Fergus Watch – Outlook 2012

Jan 02, 12 Fergus Watch – Outlook 2012

Posted by in Musings, Personal finance

Some of you may know, I work in the financial industry, and I usually write emails to some people for their reading entertainment. Here’s one that I wrote a while back, on my outlook of 2012. Originally sent out 26 December 2011. One of the things I wanted to do for this email was to amalgamate some of the views I have as well as others that I have discussed with. In a way, a snippet of things that happened this year, and what it means for the year ahead. That is, the outlook for 2012. 2011, the watershed year 2011 has definitely been a watershed year in more ways than one. We have the General Elections, we have Orchard Road floodings, we have MRTs breaking down dramatically, we have numerous dead bodies found in reservoirs, we have a new record price for properties, we have our 2 Integrated Resorts, numerous new shopping malls and numerous new office buildings in the CBD. We also have Lee Kuan Yew leaving active politics. In a way, 2011 is really extraordinary. How can so many things happen in the same year? Suay? Heng? Or is the world really ending in 2012? Complacency is a downfall of the Singapore model? Some of the viewpoints I have been hearing about is if the Singapore model is good to go for the next decade? In the last 10 years, the biggest issue in Singapore was.. no issue. We have taken a lot of things for granted. Things were meant to work. Jobs will be available as long as you studied to the best of your ability. We will always have housing, we will always have cheap transport, we will have accessibility to anything you want to buy. This has also affected the policy makers. Why fix things if there is nothing broken? Thus, I would say the last 5 years has been one of complacency. There has been some lack of foresight and planning. After all, you pay senior management primarily...

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Singapore sits moodily atop wealth pole

Dec 29, 11 Singapore sits moodily atop wealth pole

Posted by in Interesting articles

Haven’t posted anything for quite a while, but this is worth keeping. Sunday, Dec 25, 2011 The Business Times Last month, if Singapore had been a person, it would have stood above the unwashed tableau of Occupy Wall Street (OWS), watching from its penthouse and laughing into its cognac. But it has spent the year being a little down in the mouth, preoccupied with property prices, taxi fares and faulty trains. This gloom is hard to explain in the grander scheme of things. When OWS’s gross simplification of the one per cent trampling on the 99 per cent is contemplated, Singapore is practically part of the world’s one per cent. This is a country where, every single day, 25 people bought either a Mercedes-Benz or a BMW for the first 11 months of the year.  In the same period, every four days, someone drove away from the Ferrari showroom with a big smile on his face. (One assumes that, each time, it’s a different person.) When it comes down to it, Singapore can be almost as Wall Street as Wall Street. Last year, 8.5 per cent of New York City’s workforce was on the payroll of the finance and insurance industries. Singapore had about 6.4 per cent of its resident population on it, while Hong Kong had 6 per cent. If a demonstrator with anti-banking invective to expend were to imagine the two as corporate entities – which is not hard – he would therefore be more inclined to picket Singapore than Hong Kong. “One per cent” might be a dirty term these days, but would-be picketers here have to be careful about calling others names that might apply to themselves. On a per-adult basis, Singapore has the sixth highest net wealth in the world: a mean value of US$284,692, according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2011. “Net wealth” here is defined by a person’s financial and real estate assets minus debt. The mean value, however, gets short shrift from experts, since...

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Banker, empire builder: The story of Mr Mochtar Riady

Oct 11, 11 Banker, empire builder: The story of Mr Mochtar Riady

Posted by in Interesting articles

Quite a good read! Very apt since I am moving into the industry. Originally appeared in The Business Times, 8October 2011 Indonesian tycoon Mochtar Riady looks back on a lifetime filled with adventure and accomplishment. By Vikram Khanna IN his prepared remarks for a talk at NUS Business School (of which he is a major benefactor), Indonesian tycoon Mochtar Riady, quoted the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu to sum up his management philosophy: ‘Trees that fill our embrace emerge from small sprouts, and a thousand mile journey always starts with the first step … Plan for the difficult while things are easy, and act on the great while it is still small.’ Mr Riady started small and went on to build a pan-Asian business empire with some US$11 billion worth of assets, spanning financial services, property, retail, information technology, natural resources and healthcare. But he is first and foremost, by instinct and by passion, a banker. ‘I went into other areas only by chance,’ he says. Banking was an ambition he harboured since he was a schoolboy. Speaking in Mandarin through an interpreter – though later he breaks into English – he recounts this childhood memory: ‘When I was in primary school in Indonesia, I had to pass a big building on my way from home to school. I always thought, oh, this building is so impressive and the people who work there look so elegant. But I don’t know that they do.’ ‘When I graduated from school, I was already thinking about being a banker. My father said, you are unrealistic. The banking business is a rich man’s business, how can you do it? My answer was, the bank’s commodity is not money, it is trust. As long as I can have people’s trust, I can be a banker.’ ‘So I asked my teacher about the building. He said it is a bank. I asked, what is a bank? He said, a bank lends people money and makes money from that. And I thought, maybe one...

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Congratulation to Dr Tony Tan for being elected Singapore’s 7th President

Aug 28, 11 Congratulation to Dr Tony Tan for being elected Singapore’s 7th President

Posted by in General, Musings

SINGAPORE: Dr Tony Tan has been elected Singapore’s seventh President, winning by a 0.34 per cent margin, or 7,269 votes.  He secured 744,397 or 35.19 per cent of total valid votes, while Dr Tan Cheng Bock received 737,128 or 34.85 per cent of the valid votes. It was a long and widely followed election. Being one of those years where there was a General Election (in May 2011) and a Presidential Election (in August 2011), the social media buzz was loud and furious. Mr Tan Kin Lian was one of the first few to have utilised social media. Earlier in the year, he was suddenly very vocal about topics and had started to attract interest to his name. He started talking about investments, then about insurance. Ironically, he was slamming most insurance products even though he was the CEO of NTUC Income. He also started to appeal to the unsophisticated investors by showing that he will be the evangelist that fights against the big bully, be it the big corporations, the governments, etc. Mr Tan Jee Say was the next to have increased his social presence. He came out to compete in the General Election as a candidate for the SDP. I wrote a fair bit about him with regards to one of his rally speeches. I personally feel that he has a good head on his shoulder, with ideas that have a high possibility of working. However, being the President might not be the right office for him, and he might be better off as a MP. Unfortunately the SDP reputation wasn’t particularly good, and that might have cost him some points. But being the way he is, it is also unlikely that WP will be a good match to his confrontational style. Dr Tan Cheng Bok also came out during the General Election. He already stepped down from active MP duties earlier on, but I told my friends that he was one of those competent PAP members still around today. It was then that I discovered...

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An interesting paradigm shift to tackle motor car road congestion in Singapore : On-Peak Cars

Jul 19, 11 An interesting paradigm shift to tackle motor car road congestion in Singapore :  On-Peak Cars

Posted by in Musings

I was recently on my way to town on a Saturday afternoon, and I tell you, I was in for a shock! The number of cars along the CTE and within Orchard/City Hall area are crazy! I remember quite some time ago on a Saturday evening, I drove from Newton to Suntec. It was actually quite a short route, just round novena, then the back of KK hospital, past little india, then straight on to suntec. Shouldn’t take too long since the train ride from newton to city hall was just 10 minutes or so. The drive took 45 minutes. And not only that, the searching for a parking lot at suntec took another 20 minutes. Madness. So I was wondering, is there a reason for this? The first thing that came to mind was that I will definitely take public transport the next time I go to town. The second thing that came to mind was Off-Peak Cars. Off-Peak Cars are basically red plate cars that are allowed to drive only between 7pm to 7am on the weekdays and full days on the weekends. In return, they get a form of rebate off the purchase price of the cars. The essence behind this scheme was that they wanted to keep the roads as congestion free as possible during office hours, so that logistics can move fast, couriers can deliver parcels with minimal delays, and people will be able to get to meetings without 1 hour traffic jams like in other regional cities. (Think Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Beijing, Jarkarta) In this aspect, the Off-Peak Car scheme has been very very successful! Now, you only get traffic congestions before 9am, and after 6pm! Inconvenience yes, but pragmatic too. The problem is you get a flood of cars on weekends! Every normal plated cars and Off-Peak cars will be flooding the roads, particularly to places with shopping malls. (which in the case of Singapore, tend to be congregated together) While I can’t say it is an...

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