May 24, 2009
me & my money
Career switch pays dividends
HR exec was so impressed by his financial adviser that he joined his team
By Lorna Tan
It is unusual for a client to want to join his financial adviser in his trade but that was what Mr Lui Ee Min, 31, did.
The Public Service Commission scholarship holder had spent the major part of his five-year bond with the Singapore Civil Defence Force till 2007 when, with six months to go, he broke his bond.
He paid the penalty of a month's salary and ventured into human resources at JTC Corp.
In January last year, impressed by his adviser from wealth management firm Financial Alliance, Mr Sean Lim, 38, who showed strong dedication to financial planning, he decided to switch careers and join Mr Lim as a member of his team.
Despite his parents' initial unhappiness over his job switch because the income is uncertain, and although he was apprehensive about having to prospect for clients, he stuck to his decision.
And he appears to have made the right decision after all. Last year, he was named the top rookie consultant at his firm with a net sales income of $30,000.
A former Raffles Institution student, Mr Lui graduated from Nanyang Technological University in 2002 with a degree in electrical and electronic engineering.
In 2006, he obtained a graduate diploma in human capital management. Last month, he received his Associate in Financial Planning qualifications.
He is single.
Q: Are you a spender or saver?
I usually save 20 per cent of what I earn and the balance goes to my parents, as well as for insurance and general expenses.
Q: How much do you charge to your credit cards every month?
I have seven credit cards but I use three more actively. My credit card bills average about $500 each month and I pay the sum in full promptly.
I view credit cards purely as a convenience tool, as well as a discount instrument on certain expenditure like dining and petrol. I typically withdraw $100 from the ATM weekly.
Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?
I believe in buying term insurance and investing the difference.
I own a comprehensive medical plan, with the necessary rider to take care of the deductible and co-insurance. I'm covered for $200,000 for critical illness and I have a $250,000 life cover.
My portfolio comprises unit trusts, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and blue-chip stocks like OCBC Bank, Singapore Press Holdings and CapitaLand.
Prior to last year, my portfolio had an annual return of approximately 8 per cent.
To date, the portfolio is down about 25 per cent to 30 per cent even after I had liquidated a portion after US investment bank Lehman Brothers crashed in September.
My portfolio comprises 45 per cent in unit trusts, 20 per cent in ETFs, 25 per cent in stocks and the rest is in cash.
Q: Moneywise, what were your growing-up years like?
I am the youngest in a family of four. I was born in Singapore but grew up in Malacca in a rented terrace house till I was five, when my mother, sister and I returned to Singapore.
We live in a four-room HDB flat in Hougang. My dad remained in Malacca as a quality control supervisor in a textile firm till 1990, when he joined us here and became a production manager.
When I was in primary school, my sister and I were trained to watch the foreign exchange rates, as our monthly allowance came from my father's salary, in Malaysian ringgit. We tracked the plummeting value of the currency over the years.
My mum is a diligent homemaker and is probably the thriftiest person on earth that I know. She has a knack for sourcing for cheap and good toiletries from shops such as Tangs, Mustafa and Shop N Save.
Q: How did you get interested in investing?
I always had a keen interest in money matters, but I seriously picked up investment know-how after leaving the comfort of the Civil Service job.
Beginning with unit trusts in 2005, I moved to investing in stocks, ETFs and derivatives trading such as warrants and contracts for differences.
Q: What property do you own?
I don't own a property at the moment, but I look forward to owning my own home, and further down the road, an investment property as well for rental returns.
Q: What's the most extravagant thing you have bought?
It's probably the tailor-made suit I bought to attend my sister's wedding in 2002. It set me back by about $500. It's money well invested though and I have worn it on several occasions.
Q: What's your retirement plan?
I can see myself moving into a slower pace of life from my late 40s onwards, but not retiring completely. This is the best job in the world, and I can see myself still practising financial planning and possibly even mentoring fellow industry juniors.
Training is another area I am passionate about. I would require a monthly income of $4,000 to $5,000 in my golden years.
I expect the money to come from recurring income via dividends, future property rental and fee income from the clients' assets that I manage.
Q: Home is now...
I live with my parents in their four-room HDB flat in Hougang, which was bought more than 20 years ago.
Q: I drive...
A grey Kia Rio.
WORST AND BEST BETS
Q: What is your worst investment to date?
This was in late 2007 and during the tail-end of a bull rally. I was trying to make a quick buck and speculated on a penny stock at 15cents apiece.
In hindsight, it was a totally foolish decision as I went in purely based on market exuberance and without understanding the fundamentals of the firm. Two weeks later, I exited the counter when it was at 10 cents. I was lucky that I lost only a few thousand dollars.
Q: And your best investment?
It has to be my financial advisory business.
Although I'm currently earning less than what I did in my previous job, the income potential is there. Besides, it is fulfilling to be able to play an important part in providing financial advice to friends and clients.
I would like to do this on a larger scale and reach out to the public through seminars.