5 Expensive Mistakes People Make When Choosing A Financial Adviser

Mistakes people make when choosing a financial adviser

George is a kind man, who had many friends over the course of his life. Sometimes, they reappear suddenly to reconnect. And also enlighten him on the importance of financial planning. George, being the kind man that he is, supported them by purchasing products from these people, even though he didn’t need them. Over time, he realized he bought too many policies because each time he had a hard time saying no. Worse still, most of them eventually left the industry but he maintained his policies as he had spent a considerable sum on already. Those individuals are friends no longer, as George has come to resent them (but mostly himself). If this story sounds typical, it is. Engaging the right adviser is hard, and on the other hand engaging the wrong one is easy. In this article, fundMyLife reveals expensive mistakes people make when choosing a financial adviser.

#1 Choosing friends and family

One of the users of fundMyLife we spoke to admitted that he had bought over 5 insurance products to help a close relative to meet her targets. It’s quite a common phenomenon, to see someone purchase a plan just to help friends and/or family. While the intention to support them is understandable, bear in mind that these products that you purchase are long-term commitments. Sometimes, these commitments last longer than your relationship with these people. You should also purchase these products if and only if they benefit you in the long run, not the other way round.

On the flip side, because these people are your friends and family, you’re at a greater liberty to ask them really tough questions that you should be asking a potential adviser. For example, you are at a greater liberty to ask them what the commissions are, their plans to stay in this career, etc. We wrote a list of questions that you can ask your potential adviser. Choosing friends and family as an adviser because they are friends and family is one of the most common mistakes people make when choosing a financial adviser – do avoid that!

It is tough, but you must say no if the reasons for taking up a plan with them are not well-justified.

#2 Buying from a complete stranger

On the other spectrum of relationships, one of the common mistakes people make when choosing a financial adviser is engaging a stranger straightaway. Bear in mind, we’re not saying that buying from a complete stranger is bad. We’re saying buying from a complete stranger whom you do not have any information on is bad.

There are three usual ways to encounter a complete stranger that wants to sell you a financial product. Firstly, you may encounter one from roadshows in shopping malls and MRTs. Another way is to get messaged online randomly, be it via Facebook and Instagram. If you attend networking sessions often, you will also encounter advisers on the prowl to know more people/potential leads.

When you buy from a complete stranger, you will need time to ascertain whether the adviser is credible or otherwise. Ask this complete stranger for strong client referrals, or even better – the client’s contact. If he/she is doing a good job, the clients are more than willing to vouch for him/her.

Does it mean all strangers that you meet are bad? Not at all. We’ve seen amazing advisers opting for roadshows, as personal preference. It only means you should ask more questions when if you want to engage this particular adviser.

#3 Focusing too much on products

Products are but one half of the equation. Every company has its fair share of suitable and unsuitable products. As such, you should not be too fixated with getting a product over choosing a good adviser. Neither should any advisers that you engage. Be careful of advisers who are more interested to talk about their company’s products and features than understanding your finances, needs, and future goals.

Good advisers are knowledgeable about competing products, and can advise you accordingly based on your needs. The best ones may even recommend their friends in other companies, if you’re adamant about getting another company’s products.

#4 Letting their image of success blind you

One of the mistakes people make when choosing a financial adviser is choosing it based on their image of success
Standard starter pack for those who choose to flaunt their success on social media. Source: SGAG.

Scroll your social media, and you might see what the starter pack above is describing. Some advisers flaunt their success on social media in order to portray that they are successful. The idea behind that is that potential clients view an adviser’s success as a reflection of their expertise.

Chances are that an adviser you met talked about how he/she got into the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT). Getting into the MDRT is a prestigious thing, but it only reflects the sales volume of him/her for the company. It does not indicate whether the adviser is good or otherwise for you. What you should be looking out for are industry certifications, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP), estate planning certification, etc.

[HOT TIP] You might also want to ask about a different but often overlooked metric – persistency ratio. It’s a metric used to measure the performance of an adviser. It shows the total number of policies that an adviser retains during a period without the policies sold lapsing or losing the premium to other insurance companies. Good advisers have high persistency ratio (think >95%) because it means no clients cancel their policies, reflecting the quality of the advice that the adviser gives.

#5 Falling for sales tactics

Another one of the most common mistakes people make when choosing a financial adviser involves sales tactics. Giving free gifts to get a yes is an age-old tactic, where the adviser tries to get you to agree by dangling a carrot in front of you. It can be a voucher or a physical object. It is not worth saying yes to a product just because you’ll get a free gift from it. The mistake will cost way more than the voucher or gift you receive, in more ways than one.

Another tactic is the bait-and-switch tactic. The adviser piques your interest with a small, low-cost product at first. However, the conversation later switches to a different product altogether, one which is potentially more lucrative for him/her. Last tactic is one that involves talking repeatedly for a long period of time. Long talks will wear you down mentally and eventually you’d say yes when your willpower is low.

Financial planning begins with uncovering your needs, financial situation, and goals. Only with a clear understanding of where you are, and where you want to be in the future do products come into the picture, so falling for sales tactics is one of the worst mistakes you can make.

Connect with fundMyLife financial advisers today!

We hope this list of mistakes people make when choosing a financial adviser will help you avoid make the same mistakes again. It’s serious business, choosing the right financial advisers. You two are in it together for the long haul and as such it’s important to find the right adviser.

Where to find them? Worry not – fundMyLife has your back. You can connect with our panel of experienced and awesome financial advisers, curated by us. If you want to engage more financial advisers, or if you haven’t found the right one, why not consider advisers of fundMyLife? You can head on over to fundMyLife and ask our awesome financial advisers questions. Alternatively, you can check out our curated pool of individual advisers and ask them questions directly.

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

What Is A Retirement Plan (And What Can Derail Them)?

What is a retirement plan and what are the risks

Retirement – you hear it often and everywhere. In short, retirement is a period in your life where you stop working and withdraw from the workforce. In Singapore, that minimum retirement age is 62. You also want to maintain the same standards of living as you did while you’re working. To achieve this, you’d have to save up a sum of money during your working years, following a thing called a retirement plan.

According to a survey conducted by NTUC Income, slightly over half of young adults aged between 25-35 have started working towards retirement, and 84% are worried about their retirement. What exactly is a retirement plan and what does it entail? In this article, fundMyLife describes what a retirement plan is, and lists the various risks that threaten to derail it.

What is a retirement plan?

In Singapore, chances are that you have your CPF as your most basic safety net during your retirement years. Political discussions aside, it is a nifty instrument that provides you a monthly amount upon reaching retirement age. This money comes from deductions from your salary in addition to employer contributions during your working years. On a related note, we wrote an article about CPF not too long ago. However, there is only so much that CPF can provide, especially if you have been leading a particular lifestyle and would not want a change. You still need a proper retirement plan to last from your retirement age till your death. And not before, of course.

The anatomy of a retirement plan

When you engage a financial adviser, one of the first things he or she will run through with you is a retirement plan. At the risk of sounding like a Captain Obvious, a retirement plan is a plan you make to prepare for retirement and the years beyond. While it sounds simple at first, it answers a few deep questions:

  1. How much do I want to have by retirement age?
  2. How much do I want to live on during retirement?
  3. Will the money last me enough to do what I want, e.g., travel, start a retirement business, etc?
  4. How long do I want the money to last?
  5. How flexible can I be in the face of unexpected events?

Once you answer those questions, your financial adviser can then draft a plan for you to achieve those goals.

Retirement planning methods

#1 Savings/endowment plan

Endowment plans is a plan that has both savings and insurance components. Insurance companies promote them as forced savings, typically requiring you to pay a monthly sum over a period of time, usually between 20-30 years or so. During that period, the insurance company invests your money in a fund. At the end of the fixed period, you get your money back in a lump sum. This payout typically has a guaranteed and non-guaranteed sum. The former is the minimum amount that you will get. The non-guaranteed sum depends on how well the fund performed over the period of time.

Bear in mind, a retirement plan is different from a retirement policy, one of the many ways you can build your existing wealth. As such, make sure you clarify with whoever financial adviser you’re speaking to. He or she might think you’re interested in the latter but you should be more concerned about the former.

#2 CPF

Surprise surprise, there are several things you can do with your CPF. Channeling the money from your Ordinary Account (OA) to your Special Account (SA) is one such way. While OA is typically used for non-retirement uses such as housing, insurance, and investments, SA is used for retirement and retirement-related investments. As of the time of writing, OA has a lower interest rate compared to SA, up to 3.5% for the former and up to 5.0% for the latter. Generally, both accounts’ interest rates are higher than the average inflation rate in Singapore. The interest rates are reviewed quarterly so be sure to check regularly.

A second way you can use your CPF to prepare for retirement is using CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS). This scheme gives you an option to invest the money in your OA and SA accounts in a variety of investments, such as unit trusts, bonds, shares, and even insurance products. If you’re interested, you must take the CPFIS Investment Scheme self-awareness questionnaire just to gauge your knowledge of investing. It’s compulsory to take if you want to give CPFIS a try. You can still invest if you fail the questionnaire, no problem.

#3 Investments

There are several ways you can invest your money, such as stocks, managed funds, and most of the time – index funds. Picking your own stocks will take time and knowledge. Managed funds involve fund managers who try to beat the market who active reallocate the assets in a fund to get you returns that are higher than the market average. An index fund buys shares in companies in proportions that match a market index such as the Straits Times Index (STI). Index funds are cheaper since they are passively managed unlike managed funds.

Great thing about investing is that you can go in or pull out at any moment, providing great liquidity.

If you want to invest in the stock market, here’s a great step-by-step guide from DollarsAndSense on stock investing in Singapore.

#4 Selling your place

There is the option of selling your place when you’re older. Besides, with an empty nest, you don’t need that much space eventually anyways. While the assumption is that your place will appreciate in value over time, there’s no 100% guarantee that it will happen.

Tread with caution with this one.

#5 Fixed deposit/Savings account

If you are truly risk averse, and do not want to park your money elsewhere, you can consider putting it in a bank. Fixed deposits, as its name suggests, is an account that holds a sum of money over a fixed period of time. Fixed deposits are good to have if you have a sum of money (above $10,000) and want to grow it a bit. The downside is that your money is locked up for a period of time, usually with a minimum of 12 months. You’ll be penalized with lower interest rates for withdrawing money from the account.

Recently, banks are getting competitive with novel kinds of savings account. Savings accounts such as DBS Multiplier Account and OCBC 360 Account nowadays have tiered interest rates, with the maximum rates quite comparable to other investment products. These interest rates are added on top of the base rates if you credit your salary to the account, purchase investment and insurance products, etc. The whole idea of these accounts is to influence you to stick to that one account for all financial matters. That’s the downside. The upside is that you can draw as much as you want/need without penalty unlike fixed deposit accounts.

Non-exhaustive list of risks to your retirement plan

A common misconception about retirement plan is that it’s a one-stop destination. While the figures on the retirement calculator looks sensible and solid, retirement is  not an exact science. It requires a lot of assumptions as well, which may However, along the way there are stumbling blocks that slow you down. This section highlights several risks that are very real and will happen to us at some point in our lives.

#1 Loss of a job

Contribution to your retirement plan requires constant flow of funds. This sustained contribution assumes continuous employment as well. A common stumbling block to your retirement plan is when you lose a job, be it due to retrenchment or health issues. In addition, as you age, you will face less employment options. This is an unfortunate fact in the workforce. To mitigate this risk, you may want to consider part time jobs to increase your savings while you are still able to work. Plus, better to work towards retirement than spending hours binging on TV shows.

#2 Living longer than before

This is one of the rare disadvantages of living longer than the previous generation. Advances in medical healthcare means people are living increasingly longer than ever. Longevity, while desired in general, is a risk for retirement planning. Living longer means you might run out of money past your retirement age. On top of that, there is an increased chance of contracting more diseases as you age.

#3 Healthcare costs

On top of increasing longevity, healthcare costs rise every year and are expected to increase indefinitely. With increased longevity, it also means you’ll be spending more on yourself over time.

#4 Market risks

There’s a risk that a market downturn can wreck havoc on your investments, be it stocks or an endowment fund. Market risks also affect you more drastically after retirement, when you’re utilizing money from your retirement fund.

To illustrate this in a simple manner, imagine if you had $100 in your investment portfolio one day, consisting only of one stock. Consider these two separate scenarios:

  1. The next day there was a 50% market drop, causing you to have only $50. You’re still working, so you don’t have to depend on money from this portfolio. The next day, the market bounced back by 50%, which means you now have $75.
  2. The next day there was a 50% market drop, causing you to have only $50. You’re retired, and you need the money so you draw $10 which leaves you with $40. The next day, the market bounced back by 50%, which means you know have $60.

Such a big difference, if you needed the money from your portfolio. As such, it’s important to account for market risks by diversifying your portfolio and not keep all your eggs in a single basket.

#5 Relationship risks

When you set a retirement plan, your financial adviser takes your partner and his/her into financial information in account. However, relationships sometimes go awry, necessitating separation and/or divorce. Under such situations, you two might have to divide your assets and other things like maintenance and child support comes into the picture. These unexpected things will throw a wrench into your plans.

#6 Financial adviser risks

This is a risk not many people discuss about – the financial adviser him/herself being a risk factor. If the financial adviser is bad at what he/she does, you’re stuck with an equally sub-par retirement plan. Imagine when you’re reaching retirement age, and you realize the plan that you purchased did not serve its need and was meant to be a high-commission product for the adviser.

How to discern whether the adviser is good or otherwise? Make sure you get strong referrals from your friends and family, or browse through a site that contains amazing advisers – coughfundMyLifecough.

Connect with fundMyLife financial advisers today!

Oh boy, that is a lot of different risks. It is not as depressing as it sounds. We hope this article did not scare you, but rather inspire you to plan for your future retirement plan ahead. You should have started saving towards your retirement 5 years ago, but the next best time is today.

Who to consult on such matters though? Worry not – fundMyLife has your back. We can’t help you mitigate all the risks above, but we can make sure that the last risk – financial adviser risk – is eliminated. You can connect with our panel of experienced and awesome financial advisers, curated by us. If you want to engage more financial advisers, or if you haven’t found the right one, why not consider advisers of fundMyLife? You can head on over to fundMyLife and ask our awesome financial advisers questions. Alternatively, you can check out our curated pool of individual advisers and ask them questions directly.

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

Renting As A Singaporean, Yay Or Nay?

Is it worth renting as a Singaporean?

It is common than not for a Singaporean to stay with the family until very late into his life. This is a sharp contrast to Americans who leave the nest as soon as they turn 18. Of course, it makes economical sense to stay at home. Furthermore, home ownership is available when an individual, 1) applies for a BTO flat with his/her spouse, or 2) is over 35 years old and purchases a flat from a resale market. Option 1 requires a partner, whereas Option 2 requires significant resources – something which can be out of your control. Therefore, this leaves an individual with either continuously staying with his/her family or renting. In this article, fundMyLife shares reasons why renting as a Singaporean for a short term is not a bad idea.

Independence

Sometimes, you just want space. It could be due to several reasons. Your burgeoning sense of independence, increasing need for personal space, or even an oppressive home environment. Your family leaving you alone at home or coming home late at night does not constitute space. It is not sustainable over a long period of time without emotional distress.

On top of physical space, it’s psychological space that you might want to have as well. You cannot have that if you do not have a place to call your own. Plus, renting a place out there might make you appreciate your parents more and come home more often for their home-cooked soup.

Personal growth

With your own space, you’re free to explore activities or passions that you wouldn’t be able to without your own place. For example, you’ve always wanted a pet but your family is not pet-friendly. Or if you want to go out and stay out late at night without any repercussions. If you and your friends are up for it, you all can consider renting a place together. This will strengthen your friendships with each other. On top of that, it provides not only a fun chapter to have but it is also an opportunity to explore human interpersonal relationships, adding depth and dimension to your lives.

On top of that, if you do not rent for a short term, you will never truly have a time of your life when you had space to yourself. A typical living accommodation trajectory in a Singaporeans life involves staying with your parents until you apply for a BTO with your partner. After that, it will be you and your partner. The addition of children in the mix after a while means you will not have this luxury of space until when the children leave the nest. It sounds scary, doesn’t it?

Pre-marriage cohabitation

Renting as a Singaporean couple helps both to adjust to the independence, working out a proper household dynamic before settling in their new BTO flat.  They can also start easing themselves into the mundane, such housekeeping and cooking.

Read articles on how cohabitation can lead to divorce rates? Those aren’t entirely true. In a 2014 research, researchers found that age is a much stronger predictor for divorce rather than cohabitation status. People who cohabited or married at age 23 are half as likely to divorce as those who cohabited or married at age 18. Pre-marriage cohabitation, while seemingly a financial liability, will reap returns when you two get used to each other’s quirks and habits.

Connect with fundMyLife financial advisers today!

Renting as a Singaporean may not make financial sense at first, but there are benefits to doing this. It may not be such a bad idea after all to rent for a short while. Independence is a severely underrated skill to have, after all. However, if you’re going to spend part of your salary on renting, it’s important that you have a financial plan.

If you want to engage more financial advisers, or if you haven’t found the right one, why not consider advisers of fundMyLife? You can head on over to fundMyLife and ask our awesome financial advisers questions. Alternatively, you can check out our curated pool of individual advisers and ask them questions directly.

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

Is Being In Debt Always A Bad Thing?

Is being in debt always bad?

Debt is an amount of money borrowed by one party from another party. While it sounds neutral at first glance, the concept of debt suffers from popular culture painting it in a bad light. When the word debt comes to mind, images of loan sharks pouring red paint all over your door appear. Of course, being in debt can be a terrifying thing. However, is it always bad? It’s possible to live a life free of debt, but that puts you at a disadvantage. In this article, fundMyLife tells the difference between good and bad debt, and how being in good debt isn’t always bad.

Disclaimer: we may be named fundMyLife, but we can’t help you financially if you happen to be in debt. Sorry.

The Good

Student loans

The best example of a good debt would be a student loan. Taking out a loan for your studies is generally a good kind of debt because income potential and employability are correlated with the amount of education a person has. As such, a student loan allows you to gain access to education that you would not have otherwise. The returns of student loan comes when your income increases due to an increase in education. Speaking of student loans, we wrote something on clearing your student loans.

However, having more education does not guarantee an increase in income. Not all kinds of education guarantees the same increase in pay after the graduation. As such, make sure you do your homework to ensure that you choose the right education to meet your salary expectation in the future.

Real estate

In general, property value will appreciate over time. The only question is when and by how much. The simplest strategy is to own a home, live in it for a few decades and then sell it at (hopefully) a profit. Another way to approach real estate is to rent it and use the rent to offset the mortgage.

That said, if you happen to choose a bad property to purchase, it’s unlikely that its value will increase over time. In addition, price appreciation for property is no longer a 100% guarantee as well. Of course, it’s not that simple – real estate is constantly a hot topic in Singapore, and our friends over at DollarsAndSense wrote several pieces on real estate investment.

[Bonus info] Bonds

Companies and financial institutions raise money by issuing debt called bonds. These entities are borrowing money from those who purchase their bonds, with the promise of paying the interest and the principal once the bond matures. You might want to take note of this financial instrument. It is a good form of debt after all as companies get to raise money and you get to invest in a relatively low risk manner (depending on the bonds’ credit rating of course). FYI, we wrote something on why bonds are not a bad idea.

The Bad

Bad debts are debts that you incur to purchase depreciating assets. In other words, it is a situation where you borrow money to buy an asset that loses its value over time. Bad debts are also debts that incur a large interest over time. Rule of thumb: if what you earn can only cover the interest rate and not the principal, you’re better off not borrowing.

Credit cards

Credit card debt ranks as one of the worst debts to have. It sounds amazing to charge your purchases onto a card, only needing to pay the amount at the end of the month. Without proper planning, strategy, and discipline, consumers often fall short of paying the full amount. In fact, consumers often pay a minimum on their credit card, causing the owed amount to snowball after a while. Keeping a balance on a credit card is a bad idea due to relatively high interest rates. On top of snowballing debt, missing payments on time results in poor credit rating which affects your loan applications in the future.

Expensive vacations/wedding

For those who are inclined to documenting their lives on social media, there is a pressure to ensure that their curated lives look as good as possible. Amongst this group, there are those to take it to the extremes by borrowing money to fund their vacations or weddings. In short, living beyond their means so that they can look good to others. While the vacation or wedding might be a dream, what awaits you when you come back to reality is a nightmare. For example, one couple spent $110,000 on their wedding which took four years to repay.

Vehicle

Another common example of a bad debt is a vehicle. As opposed to real estate, a vehicle’s value will decrease over time due to wear and tear. Being in debt over luxury cars like BMW is not worth it. Furthermore, if you lost the ability to service the loan, you’d end up selling the car anyways. If you have to get a new car, sleep over it and assess objectively if you really NEED it.

On the other hand, it’s a special case where the vehicle is a rare antique/collector’s item. Classic and vintage vehicle investing is an alternative form of investment…which is unfortunately still inaccessible to most people who want to invest in. So no, don’t get yourself too deeply in debt over a vehicle.

Gambling

The mixture of adrenaline and chance makes gambling a compelling and addictive activity. In this case, the addition is literal and is a disease, according to Institute of Mental Health. While the occasional gamble is fun and best enjoyed with relatives during Chinese New Year, constant gambling often leads to financial ruin. Worse still is if you borrow money from unlicensed money lenders and loan sharks who charge very high interest rates. This keeps you perpetually chained to your gambling debt.

What if you find yourself in debt?

Being in debt is not so scary if you think about taking on debt as an opportunity to grow. If you find yourself in good debt, then the challenge is to organize your finances properly so that you can pay them on time and in full amount. Engaging a financial adviser to guide you along is a good idea.

However, what if you find yourself in bad debts? For unmanageable credit card debts, you can turn to Credit Counselling Singapore, a charity that provides credit counselling for those in debt, along with moral support and resources to be debt-free. On top of that, you can also consolidate all of your different debts into one single account. The lowered interest rate and structured repayment plan will hopefully help you manage your credit card debts better.

Ask fundMyLife financial questions today!

With this article, we hope that you have a peace of mind that being in debt is not always a bad thing. Owing an institution money can sometimes bring you further in your journey that not. That said, it is a calculated risk and sometimes you just need the right financial plan in your life. In this case, who better to bring you through it as a third part than a good financial adviser?

If you want to engage more financial advisers, or if you haven’t found the right one, why not consider advisers of fundMyLife? You can head on over to fundMyLife and ask our awesome financial advisers questions. Alternatively, you can check out our curated pool of individual advisers and ask them questions directly.

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

5 Ways To Recover Financially After A Divorce

How to recover financially after a divorce

We previously wrote about what you need to do when you get married. However, life does not always go your way and you might find yourself needing to divorce. Divorce is an emotionally and mentally draining process that involves many parties. More importantly, what happens after is a big financial change in your life. In this article, fundMyLife shares tips on how you recover financially after a divorce.

#1 Step up

If you were the one handling the household expenditure and finances, you should have less trouble managing your finances post-divorce. However, if you’ve always let your now ex-partner handle things, you’ll have to step up to take charge of your own finances again.

The difficulty depends on how dependent you were on the other partner for keeping track of finances. Fret not, there are plenty of tools out there. It ranges from simple things like an Excel spreadsheet, to finance tracking apps like Seedly. You’ll also need to read up on personal finance from media sites like DollarsAndSense, SG Budget Babe, and even our own blog posts.

#2 Review your expenditure

As mentioned, make sure you keep track of your expenses so that you know where and what you’re spending on. If you track your expenses, you can make better plans for where your money go. Then again, this is a generally good habit to have when it comes to personal finances for everyone.

#3 Set up a budget

Since there is the possible transition from a double-income household to single-household one, you will have to redo your budget to reflect this change. You’ll have to cut back on luxuries and set a realistic budget.

Also, expect your expenses to increase slightly. In the past, you might have purchased groceries in bulk for family use. Now, you purchase things only for yourself. However, some expenses don’t end after a divorce. If you have a child, you still need to pay child support. Similarly, if you two shared a pet and you decided to take custody of the pet, you’d be responsible for keeping it and its upkeep.

#4 (Re)gain financial independence

If both of you and your ex-partner were working before the divorce, you’re less vulnerable since you’re financially independent. However, if you quit the workforce to be the homemaker, going back to the workforce may be tough. This is more so if you haven’t been working for a while.

To address this, reskilling is an option to equip yourself with employable skills. For example, you can use your SkillsFuture to learn a new trade. If you still have trouble finding a job, you can book an appointment with an employability coach from the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) for career guidance and coaching. It is hard to recover financially after a divorce if you cannot feed yourself – make sure you’re as independent as possible.

#5 Speak to your financial adviser

Just as how marriage counts as a life event that requires a financial portfolio review with your financial adviser, a divorce is also a life event that demands a similar treatment. As such, it is important to speak to your financial adviser to readjust your portfolio to take your new and old expenditures into account.

For example, in the past if your beneficiary of your life insurance was your ex-partner, you would need to change the beneficiary to someone else. Another example is that you no longer need to service your mortgage insurance after selling your HDB.  And you might have to strike out your ex-partner from your will.

Ask fundMyLife financial questions today!

We hope this article is useful to you if you’re going through a divorce, or if you’re considering it. It’s a huge change to your finances after splitting with your partner, but it is definitely possible to recover financially after a divorce.

If you want to engage more financial advisers, or if you haven’t found the right one, why not consider advisers of fundMyLife? You can head on over to fundMyLife and ask our awesome financial advisers questions. Alternatively, you can check out our curated pool of individual advisers and ask them questions directly.

There is life after a divorce. You got this.

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

Have Financial Disputes With Your Adviser? Here Are 5 Ways You Can Settle Them

Fight your financial disputes out with these 5 ways

You might have been sold something wrongly by an adviser. It sounded right at first and the numbers were alluring. To your horror, you discovered it too late. By then, the 14-day free look period is over. You can’t cancel your plan anymore. You don’t want to/can’t meet the adviser again, and just want to get your policy problems settled. Where do you go to?  Fortunately, there are several places where you can look for resolution of your financial disputes. In this article, fundMyLife shows you the places you can go to if you have financial disputes.

#1 Financial institution

The first place to go to, before going anywhere else, is going to the financial institution that the adviser belongs to. For example, you’d reach out to insurance companies or banks depending on who and where you bought your policy from. You should speak to the staff that you brought the policy from first, but given how scary and confrontational it may be, you can opt to speak to the company’s customer service hotline instead.

The financial institution will dispatch a staff member to record your statements and investigate the incident thoroughly. Make sure you disclose as much information and as accurately as you can. At this point, if all went well with the investigation, you will get your money back.

#2 Financial Disputes Resolution Center (FIDReC)

If you did not arrive at a satisfying conclusion via the first channel above, it’s time to step it up by going to FIDReC. As its name suggests, it is the place to go to when you have financial disputes. There, FIDReC mediates between you and the financial institution to come to an amicable conclusion. You can only come to FIDReC only after you have gone to financial institutions.

Between July 1 2016 and June 30 2017, FIDReC handled 396 complaints against banks and finances companies and 289 complaints against life insurers. That’s almost two complaints per day in a year.

Below is a flowchart from the FIDReC website.

A diagram from FIDReC website on the dispute resolution process for financial disputes.
A diagram from FIDReC website on the dispute resolution process.

Upon lodging a complaint at FIDReC, a case manager checks if your complaint falls under FIDReC’s jurisdiction. If it does, FIDReC arranges for mediation. If successful, the dispute is settled. However, if the dispute is not settled, you can refer the dispute to an adjudicator for adjudication. The panel of adjudicators contains retired judges, senior counsel, lawyers, and retired industry professionals. This panel has the power to order financial institutions to follow their judgement. If the adjudication is in your favor, the maximum sum you receive from an insurance company is $100,000. On the other other hand, the maximum you receive from disputes with banks and capital markets is $50,000.

Financial institutions have to follow their judgement since the judgement is binding, but not for you. If you are still not happy with the judgement, you can still go on to different bodies to resolve your financial disputes.

#3 Consumer dispute resolution centers

Besides FIDReC, there are several other places you can go to settle your financial disputes. Firstly, you can go to the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE). CASE is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that offers mediation through its mediators. However, the meditation process requires both parties to agree to it…which means it’s tough luck if the financial institution refuses to come.

You can also go to Singapore Mediation Center (SMC). As its name suggests, the center has mediators to resolve disputes between parties. Similarly, the financial institution has to agree to the meeting as well as SMC has no legal power to enforce attendance.

Finally, you can also go to the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT). SCT is a part of the State Courts of Singapore. According to the State Courts website, the Tribunals handle claims not more than $10,000. This limit can be raised to $20,000 if both parties agree to it. In addition, the claims must be filed 1 year from the incident. The Registrar from SCT will first assess whether the claims fall under the Tribunals’ jurisdiction and give both parties a chance to resolve the matter before going into the Hearing process. During Hearing, both sides will present their cases to the Referee, who will then make a decision based on the evidence and according to the law.

#4 Social media

After trying all the above steps, there is still no satisfying conclusion. The frustration is mounting, but there’s still a way. There’s the option to turn to social media, where you share your plight with members of the public.

It is surprising how viral posts about bad experiences with finance can get. It may be airing dirty laundry in the public, but you just have to do it if it resolves things. Companies don’t want bad reputation after all, no matter how big or small they are. They may finally contact you to solve the matter quietly and privately, and in exchange you remove all incriminating posts.

#5 Legal action

If all else fails, it’s time to bring out the big guns. However, it’s not recommended that you take it to court. Legal action takes a long time and it is very expensive. Against financial institutions with significantly larger coffers, it is an uphill battle to settle your financial disputes. Hopefully, you never have to come to this point.

Ask fundMyLife financial questions today!

For those who have financial disputes, we hope this article can clarify some doubts and provide guidance. For those who haven’t engaged any advisers yet, we understand you. Want to avoid such situations in the first place?

We got you. Head on over to fundMyLife and ask our awesome financial advisers questions. Alternatively, you can check out our curated pool of individual advisers and ask them questions directly.

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

Want To Pick The Right Financial Adviser? Ask These 5 Questions (And A Bonus Tip)!

How to pick the right financial adviser?

If you had to pick someone to handle your finances, how would you assess whoever who comes your way? It’s tough, isn’t it? After all, you’d have to be sure this person is both competent and is in this for the long haul together with you. In this article, fundMyLife shares several questions that you can ask a potential adviser, to pick the right financial adviser. While it may not be 100% fool-proof, these questions will give you better insight into the potential adviser.

#1 “How Long Have You Been In The Business?”

The financial planning industry is notoriously competitive, and the turnover rate is high. As such, it’s important to determine whether the adviser you’re engaging intends to stay in the long run. The worst thing that can happen is when you want to file for insurance claims but your original adviser is nowhere to be found – leaving you in the dark. Does it mean all young advisers will quit on you? We’re not saying that, but an adviser of many years’ experience is definitely a better bet than someone who just finished his/her training and wants you to give him/her a chance to do your finances.

There are advantages and disadvantages of engaging a financial adviser who has been in the business for long. For one, an experienced adviser who is in the industry for a long time is not likely to quit any time soon. On top of that, an experienced adviser has probably met plenty of people with a profile similar to yours, making it easier to advise. On the other hand, there’s the age gap to consider and if the age gap is too large you two won’t “click”, or connect on an emotional level. Of course, if you don’t care about that then you can keep it strictly business-like and not discuss shared interests.

#2 “Can you tell me why you recommended this to me?”

On top of advising you on how you should do your finances, your potential financial adviser should also be educating you on his/her recommendations. This is so that you, the client, will have complete understanding of what you’re spending your money on monthly. Communication should be clear and transparent, and you should be confident that you know what you’re getting into.

Chances are the inexperienced advisers will regurgitate whatever they learned, and do not know any better than what they were taught.

#3 “Do you have referrals to your existing clients?”

There are various ways to assess whether the financial adviser you encounter is good. Firstly, the best way to assess is to ask someone else who engaged this adviser in the past. Secondly, financial advisers sometimes have their own Facebook pages or websites where you can get more information about them. You should look out for detailed reviews of how this adviser helped the reviewers. The good thing about Facebook is that if you’re bold enough, you can message these clients of the adviser to get more information.

#4 “What’s your experience in this area?”

Make sure he or she has the right experience and/or qualification to advise. For example, you’d want someone who is experienced in doing his/her own investments to advise you on investments. It will be good to engage someone who has advised other clients with similar profiles as yourself. If the adviser says he or she achieved a sales volume-based awards like the MDRT (Million Dollar Round Table) award, ask for other awards since sales volume is not an indication of expertise and experience.

#5 “Can I trust you?”

This is something you should ask yourself. Your inner voice is one of the most powerful forces. The financial adviser you engage will hopefully be with you for a long time. You would want someone whom you can trust along the way. You can also ask your potential adviser this question to see what he/she says. The good ones will be convincing. Whereas the untrustworthy ones may just stumble over themselves trying to convince you that they’re trustworthy.

Bonus: #6 “Are you doing anything else besides advising?”

At the risk of ruffling feathers of advisers who have side hustles, you should ask your potential advisers this. They should be 100% committed to helping you with your finances. And any other side hustles that they have serve to divide their attention from what matters the most – their clients and their relationships.

Ask fundMyLife financial questions today!

We hope this article is useful to you if you’re wondering what you can ask to pick the right financial advisers. If you don’t know who to ask or where to find amazing financial advisers, we got you.

If you want to engage more financial advisers, or if you haven’t found the right one, why not consider advisers of fundMyLife? You can head on over to fundMyLife and ask our awesome financial advisers questions. Alternatively, you can check out our curated pool of individual advisers and ask them questions directly.

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

Advisers’ Take: Biggest Misconceptions About Financial Advisers?

Advisers of fundMyLife share the biggest misconceptions about financial advisers

Financial advisers have an important job to do – plan your finances, provide advice on insurance and investments, etc. The best ones will be your lifelong friends as you move through different stages in your life. However, the bad ones are the ones that leave the strongest impressions on consumers – news, viral social media posts, angry word-of-mouth, etc. In fact, members of the public may have different ideas about who and what financial advisers are. In this article,  fundMyLife asks three of its financial advisers – Kennard Lee from AIA, Winifred Tan from Great Eastern, and Ryan Teo from AXA – about the biggest misconceptions about financial advisers.

Kennard Lee, AIA

Misconception #1: All advisers are the same

Consumers think that all advisers are the same. As such, they end up buying policies from friends and family. While relationship is important, it is more important to take into account the quality of the person providing the financial advice.

One of my clients bought several plans from her aunt. Upon finding out more information, I realized that she spends less than $200/month on insurance. It turned out that her combination of plans did not provide adequate coverage. For example, her hospitalization plan was at the lowest grade. She also purchased an endowment plan which she thought yielded 4%, but was only a projected yield as shown in the benefits illustration. I succeeded in redoing her plan and building a portfolio that best suited her. The financial planning jackpot is a friend or relative who is also competent at his/her job at advising. However, it is more important to choose someone who can advise well first and foremost.

People think that products are different across different insurance companies. But based on my calculations, the difference between insurance products of the same profile and type is only 5%. This means it’s never about the product. It is more about the adviser who is serving you and how much they care about your financial success. These advisers will always make sure your portfolio is never out of date, and make sure it is updated according to your life stage.

Misconception #2: Insurance agents can only sell insurance

Insurance agents are not just for selling insurance only, but also sell investment products. Competent agents will help their clients achieve good returns, and conversely those agents who are not as competent will achieve poor returns for his/her clients. Apart from being competent, good agents also truly cares for his/her clients as well.

My personal policy is to buy the same sub-funds that I recommend to my clients. By recommending what I myself use, I have skin in the game.

Misconception #3: Advisers from banks are the same as the ones from insurance companies

The products you purchase from an adviser from a bank is different from products you purchase from an adviser from an insurance company.

For example, purchasing a mutual fund from a bank is different from a investment-linked sub-fund. Consider this scenario: you purchase a $100k fund product from either a bank or an insurance company. The following day, a catastrophic financial event like the bankruptcy of  Lehman Brothers. The stock market collapses, and your $100k becomes $40k. The next day, you die of an accident. If you purchased the $100k fund from a bank (a mutual fund), your family will only receive the $40k. However, if you purchased the $100k fund from an insurance company (a investment-linked sub-fund), your family will receive $100k back. That’s a great safety net to have.

Winifred Tan, Great Eastern

Misconception #1: Financial advisers are the same as insurance agents

The financial planning industry has evolved since the past. With a population that is better educated, and a society that faces more problem that it did today, there’s a need to make sure that someone stands by you to help you.

Financial advisers are not just insurance agents, where we sell or take orders from clients. For us, we are qualified consultants – some even have Chartered [fML: professional bodies] or Masters – and know finance and insurance/investment related knowledge and applying them to your lives. We also know retirement planning, estate planning, tax planning, and we have advanced certifications in theses specialized areas!

Misconception #2: All financial advisers are the same

Regardless of the good or bad experience that you had with the advisers you met, there are so many different advisers out there that you should not generalize them. There are very good/responsible/ethical ones out there, and this is how you tell them apart.

Firstly, you usually know the good ones via referrals. Secondly, the good ones have good resume, experience, and qualifications that set them apart from others. Thirdly, advisers who conduct seminars and other forms of educational events are usually more credible.

Misconception #3: Advisers will sell me policies for their own gain

As mentioned, not all advisers are the same. There are very passionate ones who love to add value to their clients’  lives. The best ones are reliable, and clients love them and like to discuss not just financial issues but life issues as well.

Some advisers have better qualification like ChFC, Masters, CFP, etc, so they know matters that the members of the public do not. The number of years in the industry would show that if they are really the type to seek personal gain rather than clients’ interests.

Ryan Teo, AXA

Misconception #1: Clients should just leave everything to the adviser

When you have a financial adviser, you should not leave everything to them to handle. There are clients who let their adviser figure everything out by themselves without giving them enough information about themselves. Both parties should actively participate and play a role in the financial planning journey.

For example, you need to let the adviser know of any major changes in your life, such as marriage. Clients should also have a quantifiable goal to work towards, so that the adviser knows how to plot the route to get there. A lot of clients fear that if they reveal too much information, the adviser may sell them more things. This is detrimental to the client if he/she withholds information.

For investments, clients need to articulate the % returns that they want so that advisers can advise accordingly. There are clients who hand everything off to the adviser, but get upset when their expectations are not met because of a lack of communication. You have to help them help you by communicating your expectations. I suggest that clients and advisers engage each other quarterly to review the investments and discuss strategies.

Misconception #2: All advisers that you see in roadshows are bad

One of the biggest misconceptions about financial advisers is that only bad advisers go on roadshows. However, good ones still go for roadshows because it is one of the many ways to meet potential clients. In road shows, there’s a fear that advisers whom you meet will sell you a plan straightaway. But, the best ones will first take a look at your finances before doing anything else.

fundMyLife Summary

Hate them, love them, financial advisers are here to stay. We hope you learned about the biggest misconceptions about financial advisers, from the advisers themselves. In their own ways, all three advisers emphasized the fact that not all advisers are the same. It seems that the public tends to hold a single impression of advisers, which is wrong since individual adviser has their respective edge.

Kennard emphasized the importance of competence over familiar relationships when it comes to financial planning, i.e. pick a good planner over supporting a friend or family. He also makes the case for insurance agents being able to advise on investments and not just insurance since the best agents can obtain the best returns from investments because good agents care about their clients. Winifred talked about the difference between advisers, and shared some tips on how to find the best ones. Ryan noted that it takes two hands to clap and that clients must work closely with their advisers to reap most of the benefits of the advisers’ advice.

Ask fundMyLife financial questions today!

If you don’t know who to ask or where to find amazing financial advisers, we got you. If you want to engage more financial advisers, or if you haven’t found the right one, why not consider advisers of fundMyLife?

Intrigued about any of fundMyLife’s advisers in this article? You can connect with either Kennard Lee from AIA, Winifred Tan from Great Eastern, and Ryan Teo from AXA, just click on the link in their names and you can ask them questions directly from their profile pages. Alternatively, you can check out our curated pool of individual advisers and ask them questions directly.

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

Looking For Insurance For Pre-existing Conditions? Here Are 4 Options You Can Consider.

Insurance for pre-existing conditions

It sucks to have what insurers call pre-existing conditions. These conditions are defined generally any injuries or illnesses that affect you before you start your insurance policy. It can range from something you were born with such as asthma, or something that develops later in your like, such as diabetes.  At best, you have to pay extra premiums to account for the additional risk borne by the insurance company. At worst, the company denies you access to insurance.

It’s not the end of the world if you are one of those out there. If you are looking for insurance for pre-existing conditions, there are still options available to you. In this article, fundMyLife discusses what you can do to get yourself protection, even with pre-existing conditions.

#1 Corporate group insurance plans

If you or your spouse works in a medium to large-sized company, chances are that your company has a group insurance plan, be it for yourself or your spouse. Some corporate schemes have a thing called medical history disregard. As its name suggests, employees (and their partner, if available) under this group plan can join no matter what their health condition is.

You should check with HR if the group insurance covers individuals with pre-existing conditions. The only downside is that you have to stick with the company to maintain coverage. That is a risky decision, since your coverage is now at the mercy of your employers. However, if it’s a good company, why not stay?

#2 Moratorium underwriting

When you apply for insurance, you under go medical checkups and complete questionnaires about your health. This is because insurance companies require these to assess the risks involved when covering you.

Moratorium underwriting is when the company does not require you to undergo checks and questionnaires. Instead, a waiting period is declared. If you do not undergo any treatment or get ill from your pre-existing condition during the waiting period, your application for insurance will be approved by the insurance company.

This move is risky, since you won’t have coverage until the moratorium period is over. Not all companies provide moratorium underwriting. At the point of this writing, only Aviva officially provides moratorium underwriting so you’ll have to speak with your own adviser.

#3 Non-conventional products

There are global insurance for pre-existing conditions offered by local companies, such as AXA’s GlobalCare Health Plan and AXA InternationalExclusive. Providing health insurance for individuals with pre-existing conditions is, from the perspective of a local insurance company, risky. The potential downside about international health plans is cost, i.e. it costs more to get yourself insured under these international plans.

In the recent years, insurance companies took the initiative to design specialized products for those looking for insurance for pre-existing conditions. Critical illness plans are typically out of reach for individuals with chronic diseases, such as diabetes. However, with rising cases of diabetes each year, it means more people are excluded from getting adequate coverage. AIA Diabetes Care is a critical illness plan for individuals who are pre-diabetic or have Type II diabetes aged between 30 to 65 years old.

In addition, most travel insurance do not cover claims from individuals with pre-existing conditions as well. NTUC Income has Enhanced PreX plans that provides coverage for those incurring medical expenses while they are overseas.

#4 MediShield Life

This is almost a no-brainer (since every Singaporean has access to it), but a point worth putting in this list. If all else fails, there is MediShield Life for basic coverage. Those with pre-existing conditions are still eligible, but have to pay 30% more premiums for ten years before the premium goes back to normal that corresponds to the age group. That said, according to MOH those who control their pre-existing conditions, or have mild ones, do not have to pay the extra premiums.

Ask fundMyLife financial questions today!

If you have a pre-existing condition, we hope this article is reassuring. There are still options out there if you are looking for insurance for pre-existing conditions.

If you don’t know who to ask or where to find amazing financial advisers, we got you. If you want to engage more financial advisers, or if you haven’t found the right one, why not consider advisers of fundMyLife? You can head on over to fundMyLife and ask our pool of financial advisers questions. Alternatively, you can check out our curated pool of individual advisers and ask them questions directly.

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

A Really Simple Guide On Investment Products To New Investors

Guide on investment products

[9 min read]

Written by Sherwin Chan, edited by Jackie Tan

Hello readers of fundMyLife articles! If you have read my two previous articles, which are here and here, you probably figured that I am relatively new to investing that has just a couple of years of experience.

Truthfully, when I first said to myself that I needed to start investing, I had a lot of inertia in the early stages because I didn’t know where to look for information or even what type of information I should be researching. And that’s why I am writing this article for those who are new to investments. Hopefully, I can be of some form of guidance to them.

What this article will cover is:

  1. How each kind of investment is suitable to the needs of different groups of people
  2. Pros and Cons of the major investment types
  3. My humble advice

Here’s the kind of investment that is covered below: 1) Stocks, 2) Bonds, 3) ETFs, REITs, and Index Funds, 4) Insurance products, 5) Alternative Investments

Disclaimer: this article should serve only as a general introduction to investment products. As such, do your own research and due diligence before you purchase any investment products. 

#1 Stocks

Who is it suitable for?

There’s no definite answer to this question. Why? It’s because there are so many stocks out there that every kind of investor can almost certainly find a stock that matches their financial needs. Still, pairing your financial needs doesn’t mean you should plunge straight into the stock market. There are other factors to consider as well.

For instance, one must have good knowledge and have the time to track how the stock market moves to time the entry and exit well. This knowledge is a combination of fundamental analysis and technical analysis because if you enter and exit the stock market at the wrong time or pick the wrong ship to board (analogy), you probably will lose money or won’t earn as much. Also, you should have sufficient financial and mental strength to weather volatility. The stock market is very liquid which results in high transaction volume, and therefore prices change quickly based on new information or market irrationality. As such, having the financial strength to weather volatility is critical, and you shouldn’t enter the stock market if you’re dumping a significant portion of your assets into it. Always be prepared for the worst.

Pros & Cons:

Pros:

  1. Potential for very high returns. (Look at Apple, Google 10 years ago and now)
  2. Some stocks offer stable, consistent dividends that investors can rely on as income.
  3. Almost all industries that you can think of are covered, and this is an excellent avenue for diversification across sectors.
  4. Stocks are easy to liquidate due to the ample liquidity in the market.

Cons:

  1. Higher risk especially if you pick wrong.
  2. Higher volatility in the short run than the long-term
  3. Time and effort are required for analysis.

My humble advice

Don’t be afraid of entering stocks! I know most of my peers are quite apprehensive about entering the stock market because to them, as newbies, it is venturing into the unknown. I genuinely understand that anxiousness, but it’s important to take your baby steps at the start. As I always mention to my friends, always start small and make as many mistakes as you can when your base capital invested is small. It’s better to lose $3,000 now than to lose $30,000 in the future. The earlier you make mistakes, the more you’ll learn because you know what doesn’t work. I’ve mentioned other advice regarding stocks on my first article here that I can only reiterate. Read voraciously, don’t limit yourself and test your pick across different strategies!

#2 Bonds

Who is it suitable for?

Bonds are suitable for those looking a regular source of income. Most bonds provide regular coupon payments that are stated in the terms, and this payment is pretty much guaranteed so long as the company doesn’t default on it. Bonds are also suitable for those looking for diversification sources from stocks and other forms of investments because bonds are stable long-term investments that can provide a decent income. Also, because it is usually recommended to hold the bond till maturity, investors should have sufficient financial strength to hold them until maturity.

Pros & Cons:

Pros:

  1. Returns are fixed and pretty much guaranteed so long as the company doesn’t go kaput
  2. Less risky in general compared to stocks in general
  3. You get the benefit of knowing what a good bond versus a junk bond thanks to credit rating companies

Cons:

  1. Sizeable principal sum needed to purchase the bond in the beginning
  2. May lose value in the future if interest rates rise especially for longer-term bonds
  3. May lose value if you don’t hold them until maturity
  4. Not as liquid as stocks.

My humble advice

Don’t shy away from junk bonds. It’s not that I’m saying you should buy junk bonds, instead, do give some considerations to junk bonds as well because junk bonds often have higher returns that AAA-rated bonds. Remember, go for the bond that you feel comfortable with and can maximize your wealth. Also, don’t underestimate the interest rate risks on bonds especially for those investing in long-term bonds. For all investors, it is essential to have a basic understanding of how the interest rates move and how it affects your investments.

#3 ETFs, REITs, Index Funds

Who is it suitable for?

For this class of assets, while ETFs, REITs and Index Funds are entirely different things, one thing they have in common is that they are all baskets of investments. These usually hold more than one financial product in it and as such, are decently diversified within itself. This means that there are less diversifiable risks and hence provide a safe investment with not so bad returns. Additionally, since it is usually passively managed by a finance professional, it is suitable for those who have no time to micro-manage their portfolio and for newbies who are risk-averse and not sure of what other investment products to venture into.

Pros & Cons:

Pros:

  1. Can provide stable returns
  2. Have lower volatility than individual stocks
  3. An easy way to track the health of an industry/sector/economy
  4. Some are passively managed while finance professionals actively manage some
  5. Good for newbies who are not sure of what stock to buy but know what sector is good. (Reduces the chances you make a costly mistake)

Cons:

  1. Returns are lower than individual stocks
  2. For those managed by finance professionals, you still must pay management fees even if you don’t make a profit
  3. If you do make money, they also take a cut of your profit
  4. Your exposure may be too focused on the industry/sector causing you to have systemic risk

My humble advice

Always check what is contained in the basket you are buying. If you don’t check what’s inside the basket you are purchasing; you’ll never know whether there are golden eggs inside or rotten eggs inside. As such, it is essential to understand what you’re buying. I mean, it’s basic common sense to know what you’re buying right? Additionally, always be sure to check the management fees and the commission fees the finance professionals are getting from you. In times of recession and periods of low return, these small amounts make a huge difference in whether you make a net profit or a loss.

#4 Insurance products

Who is it suitable for?

Almost everyone. Now, talking about insurance warrants its series of articles but thankfully fundMyLife has covered this topic here and touched on the basics of it. But as a summary, there are many different forms of insurance available out there in the market, and you really should talk to a financial consultant to understand more and tailor your needs to the correct financial products. However, in general, it is suitable for people seeking ultra-long-term financial security and for those who are risk averse but do not want to earn the measly interest rates a savings account in the bank provides. Also, it is advised that you hold these products for the long term to enjoy the full benefits of it and hence, it is more suitable for those who have the financial capability to sustain this commitment.

Pros & Cons:

Pros:

  1. Returns are stable especially if you hold for ultra-long-term
  2. With proper research and planning, some have high bonuses over the long run
  3. Variety of insurance products are massive, and some will suit your needs

Cons:

  1. Returns may be lower than the market average
  2. Some products are not suitable if you need high liquidity in the short term
  3. You need to read all the fine print and understand everything inside it
  4. Most products require regular premium top up
  5. Be careful not to be scammed by those products that promise high returns but may not suit your long-term needs

My humble advice

I am no expert in insurance products and as such, implore you to read other fundMyLife articles on the basics of insurance as a start. One thing to know about insurance is that while there are many financial consultants out there who are out to eat your commission, there are many others who have a genuine passion in helping you meet your financial needs. One way to protect yourself is to do your research before engaging one to prevent yourself from falling into investment traps.

#4 Alternative Investments

Who is it suitable for?

Alternative investments here are those types of investments that don’t fall under the above four categories. For example, the most prominent alternative investment product is currently cryptocurrency. Other forms of alternative investments include art, vintage cars, timepieces, wine, etc. While there are many alternative types of investments out there, these usually don’t have the size and liquidity of the above four, and as such, I only recommend it to those who are willing to take risks and for those seeking to diversify away from regular investment products.

Pros & Cons:

Pros:

  1. Returns can be eye-popping (Bitcoin if you time it well)
  2. A wide range of choices available for you and as such, provide useful avenues for diversification

Cons:

  1. Returns can be wild, and losses can be massive (Again, look at bitcoin)
  2. Information about it is a lot lesser and are less accurate than those provided by reputable firms.
  3. Usually not very liquid investments

My humble advice

Truthfully, I am not well versed enough in this area of investments that I can provide you guidance per se. However, what I can tell you is that this area of finance is niche, and most investors are not suited for it. If you ever dabble in this area, make sure you do your proper research on the technical details, legal details etc.

Conclusion

What I have written above is just a simple guide for newbies to understand more about the different product types and by no means a comprehensive list. Newcomers should still do their research on every kind of investments and more importantly, understand their individual financial needs and goals so purchase the correct investment products. It is imperative also to have some basic finance knowledge before you genuinely commit your money into the investment. All the best and may you be profitable in your endeavours!

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.