Saturday, July 23, 2016

The risk of trading

Dear Mr. Tan
I have attended your financial planning talk previously. Recently I took an interest in trading, having read many successful stories of Singaporeans getting rich within a short time. It does sound doubtful, moreover I have zero knowledge of trading. However I came across this article in straits times online which reads our yet another success story.

I can't say I'm not interested. I have registered at their site but have yet to verify the account and start trading. Their registration costs $250, and the site asks for verification photo taken of personal ID in addition to credit card details and home address and phone no. I am wary of this as I'm very new to it. I would like to seek your advice on trading. Is it advisable?


Trading is just like gambling. Sometimes, you win, sometimes you lose. But the chance of losing is higher, as you have to pay for the expenses of the people running the trading platform.

If you trade on a platform, you also face an additional risk that the platform may "cheat" the customer, or put pressure on the customer to engage in more trading activities. You need to be sure that you are using a reliable platform. I do not know the reliability of


Obama - disappointing legacy

Mr. Tan,
I find President Obama 8 years as President to be quite disappointing. He was appointed in 2008 on a platform of change. He promised to change the way that the government worked in Washington. He promised to fix the gridlock. He received overwhelming support. The Democratic Party won over control of the House and the Senate.

He did not carry out is promise. Congress in Washington continued to be gridlocked. He was not able to pass through the reforms that he promised. His Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, was passed through in a watered down version. It was a big disappointment.

The mid term election in 2010 saw the Democrats lost control over the House. They lost control over the Senate in 2012.

After that, President Obama virtually did nothing. He spent the rest of his time giving speeches - he is good at that - but nothing else.

The Affordable Care Act was not great. It lead to further increase in health care cost. The Republicans all wanted to repeal the Act when they have the chance.

It is so sad that Prsident Obama did not leave behind any legacy for people to remember. During his term, there was a big increase in violence - senseless shootings and now shooting of the police officers.

What are your views?

I agree with your assessment. I am also disappointed that he did not achieve much during his 8 years are President. Although the employment figures had improved, most of the new jobs were low paying, part time jobs. The income disparity continued to widen.

Many ordinary workers are now against the establishment. They went for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

Shape Quiz Puzzle

Someone sent a message to me through WhatsApp, He is interested to buy 130 pieces of this puzzle. I gave him a sample before and he found it to be interesting. He will get a good discount for this large order.

Resilient stock markets

The US stock market is now at a record high. The fear over the UK exit from Europe is over. The UK stock market has also recovered. Looks like the global stock markets are resilient.

Learn to be an expert underwriter

Do you want to learn to be an expert underwriter working for a reinsurance company. This is a specialised job. I have simplified the process and quicken the learning pace.

Go to this website, click on the video guide and practice on the platform.

if you find this exciting, click on this guide from the top reinsurance company in the world.

All the best.

Friday, July 22, 2016

100 problems to be solved

Our elites in Singapore are excellent in identifying problems, especially exotic ones. But they are quite poor in finding solutions to the practical day to day problems.

I saw this document that identified 100 key challenges facing the financial technology industry. I was shocked - 100 problems. What has the people in charge been doing these past decades? Just sit down and worry about the problems?

Many of these problems have solutions that can be implemented immediately. But they required somone to take charge and to make the judgement.

Money laundering activities

Three banks in Singapore, DBS, Standard Chartered and UBS, are cited by the Monetary Authority of Singapore for lapses in the monitoring and reporting of transactions that are suspected to be money laundering. See this report.

I understand that banks also have to monitor transactions that are linked to "financing of terrorism".

Frankly, I do not blame the banks for these lapses. I blame the MAS.

It is easy for MAS to tell the banks to monitor and report "suspicious transactions" but what are these transactions? How are they to be identified? Does MAS take the lead in guiding the banks on this responsibility?

It is easy to know that certain people are involved in money laundering or illegal activities after the facts are known, and then trace their transactions. It is difficult to know that these people are suspects in the first place.

In their blind attempt to implement these regulations, banks have resorted to ineffective practices of spending a lot of unproductive time to monitor ordinary citizens opening bank accounts, I have to spend two hours to open two bank accounts just to place a fixed deposit. This is ridiculous.

If MAS really wants to tackle the roots of the problem and to have a more effective monitoring system, they have to take a different approach. Here are my suggestions.

a) Allow people to open bank accounts without the unnecessary hassle.
b) Require banks to ask for the reason and source of funds for transfers that exceed a threshold per transaction and for each month. These transactions are to be reported to a central database managed by MAS
c) Require banks to report transactions made by certain persons who are on a blacklist maintained by MAS in the central database. These are people who are suspected to be linked to money laundering or financing of terrorism.

This monitoring and reporting will involve the collection of large volume of transactions. MAS can implement algorithms to monitor these transactions and identify those transactions that need to further investigated.

The problem can be dealt with more effectively, if MAS takes the responsibility. Will they?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Huge spending on transport infrastructure

Public transport infrastructure has cost the government several billion dollars. Here are some figures that come to my mind:

a) Bus Service Enhancement Program $1 billion
b) Purchase of rolling stock from SMRT - $1 billion
c) Privatization of SMRT - $1 billion
d) Satelite based ERP system - $556 million.

When it comes to new MRT lines, it is  $10 to $20 billion for each line.

$1 billion here, $1 billion here. $10 billion here. $10 billion there. We are talking of billions not  hundreds of dollars. This government spends billions as if they print money.

Actually, they print paper COE and collect billions (it is $5 billion in a year). That is a wonderful mechanism. The only problem is - it is wasteful, jacks up the cost of living and the cost of doing business.

No wonder. We are now the most expensive city in the world.

Difficult to create a PIN in Krisflyer website

Singapore Airlines has a badly designed website. I had a lot of problems with it many years ago.

Recently, I have to register a Krisflyer account for my wife. The nightmare came back again.

I went through a very painful process to register a PIN. After many steps, it showed the following CAPCHA. I could not read it. When I tried to change it, it rejected my entry.

I tried a few times. After passing through the CAPCHA, it told me that my PIN is invalid. What is happening? I was just trying to create a PIN.

After going through this painful process for half an hour, the website told me that I am locked out. I have to come back in 24 hours time.

Why does Singapore Airlines designed website that is difficult to use. It is troublesome even to create a PIN.


Later, I realized how I got confused.

At the webpage, I was asked to enter the Krisflyer No, date of birth and email address for confirmation. I was then given a difficult CAPCHA.

I was then brought to another page which asked me to enter my PIN. I thought that this was the PIN that I preferred to use.

I just learned that they had sent a temporary PIN to my email address and I should be using that PIN. They should have made it clear.

I had a lot of problem with their website five years ago. I still have a lot of problem with it today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

CNN report on the Republican convention

Here is CNN's report on the Republican Convention. Wow!

Donald Trump claimed the mantle Tuesday as the Republican presidential nominee, capping a stunning rise to power for his insurgent campaign as a boisterous showing by his family and friends revived his convention after a rocky start.

Chris Christie, shaking off the disappointment of being passed over as Trump’s running mate, performed a show trial of Hillary Clinton, whipping the crowd into frenzied chants of “Lock her up!”

Trump’s son Donald Jr. sketched a portrait of his father as a champion of the working man who could unleash America’s potential. His half-sister Tiffany offered a more tender and less familiar view of her father.

We need a different approach to run our public services

The following qualities are required for top management to run a big organization successfully:

a) Motivation
b) Competence

Some leaders, including our Singapore leaders, thinks that the best way to motivate a top manager is through an attractive remuneration package. They think that self interest, or greed, is the best way to motivate top management. This is also the approach taken in big international corporations.

They overlook the flaw of this approach when it is exercised in a near monopolistic situation, such as the delivery of public services in a small country. It is easy to generate large profit for these businesses by taking advantage of their market power or by cutting cost to deliver a poorer quality of service, such as over packing of trainings or hospital wards.

A better approach for the delivery of public service is to find top managers who have the passion to serve the public good and the public interest. There are many capable people with this kind of motivation that can be found in any society. They are motivated by public interest, rather than personal greed.

Is it possible to find competent people who are motivated by public interest? Can they run the organizations efficiently, provide a good quality of service and keep the cost at an acceptable level?

The answer is "yes". The managers can be measured based on performance other than the maximization of profit. Most workers are measured on their ability to meet the requirements of the job, rather than the profit that are generated. The same approach can be applied to the managers of public owned corporations.

It is appropriate to apply the private sector approach for businesses that operate in a truly free market where there are many suppliers and where consumers have the ability to judge the quality of the products and services that they buy,

The big problems faced in Singapore is that our government leader adopt the private sector approach for the provision of public services that have monopoly power. They encouraged the top leaders to maximize the profits of these "private companies" and their own remuneration package, and do not realize the long term damage that has been caused.

The problem with SMRT is just an example of this flawed approach. It also applies to other sectors of the economy. It is time to rethink the approach to run these operations.

Make SMRT into a state owned corporation

Is it a good idea for Temasek to buy out SMRT and make it into a state owned company?

My view is "yes". It can be a state owned company and operate in the public interest. It will avoid the conflict of interest that is now inherent it its business model.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A complicated process to open a bank account

I visited Standard Chartered Bank to open a bank account for me and one for my wife and to place a fixed deposit on the Krisflyer promotion.

A customer relations officer spend two hours to help us through the complicated process.

The bank does not expect their customers to open the bank accounts online, as it would be too complicated. A counter service is still needed. The bank has found it necessary to provide this personal service.

Similarly, government agencies such as ACRA, Ministry of Manpower, Central Provident Fund and IRAS should offer this counter service, as their online website can be daunting.

Why should it be so complicated to open a bank account? This is a separate matter. I think that the process can be simplified considerably. The banks (and perhaps MAS regultions) are making it far too complicated.

I know that banks have to implement international regulations against money laundering, but there should be better ways to handle it rather than the complex paperwork!

Difficult to register a new company in ACRA website

A friend wanted to set up a new company. He had a lot of trouble with the ACRA website. He asked the ACRA staff if it is possible for him to visit the ACRA office and get the procedure sorted out with the help of the staff.

ACRA staff said that they have stopped the counter service after the launch of the new ACRA website.

ACRA should take note of the following:

a) Their staff handle the ACRA process every day. It is easy for them to know what to do, and is necessary, what is not necessary and what needs to be done.

b) The public is not familiar with their website and their registration process. It can be extremely painful for them to read tons of "how to do it" pages and still get lost.

c) ACRA should continue to provide the counter service for people who are not familiar with their complicated process.

I hope that ACRA and other government agencies realize that their online process can be quite difficult for the public who do not use their service regularly. They should provide an option for the public to use their staff who are familiar with their process.

High Speed Rail between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur - another step forward

Someone observed that it took three years of discussion to reach this stage of signing the Memorandum of Understanding. He observed that it was too long.

My view is that the time was not long, considering the need to do engineering studies and to estimate the cost and viability of the High Speed Rail. There was also the need to work out the respective shares to be contributed by the two countries.

Looking forward, the question is: Will this railway be feasible? I think so. In many countries in Europe, the railway is an important mode of transport.

Is budget airlines a better way to connect Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and other cities?

The asnwer is - we need both options. Where it can be connected by land and there is heavy traffic, railway makes a better option. But where it has to fly over mountains and oceans, and the traffic is light, airlines is a better option.

All the best to the Singapore KL High Speed Rail. I hope that it will soon connect to Ipoh, Penang and Bangkok.

Monday, July 18, 2016

An excellent marketing approach

The account manager of the Job Central Portal sent an email to me, showing the details of their services.

I replied to him asking him to call me on a specific date and time. He did. We had a good chat about his services. He explained what was available that might suit my business.

I told him that I will bear him in mind when the need arises in the future.

Here are the things that he did right:

a) He sent an email (instead of interrupting me with an unexpected phone call)
b) He called me at the appointed date and time
c) He explained the services offered by the portal and identified which service might suit me.

Congratulations to the account manager and the Job Central Portal.

Many other businesses engaged telemarketers who call me without any prior appointment. Usually, the call interrupts me at my work. Often, the telemarketers are based overseas. When I hear that it is a telemarketing call, I said immediately, "Good bye" and hang up.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Complicated bus guide

I saw this bus guide at the bus stop in Stamford Road. It is extremely complicated to read. This guide has been used for over five years. I wonder if the Land Transport Authority has received feedback about this guide?
I hope that they will change it to be simpler for the public to read.

Difficult to read the name of the bus stop


Can you try to catch the display at the front of the bus. It tells you the name of the next stop. But it is interruptted by the message "Please move to the Rear" and "Bus Stopping". I hope that SMRT will change this display to allow the passengers to see the Bus Stop No or the name of the bus stop.

Digital display - SMRT bus

There are two digital display in SMRT bus.

The front display shows "Bus Stopping" and "Next Stop (name of stop). Please move to the rear".

It is difficult to read the (name of the stop) because it is moving and is pushed off the the screen by the "Please move to the rear message". Anyway, the (name of stop) is not helpful. For example "Blick 456".

The rear display was recently installed and shows "Bus Stopping".

It will be more helpful if the display shows "Stop No XX. Bus stopping". The XX is the sequential stop number.

I hope that SMRT will take this feedback and implement a simple change. Perhaps the Land Transport Authority can encourage them to improve the sign?

Get a reasonable return on your investment

Most people get a poor return from their investment because they invest in the wrong investment. In some cases, they invested in scams.

The best way to get a reasonable return is to avoid the scams. This is how you can achieve this goal.

How to win the business simulation game

This document explains how you can win the business simulation game.
The game can be played here:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Major nations led by women

The major nations may soon be led by women

Germany - Angela Merkel
Britain - Theresa May
USA - Hillary Clinton ??
China - ???
Taiwan - Tsai Ing-wen

Waiting time for green pedestrian light

I arrived at the pedestrian crossing at 6.30 pm.  The pedestrian light had just changed from green to red. I missed it by a few seconds.

I pressed for the green light again. I had expected to wait for 1 minute or longer as the light had just changed.

To my surprise, the green light came on in 30 seconds. This is a busy hour for the vehicle traffic, so this short interval was a surprise for me.

On previous occasions, I had waited for 1 to 2 minute for the green pedestrian light to appear late at night, when the vehicle traffic was light.

What is the algorithm used by the Land Transport Authority to determine the time for the green pedestrian light to appear? It does not seem to follow a "common sense" logic.

A sensible algorithm would be:
 - during busy hours, wait for 1 minute
 - during off peak hours, wait for 30 seconds.

Another sensible algorithm would be:
 - wait for 30 seconds, if the previous change was more than 1 minute away.
 - wait for 1 minute if the previous change was less than 1 minute away.

Perhaps the transport minister would kindly ask the Land Transport Authority to review the algorithm that they are not using. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Just follow SOP, okay?

I took bus 70 and changed to bus 162 at Yio Chu Kang MRT station. I arrived a few secons late and bus 162 had left the stop. It stopped 5m at the traffic light.

I signalled to the bus driver that I wanted to board the bus.

He remembered his SOP - do not allow anybody to board the bus after it left the stop. No ifs, no buts. Just follow orders. No exception. if you make any exception and an accident happens, you lose your job. You might even go to jail.

If you follow SOP, you are safe. Don't care about the convenience of the passenger. Do not exercise any discretion, okay?

What happened?

He thought about his SOP and opened the door for me to board. The red light took 1 more minute before it turned green. He helped me to save 12 minutes of waiting time.

Thank you bus driver, for using your discretion and common sense.

A corrupt government

The American constitution was designed by the founders to ensure that power is shared by many people in different parts of the government on the principle of "checks and balances". This concept has turned out to be a nightmare. The government is grid-locked. Nothing can be decided unless there is "compromise". In many cases, the compromise is achieved through some form of "corruption".

The legislator will vote for the bill if he or his constituency gets some benefit. Or the people in the executive government will take some executive decisions if somebody that they like is benefited in some way. In some cases, the benefit is given in some hideous way and a secret way to the people who make the decision.

This is how America, in spite of being a democracy, has evolved into a corrupt form of government. To make matters worse, the corruption has now gone to the next level, where the people with the money can make large donations to fund the election of their legislators, presidents and governors who will make decisions favorable to their donors.

The system in other countries is not working as well. In many of these countries, the power is concentrated within a small number of strong leaders. They make most of the big decisions. The other people in the government are "yes-men".

The big decisions were made in a close circle, within the leader or his family or a small circle of cronies. The public does not know what how the decisions were made and who really benefited from the decisions. Usually, some members of the families or the close circles of cronies benefited most from the decisions. The people pay the price.

There is lack of transparency. The media is controlled and is not able to expose the hidden corruption.

Both extremes are bad. We need people in government who have high ethical principles and have the passion to serve the people, and not for their personal greed and personal gain.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Will the minister come out of hiding?

I took bus 163 after 7 pm. It was dark. I could not see the landmark outside.

I was reminded about our minister in hiding. I am referring to our transport minister. He was quite communicative in the previous two ministries. After moving to transport, he had been rather quiet for many months.

He and his Land Transport Authority decided to keep quiet about the hairline cracks in the MRT trains, rather than notify the commuters. The purpose was "to prevent unnecessary panic".

He and his LTA also chose to ignore many suggestions that I had put forward over the past years for our buses to have a digital display or voice announcement of the next bus stop.

They felt that this was not necessary as the commuters had the uncanny ability to know all the landmarks along the journey, even during the dark night.

Perhaps the minister in hiding should try taking the bus at night, without his encourage of assistants to guide him every step of the way.

Waited for the second bus 163

My mobile app indicated that Bus 163 would arrive at Thomson Plaza in 12 and 14 minutes. The first bus arrived at around 12 minutes and was full. Most of the waiting passengers boarded the bus. I decided to wait for the second bus.

The second bus arrived a few minutes later and was half empty.I could have a seat and avoid the crowd.

It makes sense to wait a few minutes longer. And thanks to the LTA app that shows the time of the arriving bus.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

DBS Bank allow crooks to withdraw a large sum of money

Hi Mr Tan,

This is another example where no numbers of layer of security token could prevent such "scams". Case in question, has the victim been able to think out of the box under stressed situation? did our supposedly safe environment gives the victim the trust to authority without the need to doubt any further? would the victim have doubts or dare question authorities or banks if she received calls posing as such? Another very sad case.

I am really surprised that DBS Bank could allow the crooks to withdraw $70,000 from the credit card. Something is wrong. Usually, any payment under a credit card has to be approved by the card holder before payment is made to the othe party. 

Land Transport Authority should have reported earlier

Transport Minister has now issued a statement to explain the delay in disclosure of the hardline cracks in the MRT trains. The Land Transport Authority should have disclosed it much earlier, rather than wait for the news to be reported from the Hong Kong media. By hiding the fact for some time, it has caused the public to distruct the government.…/going-public…/2950576.html…

Bernie Sanders has endorsed Hillary Clinton

Sisters and Brothers,
I am writing you today to express my deep pride in the movement – the political revolution – you and I have created together over the last 15 months. When we began this historic campaign, we were considered fringe players by the political, economic and media establishment. Well, we proved them wrong.
We showed that the American people support a bold, progressive agenda that takes on the billionaire class, that fights for racial, social, economic and environmental justice and that seeks to create a government that works for all of us and not just the big campaign donors.
We mobilized over 13 million voters across the country. We won 23 Democratic primary and caucus contests. We had literally hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the country. And we showed – in a way that can change politics in America forever – that you can run a competitive national grassroots campaign without begging millionaires and billionaires for campaign contributions.
Most importantly, we elevated the critical issues facing our country – issues the establishment has pushed under the rug for too long. We focused attention on the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in this country and the importance of breaking up the large banks who brought our economy to the brink of collapse. We exposed our horrendous trade policies, our broken criminal justice system, and our people's lack of access to affordable health care and higher education. We fought aggressively to address the crisis of climate change, the need for real comprehensive immigration reform, the importance of developing a foreign policy that values diplomacy over war, and so much more.
We have shown throughout this election that these are issues that are important to voters and that progressive solutions energize people in the fight for real change. What we have accomplished so far is historic – but our work is far from over.
This movement of ours – this political revolution – must continue. We cannot let all of the momentum we have achieved in the fight to transform America be lost. We will never stop fighting for what is right.
It is true that in terms of winning the Democratic nomination, we did come up short. But this election was never about me or any candidate. It was about the powerful coming together of millions of people to take their country back from the billionaire class. That was the strength of our campaign and it will be the strength of our movement going forward in the months and years ahead.
In the coming weeks, I will be announcing the creation of successor organizations to carry on the struggle that we have been a part of these past 15 months. I hope you will continue to be involved in fighting to transform America. Our goal will be to advance the progressive agenda that we believe in and to elect like-minded candidates at the federal, state and local levels who are committed to accomplishing our goals.
In terms of the presidential election this November, there is no doubt that the election of Donald Trump as president would be a devastating blow to all that we are fighting for. His openly bigoted and pro-billionaire campaign could precipitate the same decades-long rightward shift in American politics that happened after the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. That rightward shift after Reagan’s election infected not just politics as a whole but led to the ascendancy of the corporatist wing of the Democratic Party – an era from which we are still recovering.
I cannot in good conscience let that happen.
To have all of the work we have done in elevating our progressive ideals be dashed away by a complete Republican takeover of Washington – a takeover headed by a candidate that demonizes Latinos, Muslims, women, African Americans, veterans, and others – would be unthinkable.
Today, I endorsed Hillary Clinton to be our next president. I know that some of you will be disappointed with that decision. But I believe that, at this moment, our country, our values, and our common vision for a transformed America, are best served by the defeat of Donald Trump and the election of Hillary Clinton.
You should know that in the weeks since the last primary, both campaigns have worked together in good faith to bridge some of the policy issues that divided us during the election. Did we come to agreement on everything? Of course not. But we made important steps forward.
Hillary Clinton released a debt free college plan that we developed together which now includes free tuition at public colleges and universities for working families. This was a major part of our campaign’s agenda and a proposal that, if enacted into law, would revolutionize higher education in this country.
Secretary Clinton has also publicly committed to massive investments in health care for communities across this country that will increase primary care, including mental health care, dental care, and low-cost prescription drug access for an additional 25 million people. Importantly, she has also endorsed the enactment of a so-called public option to allow everyone in this country to participate in a public insurance program. This idea was killed by the insurance industry during consideration of President Obama’s health care program.
During the Democratic platform proceedings in St. Louis and Orlando, we were victorious in including amendments to make it a clear priority of the Democratic Party to fight for a $15 an hour federal minimum wage, expand Social Security, abolish the death penalty, put a price on carbon, establish a path toward the legalization of marijuana, enact major criminal justice reforms, pass comprehensive immigration reform, end for-profit prisons and detention facilities, break up too-big-to-fail banks and create a 21st century Glass-Steagall Act, close loopholes that allow big companies to avoid taxes by stashing their cash in offshore tax havens and use that revenue to rebuild America, approve the most expansive agenda ever for protecting Native American rights and so much more.
All of these progressive policies were at the heart of our campaign. The truth is our movement is responsible for the most progressive Democratic platform in the history of our country. All of that is the direct result of the work that our members of the platform committee did in the meetings and that you have been doing over the last 15 months.
But none of these initiatives will happen if we do not elect a Democratic president in November. None! In fact, we will go backward. We must elect the Democratic nominee in November and progressive Democrats up and down the ballot so that we ensure that these policy commitments can advance.
It is extremely important that we keep our movement together, that we hold public officials accountable and that we elect progressive candidates to office at the federal, state, and local level who will stand with us.
As part of that effort, we still have a tremendous amount of work left to do in the Democratic Rules Committee that will be meeting in the coming weeks. We have to enact the kinds of reforms to the Democratic Party and to the electoral process that will provide us the tools to elect progressive candidates, to allow new voices and new energy into the Party, and to break up the excessive power that the economic and political elites in the Party currently have. As with our fights on the platform committee, that will only be possible if we stand together.
You should know that I intend to be actively campaigning throughout this election season to elect candidates who will stand by our agenda. I hope to see many of you at events from coast to coast.
In conclusion, I again want to express my pride in what we have accomplished together over the last year. But so much more must be done to make our vision a reality. Now more than ever our country needs our movement – our political revolution. As you have throughout this historic campaign, I ask for your ongoing support as we continue through the fall and beyond.
On a personal note, I cannot say with words how appreciative Jane and I are of the kindness, dedication and love we experienced from so many people across the country. We are deeply touched by it and will never, ever forget it.
Forever committed, forever fighting, forever forward,
Bernie Sanders

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The secret - how to get a good return on your investment

Many people spend a lot of time and money to learn how to analyze stocks and other types of investments. They aim to increase the return on their savings.

For most people, the secret of getting a good return may come as a surprise to them!

The secret is - avoid making the bad investments and falling for investment scams.

There are many scams and bad investments that are being marketed every day. The marketing methods are sophisticated. Many of the unwary may not be aware about them.

Some of these bad products are being sold by the trusted financial institutions.

To avoid falling for this bad mistake, which has snared many people, take some time to attend this talk. It will be worth your while.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Most people want to get  a better return on their savings and investments. They make two common mistakes.

a) Some want to study how to invest. But it does take a lot of time and effort. It is not easy to be an expert in inveting. Most people give up after a while, or after losing some of the capital in this pursuit.

b) Many resort to getting free advice from friends. The danger is that some of these advice may be conflicted. The friend may be involved in selling some financial products. They are likely to recommend these products, which are likely to offer poor value, after providing the sales incentive to the seller.

Most people actually overlooked the biggest risk in investing. They try to learn what is the best investment that they can make, but overlook to learn what are the investments that they should avoid. Many of these investments are scams that are out to cheat the unwary investor.

Many people lose a large part of their savings in investments that they should avoid. But they were not aware about it, until it is too late.

Many people have invested large sums of money in land banks, gold bars, trees and hybrids of these investments, only to lose their capital entirely.

Most people invest in life insurance policies. They did not realize that there are some good products but many bad ones. The bad product can take away as much as 40% of the accumulated savings. Instead of getting $500,000 from a lifetime of savings and investments, they get only $300,000 (after 40% is taken away).

These bad investments come back again and again in one form or another. Is the investor able to identify them and avoid them?

If you wish to avoid falling for these traps that have snared many other people, you should spend some time to learn about how to avoid them.

Register for this talk.

Video - how to play the business simulation game

Here is a video to show you how to play the business simulation game.

The game can be accessed at

How IRAS can be more helpful

I have to file my corporate tax. I logged into the IRAS website. It was quite complicated, so I had to talk to an IRAS officer.

I searched the website for a telephone number. They have a "Contact Us" page. That was helpful.

But the page contained a few dozen categories with their telephone numbers. I searched the categories and found a number to call.

I was disappointed. It turned out to be a hotline which requires me to press one button after another and listen to many irrelevant messages before I could speak to someone.

If they want me to go through this navigation, why make me go through so many categories in their "Contact Us" page?

Before talking to someone, I have to enter my company file number, without the alphabet.

When the tax officer answered, she asked me, "Mr Tan, please give me your corporate tax number.

I replied, "Your system already asked me for it, and I have pressed the buttons. Why are you asking me again? Never mind, my corporate tax number is 1234567."

IRAS must be receiving a few thousand calls each day asking for help, Why do they have a telephone system and website that make the public waste so much time on what is not necessary? Surely, they can be more helpful to the taxpayers by removing the unnecessary steps?

Terrible experience with Pay Pal

Many years ago, the Pay Pal website worked fine. In recent years, they must have received some instructions from the Monetary Authority of Singapore to tighten their security. Since then, it has been a nightmare for me.

I just received a message that a payment received into my account requires me to confirm my email address. I clicked on the link. They asked me to enter the account password.

I have to check my notebook for the password. This password was rejected. My staff was with me. She could see that I entered the correct password.

There was a link to allow me to change the password. I clicked on the link. They asked me to enter a new password and to receive a SMS to confirm it. I did as required.

I went to the Pay Pal login page and was able to login with the new password.

I went back to the email that required me to confirm my email address. It went to another page that asked me to enter the account password. The password was rejected. This page must be defective.

But it has caused me to waste a lot of time.

Thank you Pay Pal and MAS for messing up my daily work. It is really a nightmare to handle and receive online payments in Singapore.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Chilcot report on the Iraq War

The Singapore government strongly supported the war in Iraq in 2003. They are now proven wrong by the Chilcot report. They need to explain their decision and poor judgment.…/singapores-iraq-policy-w…/

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