Saturday, May 06, 2006

FAQ: Flexi Cash

1. What is this plan

Technically, it is an investment-linked plan that invests your savings in a money market fund. But to you, it may look more like a savings account that pays high interest.

But like a savings account, you can withdraw your money at any time. You are not locked in for one or two years, with a penalty for early withdrawal.

Flexi-Cash is a safe investment that pays a high rate of interest.

2. What is the expected return?

The current return on the money market is about 3.3%. After deducting 0.25% per annum for this fund, the net return to the investor is likely to be slightly more than 3%.

As the return on the money market is a floating rate, the return on this plan will also fluctuate. As interest rate is likely to increase in the near future, the return on this plan will similarly improve. You enjoy an attractive, floating rate. You are not locked in to the current rate for one year or longer.

It is possible that interest rate may come down some time in the future. The return from the fund will reduce accordingly.

3. What is the upfront spread and annual fee?

The spread is 0.25%. It is much lower than the spread for equity or bond funds, which vary from 3.5% to 5%.

During the promotion period (ie for the launch of this product), the spread is reduced to 0.1%. Yes, it is just one-tenth of 1 percent.

The annual fee is 0.25 %. It is subtracted from the inter-bank yield. You will be paid the difference, which is now about 3 %.

4. Is there any penalty on withdrawal?

There is no penalty. You can withdraw your savings at any time, based on the bid price (ie net asset value) of the money market fund.

The net asset value should be quite close to your invested capital, less the upfront spread (of only 0.1% during the promotion period), plus the interest earned on the money market (less the annual charge of 0.25%). This is almost like getting an interest rate of 3% on your savings.

5. What is the minimum amount of investment?

For an initial investment, the minimum is $5,000. For topping up
and withdrawal, the minimum is $500.

6. Are the fees subject to change?

Yes. We will give at least 30 days notice of any change. We are likely to
change the initial spread to 0.25% after the promotion period.

We will try to keep the annual fee to the very low rate of 0.25%.

We will only increase it in the future, if the fee is insufficient to meet our
operating expenses, and the interest rate on the money market
exceeds 3.5%.

Our aim is to give an net return that is attractive to our policyholders,
and higher than other types of similar investments.

7. What is the risk of losing my capital?

The risk is very small, almost negligible. The fund is invested in the
interbank market. The borrowers of the funds are the banks. A small
portion is invested in A-rated floating rate notes issued by corporate
bodies. As the rating is A or better, the risk of loss is quite small.

8. Is there any capital guarantee?

The basic product does not come with any capital guarantee.

The investor can buy a capital guarantee separately at the cost of 0.5%
per annum. By paying this cost, the investor is guaranteed that the
principal at the end of 12 months will not be lower than the principal at
the start of the guarantee period.

Effectively this reduces the return by 0.5%. So, if the return is 3%, the
net return after paying for the guarantee is 2.5%.

In my view, there is no need to buy this guarantee, as the risk is
negligible. Even if there is a loss, the amount of capital loss will be
very small.

9. Is there any insurance cover?

The basic policy provides a very nominal insurance cover.

It guarantee that in the event of death, the sum assured will not be lower
than the amount that has been invested. This means that any capital loss
(which is most unlikely) will be insured in the event of death.

If you wish to buy additional cover, we recommend that it be purchased
through a separate low cost term assurance plan.

10. How do I buy this plan?

You can come to our insurance business center (located at Bras Basah Road
and Tampoines Point). You can also see our insurance adviser.

Tentatively, the plan will be available from 1 June 2006.

Educational Talk - Financial Tips for the Young

In my educational talk, I give 3 tips to young people. They are worth at least $20,000. It could be worth as much as $150,000.

By choosing the right investment product, i.e. safe, well managed, low charges, a young person can earn up to $150,000 EXTRA over 30 years. This is the additional return, compared to investing in a low yielding investment.

The secret? Invest in a large, well-diversified, low charge fund. Invest in global equity. Invest for the long term.

I conduct a 2 hour educational talk every week. Here are the dates and venue. Just 2 hours, and you can earn $20,000 more. Or maybe, $150,000 more.

Title of talk: Financial Tips for the Young

09-05 7-9 pm Fengshan Community Club, Bedok North
13-05 2-4 pm NTUC Income Center, Bras Basah Road
25-05 7-9 pm HDB Hub, Toa Payoh (Chinese)
27-05 2-4 pm NTUC Income Center, Bras Basah Road

To attend: call 6877 3366. Bring your friend along.

My own flexible annuity

I have created my own flexible annuity.

I invest my savings in the Flexi-Link plan. It is invested in the combined fund (growth) and in Singapore equity. I may switch a portion into Global equity within two years.

I have started to make monthly withdrawal from my Flexilink. Since I am still working, I just make a token withdrawal of $100 each month. It is deducted from my Flexi-Link and credited to my bank account during the first week of each month.

This is working well. I get an e-mail each month saying that $100 is credited credited to my bank account, and x number of units are encashed. I checked my bank account (through the internet) and found the $100 has been credited.

When I retire in a few years time, I will increase the monthly withdrawal to $3,000. I may change it to a larger or smaller sum, according to my needs. It is flexible.

My investments produced a yield of about 15% per annum for the past three years. Wow!

Looking towards the future, I hope to get between 6% to 8% per annum over the long term. This is possible, based on the benchmark return on equity for the past 10, 20 and 30 years.

Lifestyle funds

Some fund managers advocate investing in lifestyle funds. For example:

- for young investors: high proportion of equities
- for older investors: high proportion of bonds

In my view, if the investment is for retirement needs, it is better to invest in equities, even for older people.

If you are now 60, the average lifespan is 20 years. If you draw down your retirement funds in monthly instalments, the average duration of your investments is more than 10 years. So, an equity fund is quite suitable.

When you reach age 70, you can consider to move some of the investments into a bond fund. At that time, you should choose the right time to make a switch. The stockmarket goes in cycles of 3 to 5 years. If you choose the right time during this cycle, you can get an attractive return.

Alternatively, you can cash out and invest in a life annuity.

Create a flexible annuity

Here is a simple way to create your own flexible annuity.

Invest your savings in a global equity fund. It should earn you between 6% to 8% per annum over the long term.

You can make a regular withdrawal of your investments, representing 6% to 10% of your principal.

Assume you invest $500,000 and you wish to withdraw 6%, ie $30,000 a year or $2,500 a month.

If your investments earn 6% or more, you capital will not deplete. In fact, it may grow after allowing for your withdrawal.

If you draw out more than the amount earned, your capital may reduce gradually. But if the excess withdrawal is small, the capital can last for a lifetime.

On death, there is a balance of the capital that can be distributed to your family.

You can have the flexibility to draw out a larger or smaller monthly sum to meet y our needs. You can also draw out an once off amount to meet medical expenses or for a vacation.

At any time, you can calculate how long your capital will last. You can make sure that it will last until you reach (say) 100 years old.

The Flexi-Link plan from NTUC Income allows you to specify a monthly withdrawal from your investments. It also allow you the change the amount.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Choose a low cost fund and earn $55,000 more!

Some equity funds charge an annual fee of 1%. Some charge 1.5% or even 2%. In some cases, the financial adviser charge a separate layer of fee (say 0.5%) in additional to the fee charged by the fund.

If you invest $100,000 for 20 years, the difference of 1% in annual fee can amount to $55,400. Here is how it works out.

Assume that the average yield on the fund is 7%.

If the net yield is 6% (ie deduct 1% fee), you will get $320,700.
If the net yield is 5% (ie deduct 2% fee), you will get $265,300.
The difference is $55,400.

Wow! That is a lot of money!

Is there a difference in the quality of fund managers?

If you invest in a large, well diversified and properly managed fund, the different funds should earn nearly the same yield over a long period. The higher fee goes to increase profits for shareholders.

So, take my advice. Choose a fund that charges an annual fee of 1% (instead of 2%).


Here are the figures available from the website:

Best ILP (single premium)
Average Expense Ratio of equity fund

NTUC Income 1.0%
Company G 1.4 %
Company P 1.5 %
Company A 1.9 %
Other insurers 1.7%-2.2%

Flexi-Cash gets good response

I posted some details of an innovative new plan, called Flexi Cash. I received 3 e-mails from readers of my blog within one day. They were interested to find our more details. Wow!

Actually, the Flexi Cash plan will only be available from 1 June 2006. But, as there is strong interest, I shall try to speed it up.

Some details will appear soon in the website If you are interested, you can register your name at the website. We will come back to you as soon as the details are ready.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Tips for the Young: Educational Talks

Learn about Tips for the Young.
The tips will be worth more than $20,000
Can be as much as $150,000!

Talks will be held on:

9 May
13 May
27 May

Call 6788 3366 (Act now - it is your financial future!)

Flexi-Cash: Earn 3% or more for your savings (low risk)

NOTE: This is a preliminary announcement. This product
is targetted to be available by 1 Jun3 2006. More
details will be provided later.


An innovate plan from NTUC Income.
Allows you to earn an attractive rate of interest.
Currently, around 3% per annum.

The interest rate will adjust according to the market.
You can earn more, as interest rate is expected to increase.
Very low risk - as the fund is invested in interbank and well rated floating rate notes.
No lock-in period - can withdraw at any time, without penalty.

The return will be based on the money market fund, less 0.25% p.a
Initial spread of only 0.1% (during launch promotion)
Minimum investment of $5,000

Monday, May 01, 2006

Tip for the Young: You can get $48,000 more

You can get $48,000 more by investing in a fund with low charges. So pay attention.

You should invest in a large, well diversified fund, and for the long term. This allows you get an attractive rate of return.

You should choose a fund fund that charges you 1% per annum or less. Most funds have charges that amount to 1.5% or 2% per annum. Some funds have double layer of charges that can take away 2% or more.

If your fund earns an average of 7% per annum (before charges), and the fund charge is 1%, you will get a net return of 6%. If the fund charge is 2%, you get a net return of 5%.

What is the difference?

Assume that you save $300 per month over 30 years. The total saving is $108,000.

If the net return of 6% (ie 1% charge), your total amount will be $294,000. If the net return of 5% (ie 2% charge), your total amount will be $246,000. The difference is $48,000.

You can get $48,000 more, just by choosing a low charge fund. The gross earnings in both fund should be the same, as they are large, well diversified and managed by good fund managers.

Why do some funds charge 2%? They want to make more profit for their shareholders. So they pay less to the investors.

Look at the comparison in this website:

Who provies a low cost fund of 1%? NTUC Income!

Tip for the Young: This tip is worth at least $20,000

This tip is worth at least $20,000. So, pay attention.

If you save invest in an investment-linked product (ILP), you should study the distribution cost. This is the amount of your savings that is taken away from you to pay the insurance agent.

The distribution charge is not told to you directly. Instead, the insurance company tells you that 20% (say) of your savings is invested for the 1st year, 60% is invested for the second and third year and 100% from the fourth year onwards.

In the above example, a total of 160% of your annual savings (ie 19 months) is used to pay for the distribution cost during the first 3 years.

Take a look at an analysis done in this website:

The distribution cost varies from 7 months (ie NTUC Income) to 19 months (for most other insurers). The difference can be up to 12 months.

NTUC Income takes away less from your savings to pay our agents. A difference of 12 months means that we are investing an additional 12 months of your savings for you, compared to other insurers.

If you save $300 a month, you will get an additional $3,600 in savings by going through NTUC Income. Assuming an average investment yield of 6% per annum for the next 30 years, the additional savings of $1,800 will accumumulate to $20,600 on maturity.

Yes, this tip is worth $20,000 to you.

Here is another valuable tip. If you have recently committed to an expensive ILP plan that takes away up to 18 months of your savings, you have the choice to terminate that plan now. As the distribution cost is being taken away from your savings over 3 years, the actual "loss" to you by terminating now, is much less than 18 months.

You can move to a better plan from NTUC Income. Send an e-mail to me at

Avoid investing in Complex Structured Products

Many banks are offering various variety of complex structured products. They advertise these products aggressively - to bring out the attractive features. But the advertisments do not tell the risk and the negative aspects of these products.

Dr Money (a financial columnist who writes for The New Paper) analyses these products and presents his views in his website:

It is probably the only place where people can go to find out the facts behind these complex structured products -- (which are practically impossible for the average person to understand).

Take the advice of the a top investment guru over the past decades, Warren Buffet:

"If you can't understand it, don't buy it" -- Warren Buffett

Tips for the Young: Earn $146,000 more on your savings

If you save $300 a month for 30 years, your total saving is $108,000.

The interest that you can earn depends on how your invest your savings.

If you invest in a low risk investment, such as bank deposit, and you earn 2% per annum, you will get $148,000.

If you invest in a large, well diversified fund, with low charges, and you earn 6% per annum, you will be $294,000.

The difference is $146,000. You can get $146,000 more, just by choosing the right type of investment.

If you look at the historical record of the return on equities for the past 10, 20 or 30 years, the average return is actually much higher than 6% per annum. In my view, it is quite safe to assume an average return of 6%, provided that you choose the right fund.

What is the right fund?

- choose a large, well diversified fund (preferably $500 million or more)
- preferably, invest in global equities
- choose a fund with low charges, say 1% per annum or less
- invest for the long term, say 10 to 30 years
- choose a right time to realise your investment (if necessary, wait 1, 2 or 3 years)
- choose an investment fund that acts in the interest of the investors and not the shareholders

Attend an educational seminar conducted by NTUC Income. Visit,

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