Saturday, November 9, 2019

Keeping the mind open. Seeing the good on some unpopular financial products

It is a good habit to keep an open mind and see things from the other side of the fence. When people disagree with you, the value of their information content is higher. It is uncomfortable emotionally, but essential to arrive at the right decisions.

I have been personally affected negatively by insurance agents selling high-commissioned insurance products, financial training courses and Multi-level Marketing (MLM). It is hard to keep an open mind on issues that impact a person negatively on a personal level. Nevertheless, I will try to see the other side of the coin. It is a good habit to cultivate.

Insurance products
I bought whole-life insurance plan before. It was an expensive plan for achieving my goal of protection. Since then, I have always advocated term insurance over savings-related, investment-linked plans that insurance agents love to sell because of the high commission. Insurance is for protection. Period. Don't mix them up with investment and savings products.

For people who have a past history of mis-managing cash on hand, financial products that force them to save can be a life-saver, even if substantial portion of the money goes to commission. Lottery winners are twice as likely to file for bankruptcy every year than the general population. So, if your spouse happen to strike Toto and you know him/her to be one of those who cannot manage money, it is better that he spends most of his winnings on financial products peddled by insurance agents than go on a spending spree, gamble it away in the financial markets, invest in speculative ventures by friends/relatives ...

EDIT: One more advantage of whole life and long-term endowment plans is to protect your savings  from creditors in the event of bankruptcy provided you put the plans under trust nomination. Credit for this insight goes to an Anonymous commenter (Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 12:07:00 PM GMT+8)

It is not without risk. You have to trust your family members. If a person is nominating his wife as beneficiary, please don't sabotage yourself by fooling around with mistresses. Keep your eyes open before marriage that she is not a gold-digger.

Financial training courses
I had family members who went for these financial training courses. One of them was a retiree. Outcome was bad (let's leave it at that). This is why I am angry and biased against expensive courses, particularly those that sell false hope.

This is a thread (Link) that warns about financial training courses. It provides good advice on what to watch out regarding the tricks used by the financial trainers and a list of the more controversial trainers in the industry. However, some of the language and labels (such as scammers) that were thrown on the financial trainers in the thread have gone overboard.

I had online correspondence with some financial bloggers in the past who later on became financial trainers. I'm pretty sure they are decent people. They are certainly not scammers. They are now running a business and face the normal pressures to feed the employees and their own family. If I were in their shoes, I will also try to maximize profits by charging as high as the customers can take. Which business-man will not do that?

I only hope these financial trainers will target the right customers, not the vulnerable victims. Definitely not retirees who can't afford to lose big in financial markets!! Don't touch my family.

There are many ways to make money from the financial market. For DIY investors, we need to go through a trial and error process to find the way that suits our unique strengths and personality. The DIY investor can learn by attending several courses to finally find what suits him. Even if your trainer is sincere and competent, what works for him may not work for you. Furthermore, if each course is going to cost thousands, then it makes the task of building the capital more challenging. This is why I've always recommended using cheap books and online resources to learn investing/trading because it keeps the cost of learning the investment craft low. The most important factor to success in investing/trading is size of capital. So, always try to keep your cost low to build up your capital.

I'm aware that not everyone learns well through books. There may be some people who learn better in a classroom, interactive environment compared to books. For young people (NOT retirees) who are hungry to learn but find books and websites/forums are not the channels for them, then perhaps paying up for these courses may be more effective. These are the right customers for the courses, not retirees!

When retirees' finances are badly injured, the financial contagion spreads to their children who are the sandwiched generation.

Multi-level marketing
A friend tried to recruit me into MLM. I was not interested. Perhaps I will talk about it in a later post.

October 2021 electricity bill for Singaporeans on Wholesale plan may be 4 times more than previous month. Keep things in perspective.

EDIT: For people on wholesale plan, you can switch back to SP Regulated tariff price at SP online portal any time you like, with about 1 wee...