She makes dough during disasters

Investor Goh Qian Ying (above), inspired by US investment guru Warren Buffett, still keeps the first stock she bought Dealers are often depicted as male adrenaline junkies in movies.

While this may be an exaggeration, the industry is a male-dominated one.

And Ms Goh Qian Ying, 32, is a rarity. She is an associate director of securities sales and trading with OCBC Securities.

"The stock market is so dynamic, and major global events are felt almost instantaneously in the market's movements, so on a day-to-day basis, being a dealer can be exhilarating," she says.

Nine years ago, Ms Goh made her first trade as a novice. It was 2007 and just before the global financial crisis.

We speak to her to learn about her investment journey.

How did you get started?

I made my very first stock trade almost 10 years ago, at the age of 23.

It was in 2007, when the Singapore stock market was in the middle of a roaring bull run. The market was in euphoria.

Many of my peers were buying stocks, and it seemed like everyone was making money. It just seemed like the natural thing to do.

What was your first purchase?

The first counter I bought was a highly traded penny stock, which I ploughed $300 into.

I remember being gripped with a feeling of great uncertainty as I made the transaction.

My dealer at the brokerage at the time did not even teach me how to settle my trade, and it wasn't until payment was overdue that I learnt how to pay through an automated teller machine.

It is now worth a fraction of what I paid for it, but I am still holding on to the stock as a reminder of my mistakes from the past.

Who or what has inspired you as an investor?

(US billionaire investor) Warren Buffett has a great saying: "Be greedy when others are fearful."

Some of my best picks have come during times of crisis, such as the Euro-Greece debt crisis, Japan's 2011 earthquake, last year's Chinese stock market turbulence and most recently, Brexit.

For instance, I bought into several counters and ETFs (exchange-traded funds) at deep discounts in the immediate aftermath of Brexit and during the sharp correction early this year, and those counters have already seen double-digit per cent gains in share price.

What lessons have you learnt?

When investing for the long term, you can look into buying on dips during times of weak market sentiment if you are targeting fundamentally sound companies.

Some of the most valuable lessons I have learnt have been through making mistakes.

One of the worst things you can do is to buy a stock without doing your homework on the company.

For instance, I bought a blue-chip stock in 2010, thinking I could not go wrong because the company was a household name. I did not bother to read up on the company's fundamentals and industry conditions.

I eventually sold the shares at a 60 per cent loss.

Tips for investors

Ms Goh Qian Ying says today's markets are made up of shorter cycles of bull and bear runs, with extreme market volatility.

"Where stock market cycles could last for five to seven years in the past, the market can now turn bullish or bearish with any central bank announcement or economic data point.

"This is the new norm. First-time investors must learn to invest in a volatile market," she adds.

So before getting into this difficult but rewarding market climate, investors need to understand their investment objective, risk appetite and desired rate of return.

Ms Goh says: "If you are looking for 4 per cent return per annum, you can target dividend or yield plays like Reits (real estate investment trusts).

"If you are looking at a higher return than that, you will have to target stocks in high-growth industries, but of course, the risk is also proportionally greater for a capital loss on these investments."


Investors also need to learn to stomach losses.

She adds: "One of the best quotes that I like to share with my clients is by Peter Lynch, a world-renowned investor, 'There's no shame in losing money on a stock. Everybody does it. What is shameful is to hold on to a stock, or worse, to buy more of it when the fundamentals are deteriorating.'"

Her advice is to get a good dealer and if investors cannot comb through every company's financials, read research reports.

She says: "I myself rely heavily on OCBC Investment Research's daily reports in analysing different stocks and sectors. It gives me added confidence knowing that it was recognised as Singapore's top equities research house this year."

This article was first published on September 18, 2016, 2016.
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