Aiming to be financially free

Aiming to be financially free

When most of his peers were studying or clubbing in secondary school, he was poring over investment-related books and saving up money.

The month he turned 18, he opened a brokerage account to invest his savings.

Now 25, Mr Glen Ho, an independent financial adviser, has a collection of six to 10 US stocks worth a low five-figure sum in his portfolio.

Says Mr Ho: "My mum is financially free now. She aimed to be financially free by 45 and she did it at 50.

"She's an example that becoming financially free is not a dream."

Mr Ho started reading up on investments and finance when he was about 15.

As one needs to be 18 to open a brokerage account, he chose to educate himself first while building up his capital.

Mr Ho, whose parents divorced when he was six, grew up in a frugal environment.

He worked part-time as an administrative clerk for $5 an hour on Saturdays or after school during peak periods, saving up to 80 per cent of his pay.

He skipped clubbing and changed his mobile phone only every two years, when the contract was up.

He walked or took public transport and kept his taxi rides to fewer than five a year.


By 18, Mr Ho had managed to save up about $5,000, which he used to start his investment journey.

But despite the knowledge gleaned from books, Mr Ho still bought stocks based on hearsay.

"One of my relatives said a stock would be bought over, so I bought a bit," says Mr Ho, who spent $500 to buy the penny stock.

He says: "It became stagnant for six to nine months. I sold it without making any money.

"I received dividends from the stock but the stock price dropped. In the end, it kind of broke even."

Mr Ho, who was then studying for a business administration degree, began attending courses in trading.

He says: "I was so excited and active. Every week, I would buy and sell something."

He did that for about a year, but felt that it was not something he wanted.

His gains were usually cancelled out by his losses.

Mr Ho says: "I was so active in the stock market, yet the return was not as expected (for the time spent).

"I could be making 15 per cent and losing 8 per cent within a week. It wasn't consistent. I felt that trading was not for me."

Mr Ho then turned to value investing, where he analyses businesses and invests in them.

He even refers to himself as a "business collector".

He says: "I feel that this is my style. This method has been proven for over 90 years by Mr Warren Buffett and his guru, Mr Benjamin Graham."

Mr Graham is dubbed the father of value investing.

Now, Mr Ho monitors his stocks portfolio monthly to quarterly - a more passive approach compared to his previous foray.

He also saves up to 50 per cent of his salary from his current full-time job to grow his stocks portfolio.

He says: "I aim to be financially free by 45 too, just like my mum."

To learn more about investing, sieve through suitable courses at

This article was first published on February 28, 2016.
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