Friday, December 29, 2006

Lost & Found

The Land Transport Authority not operate a "lost and found" service for items that are lost in public transport vehicles.

According to a newspaper report, the Authority has recently decided to ask the major bus and taxi companies to operate their own "lost and found" service. The Authority will continue to provide this service for the small independent operators.

In my opinion, there is advantage for a centralised service. It can be operated more efficiently and achieve a more consistent standard of customer service. It is more convenient for the public.

If the Authority does not wish to handle this matter, they can call a tender for it to be operated by a private operator.

Long German word

Note: Edited with assistance from Peer Mitze.

The German language has a way of joining many words together to form a long word. Here is an example of how long it can be. There is no actual word that appears in this way, but it is theoretically possible



Translation: Donau steamship company shareholder general meeting



Translation: Railway track gap cleaning officer



Communication Technology Center


Join a car pool

NTUC Income is operating a service to help people to car pool. It is found in the Big Trumpet website, Big Trumpet

This will benefit two groups of people:

* the commuters can enjoy a more comfortable ride in a car
* the car owner can receive a contribution towards the cost of maintaining the car

It will also benefit the public transport system. When more people car pool, there is less rush in the MRT and bus.

Article in Lianhe Wanbao

Translated from Lianhe Wanbao, December 2007

NTUC Income's CEO Mr Tan Kin Lian
Had Secondary 4 education, did self-study for Actuarial qualification

40 years ago, when NTUC Income's CEO Mr Tan Kin Lian was fresh out of school, he had only a secondary four certification. While he worked, he did some self-study. After 9 years, at the age of 27, he received his Actuarial professional qualification.

During that time only 2 people who self-studied received the actuarial certification, and Mr Tan is one of them. After that, those who want to get this professional certificate had to go to the university as no one was allowed to do self-study.

During those 9 years, Mr Tan worked in an insurance company and did various positions for instance as a programmer, an actuarial consultant and worked in management level. “Because of my work experience, I’m a more practical actuarial compare to a fresh graduate,” he said.

As an Actuary, his duty is based on economics theory and had to analyse, evaluate and manage future unknown risk. “I’m good in mathematics, statistics and finance. I need to about 2 months to prepare for an exam. This is enough. I don't have much time for a social life but I don't mind,” mentioned Mr Tan.

Mr Tan is stepping down from NTUC Income on 1st April 2007, after 30 years of service. He is the third local CEO to step down since June this year, after SingTel's and NOL’s CEOs.

Mr Tan, aged 58, said that he would continue working up to 70 years old. He plans to set up an insurance company that offers high quality and low-cost insurance, using high technology and commercial strategy, to increase an organisation's performance.

Mr Tan Kin Lian writes daily in his blog. The information in his blog is transparent and has an open approach.

On one occasion he was approached by an union official who addressed him as “smiling tiger”. He said this may sound embarrassing but he can felt that the party did not mean anything negative.

Mr Tan also shared a light moment he had. On the day the newspapers published the news of his resignation along with his photos, Mr Tan was flying. The steward asked," Excuse me, sir. Are you the person on the front page of the papers?"

After the announcement was made about him stepping down, his personal blog had hits up to 1,100. This is a four-fold increase. His personal blog is

His most satisfied investment is a $300,000 investment in a computer system

For the past 30 years, Mr Tan had to make a lot of decisions. His decision to invest $300,000 for a computer system proof that he makes the right decision. The computer system's efficiency reduced operating expenses, improved the service quality and helped insurance agents to sell new products. “Because I was a programmer, it helped me to follow through this strategy. For the next 10 years, NTUC Income will enjoy speedy growth because of this system.”

What types of insurance does Mr Tan invests in?

As a CEO of an insurance cooperative, what are the types of insurance does he invests in?

Mr Tan mentioned that, when his children were young he took up term and life insurance. The sum assured is 5 times his annual salary. He took up a living policy for his wife, and also for his 3 children. He has comprehensive coverage for accident, medical and education.

Mr Tan also invests in ILP products for his retirement. His investments are all large, well-diversified and in low-cost plans. His returns for the past few years, is more than 10 per cent.

“For the next 10 to 20 years, I projected the returns to be around 5 to 6 per cent. I think it is a suitable investment for everyone,” said Mr Tan.

Mr Tan has two daughters and one son. His elder daughter is married to a Russian.

Advice on Land Banking?

Dear Mr Tan,

I noted that you have diversify your investments and wonder if you have the opportunity to look at "Land Banking" offerings from overseas institutions (registered in Singapore) like Walton International Group ?

My understanding is that the returns will double in five years time.

Can you advise ?



Dear PL

I tend to be sceptical of these types of schemes. Do you have any positive experience with this product?

Tan Kin Lian


Mr Tan,

So far, I have started on this investment for about a year and have not realised
any returns as yet. Only assurance is that the title deed for the land purchased registered with the local government.

Am I buying the right financial product?

Mr. Tan,

Although I've working in the public sector for the past 13 years, is still a lay person who knows very little when it comes to investment.

Recently was introduced to a wealth consultant from X by a very close friend and have invested our (wife & I) OA & SA from CPF in equities, bonds & trusts. We are still quite blur on their performance since then.

I would like to seek your expert advise on:

a) Are we investing in the right products?
b) How can we monitor the performances of these products?

On top of these, we have been both holding whole life policies from NTUC & ManuLife and also a term rider (NTUC) to cover my housing plan and our only child has yet to have any plan at her age of 8.

a) How much coverage is sufficient at my age of 36 & my wife (33)?
b) After hearing from my adviser from X that there isn't any priority to purchase any educational plan for our daughter, what's your advise? &
c) Last but not least, how to improve my level of understanding with regards to the funds, equities, bonds and otyher instruments of investment in our local context?

Your blog is definitely one of them....!



Dear TYG

You should ask the wealth consultant from X to give you an update of your investment. It is his or her responsibility.

You can ask the following questions:

- what is the returned earned by the fund that you have invested in, compared to benchmark
- how much does the fund charge as initial and annual fees?

You can read the FAQ in our website on our Flexi-link plan and Combined Fund an our Ideal plan for a child. It can be easily accessed from

You can also call my salaried consultant at our business center, 6788 1111. They do not earn any commission.

You can switch your investment to our combined fund. My consultant will advise you on whether it is better for you stay with your current investment or make a switch, considering charges and other relevant matters.

I usually recommend a person to have life insurance for 5 to 10 years of the earnings. You can buy an i-Term to provide the cover. The premium is quite low.

You can learn more about insurance and financial matters from this website:

Best wishes for 2007.

Tan Kin Lian

Thursday, December 28, 2006

How should CEO's pay be determined?



Mr Tan,

Sometimes, directors' fee/ management compensation stir up debates /draw criticisms from investing public. Some may hold the view that, CEO / senior management's compensation package should be calculated based on the success/ failure of the strategy implemented by the management . However, most of the time, company strategy has long term implications and thus it is hard to measure the success of such strategy in the short term.

In your view, how should a CEO's pay be determined? "



My reply:

The leader of any organisation, whether it is a business, social organisation or the government, should be prepared to place the interest of other people, including the customers and colleagues, above their personal interest. This gives them the moral authority to lead the organisation.

Any great organisation will take many years to build up. It is not a short term effort The success of the organisation is not the work of the leader alone. He or she needs the whole-hearted support of other people who share the same visision, including the colleagues, customers and external partners.

The leader should be adequately compensated, but it should not be done in a disportionate way. It is wrong to emphasise on short term rewards, based on stock options and shareholder value as determined by the stock market. This has led to many corporate scandals, including the use of accounting tricks to boost up short term profits.

I wish to see a return back to fundamental business ethics. Business leaders should make the effort to build a strong business that creates value to all stakehhlders over the long run. Everybody should be fairly and adequately rewarded.

Consider issuing one security device for online banking


I refer to the letters "Bank on safety and convenience" (Dec 27).

I use Internet banking. My bank recently sent me a security device. I had a lot of trouble registering it.

Those troubles are over, but now I have another problem: As I do not use it often, the device tends to be misplaced.

I imagine that, later, other banks and financial firms will also send me their security devices. It must be very inconvenient to carry them around, or to keep so many of them in my home or office.

I suggest that the Monetary Authority of Singapore encourage the financial firms to use a common security device, so that each customer need only keep one. This device should be registered with an independent party, and can be used by all financial firms.

If the customer is required to keep only one device, which can be used for multiple purposes, it is likely to be more convenient and practical.

Tan Kin Lian

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Financial planning for a young person

Dear Mr Tan

I wish to seek your advice as to how to help my son with his financial planning. He has just started work.

At the moment, he has 2 NTUC policies (endowment and Living). One of them is paid by him and an IL Insurance Policy with Prudential he bought a few months ago (from his classmate) before I stumbled on your website .

What other areas can he put his money to create wealth. He does not know anything about stocks and shares.



Dear LC

I suggest that your son should invest in our Ideal plan (instead of the Prudential IL policy). I think that their charges amount to 16 months of premium, compared to 7 months under our Ideal plan.

You can read about our Ideal plan here:

And the comparison of charges can be found at:

If your son wish to make a switch, I will ask my business center manager to offer a reduced front end charge, to compensate what what he has already incurred with the Prudential plan.

.NET Programming

I wish to look for free lance programmers who are able to do developing on .NET. If you are interested, send a reply to me at

Monday, December 25, 2006

Use Skype Out

I registered for a Skype Out account. It allows me to call anyone (on their mobilephone or fixed line) from my PC.

I only pay the local call charges to Skype.

The quality of the call is good. As I am making the call, it is quite easy for me to go to the PC to do it. The other party receives the call on their mobilephone or telephone, in the usual way.

I encourage people to learn how to use Skype Out. It can save a lot of money on overseas calls.

Know Your Insurance

If you know about the insurance products, you can make the right choice and save a lot of money.

You can learn about the product in a fun way at this website: Know Your Insurance

You can do a simple test to check your understanding. It is interesting and fun.

The most popular products viewed by more than 1,500 visitors are:

Investment Linked Plan
Medical Insurance
Motor Insurance
Manage Your Money
Life Annuity
Saving for Education
Invest Your CPF

Sunday, December 24, 2006

STI Tracker Fund

I just read the report of the STI Tracker Fund, managed by StateStreets. I am quite impressed with their results.

The fund started in April 2002. During the past 50 months, it earned an average annual return of 11.6%, compared to a benchmark return of 7.9%.

During the latest 12 months to 30 June 2006, it earned 13.4%, compared to the benchmark of 10.1%. I have since checked with StateStreet. They confirmed that the ST Index does not include dividend.

So, the better performance of the fund is largely due to the dividend, which is close to 3% per annum. After taking this into account, the return from the ST Tracker Fund is almost the same as the market. The annual cost of this fund is only 0.3%.

I had invested in the STI Tracker Fund previously. It earned a magnificent return. I realised my investment, as the market is too high. I shall wait for another time to re-invest in this fund.

Is it time to move out of the stock market?

Dear Mr Tan,

My family and I have invested $130,000 in Growth and Balanced fund managed by Income for the past two years. The average returns is about 20%. In view of the record high of stock market achieved in the world, there is potential correction in the near future.

To preserve our investment, we intend to continue the investment with Income instead of surrender the policy. Please advice me should I switch to conservative fund or any recommendation from you.



Dear EE

In my case, I have decided to stay largely invested in the Growth Fund. It has 30% invested in bonds, so it is not so risky.

In the case of the Balanced Fund, it is 50% invested in bonds, which is less risky.

If you feel uncomfortable about the level of the stockmarket, you can switch to the Conservative Fund (which has 70% invested in bonds). You can switch back to the Growth Fund at a later date.

Two months ago, I sold by ST Tracker Fund and re-invested in the Money Money Fund. This fund earns an interest rate of between 3% to 3.5% per annum. Since then, the ST Tracker has moved up further. So, one can never find the right time.

Tan Kin Lian

Secure Banking

I used internet banking. My bank recently sent a security device to me. I had a lot of trouble with the registration of the device. This is now over.

Now, I have problem in keeping this device. As I do not use it often, it tends to be misplaced.

Later, I imagine that other banks and financial firms will send their security device to me. It must be very troublesome to keep so many devices in my home, and my office.

I suggest that the Monetary Authority of Singapore encourage the financial firms to use a common device, so that each customer need only to keep one security device (like one NRIC). This device should be registered with an independent party, and can be used by all financial firms.

If the customer is required to keep only one device, which can be used for multiple purpose, it is likely to be more convenient and practical.

Customer is convinced with Enhanced Incomeshield

Dear Mr Tan,

What is your view on the following comments on one of H&S plan, which seems likely to be NTUC product.

One particular famous hospital & surgical plan requires the insured to call the insurer 4 days prior to admission for non-emergency cases.

Reason? To seek the insurer permission in admission. This means the insurer can dispute the reason for admission. In the policy contract itself, it is clearly stated that any dispute will be referred to a 3rd party for mediation. Come on, a sick person cannot go for mediation and family members main priority is to get the person's condition treated. I feel that this is a joke.

Unfortunately, this is no laughing matter. Can anyone imagine the implication of a potential dispute? What happens if the insured's health deteriorates as the result of the dispute? What happens if he dies? Will the insurer be held liable? Will the adviser be liable because he was the party who had help transacted the purchase of the policy? To me this is a useless insurance. A good insurance is one that gives you the peace of mind.

On the day when you need it, it helps you. A useless insurance is one that give you no peace of mind. On the day when you need it, it can bite you and tell you to go for mediation to settle the dispute.



Dear AP

The plan that you described is our Enhanced Incomeshield plan. You can find the details of this plan, including the 4 day advanced notice, covered in this FAQ. This requirement will be exercised fairly and in the interest of the policyholder. The main aim is to prevent over charging by the doctor, with the collaboration of the policyholder.

More details are in:


Hi Mr Tan,

Thanks for the info and your patience. Just signed up Preferred Incomeshield plan and riders for my wife and myself. Also bought a i-gift plan for my SRS.

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year.


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