Thursday, 8 January 2015

First Offer On The Table

I have officially gotten my first offer from a tech company. The interview was relatively smooth as the industry is one that I am fairly familiar with, even more than the financial industry. I am going to go for more interviews and build up my interview skills as well as hone my experiences. I believe that I need to speak with as many people as possible at this stage of my life, more for learning purposes rather than for deciding what I want to do, as I have a fairly good idea by now.

With that said, the offer can also be used as leverage for future interviews. I have not really given any acceptance and the team has not really asked me to finalize any process. It was more of a soft agreement and asking me to email them before they send me the term sheet for my internship at a later date so that there will be more concrete details on what is the exact job description.

My recruiting efforts are not finished yet. I am actually waiting for a couple of big names in the tech world to open up before proceeding with the next part of the application. I am also looking at certain asset management firms and trying to learn as much as possible about valuation methods and skills like VBA and Macro before going for future interviews.

With that said, this is an interesting time and I am waiting to see how far I can go in the next one and a half year before my official "First Job".

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

2014 Annual Financial Investments Report

The year 2014 was a year that saw me taking more risks, and venturing more into the world of saving and investment. I am pleased with myself for being able to perform certain investments at the right time and identifying the right stocks that still have value. The truth is, whenever I look at stocks, past the initial usual screening methods like P/E, ROE, and P/B etc, I will focus more on the qualitative aspect of the business ranging from the company's management as well as strategies and areas of business the company is involved in. There are times where I have been able to identify value stocks but I just didn't feel right investing in the company. For one, I believe Asian companies or global companies headed by Asians are more conservative or more savvy than comparable with the same risk.

Some people believe in Geomancy and I do find myself avoiding certain companies if their management looks a bit dodgy. There is really no hard way to say how I qualify the various qualitative aspects of the business. However, this is just me and past the initial quantitative screening, I believe more in my instincts as I would like to term it. This is the same with my Japan trade, I still believe in Saizen despite the fall in price and is likely to buy more very soon. One thing however rings true for all my trades, I always google the CEO and the Chairman and see what results come out. With that said, the image below shows my statement for the year.

The reason why under remarks I put Owe $1.4k is because I took out this sum for money to settle certain expenses and is reminding myself to put it back. If you add in the $1.4k that I took out from my portfolio, the material gains will actually be higher as I used a certain formula to only include existing size and not would be size. Accounting for the $1.4k, my returns are actually over 20%. My portfolio is growing healthier and I am looking forward to this year where much turmoil and shock is expected to hit the market. The interest rate increase might also take a hit at some of my REITs holdings but we should see. All in all, 2014 was a good year. 

In summary, value based investing based on opportune fear and shock is what I will continue to adhere to, and never growing in love with a stock is what I will continue to personify. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

A New Year - 2015

2014 was a year of surprises and hardships, a year of happiness and sadness. With 2014 officially over, I will review it thoroughly in this post. There were tears, smiles and laughters and I have gained a new realization about myself as well as the people around me. So much has happened, and I managed to push myself towards greater heights, gaining new knowledge, capital as well as hitting some hard to hit goals, both personal and professional.

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone, both readers as well as my real life friends and family. I have managed to hit a superb 4.9 semester GPA, bringing me closer to first class. My current CGPA stands at 4.45/5.00, a mere 0.05 away. I am really glad that all my hard work, consultations as well as active discussions with friends and professors finally paid off. I am now aiming for a perfect score next semester. I hope I can get into the Deans List for AY2014. 

With regards to my health, I managed to lose some weight, not much but around 3kg. I hope to implement some healthy habits into my lifestyle this coming year and try to exercise more regularly. Some of the resolutions that I set with regards to fitness have been too stringent and might have dampened my spirit many times. However, I will just aim for one thing this year with regards to fitness, and that is to consistently outdo myself when my mind tells my body to procrastinate. 

On the topic of professional development, it is really fascinating. I managed to have one of the best summer internship experience ever, and it has cultivated and built in me so many useful skills ranging from communication to analysis as well as networking skills. I am now still actively scouting for appropriate summer offers as I did not manage to score any first round interview at most of the bulge bracket banks I applied for except one, which I failed as I was too nervous. However, I was able to know what I want to do in the future, and this is unlikely to be something that will change in the near term.

About my family, my daughter is growing up so fast and she is finally going to Playgroup. I am so proud of her. I am watching her grow everyday and her growth spurs me on even more, to take more tuitions, invest more cautiously and venture out of my own comfort zone more often. My wife has also helped me push myself even harder. I would like to thank them and my mother for her relentless support as well. Watching her work so hard each day is a daily ringing bell for me.

I started an entrepreneurial venture last year as well but it is still in the development phase. I can foresee potential in my idea but the development is taking too long and since I am not a technical person, there is really very little that I can do to pull the timeline for launch closer. The only thing I can do is to nag and continue to nag at my developer. 

One thing that sort of bothered me in 2014 was that I did not manage to catch up with people I want to catch up with as often as I wanted to as I was too involved with work and taking care of my family. This is unlikely to change in 2015 but I just wish that some free time will open up here and there from time to time.  

On the point of my investment returns, I fall short of a few thousand dollars to push my portfolio to my intended size. However, I was able to continue to have pretty impressive returns and a big part of it is due to diligence and a little bit to luck. I continue to adopt the value investing approach and will continue to scoop up discounts from time to time. I recently exited a few REITs, and entered some oil and gas companies as the valuation was too good to pass, especially with so much fear due to the crash in oil price.

2015 will be a year full of challenges... I expect it to be even tougher due to rising costs for my daughter's education and will do whatever it takes to make more money. I also have to balance my studies, both university as well as professional. I am learning VBA and Macros on the side in order to get ready for my eventual entrance into the jungle (corporate world)... Until my next post, good night!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Is Japan Doomed To Recession?

Today, I woke up and saw that Saizen REIT, one of my most substantial holding has fallen by quite a bit since I last checked. This was in part due to the recessionary reports about Japan. Abe-san has also called a snap election just two years into his term to garner new support for his economic policies. I am now wondering if the economy is ever going to get its act together. However, Abe-san is really someone to be admired. Decisive and strong, he looks like someone who can really change decades of deflationary pressure in the economy against the pessimism of the Japanese people.

Well, for now, I am still cautiously optimistic about Japan as there is just so much productive capacity in the economy that is not maximized to its fullest potential. However, the Japanese looks to be extremely complacent and they really need to get their act together before they are overtaken by other emerging economies. They are like an economy that is so risk adverse in guarding their wealth that they do not know that wealth is lost every day through a lack of vitality in the economy. Even a greying labour force can spur the economy. Just look at Singapore and the number of elderly who are still working past their retirement age.

For what its worth, it is time for the Japanese to start learning from other economies. If there is a lack of consumption, build the habits of consumption into the Japanese people. How do you do that when interest rates are 0 and people are still not consuming? Well, import labour, make expats consume, do whatever it takes to stimulate the economy. Without a strong economy supporting the country, public dissent will be much worse relative to the initial backlash from immigration friendly policies anyway.

In terms of business culture, break down the traditions. Decades of slowing growth has proven that the old Japanese way of working is not feasible. The world is in a stage of hyper growth and efficiency now due to technological advances, and working more is actually working less in certain situations. Give your employees more freedom and autonomy and rebuild the business culture. Learn from the Americans, and build more billion dollar companies.

In terms of QE by the Bank of Japan, simply increasing the money supply has proven to be ineffective in generating inflation. There has to be a corresponding policy to complement monetary easing and drive demand. The structure of the economy needs modification. Encourage spending through partnerships with businesses.

What about tourism? What happened to the Japanese pop culture? It used to be much stronger than the Koreans. What is the entertainment industry doing? If the Koreans work twice as hard, you work thrice as hard. That is what Japan did during the post war periods, and propelled itself from a manufacturing economy into a service and technological economy in just decades. Wake up, learn from the past, and do what you did. There used to be much more dreams in the nation.

At the end of the day, this is just some ranting by me after looking at how the NAV of Saizen fell from S$1.24 to S$1.14. I do know that everything that I just out-laid needs time to execute, especially in a hyper democratic and bureaucratic government like Japan. However, I feel that traditions are like chains sometimes, and disruption has to occur in order to bring a new age of hyper growth in an economy.

The question is: can the government and the people work together and push past recession into growth?

Work hard Japan, I am rooting for you. Please don't disappoint me, I am learning Japanese for the future, don't make my learning obsolete and redundant. Lol.