Oh, to be young and successful

PHOTO: Oh, to be young and successful

Stories of the way young Singaporeans built up their wealth from an early age inspired Ms Yvonne Chua, 20, to do the same.

The business undergraduate at the National University of Singapore (NUS) said news columns such as The Sunday Times' Me & My Money had left a deep impression on her.

"I was inspired by their stories and wanted to attain similar financial success, and the idea of having a passive income in your later or golden years was also attractive."

But her quest to gain financial independence didn't come easy as her parents are risk-averse and conservative on money matters after struggling for years on a low income.

"They'd advise me against investing in paperless products, but I hope that with my track record over the years, I can help them invest their savings too," says the youngest of three daughters.

In the last two years, she has interned at several wealth, family and asset management firms.

Her most recent stint was at DBS Vickers Securities in New York City.

"I found out about the opportunity to intern at the institutional brokerage through the help of NUS' International Relations Office," she recalls.

Ms Chua holds the position of fundamental analysis research director at the NUS Students' Investment Society.

Her peers in the student-run club have helped shape her investment strategy in equities - which is to focus on growth stocks in Asia and the United States.

"Growth drivers include geographical expansion plans and new product releases," she explains.

"My preference now is in stocks in the energy, information technology and what we call consumer-discretionary sectors, which include hotels and leisure, retailing and automobiles."

In her personal portfolio, Ms Chua holds more than 10 positions.

Growth stocks that she has put her money in include Tencent Holdings, the owner and operator of QQ and WeChat.

Ms Chua said she feels the company is well positioned to tap the global explosion in Internet usage.

Another company is Biostime International, which offers paediatric nutrition and baby care products.

She also has a stake in Universal Display, which focuses on organic light-emitting diode technology.

Q: Are you a spender or a saver?

Definitely a saver. I never indulge in spending sprees and am conscious of why I make my purchases.

Some items I'm more prepared to spend on are books, financial literature and gadgets as well as organisers.

I try to save about 30 per cent of my pocket money and earnings from giving part-time tuition. Most of my expenses are food and transport.

Q: What's your ambition?

To be a hedge fund manager so that I will be able to make my own calls and investment decisions in the future.

Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?

At 18, I bought my first investment-linked policy.

It is a limited premium life insurance plan with a component that allows my policy to participate in an investment fund.

I opened a Poems account with Phillip Securities last year that allows me to trade.

Separately, I also have a joint Saxo account with my boyfriend, which we use to invest in global stocks and diversify our portfolio.

Q: What were your growing up years like?

I come from a low-income family where scrimping and saving are the norm.

My dad works at a food-packaging factory line, while my mum is now a homemaker. About 10 years ago, she took on ad-hoc jobs as a seamstress to supplement the family income.

I'm always grateful and impressed at how my parents raised three daughters on a monthly salary of $2,000 to $3,000.

That environment taught me the importance of money and saving at an early age, and I've kept a lookout for valuable opportunities to earn extra cash or grow my wealth.

Q: How did you get interested in investing?

I was impressed by articles in the newspapers of young traders and investors who succeeded in growing their wealth, especially when they started from a young age.

My number-crunching skills and curiosity in investments have also helped make analysing financial markets easier and more interesting.

After I turned 18, I started looking for possible avenues which would allow me to trade.

Q: What lessons do you hope to share with other young investors?

Follow macroeconomic news and look out for changes in government policies.

Many retail investors tend to neglect macro factors due to jargon, which may make financial news difficult to understand.

But these big-picture changes can have significant effects on a stock.

It also allows you to identify investment opportunities if your analysis is quick and accurate.

Q: What's the most extravagant thing you have bought?

An iPad2 with a multi-SIM plan at slightly over $800 in January last year.

It's been very useful for an avid reader like me.

Q: What's your retirement plan?

I'm passionate about investing and see myself taking up a career related to it, so I don't see the need to retire early.

But I hope that my investments can yield enough passive income by the time I'm 50. That will allow me to focus more on other areas such as family.

Q: Home is now...

A 1,023 sq ft, four-room HDB flat in Clementi, where I live with my parents and sister.


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