’s my advice to myself.

First, accept that I cannot do more savings. There should be no new deposits in saving accounts next year. If there’s any surplus for the month (hopefully), it has to go into equity or bond fund.

Second, cash has to go down to between 15-25%. I still need a lot since this is my emergency fund, I don’t have other assets to sell.

Third, cost averaging. If I don’t want to face the shock of a dipping market, I will do cost averaging over the next 6 to 9 months.

Forth, actually invest. Planning on paper is nice, I do it all the time. To make sure that I invest instead of “talking” about it, I’ll do open orders on 15 selected companies in KLSE and NASDAQ and find an accountability partner to make this happen.

Fifth, vision how the target portfolio looks like. Here’s what I think my target portfolio should look like. A lot of equity for room for grow (I am just 30’s), enough hedge and bond to withstand market swings, and good amount of cash when I need money.

I don’t think I followed any specific investing rule or portfolio fundamentals. I just draw the chart and play around with the numbers and build something I am comfortable with. Hedge around 5%, bond funds and cash around 10-20% etc.

Investing in international equity

After much considerations, I am investing with eToro. It’s not a perfect platform, but it’s the one I find accessible. I would keep less than 20% on this platform, the alternative would be TD Ameritrade. At least, should things go burst, I won’t go cry-baby at the police station. The same applies to all platforms, no matter how good it may sound, Robo-advisors included.

On the investment itself, I am 😮 by the extremely high price/earnings ratio in companies like Zoom. It really feels like a recipe for disaster for old school people like me. KLSE looks like a goldmine in comparison.

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Having access to eToro, be it trusted or not, actually helps me settle my heart. I always want to invest directly in the US market and second question my decision when no company in KLSE owns coke-cola or iPhone.

Personally, I feel like God has put in place all the prerequisite possible for me to invest. The next generation will be different (friends who grew up with money tend to be passionate about life, values and art). Now it’s time for me to take the actions. Put good stewardship towards what’s been given.

How does your portfolio look like and what are your target returns?

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