Money Muse: Always invest in and pay yourself first, says young dad

Royston Tan from New Academy of Finance with his youngest son.
PHOTO: New Academy of Finance

Money Muse is AsiaOne's maiden series of profile interviews with financial and investment bloggers where we learn more about what they do, how they started writing, their motivations as well as lessons gleaned through their writing journey. 

I've known Royston from New Academy of Finance since our analyst days, when he was at Daiwa Securities and I was at Maybank Kim Eng. Back then, I always looked up to him as a seasoned analyst with great insights in his universe of stock coverage.

I knew for certain back then, when he left the industry, that the sell-side research space had lost a great talent. 

These days, Royston has taken to blogging on investments, free from the bureaucracy and red tape that plague brokerages. With this, Royston is able to dive deep into a broad range of topics that he holds dear, including savings, passive income, investments, retirement planning and more. 

Importantly, being a father of two young boys, Royston has been able to relate to concerns of many young and working adults.  


WHAT MADE YOU START INVESTMENT BLOGGING AFTER LEAVING YOUR ANALYST ROLE? 

Royston (R): Having been a sell-side/buy-side analyst for more than 10 years, I have a deep passion in the field of investing and personal finance.

My love for personal finance was ignited when I chanced upon Mr. Money Moustache's (or MMM for short) blog five years ago and since then, I have been hooked on reading personal-finance articles with the ultimate goal of achieving early retirement.

Investing is a critical component in achieving that goal and I hope to use the blog as a means to document the various thought processes that go through my mind when it comes to combining the essence of both investment and good personal-finance habits.

Ultimately, this also serves as my legacy for my kids when they grow older.

Royston with his oldest son on holiday.  PHOTO: New Academy of Finance

COMING FROM AN ANALYST BACKGROUND, HOW DO YOU SIMPLIFY YOUR CONTENT SO THAT MORE PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND AND APPRECIATE YOUR PERSPECTIVE? 

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I believe readers of my posts are those who are keen to increase their investing knowledge as well as learn new tips to strengthen their personal-finance skills. Those are the readers with whom I truly wish to share my knowledge.

I try to avoid using too much financial jargon in my writing and instead hope to simplify the content in an easily digestible format. There are times, however, when I tend to go deep into the maths behind certain interesting issues. Readers who like a deep dive into such content might also find my articles of interest.  

BOTH RESEARCHING AND WRITING CAN TAKE A LOT OF TIME AND EFFORT, HOW DO YOU DO IT?

Currently, I am doing it full-time and thus spend most of my time blogging. 

Ultimately, what keeps me going is the fact or wish that I am doing something that is benefitting the society by playing a small part in terms of improving the financial well-being of the masses.    

COULD YOU SHARE A STORY WHICH GREATLY MOTIVATED YOU ON YOUR BLOGGING JOURNEY?

I have got a friend who recently confided in me that he is heavily in debt as a result of over-leveraging and "consuming" more than he can reasonably afford.

He is afraid of losing his job as he is the sole breadwinner with two kids to support as that will imply further financial hardship. He is afraid of going for his health check-up despite worries of potential heart issues (frequent heart palpitations) as he is not covered by insurance.

While it is sad to hear such stories, they can often be avoided with proper financial planning, especially among millennials, many of whom are not well-equipped with proper financial knowledge.

That is why I hope that my blog can be a source of knowledge for those ready to take control of their finances. That is one of my motivational sources.   

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST INVESTMENT HURDLE YOU ENCOUNTERED AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?  

While I am not financial "rich" in a global context, I am lucky that I have not faced any financial hardship from young. The biggest financial issue I faced was when I first got started in investing, right out of school. The year was 2007.

I panicked and lost 50 per cent of my capital instead of investing prudently with a long-term mindset.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU COULD DRAW FROM IT?  

I have no regrets investing at the peak of the Global Financial Crisis and consequently my investment losses of more than half of my capital which is pretty substantial for someone coming right out of school. That was a valuable lesson for me.

The biggest takeaway was that one should not speculate but always invest with a long-term view in mind. The market, with a long-enough horizon, always goes up.  

COULD YOU NAME A PERSON FROM THE FINANCIAL SPACE WHO YOU ADMIRE THE MOST?

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I believe Mr. Money Moustache is someone that has revolutionised the modern personal-finance space and is the key reason why so many people are much more "financially free" by engaging a prudent lifestyle.

He is someone that most can relate to, a normal man in the street, who happens to be a divorcee (he is human after all). One can really be inspired by all his writings.

IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU CAN TELL YOUR AUDIENCE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Start investing early (a small capital does not matter) and let the magic of compounding work in your favour.


The New Academy of Finance will be part of an increasing and growing stable of bloggers whose writings we will feature in our money column. Look out for their stories!

simeonang@asiaone.com