Saturday, 18 November 2017

What are your thoughts?

I have a habit of rebutting people in my mind.

Recently, I "see" or overhead such comments, which send chills down me.

Some examples are these:
Just because of this one incident, we now need to make sure that we test the pumps regularly. It's all this guy's fault.
Big incident happen again. Someone must be responsible. Sack him. 
This year is so "suay" (Singlish or Singapore slang for unlucky). Usually, we just have at most one major incident a year. Don't know why this year by now there are two.
This will not happen because in our thirty years of history, this has never happened before. 
This is done by xxx (someone reputable I guess), so nothing will go wrong. Just follow him and everything will be alright. 

 What are your thoughts?

Let me know.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

The Hard Truth about Employees and Companies

Have you heard or yourself made such comments before:
"How could the company be retrenching people when they are making profits?"
"Why can't the company provide us with more benefits, they are so rich, it's just peanuts to them." 
"Why does the company only ask me to work, but never send me for any training?"
"I sacrificed so much family time for the company, why am I not promoted?" 

Whenever I read or hear such comments, it just make me wonder why do people not realize the truth about the relationship between employees and companies? As a corporate warrior for nine years and counting, each year only reminds me more firmly about this hard truth. 

Companies exist to accomplish the vision of the owners. It could be to leave a legacy, fulfill their dreams, make money or whatever. It's never, I repeat, NEVER for the employees. To a company, employing an employee is a transaction. A transaction for a service the employee can provide for the firm, to allow it to achieve the vision. This is similar to you going to the hairdresser for a haircut. The hairdresser gives you a haircut and you pay him or her. Or you going to the supermarket to buy milk. You get the milk, the supermarket gets the money. Simply, a transaction. 

To be blatant, employees are just a pawn to accomplish the vision of a company, in return for something (money or pay). To allow the pawn to help achieve the company's goals, some companies may provide training, have good benefits and so on. But the ultimate goal is to ensure that the pawn helps it achieve the target.

So what benefit does the pawn get? 

While we understand that companies exist for themselves (the owners), it does not mean that the employee is always at the losing end. For one thing, the company has to pay the employee for the work which allows the employee to accumulate and work on this  pennies to create his/her wealth. As employees, we should make full use of the opportunity when given to work for this company. How you make full use really depends on your ultimate goal. It could be to earn reputation in a certain area to spring board your career, gain experience, learn a new skill through doing, and of course build wealth from the pay. 

Since companies exist for their own goals, the pawns (employees) exist for their own goals as well. 

Once you understand this hard truth, you will know that no one owes anyone a living. The company employ you for the service they want from you, and you agreed to provide them with such service to the required standards. If the company wants you to make sacrifices that you are against your goals, then it's your job to prevent that. 

Remember, it's a transaction. 

[$15.99](▼77%)[BLMG_SG] Floor Chair★Adjustable Futon Chair★Local Seller★Furniture★Singapore★Cheap★Sofa

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Beyond Formal Education

I was recently awarded an Advanced Diploma after working on it for two years. I was looking through the past certificates that I have. Guess what! I have also an Advanced Diploma in Mass Media. I did it when I was back in University (more than 10 years ago), thinking of exposure and diversification (just in case). Similarly, I have a Certificate in General Insurance. If it were ten years back, I would be so proud of all these academic achievements.

Not today. In fact, I just wonder why on earth did I spend the money on these stuff.

So what if you have some many designations, so many degrees, so many certificates under your belt? What difference does it make if you don't make use of it, intend to make use of it, or have plans for what to do with it? It will just be a waste of time, effort and money, which could be invested in other areas isn't it? For people who are still young, getting multiple certificates, degrees, designations are good exposure. Also, when you have not much experience in the workforce, such academic achievements might give you some edge. But when you are older, does it make a difference? I wonder if I were to showcase my Mass Media certificate, will anyone bother?

I was talking to one of my friends recently who had a Master Degree, and a whole list of designations to boast of. Of course, he is a well- learned person, but when I asked him what is his purpose of having all these long list, and how has he been rewarded with such a long list of academic accomplishments, the answer I got was he understood even better the theory part in what he was doing in his job. His job does not reward nor recognize these additional designations he have.

I have seen many examples of people who did not further their studies after their formal education, but choose to self- learn or attend occasion seminars/ talks to learn more (or for the purpose of network). In terms of career accomplishments, they may be doing as good or better than those who are on the paper chase.

Since the launch of SkillsFuture, I have seen many around me jumping in to take courses for the sake of self- improvement. This is great, and that's what our government is promoting. While getting another certificate is undeniably an achievement (considering the time, effort and money required), it's just the first step. What you do after that is even more important. If you don't even have a plan what to use it for, why bother to go through the formal route to get accredited?

Perhaps, beyond formal education, or getting a certificate, having an ambition on how to use it is even more important, to ensure that the time and effort spent on this purpose bear fruit.

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Seller Internship

I bought a sold- out event ticket at double its retail price on Carousell, and was trying (hard) to sell it at what I buy at. It was tough. It's still on sale.

After being a corporate warrior for nine years, there is a skill that is totally lacking in me --- selling. You see, my corporate job mainly requires me to share technical know-how. My selling point is my technical know- how, which my clients have already purchased from my company. I do not sell anything that requires people to fork out their money. My company has a marketing and business development group to oversee this. Direct selling is definitely not what I get to do at work. In my life, there are occasions where I need to be involved in these, but the chances are rare. I spend most of my time as a consumer. 

When I try to sell some items, I realize that I tend to be on the receiving end. On reflection, there are a number of skills that I lack, and these are ones I identify:

1. Be street smart
I tend to be very honest and frank. While I strongly believe in being honest, being frank is not required. For instance, if I am selling a house, my thoughts are one should tell the owner there are some defects here, it's facing the west sun, but need not tell them that I am selling it urgently because of xyz reasons. The latter is frank and the former is honesty.

Selling also makes you learn to protect yourself, and see problematic people (buyers). You tend to see the most nasty sight of people when they need to part with their money or has something to do with money. You learn to write contracts/ agreements, word your words, look for help in such a way that it will protect your own rights.

2. Persuasive
Being street smart protects you, but being persuasive will teach people to be convinced of your point of view .With that, you need to know the selling point of what your product/ services and convince your buyer that these selling points exactly meet their needs.

3. Know the market
To get a good price, knowing how the market works, what sells, and how much they should be sold for would be important. An example for me was not knowing the market, and as such I bought an event ticket at twice its original price (without bargaining). And when I try to sell at this price, it's tough.

4. Cater to the buyer
Sing the song of the potential buyer. Only when you can sing the song of the buyer (resonate with the buyer) then will they stop to see what you offer.

Identifying these skills is useless unless I am going to act on them. Well, the most common thing that most will advice is to sign up for courses to learn the skills. But having utilized fully my skillsfuture fund, I am not going to pay a teaching organization to learn how to sell. That will bring me back to the consumer front. Going for lessons to learn how to sell is not going to make you be a good seller without practice.

I'm so fortunate to be living in the internet age, and am able to practice how to sell without digging deep into my pocket to open a physical store.

The potential buyers shall be my teacher. Let the internship begins!


Saturday, 25 March 2017

Nine years as a corporate warrior

I have been a corporate warrior for nine years, and in these nine years, I have worked for three different companies, in three very different roles. These nine years also shaped what I want from a job.

look intensely at laptop

Just recently, I received my five year award from my current company. This is my first long service award. 

Just after graduation, I started my first job. Back then, my aim was to earn as much as possible. Thus, I took the job that offer the largest pay package. My first job was a great company, but the role I was in did not suit me at all then. The first job requires that I interact with a huge number of people -- from management for approval of project and budget, to different department engineers for coordination of jobs, to contractors and technicians to request them to do a job and how to do them, and so on and so forth. When I just graduated, I was shy. Talking to so many people was a pain to me. I didn't last long in that job, and changed to another one within a year.

My second job was great, at the start. What I needed to do was within my means. I got along well with the people in the company. There, I gained the confidence to interact with the different people in the corporate hierarchy and external /internal stakeholders. But I left after three years. In fact, at the end of two years, I was actively on a job hunt, as I know there is not much future staying there. My pay has also stagnated, there isn't going to be much upward movement for me in this job. You see, I'm in a supporting role in this company, rather than being part of the company core. This made me realize that when you are in a supporting role, the amount the company is willing to spend on your development and willing to pay you is limited. Also, the company I was in was small. While a small company has its advantages, there is limits on how far you can go in the corporate hierarchy. Being enlightened by these, I set my criteria in finding my next career. With a lot more requirements this time round, finding a suitable job took time, and I took about a year, and after many many many interviews that I landed my current job.

My third job met my criteria of focusing on the core of the company. I'm a consultant, and providing engineering services to the clients is the core (albeit there are other core as well). The company is one of the Fortune 500 companies, with a good balance sheet (this is important as it means they can pay my salary and lower chance, though not no change, of retrenchment). There are many department o move to apart from the consulting role, and consulting is not the only core of the company. This company is a truly global company, as can be seen from the many colleagues I have. My manager, admin assistant and so on are in a different country. Although this may mean that for urgent matters, it may seem more troublesome, but honestly, with today's communication technology e.g. phone, messenger, skype, etc., this obstacle is easily overcome. With a global company, also means travelling. In just five years, I got to travel around Asia, Europe and USA for work and to work with people from different cultures. It was great.

But being in the same role for five years, doing similar stuff, makes me worried. What additional skills am I gaining? And with newcomers coming in, doing almost similar stuff, what makes me more desirable than them considering that I'm most likely paid more than them?

Being a corporate warriors is challenging. In good times, you can enjoy being comfortable. But when things are not going well...

Just like companies have to constantly grow to stay in the market, employees have to constantly improve to stay in the market. Once you stop growing, you start withering.


Friday, 17 March 2017

Trading Experience

I spent the past few months doing stock trading. 

To be exact from November till today, I have only done 3 trades.

The trading technique I used is actually no technique honestly. I totally ignored the typical technical indicators such as moving average convergence divergence (MACD), relative strength index (RSI) or stochastic oscillator which you would see in any technical analysis guidebook.

The trading technique I used was instead simply observation within my knowledge limited scope of course. Nonetheless, before I apply this technique, I did a general check on the balance sheet of the stock. This counter has more cash than total liabilities. However, its profit margin is low, and it's profits are definitely not as high as many others in the same industry as it is. To me, this company is like a mom- and- pop store that earns enough to feed everyone, while making sure they don't go bust. So if my trading hypothesis is wrong, very likely the amount I will lose is not going to be too huge. But, I am not optimistic of its growth in the near future, and so the profit margin I expect from this trades is likely to be low. 

The stock price of this counter has been oscillating over a certain range for months. The spread between the ask and bid price is also significant enough to earn some profits (after commissions). I simply queue to enter the stock at the price close to the lower of the range, and once I bought it, I queue to exit the position at the ask price as long as I will make a profit.  

To be honest, the trading volume of this counter is relatively low, and it took patience to buy it at the price I want, and sell it at a profit. All in all,I have made about slightly more than 10% or about $700 out of a maximum amount invested of $6,600. The profit may not be huge, but well, I treat it as pocket money.

Commissions definitely make a difference when you trade. I used to use Philip Capital, but it has a minimum commission of $25. With $6,600 invested (which is the maximum I am willing to lose), this commission is significant. I switched over to Standard Chartered, and with its minimum commission of $10, I make much more profit, (okay la, at most $30 more).

Most likely, I won't do trading for the long term. This exercise was mainly to test my hypothesis. I'm not sure whether I made profit due to luck or good observation. At the end of the day, the one who benefits most from all these trading is the brokerage company. 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

What's your thoughts on this bond's yield?

I used to own 34,000 units of CMA3.8% bonds, until they were redeemed it in January this year. This bond has a coupon of 3.8% for the first 5 years, and 4.5% after that. They have an option to redeem the bonds from Jan 2017 onwards, and they did. It seems reasonable since if they weren't redeemed, the interest to be paid out would be 4.5%, which is not justifiable since they are able to get loans with lower interest rate.

With this redemption, I am looking at other avenues to maintain or even better my interest income.

One of the bond that I was looking at is the retail perpetual bond issued by Genting at a coupon of 5.125% per year. If this bond is not redeemed in 2022 (10 years after being issued), the coupon goes to 6.125%. But there's a catch.

This security may be redeemed in whole on the first call date or any distribution payment date thereafter. The first call date for the retail bond is October 2017.

This is a nice article by fundsupermart on their opinion why they think this perpetual bond will be redeemed by the first call date.

The last done price for this perpetual bond was $1.040 or 4% above par. At this time of writing, there is still 2 more coupons till the first call date. The cheapest brokerage cost is 0.18%. Using simple maths, if the bond is redeemed in October this year, the simple interest received is 5.125 - 4% - 0.18% = 0.945% for holding the bond for 7 months or 1.62% if you annualized it. This of course is if we assume that the bonds were to redeemed at the first call date.

For now, I am going to top up my UOB One account with this extra, and set up 3 GIROs to it.

Disclaimer: I am not a financially savvy person, so what I'm going to write is based on what I deduce from my limited research and reading. This may not be an accurate account of the real scenario, and you are to exercise your own judgement on whether you agree with what I have written. I won't be held liable for any inaccuracies or omissions. In addition, all ideas expressed here should not be thought of as an enticement to buy or sell any products, securities, assets, commodities or whatsoever mentioned. Kindly see my disclaimer at the end of the blog for more detail.