Saturday, July 08, 2006

Tips on choosing your investment

I am afraid to invest now, as the market may fall further and I make a loss. What is your advice?

When the market falls, you do not really make a loss, if you are a long term investor. The market will recover within a few weeks or months. You never know when the market will turn around, and if it does, you will miss the opportunity.

It is better to invest when the market is low, as you will get a better return.

Is it better to take a guaranteed return, even if it is lower?

If you want a guaranteed return, you will get 2% from a bank deposit or 3% from government bonds. Your return is locked up for the duration of the deposit or bond. If you wish to sell the bond prematurely, when interest rate increases, you will have to take a capital loss.

For a long term investor, it is better to invest in equities (which gives a higher return), and choose the right time to realise your investments.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bank wealth planner provide misleading information


Dear Tan,

Other bank's wealth planner told me that NTUC's mortality charges and insurance charges are higher as NTUC faced with more claims from policyholders than the bank. May I enquire on this point ?

When I buy a unit, what is the % of selling price from the purchased price of the unit bought in order to cover all costs ( distribution, fund charge, expenses, etc) to reach breakeven?



I will ask our specialist to provide the answers to you.

The bank's wealth planner mislead you. We do not have any mortality charge at all.
If you wish to have any life insurance cover, you buy a separate rider at a flat premium rate. Many people find it to be more transparent.

Delay in approval of Enhanced Incomeshield


Dear Mr Tan,

We visited your NTUC Income Business Centre in both Brah Basah on 2 June and Jurong East branch on 28 June.

Your staff who attended to us are to be congratulated of doing a great job. They attended and explained to us very efficiently and clearly on our request to convert our current Medishield plan to the Enhanced Incomeshield. Both of us are above 55 years old.

However, I was extremely concerned being told by your staff that in both cases, they would take at least two months to respond to our application. They informed us there are limited resources in your underwriting department. We certainly appreciate you would look into this and speed up the process.


Thank you for our feedback. I agree with you that the two months' delay is not acceptable. This is due to a heavy overload of work. We expect to clear the backlog within the next few months.

Fly back to Singapore after watching World Cup

I took a economy flight on SIA to Singapore, after watching the World Cup in Germany. The steward recognised and greeted me. He said that his insurance policies are with NTUC Income.

The supervisor came later to introduce himself and said, "Mr Tan, I expected you to be in the first class. How are you enjoying your flight?".

I gave him a smile. I usually fly economy class. I am not prepared to pay 6 times to fly first class. All our managers fly economy class as well.

We keep our expenses low, so that our customers can pay lower premium. They also enjoy a better return on their savings with us.

I introduced Logic9 (aka Sudoku) to the passenger sitting next to me. She is a retired teacher from Munich, Germany. She is travelling in a group tour to Singapore and Bali.

She did not know about the puzzle before. I showed her how to play the puzzle. She became hooked on it. I presented our Logic9 pocketbook to her. She will probably remember me for a long time.

It is so easy to get somone hooked on Logic9. No wonder, it is so popular around the world.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Village life in Bavaria, Germany

I asked the tour guide. What is a village?

Here is the interesting answer. In a village, there is always a church. The people of Bavaria are religious, mostly Catholics. Sunday is for the church and for rest. No business is done on Sunday.

The village has an inn. It is a place for people to go and drink beer, socialise or to have food. It also has accommodation for travellers.

Quite likely, there is a primary school for the first four years of education. When the students are older, they can go to a secondary school in a larger village nearby.

There is a May pole in the road leading to the village. It shows the shops and trades available in the village, eg baker, butcher, doctor, carpenter, etc. It serves like a "yellow page" directory for the village.

One day of the week is set aside for market day.

The village has many assocaitions, eg a sports association, a fire association, and many others. These associations organise many activities for the villagers to meet regularly. Most young people join the fire assocation to learn about how to put out fire. It is a way to keep them occupied, so they do not get bored and cause trouble.

The social life is interesting in the village. Every one knows about every other person in the village.

FIFA World Cup Semi-Finals (France v Portugal)

I attended the FIFA World Cup semi-final match between France and Portugal at the stadium in Munich.

It is an impressive stadium. It has 65,000 comforable seats. All the seats are covered. Only the field is open to the weather.

The stadium has several hospitality lounges for corporate guests. I was fortunate to be invited by my host.

The game was exciting all the way, down to the last minute. Portugal had many chances, but they failed to convert into goals. It was disappointing for their supporters and their coach.

France played well. They were a strong team, with robust players. They deserve to win.

The stadium was fully sold. I estimated that 75% of the stadium were French supporters, by looking at the colors of their clothings and the volume of their cheers. Portugal had 25% supporters.

The stadium is beautiful from the outside. It has an impressive external "coat". The stadium has three sets of lights - white, blue, red. If there is an international game, the stadium will be lighted "white". There are two football teams in Munich - the Bayern and the 1816 (?). The other colors of the stadium indicate which team is playing.

My host said that the admission ticket to watch a football match is between Euro 30 to 60. It is quite high, compared to Singapore prices.

I now look forward to the Grand Finals between France and Italy. Much earlier, many people expected the match to be between Germany and Brazil. So did I. This is football. The ball is round. Anything can happen.

Global stockmarkets are recovering

I track the global stock market indices against a 5 day moving average and the 50 day moving average. If the current index is above the moving average, it suggest that the market is getting stronger. If it is below the average, the market is still weak.

Here are the findings for the London, Japan, Singapore and New York and Technology shares as at 3 July 2006

- all of the markets are higher than the 5 day moving average by 1% or 2%, ie the markets are recovering well

- the US and UK shares at the 50 day moving average, ie these markets are now neutral

- the Japan, Singapore and Techology shares are about 2% below the 50 day moving average, ie the markets have still not reached the neutral point.

My general conclusion: most of the markets are recovering well.;

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Invest in specialised funds?


Dear Mr Tan,

Would you reccommend the following funds:-

Japan Tech
Average 2.70% -12.00%
YTD 2006 -4.20% -6.40%

Seems to have produced negative results?


For a long term investor, I recommend the Combined Growth Fund.

The specialised funds (ie Technology or Japan) requires someone who is more knowledgeable about the market. As you are not familiar, I sugget that you should invest in the Combined Growth Fund.

Tan Kin Lian
CEO, NTUC Income

Global stockmarkets are now recovering

The global stockmarkets has been recovering during the past two weeks.

As an example, the Japanese market (as reflected by the Nikkei index) fell from a peak of 17,500 two months ago, to a low of 14,300 (about 18%) and has now recoverd to 15,700 (up 10% from its low).

The other stockmarkets displayed a similar pattern, but not to the same extent as reflected in Japan.

The Combined Growth Fund from NTUC Income reflect a smaller degree of fluctuation, as it is 30% invested in bonds. At the lowest point, the drop was 8%. It has since partially recovered.

For a long term investor, it is time to make an investment when the price is still low.

Will NTUC Income close down its small funds?


Dear Mr Tan,

I have bought 2 different unit trusts where the bank send me statement that the funds, one has been transferred to another management. Another will be closed by certain date where the price is 40% less the initial launch price. So I am forced to acccept a loss.

Will this happen to NTUC units ?


NTUC Income acts fairly in the interest of our customers. We do not intend to close any of our small funds. If we do, we will give generous terms to the customers.

Monday, July 03, 2006

3 tips for the young - worth at least $20,000

Here are 3 valuable tips.

1. Invest in the right investment (earn 6% instead of 2%), and earn $146,000 more
2. Invest in a low cost fund (charge 1% instead of 2% p.a.) and earn $48,000 more.
3. Invest in a low cost ILP (7 months instead of 19 months) and earn $20,000 more.

* assume you save and invest $300 a month over 30 years

Attend my educational seminar, 6877 3366.

Or visit the website, A talking powerpoint (20 mins) will be ready by 7 June.

Why do travel website only recommend 1 travel insurance provider?

There are several websites that gives you competitive quotes for airfare and hotels. But they only recommend one travel insurance product. Do you know why?

The answer is simple. For Travel Insurance, there is no standard commission. The website owner is likely to promote the travel insurance that pays the highest commission to them. Do not buy their travel insurance.

NTUC Income provides low-cost, hassle free Travel Insurance. We pay very low commission, and pass the cost savings to our customers by charging low premium rates.

So be a wise consumer. Book your Travel Insurance directly with NTUC Income. Call 6332 3456.

Do not give $20,000 away!

If you invest in most investment-linked plan in the market, it can take away 19 months of your savings to pay agent's commission and other expenses.

If you invest with NTUC Income, we will take away only 7 months. Compared to competitor's ILP plan, we invest an additional 12 months of your savings for your benefit.

If you save $300 a month, the additional 12 months of your savings, invested to earn an average of 6% per annum (not guaranteed) for 30 years can amount to $20,000. We can give you $20,000 more!

Lesson: Invest in an ILP plan that takes away only 7 months of your savings. Avoid a ILP plan that take away 19 months!

Earn 3% and more on your un-fixed deposits

Do you want to earn 3% or more on your un-fixed deposits?

Our Flexi-Cash operates like a deposit in a bank. The current interest rate is about 3%. It will change with the money market. Right now, interest rate is increasing, so the interest rate on your deposit will also move up.

It is an un-fixed deposit becuase you can withdraw it at any time. There is no penalty. You are not locked in for 1 year or longer.

Your money is invested in our Money Market fund, which is invested mainly in the inter bank market (ie lent to other banks) or A rated money market instruments. The cost of investing is only 0.1% (yes, one tenth of 1%), during the promotion period.

Invest in the un-fixed deposit. It pays more, and gives full flexibility for your cash.

Go to and read our FAQ. Or call 6788 1111.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Customer choose to buy insurance directly

Last week, a couple walked into our Business Center, after finding the location of the center from our website.

They bought two education policies for their children for $200,000 each. They paid an annual premium of $26,000.

My manager thanked them and asked why they prefer directly with the Business Center and not through a personal adviser?

They had a few insurance advisers who served them previously. They prefered to buy directly as it is straight forward and more efficient.

Wow. This can be a new way of buying insurance.

My World Cup Experience

I visited Germany to watch the World Cup quarter finals between England and Portugal on July 1. The game is played in Gelsenkirchen Stadium. Getting there is an experience.

My wife and I took the Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore to Frankfurt and change to a Lufthansa flight to Dusseldorf. We had some trouble in changing from the international terminal to the domestic terminal in Frankfurt. There were many flights handled at the airport. We were not familiar with the layout of the airport. We could not find any information helpdesk.

The workers at the airport, including tHe security workers, were very friendly and helpful. We only need to know Guten Tag (good day) and the rest of the conversation is handled in English. But, the workers had also to rely on the information screen, which may not display the information that is needed. And they are also very busy.

Getting from Dusseldorf to my hotel in Gladback West is another interesting experience. The most convenient way is to pay EUR 50 for a taxi ride. But my World Cup ticket allows me to use the public transport for free to the train station in Gladback West.

My travel agent gave the instruction to take the train from Dusseldorf Airport to Essen and change to another train to Gladback West. I should take 1 hour. They warned me that the change of trains is not so easy.

At the airport, I decided to take the cheaper choice and experience the German train system.

My first difficulty was to locate the information counter at Dusseldorf Airport. I could not find it. I followed the sign to the train station. I ask a passenger for information to get the train to Essen main station. She was not sure, but suggested that I should go to Dusseldorf main station and take the train from there.

This was a mistake. It took me 90 minutes to get to the main station, to find the right train platform and wait for the train to take me to Essen. The train from Dusseldorf train station had to return to Dusseldorf airport on its way to Essen. So, I wasted 1 hour travelling the wrong direction and back. From Essen, it took another 45 minutes to get to Gladback West.

After arriving in Gladback station, I had another challenge. There was no taxis available. There was no worker in the station. It was deserted.

Outside, I found another traveller who managed to telephone a taxi. He called his hotel, which despatched a taxi to pick him. I never knew that this is how one travels in a big country.

I did the same, and soon arrived in my hotel.

The total journey took more than 2 hours. We had to carry heavy luggage as well. But, the experience was worth it. I learned about the German train system and the friendliness of the people.

In the afternoon, I book from a taxi from the hotel to the stadium. It cost EUR 18 for a short journey. I asked the taxi driver for his telephone number, in case I need to call him back after the match.

The match between England and Portugal was exciting, but not unusual. A few billions fans could watch the live game over the television screens around the world.

The English supporters were fantastic. I met many of them on the train from Dusseldorf. One told me that 150,000 England supporters will be in and outside of the stadium. Those without tickets were willing to pay 1,000 EUR to get a ticket to enter the stadium.

They came in the colourful costumes. It was like a big carnival, with people having a great time. Many were singing and enjoying their beer or coke. Some came with spouses and children.

The stadium was amazing. It had a covered roof, with a confortable seat for everyone. All the seats are numbered. Everyone can watch a large TV screen located above the center of the field and facing the fans on all the 4 sides.

The stadium was full. All the 54,000 tickets were sold out.

The 2 hours of the game was an interesting experience. The English fans were most passionate. Throughout the game, they were singing the national anthem "God Save the Queen" and other familiar songs. At numerous points in the game, they shouted loudly "Send her victories, happy and glorious". This is accompanied by raising both arms in a warm gesture, accompanied by several tens thousand fans.

I sent photos of the small Singapore delegation at the stadium through MMS live from the stadium to my colleagues in Singapore. I added the remark, "Live from the World Cup stadium. 150,000 England supporters. 5,000 plus 1 Portugal supporters. "

I was confident that, in spite of the odds, the Portugal team will win. They work better and harder as a team. I had watched a few of their earlier games on TV, and was impressed by their playing style.

There was no score for 90 minutes and 30 minutes of extra time. Portugal attacked the England goal more often, but the England defence was quite strong.

Portugal won the game on penalty kicks. I give credit to the Portugal goalkeeper for a few fine saves.

The only sad part of the game was the disappointment of the England supporters. They gave their very best in passion, time and money. They came in full support of the national team. Even in defeat, they behaved graciously. A big salute to them.

I met a few Portugal supporters and congratulate their country. They are outnumbered by the England supporters, but it did not deter them.

Wow. It was a great experience. And Portugal won, in spite of being the underdogs. And the England fans won my admiration for their passion and spirit.

Tan Kin Lian
From Germany

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