Invest in your job

Invest in your job

SINGAPORE - Italy's economy is close to being in intensive care, and many young people there are struggling to find work.

Yet Italian boy wonder Matteo Manassero, all of 19 years of age, has just pocketed US$1 million (S$1.2 million) after playing a couple of days of golf, by winning the recently concluded 2012 Barclays Singapore Open.

As a wage earner myself, I can only look at such a feat with admiration and a tinge of envy. It will take a miracle for such a windfall to come my way.

Instead, as the end of 2012 beckons, it is more realistic to tot up gains and losses and to review my investment portfolio to see if a better strategy can improve my returns.

With Singapore at almost full employment, most wage earners are likely to have some spare cash come the end of the year, and will be looking to see where it can be invested.

But with the looming fiscal cliff in the United States, the slowdown in China, the ongoing European debt crisis and political tensions in the Middle East among other worries, any move feels fraught with uncertainty.

How will shares fare? Will the property market take that 20 per cent or 30 per cent correction that some analysts have predicted?

Over the next couple of months, the Money Desk and other experts will be giving our take on what you can do to safeguard and even grow that little nest egg.

But as we focus on investing, it is timely to take a step back and remember to continue to invest in one's job.

Yes, I'm referring to the job on which we already spend the bulk of our time every day.

But although we are physically in the office, many a time, we spend the time looking forward to weekends, when we can pursue our hobbies and meet friends.

We surf the Internet and get distracted by get-rich schemes that promise instant returns with little work or effort, and with little risk either.

These are far more alluring than the usual ho-hum drudgery of work life, with its regular deadlines and targets.

For wage earners, the primary source of income is from employment.

The savings from the job or that precious bonus form the building blocks for one's investment portfolio or for the downpayment on one's first property.

Don't forget how important the monthly pay cheque is in giving peace of mind to meet the next mortgage payment.

While being an entrepreneur can be exhilarating, cash inflows can be fickle.

With the volatility in the market, a stock portfolio can be in the red one day and in the black the next.

One needs a strong stomach to cope with the daily or weekly gyrations in one's investment portfolio.

Financial experts will always counsel investors to spend time managing one's financial investments and to understand the product being bought.

That's why it makes sense to devote time and effort to managing it well. Even as there is full employment now, the economy may hit a rough patch, and some workers may have to be let go.

Therefore, boring as it may sound, it is important to invest time in upgrading one's skills, considering retraining and keeping oneself relevant in the job market.

Why not bite the bullet and take some time off to pursue further studies? That said, the issue of finding the right career path can be as tricky as finding the right stock to invest in.

Should one opt for a smooth progression up the corporate ladder in a multinational corporation that offers many learning opportunities, or choose a fast-growing small or medium-sized enterprise where one can quickly ascend to the top?

Should one even be retrained as a plumber? After all, in developed countries, these skilled workers are paid as much as office workers.

These are not easy questions to answer, but what is important to remember is that investing in one's job can be as important as managing one's portfolio.

One's job may often yield larger dividends in the long run than dabbling in the stock market or buying property, where all it takes is a bad decision to wipe out much of one's precious capital.

For next year, the mantra still has to be the time-honoured "work harder and work smarter".

Supplement that with savings, and that should stand anyone in good stead in these times of volatility.

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