Saturday, October 14, 2017

Unsuitable for NS men

Hi Mr Tan,

I saw this at the SAFRA website. It's horrible how SAFRA helping the organizers to sell the expensive courses to the public.

A lot of NSmen are going to be brainwashed into signing up for those expensive courses.

I have attended the preview of these course before and found their materials to be weak and not suitable for NS men.

Alternative website for ex journalist of Straits Times

I want to build a website to allow the ex journalists of the Straits Times to continue writing articles based on their research into topical issues and events happening in Singapore.

It will allow them to continue practicing their professional skills which they have developed for many years.

My business model is to ask each reader to pay $0.10 for each article that they wish to read and to pay the revenue to the journalist.

If they write 10 articles a month and 1,000 readers opt to buy their article at $0.10, they can earn $1,000 a month. It is not as good as what they earn before, but it helps them to keep busy and active.

They can continue to search for an alternative job.

To fund this project, I will set aside $50,000 to fund $5 for 10,000 readers. They will read the articles with the "seed money". After that money is exhausted, many will top up their account to continue reading.

What do you think of this business model and concept?

Downgrade to basic Medishield Life

I am a "Pioneer Generation" and insured with an Integrated Shield Plan (ISP) with NTUC Income Insurance (Plan B).

Since I am a PG, is it practical, cost-wise, to be insured with the expensive ISP? Being a PG, I am given heavy govt medical subsidies should I require them. Should I cancel my existing ISP and only be insured with MediShield Life instead? How do I go about it?

Read my reply in the FISCA website.

Improve life in Singapore

If you want to read my views on how to improve life in Singapore, you can read the articles in

Online article by retrenched journalist

Will you pay $0.10 for an online article written by a retrenched experienced journalist?

Give your vote in

Sexist remark

If a man tells a girl that she is sexy, is it a sexist remark?

Give your vote in

Articles on insurance and investment

Here are the articles on insurance and investmentment available to members of FISCA. They can be viewed by non-members for 14 days. After that, it is reserved only to members.

Read them now. And if you find them useful, you can join FISCA for only $36 a year. It allows you access to the old articles and to attend FISCA talks free or at a good discount.

Taking bets with dual currency investment (DCI)

Hi Kinlian

I have come across some of your articles online regarding DCIs and I just have a few questions regarding the mechanics of how it works.

Suppose I have $100,000 SGD (base currency) and the DCI is for USD. The DCI offers a higher interest rate of 3% becasue they are compensating me for the naked put on USD i just sold to them. I was just curious about how the volatility of the USD exchange rate affect how attractive this investment is compared to a FD of let's say 1.5% SGD?

I get that with higher volatility, a DCI is less attractive since upsides are capped. However, I can't seem to reconcile this with the formulae I learnt in my derivatives module. I know volatility affects the price of an option but I don't understand how a higher or a lower price for the option affects my potential returns on the DCI.

Would love to hear your opinion on this issue.

I have no idea how the complicated formula works.  I do not trust any complicated scheme.

I know that the real expert, who are paid a lot of money for the financial institution, have to earn their high income by giving more profit to their employers.

That profit must come from ordinary investors who try to take bets against the financial institution on the products created by these institutions.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Stupid process from Fundsupermart

I login to Fundsupermart website to change my password. After going through the troublesome checks, they notify me that the new password will be send to me by postal mail within a few business days.

I have waited more than a week. I went to check through the big volume of mail but did not get the letter from Fundsupermart. It never arrived.

I had to check through stacks of booklets and pages from listed companies demanding "my immediate attention". They were all unimportant. It is easy for them to make this demand, right? It cost them nothing to waste the time of their shareholders.

My problem with Fundsupermart is a repeat of an earlier requests a few years ago. The letter containing the new password never arrived. I was not able to login to my account for the past ten years.

I intend to close my account with Fundsupermart. Their process is ridiculous.

I know that they are implementing some stupid requirements from the MAS. I also know that government agencies have this stupid requirements for access to their website.

Recently, Corporate Pass allows the password to be changed online. But this change does not seem to spread to other government agencies and private companies regulated by MAS.

Things move very slowly in Singapore. We are weighed down by stupid and mindless activities. This is probably caused by some stupid instruction from the Ministry of Finance set up a few decades again and was probably never reviewed.

Most online websites allow change of password only. They send you a temporary password and asked you to change to a new password online.

I fear for the future of Singapore. We are inefficient, wasteful and costly. Things will continue to get worse under the neglect of Lee HL and his ministers.

Bad for business.

In the past, I spent about $100 a month on advertisements in Facebook.

Several months ago, I was barred for one month from posting in my Facebook page due to some violation of their community guidelines.

I explained to Facebook that I was responding to people who were deliberately rude to me. I told them that they were badly raised by their parents.

The Facebook staff ignored my explanation and continued the debarment.

I was able to get round the debarment by using another admin account for the page.

Since that time, I stopped giving any advertisement to Facebook.

I receive a daily request from Facebook to advertise my postings. I ignored them.

I hope that Facebook management be aware that the inflexible attitude of their staff has cost them some advertising revenue. The staff may be following the SOP of Facebook but failed to recognize the need to be flexible.

Many people in Singapore also adopt the approach of applying SOP blindly. This is the nature of SOP, and it can be harmful to the business.

One day, they will lose their jobs for causing harm to their business interest by not applying common sense.

Online edition of The Straits Times

The business strategy of The Straits Times seemed rather confused. Perhaps this comment also applies to the other newspapers in the SPH group.

The print edition cost $29.90 per month. The online edition also cost $29.90 per month. However, readers can access most of the articles online for free. However, they receives intrusive advertisements, which destroy the reading experience.

It is quite a hassle to enrol for the online edition, as the process is quite confusing.

If I were in charge, I would change the strategy as follows:

a) Charge the online edition at 50% of the print edition.
b) Offer the online edition free for subscribers of the print edition.

I believe that most people are willing to pay for the online edition, if it is priced at half of the print edition. However, this will reduce the subscription to the print edition, but it is bound to happen anyway.

Intrusive advertisements

Is it good for an online news website to have intrusive advertisements?

Give your vote in

Faulty pumps

What is the best way for SMRT to deal with the faulty pumps?

Give your vote in

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Will Rex Tillerson remain as US Secretary of State

Will Rex Tillerson remain as US Secretary of State for the rest of the term? He now has some misunderstanding with President Trump.

Give your vote in

Ties with America

Is it good for Singapore to maintain our strong ties with America at this time?

Give your vote in

Articles in FISCA

There are several articles on investments and insurance that are written specifically for ordinary consumers in Singapore.

You can view them in

You can also search for a past article by selecting the Artcile tab and entering the search word, such as Annuity, Critial Illness, Investment, etc.

Service of SingPost

Is SingPost providing a reliable service in delivering mail?

60% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd find the service to be accepted (a small proportion said that it is excellent).

The remaining 40% find the service to be unreliable some or most of the time.

See the breakdown in

Age restriction on smoking

Should be minimum smoking age be raised from 18 to 21 years?

56% of the people voting in the Wisdom of the Crowd support this move. 27% wish to see smoking banned totally. 11% wish to see the age raised to 25 years.

How many percent wish to see the restriction removed totally?

Find out the answer in

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

How to find brilliant solutions to problems that confound you

When a person gets stuck with a blem that they cannot solve, they usually keep working on the problem until they find the solution.

This approach can be frustrating and demoralising. It can be bad for the worker and for the colleagues.

There are two better approaches:

a) Describe the problem and ask someone for help.
b) Bypass the problem and work on something else.

Quite often, there is someone out there who has encountered the problem and found the solution. With Google and email, it should be possible to search for that person and to get the solution for free.

Another approach is to bypass the problem for the time being. Often, there are other things that you can do. Most tasks are not sequential, but are parallel. It means that you can work on another task as it does not depend on your completion of the current "stuck" task.

When you come back to the stuck task a few days later, you may be able to approach it with a fresh perspective. You will not continue with the thinking that got you stuck in the first place.

I adopt the above two approaches for a long time. They help me to be effective. They help me to get brilliant solutions to many problems that confound many people.

Perhaps Lee HL and his ministers should consider my approaches. They would not be stuck with so many issues that had confounded them for many years.

But my message is for young people who are struggling to make a mark in their careers. By learning the correct approach, they also can brilliant solutions to the problems that frustrated them.

Tan Kin Lian

Digital display in bus

Should all buses display the sequential stop number?

50% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd preferred the sequential stop number to be displayed. 36% preferred the name of the bus stop to be displayed. The remaining 14% are happy with the current situation, i.e. no display.

See the breakdown in

How to respond to a major train breakdown

What should the train operators do when there is a major breakdown.

I provide four interesting options for you to vote

Foreign operator to run our MRT?

Should we invite a foreign operator, such as Hong Kong MTR, to run our train system?
I give you five options. Cast your vote in

Requirement for Uber and Grab drivers

Should drivers of Uber and Grab met a minimum age or driving experience requirement?

The views of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd are quite mixed. Some preferred a minimum age, some preferred a minimum driving experience and some prefered the age and driving experience to be stated in the apps.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Unfair to reject claim due to alleged non-declaration

Published in St Times 10 Oct 2017

As president of the Financial Services Consumer Association, I have been approached on several occasions by consumers who had bought integrated Shield plans and gone for expensive treatment in private hospitals.

Prior to admission, they checked with their insurance agent and were assured that the treatments would be covered under the integrated plans.

However, their medical bills were subsequently rejected by the insurance companies.

When processing the claim, the claims officer checked the medical history of the insured and found some conditions that had not been declared when the insured applied to upgrade to the integrated plan or to reinstate the cover after it had lapsed due to oversight in premium payments.

In some cases, the insured was not aware of the past medical condition or the need to declare it in the application.

The alleged non-declaration was, nevertheless, used as the reason to reject the claim.

The practice of rejecting claims due to alleged non-declaration is unfair to consumers.

These medical bills are usually of large sums, involving several tens of thousands of dollars. If the insured person knew that the cover would be rejected, he would probably have opted for subsidised treatment, which would be covered under the basic MediShield plan.

I ask the Monetary Authority of Singapore to require insurance companies to check an applicant's medical history at the time of processing the application for upgrading or reinstatement.

If they are not satisfied with the medical status of the applicant, they should reject the application at that time.

If the insurer accepts the application, it should be barred from rejecting a claim on the grounds of non-disclosure of past medical conditions.

I hope that the authorities will act on this matter urgently, as it involves a large number of people, including many from the lower-income group, who have to pay large medical bills due to rejected claims.

Tan Kin Lian
Financial Services Consumer Association

Monday, October 09, 2017

Trust in the government

Is there an erosion of trust in the government of Singapore. Give your vote in

Erosion of trust in the government

When I made suggestions to improve the bus public transport in Singapore, I receive a few comments that the government would not implement them, as these measures would reduce the demand for cars and the governments gets a lot of revenue from COE and other car taxes.

I consider this scepticism to be unfounded and unhealthy. But it is quite widely held. There is a strong measure of distrust of the real intent of the government. Are they trying to make more revenue or to lower the cost of public transport and improve the life of the people?

This scepticm is the result of many years of poor communication or, may I say, non-communication. We do not really know what is the government policy. Even if the policy is announced by the minister or the prime minister, it is not properly followed through and things do not get improved.

I hope that the prime minister and his ministers are aware of this serious problem - erosion of trust in the government.

Effect of wages on rentals

Singapore has low wages but it does not result in a low cost of living. It has resulted in higher rentals.

If wages are increased, will it have any effect in reducing rentals?

Give your vote in

Make it possible for people to have jobs

In my opinion, one important function of the government is to ensure that there are sufficient jobs for the citizens. They should provide high value jobs that pay well, if it was possible. If not, they should provide other jobs, even if they do not pay high wages, provided that the wages are sufficient to meet the cost of living.

If we are short of labor, we should automate and mechanise. We should have driverless taxis and buses and customers should return trays.

However, if there are many people who are not able to find suitable jobs, we should have taxi drivers, private hire drivers and cleaners. We should also create jobs for information guides to help tourists, as adopted in Seoul and other cities.

We should set a minimum wage to ensure that all workers earn a living and respectable wage.

While a higher wage for workers will lead to a higher cost of living for consumers, I expect that this will be offset by lower rentals.

When wages are low, rentals become too high, which is what we have seen in Singapore. If wages are higher, it is not possible for landlords to extract exorbitant rent, as the businesses cannot afford these rents.

This is what my common sense tells me. I know that some people cannot see it, or cannot agree with my view. But they are entitled to their views.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Collective sale fever

Is the collective sale fever good for Singapore? There are two sides to this issue.

Give your vote in

Rejection of medical claims

Should the insurer be allowed to reject a medical claim on the grounds of non-disclosure by the insured person? Is the rejection carried out unfairly?

Give your vote in

Public perception of Chan Chun Sing

What is your view about Chan Chun Sing?

Only 4% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that they "like him a lot".

The other 96% have various reasons to dislike him.

Read the detailed breakdown in

This is quite a frightening vote of no confidence, as Chan Chun Sing is a strong candidate to take over as the next prime minister for Singapore.

Fine on SMRT director

Is it appropriate for the SMRT director to be fined for the fatal accident on the track?

Only 4% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd say that the fine is appropriate as the director should be personally liable for the outcome of the accident.

The other 96% found this approach to be unsatisfactory.

Read their reasons in

Rejected health insurance claims due to alleged non-disclosure

When you buy life or health insurance, the insurance company ask you to declare your medical history. The consumers do not know what should be declared and what does not need to be declared. He or she relies on the insurance agent to help fill up the application form.

The agent is likely to avoid declaring medical conditions that will lead to questions and possible rejection of the application.

When the insured makes a medical claim, the insurance company checks with the doctors that treated the insured in the past. Quite often, they find a medical condition that was not declared in the application form. They use this non-declaration as the reason to reject the claim.

This has been the practice of the insurance companies up to now. It is a bad practice and is quite unfair to the ordinary consumers.

There is a better way. I am surprised that the insurance companies do not adopt this better way. I am also surprised that the regulator, i.e. Monetary Authority of Singapore, did not insist that the insurance companies adopt this better way, to avoid the unfair rejection of claims.

What is this better way?

The insurance company should check with the doctors at the time of the application to obtain the past medical history and decide if they wish to insured the consumer. If they are not happy with the past medical history, they should reject the insurance at that time.

The regulator can pass a regulation to require the insurance companies to carry out the checking of the past medical history at the time of application. If the insurance company accept an application, the insurance company should be disallowed by law from rejecting a claim due to non-disclosure of the past medical history.

I hope that the regulator will pass this regulation to avoid the bad cases of rejected claims due to alleged non-disclosure.

Tan Kin Lian

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