Category: SG Budget Babe

Is it Worth Joining A Co-Operative?

In a previous post, I wrote about what credit co-operatives (co-ops) do and the important role they play in society. I’ve also received some questions from readers as to whether it is worth joining a co-operative in Singapore, especially if they qualify for one.

After looking through all the benefits, I’m convinced that being a member of a co-op has its benefits and privileges.

Just to name a few of these benefits:

·      Gaining access to a wide range of affordable products and services

·  Financial solutions at reasonable interest rates (no need to resort to unlicensed moneylenders, please!)

·      Educational scholarships and bursaries awards

·      Hospitalisation benefits

·      Loyalty membership benefits

Today, there are 66 co-ops affiliated to the Singapore National Co-operative Federation that one can choose from.

Among these, there are credit co-ops that serve members working in the civil service, with the Singapore Government Staff Credit Co-operative (SGSCC) as one such co-op. Having registered in 1925, SGSCC is also Singapore’s first co-op.

Civil Servants: Member Benefits

Open to all staff who are employed in the civil service, statutory boards and government-linked companies, SGSSC provides the resources to help its members build a better future.

According to SGSSC’s website, there are three saving options for members:

·      Subscription Saving

·      Specific Deposit Saving

·      Fixed / Time Deposits

Working in a similar fashion as the Singapore Savings Bonds (SSBs, which fans will know I’m a huge advocate of), SGSCC’s saving schemes offer competitive  interest rates, while granting you the flexibility to withdraw your savings in times of need.

Moreover, all co-ops including SGSCC are regulated by The Registry of Co-Operative Societies of Singapore (under the purview of the Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth), and are required to have their accounts regularly audited. SGSCC’s long track record and history attest to their sustainability.

For more information on how co-ops are governed and regulated in Singapore, you can head over to MCCY’s website here to read more.

For all Singaporeans and Permanent Residents

The only credit co-op that has almost no restrictions (other than you needing to be a Singaporean or Permanent Resident) for joining as a member would be the TCC Credit Co-operative.

Apart from providing access to affordable financial solutions, TCC also allocates some of its surpluses to assist members in times of need through its Common Good Fund like hospitalisation grant, marriage grant and educational scholarships and bursaries awards. TCC also distributes dividends to its eligible members every year.

TCC members can even enjoy exclusive health screening packages at preferential rates at Thomson Medical. And should members get hospitalised, they can put in a claim for a hospitalisation grant of $30 per day (just like how the payouts on your insurance work, except that you don’t have to pay any insurance premiums for this one).

It’s also fuss-free to open a Savings Account as there are no administrative or membership fees involved. Their Subscription Savings Account, for instance, usually pays out 3% – 5% in dividends annually, which can be higher than other high-yield bank accounts which I’ve reviewed before on this blog!

Education Loan Options

TCC also provides its members with access to education loans at a flat interest rate of 2.2% per annum (p.a). Compare this to the likes of OCBC’s Frank Education Loan, which charges 4.5% p.a. (or effectively 5.17% per year if you pay it off within 2 years).

For Union Members

AUPE Credit Co-Operative Limitedis open to all union members. Members can also enjoy the provision of financial solutions, such as loans from as little as 4%* including medical loans for medical expenses or treatment costs, renovation loans (under $30k) to tide over getting your new home in order, and even study loans or grants for your children. In addition, should any member be hospitalised, you will also get a hospital benefit of $20 per day without the need to purchase any extra hospitalisation insurance.

Alternative Financial Solutions

I’ve mentioned previously that if you are seeking financial solutions, other than financial institutions, there are alternatives and one of them is credit co-ops. Credit co-ops are less profit driven than most commercial enterprises, and have a social mission, thus they are more willing to go the extra mile for their members.

Financial solutions dispensed by credit co-ops generally have a more flexible repayment period (up to 48 months) to help members manage their cash flow without feeling as though they’re being driven up the wall just to repay the loan.

Whether you need a short-term financial solution because you’ve unexpected medical expenses to pay off, or for your children’s educational needs, you may look at different forms of financial assistance including credit co-ops. If you’re unable to repay on time, you can also be rest assured that credit co-ops will do their best to help come up with a reasonable debt repayment schedule that meets your needs.

Where, then, does the money or interests earned by credit co-ops go to?


Well, surpluses earned by the credit co-ops are channelled back to its members in the form of benefits such as annual dividends (members of SGSCC received 3% dividend in their subscription capital in previous years), hospital benefits, or even educational awards and bursaries to members or their children.

Man, I wish my dad had joined SGSCC back then, so we could tap on their education bursaries with my good grades to help me tide through school! Unfortunately, he and none of us in the family knew about SGSCC, but now YOU do!

What Types of Co-ops Are There?

There are plenty of co-ops available in Singapore, but they generally fall under these categories:

1.    Campus co-ops

Formed in educational institutions, campus co-ops offer students and staff the platform and opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial skills. Examples include The Co-operative Society of Nanyang Technological University Ltd (NTU@COOP), Ngee Ann Polytechnic Consumer Co-operative Society Ltd and Temasek Polytechnic Co-operative Society Ltd.

2. Credit co-ops

Also known as Thrift & Loan societies, credit co-ops play an important role in improving the economic and social statuses of their members through no-frills saving schemes that encourage thrift.

3. NTUC co-ops

With over 10,000 employees employed, NTUC co-ops like NTUC FairPrice Co-operative and NTUC Income Co-operative provide a wide range of affordable products and services to not only members but to the general Singapore society.

4. Service co-ops

Varying from aged care to employment services, these co-ops provide a wide range of services to their members. Under the healthcare and social support, the Silver Caregivers Co-operative and Runninghour Co-operative are great ones to check out.

To learn more about co-ops,  head over to SNCF’s website! And most importantly, if you qualify for any of the co-ops, you might just want to consider whether it’ll benefit you to join, especially given all the solutions and benefits that they offer.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written for the Singapore National Co-operative Federation to promote greater awareness of co-operatives in Singapore in conjunction with the World Credit Union Conference which is being held in Singapore for the first time. All opinions are that of my own.

10 Days in London – Itinerary and Expenses

So we headed to London for our babymoon to spend some time together before our little one arrives, and here’s our itinerary.



It wasn’t particularly “budget” this time, because it is quite hard to be fully on a budget when you’re pregnant and in an expensive city like London (at time of writing and travelling, the exchange rate was 1.8x of ours), although we did opt for a budget flight and stayed in an Airbnb room to save on costs. Nonetheless, quite a few of you have requested for my itinerary and expenses, so here’s what went on while we were in London!

Overall spending breakdown (in SGD) per person:

Flights $891.00
Accommodation $1,000
Attractions $138
Tours $301
Musicals (3) $246
Travel Insurance $39.20
Transport $154.50
F&B $340
Shopping $235
TOTAL  $3,344.70





Flight tickets
We took a 14-hour flight on Norwegian Air, which I’ve previously shared as a budget carrier where you can get a return ticket to London for $400 if you’re lucky enough to be travelling during off-peak period.


I believe our travel dates coincided with the summer school holidays, so our tickets were twice the price of what I had expected, and we ended up paying $891 per person which included 2 meals, 20kg of check-in luggage, and taxes.

We travelled economy, where the seats were fairly comfortable and we had enough legroom, despite not having paid extra for exit row seats. Toilets were also clean and sanitary. However, the service and food was sorely lacking – the meals we had were extremely small in portion sizes, didn’t taste fantastic at all (I’m not fussy and rarely dislike airline food, so this was a first for me), and they were also extremely stingy with water. When we asked for water, our request was declined and we were asked to purchase bottled water from the snack bar instead. And nope, I didn’t get extra water even though I was pregnant, so I wonder if the crew knows how thirsty pregnant mothers can get sometimes because we really need liquids for our amniotic fluid.


If you’re travelling with Norwegian Air in the future, I highly recommend that you purchase snacks and drinks at the airport before boarding. For our flight from Singapore, we filled up a 500ml bottle and it was barely enough for the both of us (we got a total of 4 cups from the crew throughout the entire flight, which was terrible for me particularly because I was extremely thirsty, being pregnant and all). 

Accommodation
Hotels were extremely expensive in London, and hostels weren’t any better because we needed a private room for the both of us and the prices were almost comparable to that of a budget hotel.

As such, we turned to Airbnb after our friend who lives in London recommended it, and the price was almost half of what we would have had to pay for a 3-star hotel.

To save on transport costs, we looked for accommodation within Zone 1 and Zone 2 in London, as there’s a maximum cap on the Oyster travel card if you travel within these two zones (more on this under Transport).



Transport & Wi-Fi
Norwegian Air takes you to Gatwick Airport instead of Heathrow, so to get to central London, you need to take the train. You can choose from either the Gatwick Express (£22) or the normal Southern train, which is so much cheaper (cost varies depending on your location) and almost equally as fast. If you don’t mind a slower but cheaper journey, you can also take the Piccadilly Line for (£3.10) which is all but 15 minutes longer compared to the Gatwick Express. 


Navigation was settled through a mobile app, Citymapper, which our local friends told us to download. This was the best transport app for London as it is even updated with bus route changes and train delays (and there are PLENTY in London).

As mentioned earlier, there’s a daily travel cap of £7 on your Oyster card if you’re travelling between Zone 1 and 2, which is why we decided to stay in Zone 2 for our accommodation. However, the buses are generally cheaper at just £1.50 flat if you change within the hour, so if you’re able to plan out your route entirely via buses, I would highly encourage that you do so (the bus routes are extensive in London so it shouldn’t be a problem at all, and travel times are comparable to that of the tube). Otherwise, the tube is the next most affordable (£2.90) whereas the train costs the most (£3.40). We made the mistake of relying 100% on CityMapper for our trips and took lots of train-bus or tube-bus journeys, which cost us quite a hefty sum totalled up and we easily hit the £7 Oyster cap every single day until we realised otherwise! On the second-last day (when we were wiser about the buses), our Oyster card expenses only came to £3. Dang.

Now, also note that unlike Singapore, the trains and tubes are entirely different and have different fares for each! We made the mistake of going to Platform 3 for the train when Citymapper actually meant Platform 3 for the tube, and this mistake cost us a hefty £2.40 just to tap out of the train station and into the tube station, which was just a level downstairs, by the way. Don’t be like us!

For local calls and Wi-Fi, we signed up with EE at the airport which gave us 10.5 GB and 100 minutes of calls, valid for 30 days, for just (£20). There were a few other telco providers, but this was the best value-for-money option we found.

Attractions / Musicals
I did some rough calculations before we flew off and realised that entrance tickets to many of London’s attractions were quite pricey, and the best way to save was to get a London Pass, which gave us access to plenty of attractions and cruises to choose from.

As we were there for 8 days (10 days if you include the 2 days we spent flying), I opted for the 6-day London Pass, which I later regretted because there were so many out-of-town options and free museums to go to at hardly any extra cost! We ended up only using 4 days on our card due to our other trips and musicals, which was a slight waste of money. 

I therefore recommend that anyone visiting London to get the 3-day London Pass instead, which should be sufficient to visit most of the key places! Here’s what we did:

Day 1
Big Bus Tour £34
City Cruises  £18.50
Day 2
Tower of London £24.80
Tower Bridge Exhibition £9.80
HMS Belfast £15.45
Namco Funscape £3
View from the Shard £30.95
Day 3
Churchill War Rooms £21
Westminster Abbey £22
Kensington Palace £17
Day 4
Kew Gardens £15
TOTAL
TICKETS COST £211.50
LONDON PASS £130.90
TOTAL SAVINGS £80.60


If you can, try to take one of the open-top bus tours on the first day of your pass so you get familiarised with the city, which will make it easier for you to navigate during the rest of your trip. We chose Big Bus Tours instead of Golden Tours as we preferred the route there, and took both the blue and red route.



The other attractions I would love to have visited on the London Pass (but which we did not have time for) are:
– Shakespeare Globe Theatre (while you’re there, buy a £5 ticket for a live Shakespeare play in the yard!)
– St. Paul Cathedral
– Winsor Castle
– Chislehurst Caves
– Winbledon Tour Experience

If you’re a Potterhead like me, you’ll probably want to sign up for the Harry Potter Studio & Museum Tour as well. It is a little pricey (we paid 
£89 per person) but includes the 2-hour bus ride to and fro, as well as entrance tickets. It isn’t really worth buying any of the merchandise in the store though unless you’re keen on the wands, as we found lots of Harry Potter stuff for much cheaper in…Primark! No kidding! That’s why I bought most of my Harry Potter souvenirs and clothes in the end.


For musicals, we caught three – Aladdin, Matilda and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. If you’re looking for last-minute cheap tickets, the best way would be to queue up outside the respective theatre(s) in the morning to snag some crazy deals at £15 or so per ticket! We had a full itinerary and weren’t willing to make a trip just to queue (not as easy when you’re pregnant), so we opted for cheap last-minute tickets online via this website instead. If we had more time in London, we wanted to catch Book of Mormon and the Lion King, but I guess that will have to wait for another time.


Food and other expenses
Food in London is generally quite expensive if you’re eating out, but a cheap trick is to get them at fast food restaurants like McDonalds, KFC or Leons, or even cold meals at the grocery stores like Marks & Spencer, Co-Op, Tesco, Waitrose, etc.


If you eat one cheap (grocery / fast food) meal and one restaurant meal a day, that should help to keep your food budget lean.

Psssst, don’t underestimate the cold meals at the groceries stores – I loved the pastas, fruit smoothies and sandwiches we got from there! If you’re looking for a cheap and quick coffee fix, I also highly recommend the £1 coffees from Marks & Spencer, which we felt tasted wayyyyy better than that of Costa Coffee at just 1/3 the price.

Tap water in London is treated and drinkable, so you can also save by asking for tap water on ice at restaurants instead of purchasing a drink. 


Day trips out of central London
We did a few day trips out of London and loved them so much that I would highly recommend you to consider the same!




1. Lavender Fields at Mayfields
We used the CityMapper app and got there via public transport, although the journey was a little long at 2-hours each. Entrance tickets are cheap at just £2 to enter the lavender farm and walk around, have a picnic, take lots of photos, breathe in the scent of the lavender flowers, etc!



2. Richmond Park
Did you know that you can spot wild deers in London at this park? We didn’t know, until our local friend told us! Although the deers are always roaming around this huge 2000-acre park so some tourists have unfortunately gone and never got to see them, we went on a hot summer day and figured that the deer would be near a water source, so we entered via Roehampton Gate, turned right and walked for 10 minutes as we followed the water stream to eventually reach a lake, and that’s where we found all the deers! 

Although the signs said to stay away from the deers, we saw some locals bring them food and successfully managed to pet them. We didn’t know this tip beforehand so we had to settle for admiring them from a distance. But you didn’t hear this tip from me, because the signs say to stay 50 metres away from the wild deer! 😛



3. The City of Bath and Stonehenge
We did this through a £90 tour with Golden Tours (tip: London Pass holders get 15% off tour bookings!) and it made for a fantastic and relaxing day out. Lunch (or more like a snack box) and a bottle of water was also provided for the long ride, which was quite comfortable. I absolutely adored the City of Bath, and you can even go on a Jane Austen walking tour if time permits. Don’t forget to also grab high tea at the famous Sally Lunn eatery while you’re there! As for Stonehenge…let’s just say it is a place I would definitely visit once in a lifetime but never go back again because there’s hardly anything to see other than just…stones.


Other budget tips
Now, if you don’t intend to get a London Pass (trust me, it’s worth the tremendous savings! I’m usually skeptical of tourist passes like these but I’m convinced about the London Pass, having done my calculations and experienced it for myself), there are still other ways to enjoy London without having to fork out too much for attractions. Here are some tips:

Instead of The Shard, book a slot at the Sky Garden here to get a fantastic view of London, for free!
– Go on free walking tours such as this or this (best to tip after you’re done though)
– Visit the museums and galleries, almost all of which are free! We loved the Natural History Museum most of all.
– Visit other free tourist landmarks like Borough Market, Leadenhall, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, Camden Market, etc.
– Walk around London’s fabulous city parks like Hyde Park or Green Park


I hope all the above budget tips and itineraries help you to plan your own vacation to London! 

P.S. Just don’t ask me where we stayed in London as we need to protect our host’s identity. Thanks! All other questions are welcomed. 
With love,

Budget Babe

Saving Money and Getting Loans from Credit Co-operatives (Are they better than banks?)

What is a credit co-operative? Unless you’re in one, most Singaporeans do not know of them nor the important role they play in society. More importantly, you may not be aware that there are plenty of benefits you can get from being a member of a credit co-op.

Co-ops are basically regulated social enterprises. They are organised on a voluntary basis, democratically controlled and member-owned, to achieve the common social or economic aim that benefits their members and/or society at large. In fact, co-ops are founded on values of self-help, mutual assistance, equality, care for community and co-operation. 

As its name suggests, credit co-ops provide financial services to their members, and as I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of benefits you can get from being a member of a credit co-op – including savings with attractive interest rates, access to loans at competitive interest rates, and more. They help you grow your savings/nest egg for the future and/or if you need to take loans, you won’t be saddled with a huge debt.

You might not be familiar with the term credit co-op, but surely you’ve seen some of these brands before! Take a look:

Some co-ops are profession-based in the sense that only individuals belonging to certain professions can join as members. For instance, if you are a teaching staff or full-time employee of a school, you can join the Singapore Teachers’ Co-Operative Society Ltd. Whilst staff from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, Certis CISCO, AETOS etc. can join the Singapore Police Co-Operative Society. So do check if your organisation has a credit co-op that you can join! For the rest of us, there are also credit co-ops that are open to public membership e.g. TCC Credit Co-Operative. There’s a really great introductory article that you can read here for more information on some other co-ops in Singapore.

How You Can Grow Your Savings with Credit Co-Ops

One good example is that of the Singapore Teachers’ Co-Operative Society Ltd, which gives an interest rate of up to 3.08% per annum on its bonus savings account upon maturity. This is relatively higher than similar products offered by financial institutions.

The Singapore Government Staff Credit Co-Operative Society Ltd is another good example. It is a co-op for public service officers looking to build financial resilience and a “nest egg” for the future. If you are employed in the Singapore Civil Service, Statutory Boards and Government-linked Companies, you are eligible to join them as a member.

Their member benefits include:

·      Maximise financial growth through savings

·      Receive FD for better returns

·      Loans at reasonable interest rates

·      Hospitalisation benefits

·      Educational awards

·      Free insurance coverage

·      Loyalty benefits

·      Funeral fund grants

·      Birthday gift

·      Provision of family membership and other privileges such as highly subsidised overseas tours and annual gala dinner

Taking a Loan with Credit Co-ops

Here on this blog, I’ve always advocated avoiding loans if you can help it (with some exceptions to the rule, such as a housing loan) and paying them off as soon as you can before you spiral down the path of bad debt.

I’ve also mentioned numerous times at my talks that credit card debt is something you should fear and be wary of. The interest rate on your credit card (if you don’t pay off in time every month) is much higher than most people think. It is easy to fall into the cycle of simply paying the minimum $50 payment each month, but many people forget that there are plenty of other rollover charges, not to mention an exorbitant interest rate. That is how credit card debts can so quickly spiral out of control! UOB and DBS charges 25.9% per annum whereas OCBC charges slightly higher interest of 25.92% on all outstanding amounts owed.

Borrowing from a moneylender, especially an unlicensed one (like loan sharks), can be even more detrimental. If you’re not careful, your debt can easily snowball into an avalanche that you may not be able to pay off even if you sold all your assets.

But what about if one REALLY is cash-strapped and needs a loan?

Well, if I ever had to recommend a loan, then I would say to go for a loan from a credit co-op instead. They are an alternate means of seeking financial assistance when you need cash, and since they’re less profit-driven than most commercial enterprises, credit co-ops tend to be more willing to go the extra mile for their members. This includes extending loans to lower-income members or even rescheduling members’ loans, and they can even work out a debt restructuring plan with you to help clear it off.

AUPE Credit Co-Operative Limited, for instance, distributes loans to its members for the purpose of:

·      Children’s educational needs

·      Medical expenses

·      House renovation

Members of co-ops can take short to medium term loans as the interest rate is relatively lower according to their websites. This is a HUGE difference if you compare to the interest charged by credit cards and moneylenders and are often even more competitive than personal loans offered by commercial banks.

So if you ever need to take a loan (although I sure hope you’ll never have to, but I understand life has a funny way of throwing us unexpected surprises sometimes), the ONLY place I’ll recommend you to go would be to a credit co-op rather than the usual credit card loans or seeking out moneylenders which many people resort to.

If this has piqued your interest, and you’re keen to learn more about the various co-operatives in Singapore, head over to SNCF’s website to find out more!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written for the Singapore National Co-operative Federation to promote greater awareness of credit co-operatives in Singapore. All opinions are that of my own.

IPO Analysis: Is Astrea IV Private Equity Class A-1 bond worth a BUY?

Astrea IV Class A-1 bonds are the talk of the town right now, and I’ve received so many DMs about this so I’m finally sitting down to evaluate and write this.


Details:
– The bond is launched by Astrea IV Pte. Ltd, which is an indirect subsidiary of Temasek 
– 4.35% interest rate offered
– IPO applications close at 12 noon on 12 June 2018
– You can apply through ATM or online banking via DBS, POSB, OCBC or UOB
Minimum subscription amount: S$2,000
– You CANNOT use your CPF or SRS funds to apply for this bond.
– Bond starts trading on SGX-ST on 18 June 2018

What are you really buying into?

Now, don’t get misled by the above headline published in The Business Times last week – this is NOT a Temasek bond. Rather, it is a bond issued by one of their subsidiaries.

This is a really new and unique asset class because they’re neither government-backed nor corporate bonds. Instead, they’re private equity bonds. This is the 4th private equity bond that is being issued by Astrea, and the first one that is being opened up to retail investors. 

These Astrea IV Class A-1 bonds (“Astrea bonds”) will then be used to invest across 36 private equity funds, which are invested into 596 underlying companies. Traditionally, I would dig up details about the investment assets, but since there’s 36 funds and almost 600 companies, that’s an almost impossible task because much information isn’t available about these private companies, and neither does anyone have that much time anyway to scour through all.

The 36 PE funds. 


If you’re unfamiliar with private equity, what they basically do is to invest in distressed or promising companies, go in with their expertise and restructure or turn the business around (usually making operational or financial improvements), with the final aim (usually) being to sell it off for a profit. As a result, the returns on such investments (when successful) can be tremendous – think 2 to 3 digit percentage figures at least. 

So in this case, when you buy these Astrea bonds, you’re pooling your cash which will then be used to invest into these funds and underlying companies. The profits will then be used to pay the interest on your bond (4.35%) and finally return you your capital after 5 years.

Given the sheer number of funds and underlying companies, coupled with the fact that the exposure to a single partner / company / sector is quite low (even Blackstone Capital Partners, which is the largest, is merely 10.6% of NAV), the risk here is quite minimal even if one or some fold.

(There’s a step-up interest portion in these Astrea IV bonds if they’re not reclaimed after 5 years i.e. on 14 June 2023, but I’m not going to go into that because I’ve no intention to hold it for any longer than that, due largely to opportunity cost. There may be a bonus payment of up to 0.5% at redemption if performance condition is met.

For those of you who are keen on a longer-time holding period, there will be a 1% per year interest step-up rate if the bond is not yet redeemed after 2023.)

Who’s behind the bond?

Okay, so now that you know this is NOT a Temasek bond…then who exactly is behind it? That’s Azalea Investment Management, which was set up in 2016 and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Azalea Asset Management, which is then owned by Temasek Holdings.

Although they’re relatively new as an entity, Azalea’s management team apparently has extensive experience and institutional knowledge in the private equity space. The senior management team comprises of PE veterans and is led by Ms. Margaret Lui-Chan, who has been with Temasek since 1985.

Temasek and its affiliates have also launched 3 Astrea investment vehicles prior to this. 
Check out this really informative Fitch report for more information.

Why is the yield so high?

That was the first question that came to my mind when I read about the bonds being launched. Compare this to the Singapore Savings Bonds which is pretty much 100% risk-free (since it is backed by the Singapore government) and yields 2.63% for this month’s issuance. Now contrast this to a riskier corporate bond such as Aspial’s bonds, which were launched for 5.25% previously.



If this is from (albeit indirectly) Temasek, the next financial juggernaut in Singapore, then why is the yield so high?! Wouldn’t it make more sense to price it at about 3+% yield, since the brand name Temasek alone would warrant some sort of a premium and perceived safety net?

According to Ho Ching, she says the main aim of this bond is largely to help retail investors in Singapore supplement their retirement income

Why is the yield so low?

You didn’t read that wrong 😛 for investors who truly understand the huge kind of returns that are seen in private equity (remember, 2 or even 3 percentage digits can be fairly common, if they spot the right gems / get lucky on the sale), why is the yield being offered to A1 bondholders here so low at just 4.35%?

This can be easily explained using high risk, high returns; low risk, low returns.

Firstly, the minimum investment amount to participate in Class A-1 bonds is just S$2,000, in contrast to Class A-2 and B (US$ 200k each).

The risks in Astrea IV Class A-1 bonds in terms of default are also significantly lower than the other bonds issued in this exercise, as Class A-1 bonds will be redeemed first in any event before A-2 or B. This means that even if Astrea faces liquidity or financial problems, A-1 bondholders will be paid first.

Since the risk undertaken by class A-2 and B bondholders are higher (they only get paid after A-1), they’re compensated with a higher yield in order to incentivise them to buy these bonds. Unfortunately, you don’t get to buy them as they’re not open to the public and have already been fully subscribed anyway.


Are my returns guaranteed?

No. You MUST understand this point.

However, the risk of default is pretty low, in my opinion, due to how this has been structured. In the event of a shortfall, Astrea IV also has a 10-year committed capital call facility with DBS which will step in to cover the payments 🙂

When can I get back my money?

You can sell the bonds anytime after 18 June 2018 on SGX, just like how you would with ordinary stocks. Otherwise, you can also choose to hold the bonds until its call date on 14 June 2023, or even longer if you want to be entitled to the step-up interest (provided the bonds aren’t fully redeemed by then).

Is there a chance that I’ll lose my money? Will Temasek save us if anything happens to Astrea?

The direct risks to bondholders which you should be aware of are:

– the bond price might fall below its issued price on the bond market
– the Manager might not be able to fulfil its interest repayments
– the Manager might not be able to reclaim the bonds and pay back the original capital sum to bondholders

Now, it is important to note that Temasek Holdings is not guaranteeing these bonds. This is even explicitly mentioned in the prospectus, that is, if you bothered to read through (all 306 pages of) it. Therefore, if the bond manager fails to repay the bonds and/or interest, there is no guarantee that Temasek will step in to save bondholders.


Are they capable of repaying the bond interest and capital? 

As with all bonds, you should always evaluate the financial health of the investment manager before you decide whether to buy or stay out. Remember, that’s the main reason why I said I was staying away from Aspial and Hyflux bonds back then?

Since Astrea’s financials are not entirely public and we can only rely on the numbers presented in their prospectus covering a limited timeframe of August 2017 – March 2018, a few figures to highlight are:
– USD 48.6 million of profits generated
– USD 342.5 million was used for their investing activities

That doesn’t really tell us much, especially when there’s no year-on-year comparison to gauge how they’ve fared. Therefore, we can only look to their Loan-to-Value below, where you’ll see that Class A-1 bonds have a LTV of 16.5%, which is relatively low, and thus the chances of default should also be quite low since only $181 million in the reserve account is needed to fully redeem Class A-1 bonds.

Sounds good, but what’s the catch?!


I’m a huge skeptic, so this deal honestly sounded too good to be true to me. But after scouring through the prospectus and various bloggers / investment houses’ take on this bond IPO, I struggle to find anything realllllly negative about it.

Initially, I thought, is this some conspiracy?! Why would Temasek issue a bond with such a high yield?! Can’t they get institutional or corporate loans for this? I bet companies would be scrambling just to subscribe! Or just get the private banks to issue it to their high-net-worth customers? Then I thought, or maybe they’re in financial trouble, that’s why they’re raising this money from us mortals? But then I realised that the total sum of S$242 million raised really doesn’t count for much, considering Astrea’s access and connections to Temasek Holdings.

My cousin attended the talk on this bond yesterday and I got her to ask them this question on my behalf. The answer by their CEO, Ms. Margaret Lui-Chan was that their vision is to open to retail investors. Lol.

So I can only say, looks like Ho Ching might be right after all, and this bond truly is being created to help retail investors? You can be the judge.

Disclaimer: I am NOT sponsored, nor do I have any connections nor payment from Temasek or Astrea or anyone, for that matter, in exchange for this post.


TLDR Summary
This is probably the longest IPO analysis I’ve ever written for a single product, so if you got bored halfway, I don’t blame you. Here’s a quick breakdown of my view towards Astrea IV Class A-1 Bonds:


Pros
– This is one of the safest bonds I’ve seen in a long time, especially given the A-rating by two reputable rating agencies (Fitch and S&P), not to mention Ho Ching putting her own personal name behind this (I assume, since she didn’t correct the BT article nor ask them to apologise / correct / take it down).
– Long track record since this is already the 4th Astrea bond being launched, with the first in 2006.
– There are some quality PE managers in the 36 funds listed above, including Blackstone and KKR. Private equity folks should recognise these names 😉
– The Sponsor owns 55% equity interest, so they do have their skin in the game and are less likely to want to see this fail.
– Their marketing is rock solid and has definitely generated the hype needed for this to become over-subscribed. Talk about FOMO!
– The first few pages of their IPO prospectus is just lovely! Kudos to whoever designed it 😀

Cons
– It is not easy to understand, and is the first of its kind for retail investors.
– It was slightly mis-marketed (in my opinion) since there was so much emphasis and hype on their connections to Temasek, leading many investors to think this is essentially a Temasek Holdings bond.

You can also watch this short (marketing) video explaining the bonds here:



So Budget Babe, are you subscribing?!

Considering the hype and 4.35% yield, I’ll be subscribing to these bonds and leave it as part of my bond portfolio (together with my CPF). After all, I’m the biggest skeptic of most corporate bonds, but this is one in recent years that actually managed to get my attention.

With their connection to Temasek, I doubt that Astrea will default on the bond interest payments, and I don’t think their bond prices will fluctuate too much on the open market either.

But please don’t follow me – do your own homework! Here’s the full 306-pages of the bond IPO prospectus as well as the Fitch report for you to read before you make your next move. Nonetheless, I’m betting this is going to be oversubscribed, and can only hope that I get some allocation from my application!

With love,
Dawn

Save money when transferring abroad – Review of TransferWise

Did you know about these hidden costs in money transfers? 
If you’ve ever transferred money abroad, you’d be familiar with how the money that’s received on the other end is usually much lesser than you thought it’ll be.
I first experienced this when I had to make USD transfers for my crypto transactions and trades last year. There were so many hidden costs, to which I mostly attribute to:

(i)            a higher exchange rate charged by the banks

(ii)          a service fee for the transfer

In some transfers, banks go through numerous third parties as well before the money reaches the other end. In such cases, each third party takes a fee as well, so your capital becomes smaller and smaller. 

Even if there’s a $0 transfer fee charged, it doesn’t necessarily mean that is the best value-for-money option…because you ought to measure it by how much you receive on the other side, and not how much you’re charged for the transfer.

So when someone told me about TransferWise and how the fintech seeks to disrupt the money transfers market, he certainly got my attention.

What really intrigued me was how TransferWise charges just under $6 to send S$1k to the UK, in contrast to the other banks, particularly Standard Chartered and HSBC, who charge S$55 – S$57 for a single overseas transaction.

$0 fees / zero commissions promotions aren’t always the cheapest

Banks that offer $0 fees / zero commission are great…but if this comes at the expense of a higher exchange rate, that’s where consumers need to be careful as well. In fact, it’ll be best that you always check.

Don’t assume that both routes are priced the same 

I was surprised to see TransferWise recommend customers who are looking to transfer GBP to EUR to use Western Union instead, based on grounds that Western Union is consistently cheaper than TransferWise on this route. 

However, when you switch the route and try sending EUR to GBP, the fees become 6 times more. Western Union now becomes the cheapest in one direction, to being the most expensive (even more than the banks) in the opposite direction. You should be asking, why are people charged more to send money than people sending in the opposite question? 


That’s why it pays to always compare, compare, compare. Or stick to a provider who’s known for (almost) always being the cheapest, but still be open to alternatives or the occasional promotions when other competitors come up with them.

My Review of TransferWise


TransferWise is a fintech company with a mission to allow customers and businesses to send money overseas at lower costs. They’re able to do this as they’ve built a global network of (their own) international accounts, which allows them to send your money in over 60 different currencies for up to 8 times cheaper than a bank. 

They’re now available in close to 60 countries, covering over 500 currency routes. Whether you’re transferring money to India, Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan…or to Europe and the U.S., you can see the whole list below:

Is TransferWise regulated? 

That was the first question I asked, haha! So yes, aside from being regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), you can also check out their respective in-country licenses and approvals here. Being regulated under the FCA also means TransferWise is subject to the same rules as banks, so you don’t have to worry about the safety of your money.

It is relatively easy to get started – simply sign up on their website and follow the instructions!


Once you’ve entered your details as well as that of your recipient (for them to send your money to), you’ll be instructed on how to make payment to their local account in your home country, and then you can simply sit back and wait for the transfer to take place!

How does TransferWise work?


Waitttttt, what’s the catch?! Surely there must be a reason why others have to pay such high fees and TransferWise doesn’t. What’s their trade secret?

It isn’t rocket science, actually. Instead of paying exchange rate markups AND transfer fees, TransferWise guarantees the mid-market rate (on Reuters) on every transfer. A simple illustration is this:
– You transfer money to TransferWise Singapore
– TransferWise Singapore transfers to TransferWise London


Since money doesn’t actually cross borders (i.e. the international transfer is a combination of two local transfers), they’re able to bypass the third-parties and middlemen, and this is simply a transfer between TransferWise’s own accounts, that’s how they can offer lower rates to consumers like you and I. 

Today, more than 3 million people around the world use TransferWise. As a result, they’re also one of the few profitable fintech startups in the scene.

You can also read more about how they do it here.

Who I think will find TransferWise useful


There are quite a few groups of people whom I think will find TransferWise a godsend in helping them cut costs of their international money transfers. 

These are:

1. Overseas exchange / studies – parents or students

If you’re a student studying overseas, you can get your parents to remit your money to you using TransferWise. Whether you’re studying in Australia, US or the UK, TransferWise has local accounts in pretty much all the major countries. Given how many Singaporean students go on overseas exchanges and need to pay for tuition, accommodation and other living expenses, TransferWise should be quite helpful in this case.

When I went for my (two) overseas exchange programs during my university years, it cost a bomb to transfer money from Singapore to abroad, and sending it via international bank transfers weren’t cheap at all!


2. Expats sending overseas to your own accounts

If you’re an expat working in any of the 59 countries shown above, and need to send money back to your own home country account, you’ll find this useful. Many expats presently use TransferWise for this purpose to send to their own account(s) in the US, India, Europe and more.

3. Foreign workers

Whether you’re a blue or white-collared worker here, who came to Singapore looking for a better job or higher pay prospects so you can support your family members in Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia or elsewhere…TransferWise can help.

In fact, many foreign domestic workers use TransferWise since they’ve accounts in most countries in Asia, where many of our FDWs are from.

4. Business owners who need to pay your suppliers from overseas

Many businesses here rely on overseas suppliers, and payments routed through PayPal or your bank often charge a high fee. You can avoid or reduce those fees by going through TransferWise instead! Simply add your supplier as a recipient and the money will be transferred from a local account there to theirs. The money you save will be substantial, especially if you’ve a high frequency of payments!

5. Small business owners who need to hire and pay freelancers from overseas

Just hired a freelance web designer, developer, copywriter or coder from abroad? Or if you’re like some business owners I know, who rely on overseas writers to churn out their content and orders, you can easily make payment to them every month now via TransferWise. 

6. ANYONE who needs to hire and pay freelancers from overseas


Just hired a freelance designer overseas to help design your wedding invites? I know of one bride who hired a Russian designer and had issues transferring the money when it came down to payment time. You can easily bypass this hurdle by using TransferWise as well! 

Here’s what other Singaporeans are saying about TransferWise:

Of course, don’t just take my word for the lower fees – go compare for yourself here, or simply calculate using this nifty calculator below:



I hope this helps all of you when it comes to sending your money safely and cheaply abroad.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. In line with my advertising policy (which you can review here), I only promote and recommend stuff that I personally benefit from AND which I feel my readers will get great value from. Overpriced, overhyped or simply a brand with huge marketing budget to throw for a sponsored post? Some influencers may do that, but most certainly not me, and long-time readers can attest to this.

With love,
Budget Babe


Should I Buy Maternity Insurance When I’m Pregnant?

The latest and most comprehensive list of maternity insurance plans offered in Singapore (2018 edition). I compared between the 7 plans that I considered during my pregnancy term and spoke to 4 insurance agents to get the full quotes illustrated below.

As most of you guys know, I’ve always been an advocate of buying insurance (after all, it is named as a core tenet under my Guide to Financial Independence tab here), so when I got pregnant, one of the first things I naturally thought about was whether I needed to get maternity insurance.

Photo Credit


What Is Maternity Insurance?
Maternity insurance is a type of policy which covers unexpected complications that arise during the course of your pregnancy, which could affect either mother or child. You pay a one-time premium for the plan and the policy provides a one-time payout to help offset any additional medical costs that could be incurred as a result of pregnancy complications or congenital illnesses in your child. Many insurers in Singapore also include a daily hospital benefit if warded for related illnesses.
How much does it cost?
$300 – $600.
I compared between AIA, AXA, Aviva, Great Eastern, Prudential, OCBC and NTUC Income while deciding whether I should get one. There’s also plans offered by Pacific Prime, but I excluded them in my analysis as they aren’t a recognisable household name in Singapore, and I had contacted them last year to enquire on another plan where no one ever got back to me…so let’s forget it.
What is covered under maternity insurance?
The benefits vary between insurers, but generally you can expect coverage for 
  • pregnancy complications for the mother, 
  • congenital illnesses for the child, 
  • hospital care benefit for both mother and child, including for premature births,
  • death benefit for either mother or child, or both.
Often, many of these complications may require greater medical care and a longer hospital stay, which can lead to shockingly high medical bills. If that should ever happen, your maternity insurance can help to cover the gap left by Medisave (since there are limits to how much you can claim).
Of course, this is one insurance policy no family will ever hope they need to claim 🙁
As the NTUC Maternity 360 plan offers the most extensive coverage in terms of the widest number of conditions, I’ll use them as an illustration for the types of complications you can expect to get covered for:

For the mother, do note that Great Eastern, OCBC, Prudential and AIA only cover 7 – 8 pregnancy complications.

For your child, only Aviva and NTUC cover for 23 congenital illnesses ; the rest of the insurers cover only 17 – 18 conditions.

Is Maternity Insurance Worth It?

This is a tough question to answer, because it depends on many factors. Like all other insurance plans, maternity insurance is one where you buy for a peace of mind (especially if you’re really worried about potential complications) and hope you never have to claim it.
What are the risks, or the chances of you having to claim it?
Generally, I feel the risks are quite low, given Singapore’s high medical standards and low infant mortality rate. The rate of pregnancy complications and congenital illnesses are relatively low in Singapore as well, so I won’t be surprised if most people never end up claiming from their maternity insurance plans (which is a good thing for them, but even better for the insurers).
Moreover, if you have done your foetus screening tests (OSCAR / Harmony / Paranoma, etc) as recommended by most gynaecologists, you would have a good idea beforehand as to whether your child is healthy or at risk for certain illnesses. 
Since a pregnancy only lasts 9 months and the majority of deliveries go smoothly (albeit with a lot of pain for many mothers!), you should be thinking of this as a really short term insurance plan.
Is it affordable?
At just $300 – $600 for a $5,000 sum assured, you have to consider if you have the spare cash to spend on this. 
Also, note that there’s a catch! Most maternity insurance plans come bundled with another policy – typically an Investment-Linked Policy (ILP) or an endowment plan. If you don’t believe in converting to another plan after your pregnancy term is over, then you can only choose from 2 insurers : NTUC and Great Eastern.
While I’ve said repeatedly on this blog that I’m not the biggest fan of ILPs (read why I cancelled mine here), you can also take a different perspective by viewing them as an education or endowment fund for your child. If you’re not a savvy investor or a disciplined saver, then perhaps an ILP is what you need to ensure that you have funds parked aside for your child’s future. (This is why ILPs aren’t suitable for me, but might otherwise be for someone else if they can’t enforce their own disciplined savings and investments.)
Using Prudential’s PruFirst Gift as an example, you could opt for the $100 / month option for a $100k sum assured together with variable coverage for death, TPD and critical illness. In addition, a portion of your premiums will go towards investing in funds and if you have a baby girl, you’ll break even when she’s 21 years old ($24k premiums paid vs. $24.2k non-guaranteed cash value assuming 4% investment returns) whereas a baby boy will break even slightly later at age 22. This means that you would have “saved” $24k which your child can now cash out to pay for their university tuition fees, with all assumptions remaining valid. 

TLDR Conclusion
So should you buy maternity insurance?

YES if you’re worried about pregnancy complications (such as if you’re not completely healthy or if you’re an older mother), 
OR if there’s a history of congenital illnesses in your family, 
OR if you really want to get your baby on a full coverage life plan before any chance of illnesses can strike. 
This is your one and only chance – by buying before your baby is born and while they’re still healthy. At just $300 – $600, the cost isn’t a lot (skipping your weekly Starbucks will easily help you save that amount) for the peace of mind you’ll get with insurance coverage.

NO if you’re already tight on cash and your baby is healthy. This is one insurance plan that you could technically risk doing without, since the claims ratio is relatively low in Singapore. However, don’t forget that no one buys maternity insurance ever hoping that they’ll claim it anyway!

Another thing you need to take note of is how these maternity insurance plans do not cover for your hospitalisation bills, and the daily benefit of $50 – $100 per day may or may not help to offset much, depending on your bill size. The general sentiment towards maternity insurance is that the $5,000 coverage (which is the key focus and reason for buying) is also quite low compared to the premiums you’ll be paying. 
If you can’t afford this expenditure and you’re mainly worried about hospitalisation expenses, don’t forget that you can always claim it from your Integrated Shield Plan (ISP) as well! Although the coverage is not as extensive compared to maternity insurance plans, ISPs should be sufficient for most cases provided nothing goes wrong. 

My husband and I are still evaluating whether we should get maternity insurance (we’re not adverse against it because of how affordable it generally is. It is either that, or we set aside $5k as “self-insurance”) and I’ve narrowed it down to Aviva, OCBC and NTUC for now.
Here’s my table of comparisons among the 7 maternity insurance plans in Singapore, here it is (please view on your laptop and not your mobile browser):

Please be ethical and do not plagarise / attempt to steal my research and pass it off as your own. I’ve hidden some “Easter eggs” in the table below so you can bet I’m gonna catch you if you copy it off me wholesale!


AXA MumCare AIA Family First Baby Aviva MyMaternityPlan NTUC Maternity 360 Prudential PruFirstGift Great Eastern Flexi Maternity Cover (Essential) OCBC MaxMaternity Care
Pregnancy Complication Conditions $5,000
(10 conditions)
$5,000
(8 conditions)
$5,000
(10 conditions)
$5,000
(10 conditions)
$5,000
(7 conditions)
$5,000
(8 conditions)
$5,000
(8 conditions)
Hospital Care Benefit for Mother $100 / day ;
capped at 30 days ;
if warded for 10 insured events
$100 / day ;
capped at 30 days ;
if warded for 8 insured events
1% of Sum Assured / day ;
capped at 30 days ;
if warded for 18 insured events
1% of Sum Assured / day ;
capped at 30 days ;
if warded for 8 insured events
NA 1% of Sum Assured / day ;
capped at 30 days ;
if warded for 8 insured events
$100 / day ;
capped at 30 days ;
if warded for 8 insured events
Hospital Care Benefit for Child $100 / day ;
capped at 30 days ;
Normal ward : Incubation > 3 days or HFMD ;
ICU or HDU for any related illness
$100 / day ;
capped at 30 days ;
Normal ward : Incubation > 3 days or HFMD ;
ICU or HDU for any related illness
1% of Sum Assured / day ;
capped at 30 days ;
Normal ward : Incubation > 3 days or HFMD or Phototherapy or Blood transfusion for severe neonatal jaundice ;
ICU or HDU for any related illness
1% of Sum Assured / day ;
capped at 30 days ;
if warded in ICU or HDU due to 7 conditions
$100 / day ;
capped at 30 days ;
Normal ward : Incubation > 3 days or premature birth requiring neonatal ICU or HFMD
1% of Sum Assured / day ;
capped at 30 days ;
if warded in ICU or HDU due to 7 conditions
$100 / day ;
capped at 30 days ;
Normal ward : Incubation > 3 days or HFMD ;
ICU or HDU for any related illness
Death Benefit $5,000 for Mum $5,000 for Mum $5,000 for both Mum and Child $5,000 for both Mum and Child $5,000 for Mum ;
Refund of premiums for child
$5,000 for both Mum and Child $5,000 for both Mum and Child
Congenital Conditions Coverage $5,000
(18 congenital conditions)
$5,000
(18 congenital conditions)
$5,000
(23 congenital conditions)
$5,000
(23 congenital conditions)
$5,000
(17 congenital conditions)
$5,000
(18 congenital conditions)
$5,000
(18 congenital conditions)
Outpatient Phototherapy Benefit NA NA 1% of Sum Assured up to 10 days 1% of Sum Assured up to 10 days NA NA NA
Stem Cell Treatment NA NA 50% of Sum Assured NA NA NA NA
Developmental Delay NA NA 10% of Sum Assured NA NA NA NA
Coverage for >1 Child for Same Pregnancy Yes No Yes No Yes No No
IVF Coverage Yes, subject to 100% loading Yes Yes, subject to 75% loading Likely to be declined No No No
Bundling Requirement Yes, need to take up a ILP Yes, only life or ILP allowed No if you have an existing Aviva insurance policy; otherwise, need to take up a life for baby or qualifying plan for yourself / spouse No Yes, need to take up ILP Optional Yes, need to take up ISP for Child
Newborn Cover Purchase Option GIO with Critical Illness, within 60 days, capped at $150k after enhancement Transfer of ILP from Mum to Child within 60 days GIO without Critical Illness, within 90 days, capped at $150k after enhancement Simplified underwriting with Critical Illness, within 60 days, capped at $150k after enhancement $300k cover transferred to child’s life
$200k cover for child’s critical illness
GIO with or without Critical Illness, within 90 days Simplified underwriting with Critical Illness, starts within 15 days
Application Period 16 – 36 weeks of pregnancy 18 – 32 weeks of pregnancy 13 – 36 weeks of pregnancy 13 – 35 weeks of pregnancy 18 – 32 weeks of pregnancy 13 – 40 weeks of pregnancy 13 – 40 weeks of pregnancy
Premiums (Single Payment) for Mums < 30 $340 $360 $326 $390 $320 $542 $443
Premiums (Additional, every year) Yes, depends on Sum Assured Yes, depends on Sum Assured Yes, depends on Sum Assured No Yes, depends on Sum Assured, $100 – $300 per month for $100k – $300k respectively Optional Yes, depends on Sum Assured

With love,
Budget Babe (and mum-to-be!)

Too Good To Be True? Another Unregulated Investment Promoted By Instagram Influencer Joyce Quek

Just last month, I uncovered this investment that was making its rounds on Instagram, after being promoted by local social media influencer Rachell Tan (@pxdkitty) and even her friend Ang Chiew Ting (@bongqiuqiu) who had invested into it, while sharing why I found it so questionable.

Well, guess what? Here’s another one again. And while the durian investments saga previously only required a minimum of $1k+ to get started, this particular one is asking for a minimum of USD 10k!

Let me ask you again, why would you put so much of your hard-earned money with someone on Instagram whom you don’t even know?! Even if there ever comes a day where SG Budget Babe asks you to invest money with her (which will never happen, btw), you should rightfully be skeptical and run for the hills!

 

I got alerted to this by a few readers who checked in with me on whether this investment was legitimate, and that was when I discovered plenty of red flags.

And the methods used to promote this investments are starkly similar to that of the previous ones I’ve highlighted, with the majority of the posts being shown on the influencer’s Instagram stories (where all evidence disappears after 24 hours, unless someone took a screenshot).

Let’s take a closer look at these two investments that @jocelynq is promoting on her Instagram stories:

“Investment” #1: FOIN & Financial.org

Claims made by @joycelynq:

  • Guaranteed returns!
  • Monthly dividends!
  • FOIN is going to be bigger than Bitcoin! with proven numbers!

 

To present greater credibility, she also emphasizes that the company is legitimate and is a sponsor of the F1 race.  She also goes on to share testimonials, supposedly by clients who have invested with her, on her IG Stories as well:

   

Some of my readers were initially drawn in, and asked her for more information. Here’s what she said:

You’ll see that she mentions two key names – Financial.org and FOIN. I’ll elaborate more on each of these later.

Joyce also insists that interested parties / investors have to meet her up, and pass the USD 10,000 in cash to her. Are you kidding me?!

Why I feel FOIN is a questionable crypto investment

I’m fairly in tune with the crypto scene, so I went to ask around but NO ONE had heard of a crypto, much less an ICO, called FOIN. When I tried to research, there was barely any information on it either – no whitepaper, no details on the coin structure or technology, no github, nor any of the usual stuff that most cryptos have.

All I could find was a blog and an introductory Youtube video of FOIN here, promising that it is going to have bigger and crazier returns than Bitcoin, Ethereum and even Ripple.

Nope, I do not believe that at all.

You’re telling me that a coin that no one that has simply appeared out of nowhere is going to become bigger than Bitcoin and Ethereum? Are you kidding me? How exactly are those returns delivered?

Well, this is what their company website claims:

FOIN promises guaranteed returns! Built into their programming language! *rolls eyes to the moon and back*

Isn’t it also a little odd that the company’s website is on a hosted WordPress site? This doesn’t seem very professional to me considering what it’ll cost to get a proper and official corporate website done up. You can view the original article where I took the screenshots above here.

Even their Facebook looks really unprofessional and with so little likes.

Joyce Quek also shared on her IG stories that she had to fly to Indonesia to attend the company’s conference, where she took pictures with “royalty”. I have no idea who those people are, but when I researched further into the gala conference that she had posted about, I found this writeup here on BTC Manager where it says that Financial.org is the main sponsor. Also, if you scroll to the bottom of the article, you’ll find that it is a paid press release!

Given that MAS guidelines suggest digital tokens that promise a form of return are effectively securities and thus need to comply with the relevant securities regulations, it remains to be seen if FOIN actually meets these requirements, and what will happen to Joyce Quek for promoting such an “investment”.

I’m bullish about cryptos but I’ve always warned time and time again in my previous posts that scams are aplenty in the crypto universe, and there are plenty of “shitcoins” circulated around. If you’re not careful, you’re likely to get burnt.

Financial.Org – an unregulated “investment” firm on various regulatory watchlists

Now let’s take a closer look at Financial.Org, the company behind the investments.

Firstly, what on earth is Joyce Quek doing by promoting an unregulated investment firm?!?!

Financial.Org is notorious for having being placed on the alert lists of various regulators around the world, including:

Source
Source

Financial.org seems to also be owned by a UK citizen who is linked to many dissolved and liquidated companies, according to this source investigation:

Source

If you’re interested to find out more, there’s this really informative website dedicated to exposing Financial.org which you can check out here.

Now, I’d watched @joycelynq promote this particular investment (Financial.org and FOIN, which you’ll only find out after you DM her) on her IG Stories for the whole of last month, and was glad that she FINALLY started tuning it down.

But then I saw this:

“Investment” #2: Joint venture project for a developer!

Another new “investment”!?!?!

Looks like a leopard doesn’t change its spots. And the stakes keep getting higher – initially it was USD 10k while now it has been raised to SGD 20k.

Remember what I said about corporate guarantees when I got a lawyer to examine the legal contract provided by @pxdkitty and the company in the durian investments saga? If you don’t remember, you can read it again here to understand why such “corporate GUARANTEEs” are pretty meaningless.

But once more, it appears like she’s getting plenty of interest in her “investment” opportunities:

Remember, stay savvy, keep your money safe, and don’t be so quick to trust any random investment that any Instagram influencer promotes to you.

With love,
Budget Babe