Starting young, starting early: 3 stories of smart investing

Starting young, starting early: 3 stories of smart investing

Onerous school assignments, the pressure to keep up an active social life, Facebook and YouTube.

These are just some of the demands on a young person's time, so you would think the last thing on a youngster's mind would be the serious world of investing.

Investment for many takes the form of spending time on school books so as to excel in studies and command a higher salary later.

So it is a pleasant surprise to find three young people who are passionate enough about investing to find time for this pursuit amid their hectic student lives.

Not only do they relish the thrill of trying to outsmart the market, but also they may reap plenty of financial benefits. GYC Financial Advisory notes that starting to invest early makes it easier for young people to save for the long term.

For example, a 20-year-old would need to save just $158 a month till he is 60 years old to have $1 million by then, assuming a compound annual rate of return of 10 per cent.

On the other hand, a 40-year-old would need to set aside $1,317 a month to hit $1 million at age 60.

The total amount of money invested in the first case is just $76,000, while in the second case, it is $316,000, GYC highlights in a report titled "Are youths ready for financial independence?"

Retirement may be far away for these young people but they are getting in early to acquire the knowledge - and build the capital - to secure a financially stable one.

The Sunday Times speaks to three young people on how they manage their portfolios.

Finance undergrad has yet to post a loss

Since he started investing in Singapore stocks last year, Mr Ernest Ong, 23, has not recorded a loss yet.

In fact, the return on his portfolio is a hefty 18 per cent. Its size is below $20,000.

He considers a four-day position in Bumitama Agri his best investment. He bought the stock in mid-March after learning that the El Nino phenomenon would drive palm oil prices up this year.

Within four days, the counter surged from about 81.5 cents to close to 95 cents. His returns were about $675 - about 13 per cent.

Another top bet was Silverlake Axis, which he bought after its share price dived when an analyst accused it of dishonest accounting practices. The second-year finance and accounting student still thought that consequences wouldn't be disastrous even if some of the claims were true. Moreover, the firm had a strong balance sheet.

He bought the counter in August and sold it in November, making a 23 per cent return.

He got interested in investing as a young boy while watching his mother call brokers or manage her portfolio online.

While in the army, he traded equities and options on United States bourses. He stopped briefly after that to focus on other pursuits.

Being involved in the EYE Investment Club at the Singapore Management University and having a mentor encouraged him to return to investing last year, this time on the Singapore Exchange.

He was the leader of a team that placed first in the NUS-SGX Stock Pitch Challenge held in March.

Q What's in your portfolio?

A It consists of three stocks: SIA Engineering, which takes up 40 per cent; Global Logistic Properties, which makes up 40 per cent; and Silverlake Axis, which takes up 20 per cent.

Q What is your investing strategy?

A I first identify industries which have a positive outlook or in recovery by looking at research outlets, databases and news. For instance, I know that in 2016, the airline industry is in a recovery phase. It follows its own business cycle and has been underperforming in the past few years. Low oil prices will also support the industry as oil prices make up a quite a big proportion of airline company costs.

I also use basic technical analysis tools like support and resistance lines and trend lines to judge if it is a good time to buy.

Q What are your immediate investment plans?

A I intend to start investing in corporate bonds and derivatives like options and futures next year. Right now, I'm learning about how they work. How much I invest would depend on the outlook then.

The purpose is to diversify my portfolio.

Q What is your worst investment?

A I invested around $5,000 in Silverlake Axis shares in December last year after selling my first batch of Silverlake shares. I picked up the counter when it fell back to 64 cents from 72 cents. I was still optimistic on the stock, so when the price went down, I quickly reinvested...

The share price fell below 60 cents and I refused to liquidate the position, causing a lot of capital to be locked up in the stock.

Fortunately, the price rallied back... and I sold it.

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