Category: SG Budget Babe

Tiq Invest – Is It Any Good?

 Etiqa has just launched their online investment offering, joining the ranks of other digital insurers that are seeking to reduce the costs for consumers that would otherwise be paid on their traditional counterparts.But is it any good? I scrutini…

Tiq Invest – Is It Any Good?

 Etiqa has just launched their online investment offering, joining the ranks of other digital insurers that are seeking to reduce the costs for consumers that would otherwise be paid on their traditional counterparts.But is it any good? I scrutini…

Essentials To Prepare Ahead Of Your Baby’s Arrival

As a second-time mother, I’ve been asked by several readers on what advice I would give to first-time parents who are preparing for the arrival of their newborn. While I’ve written dozens of articles on the topics, this one seeks to serve as a comprehe…

Trends that investors can ride on for the next decade

 Here’s an easy way to invest into the 5 mega trends that will shape our world in the coming decade.

As an investor, we want to ensure that we own great businesses that can consistently grow their earnings and deliver outsized returns to us for many years to come. Which is why identifying companies riding on mega trends that will shape our world in the next few decades sits at the core of my investing approach, given that these powerful tailwinds can drive the business to greater success and thus profits.

View the full Syfe factsheet here.

Over the years, I’ve found that my returns on such investments have proven to be a far better strategy than when I bottom-fish on stocks in struggling industries (e.g. see what I said about SPH in 2017 here):

SPH’s share price between 2017 and now

But of course, identifying winning companies isn’t always easy.

It takes up a lot of my time and energy, and when an industry is completely out of my circle of competence (such as oil or energy), it can take me several months to complete my analysis. And even then, I often end up not investing.

I tend to approach this in a top-down manner:

  1. Which are the long-term trends that are going to lead to bigger addressable markets over time?

  2. Who are the leaders in this industry, and what are the competitive advantages that will keep them winning over their rivals?

  3. Are margins sustainable?

  4. Will profits eventually accrue to us as investors?

Even then, it isn’t easy to identify the potential winners. In the field of technology, for instance, just take a look at how the top 20 list has changed. The 2000s darlings such as Dell, EMC and Cisco have since lost their leadership positions.

If you’re not familiar with the industry, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that you have no clue on who’s going to be the winner. 

You can be confident that solar energy is going to become a dominant energy source in the near future, but whether it’ll be First Solar or Sunrun who becomes a winning stock is a different story.

More than 50% of global GDP growth in the next decade is projected to come from China, but which Chinese companies will thrive as a result?

I know that cancer treatments will become huge in the coming decade, but whether Fate Therapeutics or Ionis Pharmaceuticals will succeed is anyone’s guess.

In this case, there are 2 strategies you can adopt:

  1. make many small bets (the Peter Lynch approach)

  2. invest in an ETF that tracks the industry, or holds a basket of your shortlisted stocks

In this case, I’ve chosen the latter, and I’m doing it through Syfe Select.

Why use Syfe Select when you can DIY?

Now, some of you have questioned me on Instagram on why I put my money into Syfe when I’m an active stock picker, so let me preface this with two things:

Firstly, if you’re new to Budget Babe, you should know that I walk my talk. I’m extremely selective about the sponsored engagements that I take on (perhaps more so than necessary, considering how much advertising money I’ve rejected till date), and if I say I’ve put my money in it, I mean it.

Why did I put my money into Syfe Select’s portfolios even though I’m a DIY investor who actively manages my own portfolio? Well, when I see an ETF that gives me a solution by way of exposure to a growing industry that’s out of my circle of competence (i.e. I have trouble analyzing and identifying the potential winners), I won’t say no, especially when it is more cost-efficient as well.

Imagine having to manually buy the 8 ETFs by yourself and paying 8 x brokerage fees every month.

Now contrast that to creating your portfolio of 8 ETFs with Syfe and setting up a one-time standing instruction to fund your account each month. 

It’s almost a no brainer.

What are the themes in Syfe Select?

There are 5 thematic portfolios offered to investors in Syfe Select:

I urge you to click on the links above to read more about each portfolio before you decide what’s more suitable for you.

Syfe has curated a list of 8 ETFs for each portfolio, selected based on their asset size, expense ratio and liquidity. In other words, in order to keep costs low for investors, Syfe requires that the ETFs must be low-cost, highly liquid, track their benchmarks closely, and the asset manager must have a good reputation. 

The weightages are assigned based on Syfe’s own “asset-class risk allocation method” (read more about it here), where an ETF with a lower risk score is given more weight compared to one with a higher risk rating, as shown below:

Source: Syfe. Sample illustration of portfolio optimisation using asset class risk budgeting

If you prefer to remove some of the proposed ETFs, or even tweak the asset allocation, then you’d want to move into Syfe Select (Custom). 

That’s what I did.

For instance, if you’re going for Healthcare Innovation but already have a sizable allocation to ARKG in your existing portfolio, then you can click on the “Customize” button to reduce your exposure, or even remove it completely.

Create Your Custom ETF Portfolio 

You can either (i) tweak one of Syfe’s existing portfolios or (ii) choose from over 100 ETFs curated by Syfe and create your own portfolio.

For instance, imagine you wanted to create a portfolio combining all of Ark’s ETFs so you can do dollar-cost averaging via Syfe.

Step 1: Choose Custom and click on “Select”

Step 2: Click on “View all”. 

This will then bring up the list of ETFs available to you via Syfe. Scroll and click on “Add” for the relevant Ark ETFs that you’re keen on.

Step 3: Syfe will then allocate equal weightage to each of your ETFs, but if you want to tweak this further, just click on the pencil icon to amend the allocations to your desired percentages.

You can then toggle through the charts that are generated based on your allocations, to see how diversified (or concentrated) you are, including the top stock holdings, country exposure, etc.

Step 4: Once you’re satisfied, click on “Confirm portfolio” at the top.

Step 5: Name your portfolio and set how much funds you wish to invest with. 

Click on “Done”.

For fans of ARK and/or Cathie Wood, Syfe Select (Custom) is actually a more cost-efficient way to DCA into Ark’s funds on a regular basis.

After all, if you’ve tried doing your own DCA into Ark’s funds yourself, you’ll know that manually buying it each month, incurring all the brokerage expenses for each fund and also managing it…can be a real pain.

Tweaking Themes for your own custom portfolio

Alternatively, if you find sieving through Syfe’s entire ETF list too daunting, then you can also opt to work off their existing Select portfolios and simply tweak the allocations for yourself.

This was what I did.

First, choose the theme that you want and click on “Customize”.

You’ll then see this prompt:

Click on the pencil icon to tweak to your desired allocation. Here’s a sample view if you were to opt for just ARKW, ARKF and CIBR in your own customized Disruptive Tech portfolio.

What’s cool is that the charts change in real-time as you tweak the asset allocations, showing you how diversified or concentrated you are.

I’ve set up 2 portfolios on Syfe Select to function as my satellite holdings (if you’ve no idea what that means, read this) in this manner, and customized it to fit my own beliefs of the ETFs that I’m more optimistic on.

For healthcare, I picked 5 out of the 8 suggested ETFs. Similarly, for disruptive technology, I eliminated Renaissance IPO ETF because I seldom invest in IPOs, given that companies generally try to list during good times so they can get a higher valuation than what they’re worth. The top 10 holdings in this ETF further confirmed my concerns, given that I’m not a fan of more than half of its list (click here to view).

I’m still thinking if I should set up a custom ESG portfolio, because frankly speaking, only three ETFs (iShares Global Clean Energy ETF, Invesco Solar ETF and Water Resources ETF) appeal to me.

What if I already have an existing Syfe portfolio?

Given Syfe’s rising popularity among Singaporeans, I won’t be surprised if most people already have an existing portfolio with Syfe.

You could use Syfe Select’s thematic portfolios as satellites to complement your overall investment strategy. Given the higher risk, I wouldn’t recommend that these form your main, core portfolio. You might want to check out Syfe Core instead for that.

As for active investors, Syfe Select might just change your perception towards robo-advisory offerings entirely.

Is Syfe Select worth exploring?

With no minimum investment, no lock-in periods (meaning you can withdraw your funds anytime you need to) and no brokerage fees, I find Syfe Select portfolios to be extremely attractive. For the newbie investor, this is probably the easiest and most cost-efficient method available right now.

Even as a DIY investor myself, I like Syfe Select because it removes the manual work of buying the underlying ETFs each month for me, but also reinvests the dividends on my behalf.

Unless you opt for the Customised route (like I did), Syfe will even automatically rebalance your portfolio for you – once every 6 months.

All these, for a flat 0.65% management fee p.a. And if you were to invest more funds with them, the management fee drops to 0.5% for $20k and 0.4% for $100k.

Definitely worth taking a look at.

Sponsored Message

If you’re looking to outsource your investments and start investing with Syfe, use promo code BUDGETBABE to waive off your management fees for the first 6 months (up to your first $30,000).

Disclosure: This article is sponsored by Syfe. All opinions are that of my own.. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute financial advice. Past performance of a product is not indicative of its future performance. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

What are Singaporeans Investing Their SRS in?

Where are Singaporeans mostly investing their SRS into?The top choice still remains the STI Index, although I’m personally not the biggest fan of that in the current climate (given that global market indices generally perform better).Technology, Gold a…

Does Unbiased Advice on Financial Planning Really Exist?

 When it comes to insurance, I’ve always believed in getting covered without paying too much. In other words, if there’s a way to get the same protection for less, then I prefer to go for the low-cost approach.

As insurance is one of the fundamental tenets of financial planning, it pays to ensure that you get the maximum coverage you need at a level that you can afford. At all times, insurance should not hinder your wealth-building journey.  

To start planning, your life circumstances matter.

I prioritise my coverage needs based on my unique life circumstances, which may or may not apply to everyone. In our case, my husband and I single-handedly support 3 parents (including paying for their insurance policies) and our 2 young children. Given our higher financial responsibilities, going for low-cost insurance options is crucial.

On the other hand, if you’re a single, young working adult with siblings and your parents have their own (sizeable) retirement savings, you probably will just need to think about your own needs. Even if you’re able to afford to pay for more expensive policies, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to – you should only be paying for what you truly need.  

But if you’re part of the sandwiched generation (and it gets even more stressful if you and/or your spouse is the only child), you might already be stretched to your (financial) limits and not all plans may be suitable for you. Whole life plans and education endowment plans, for instance, which are frequently sold to parents with young children, may thus be too much for you to service each month.

But how many agents do you know will tell you this?

Or did your agent try to sell you a whole life plan (and/or endowment plan) once your child was born?

When it comes to insurance, I’ve observed that most people generally fall into 3 camps: 

  1. The Clueless: those who are totally clueless, and hence are the most likely to be sold policies that they will later on regret buying

  2. The Outsourcer: this group understands the importance of buying insurance (and will proactively initiate a discussion with their adviser), but prefer to outsource the planning entirely to a trusted professional

  3. The Savvy: those who are extremely savvy and already know what they want or need, who would consult advisers only to get a second opinion or confirmation and proceed to compare insurance premiums on platforms like MoneyOwl or CompareFIRST. These people prefer to ultimately DIY and manage their own insurance portfolio

If you fall into the first or second group, you could have bought insurance policies recommended by some insurance agents that give them higher commission, which you now regret and you’re thinking of cancelling.  

In this case, it is crucial that you either find a trusted adviser who will put your interests ahead of his/her own commissions OR work with non-commissioned advisers – even if this means recommending you an insurance policy that they do not sell (and thus do not earn from).

Now, as a fresh graduate or young working adult, you may not know where to seek unbiased financial advice. Worse still, if your agent happens to be one who’s “recommending” you products based on commissions instead of your financial needs, you might remain the clueless consumer who never realizes this conflict of interest  because the commissions aren’t made transparent to the public in the first place.

If you’re clueless or simply unsure, you’d want to find advisers who have no incentive to sell you products (you don’t need) at prices you cannot afford.

Is conflict-free advice just a myth?

Well, have you checked out MoneyOwl?

As a social enterprise, MoneyOwl’s philosophy is that being wise about money is about making life decisions before financial decisions, and that one’s coverage needs can be protected with low-cost insurance.

Their advisers are salaried-based and are not remunerated by commissions, so there is no incentive to hard-sell or to promote products that reward themselves with higher commissions. Instead, they focus on helping you make wise money decisions in your best interests.

With fully commissioned agents out of the picture, you can definitely be reassured that the advice you’ll be getting from MoneyOwl is free from any conflict of interest. 

They also cover a wide range of protection plans:

Which is why you can think of them as your go-to partner for all of your financial needs at every stage of your life. When new needs or plans emerge (such as CareShield Life private supplements last year), I’ve also seen their advisers proactively reach out to existing customers to educate and talk about it. 

But of course, on the other hand, if you’re already savvy enough to decide on your own plans, then you’d want to be using their comparison tool to make informed decisions for yourself instead.

What if I want to DIY my own insurance?

If you can, you probably should! After all, no one else will know (or care) as much about your own personal finances as you.

Regardless of how savvy you are, you’re gonna be needing resources to help you determine if you’re on the right path. Check out MoneyOwl’s online insurance guided journey here to discover plans that you need to be protected for. 

Or, if you already know which products you need, you could directly compare plans and premiums to decide which is better suited to your needs and budget. Check out MoneyOwl’s comparison tool, which spans across a variety of products including life insurance, hospitalisation and critical illness.

Can I get advice without buying a policy?

If you’re not sure about what you truly need, you can always seek out advice from MoneyOwl before deciding.

I have tried out one of their services myself (called Comprehensive Financial Planning, a service that looks holistically at all aspects of your finances, including identifying investment and insurance gaps, how to fund your children’s education and projecting your CPF Life payout). I can attest that I was never once made to feel like I had to buy anything from them. In fact, my assigned client adviser from MoneyOwl recommended that I consider taking up a disability income plan, but was understanding when I explained how it wasn’t my priority due to limited budget vs. other insurance needs. He did not hard-sell me into purchasing anything, and I walked away with a better understanding of a gap in my portfolio I hadn’t previously been aware of. 

And since any discounts offered are usually direct from the insurer (e.g. Aviva’s current perpetual discount off CareShield Life upgrade plans), whether or not you decide to purchase from them or elsewhere will not affect how much you pay.

But if you were to decide to purchase through MoneyOwl? In this case, what’s different is that MoneyOwl helps to bring down the cost for you, by offering up to 50% commission rebates on eligible products (60% for NTUC members) on top of the discounts offered by insurers. 

This means that you’ll still pay the same premiums either way, but a portion of the commissions that the insurer pays to MoneyOwl is back to your bank account!

Based on my own experience, I’d recommend that you speak with their team if you need some help examining your current insurance portfolio.

Disclosure: This article is sponsored by MoneyOwl to raise awareness of their platform. All opinions are that of my own.

Sponsored Message

Speak with MoneyOwl’s client advisers and get up to S$20 NTUC shopping vouchers when you sign up for any eligible term insurance plan. You should only commit to an insurance policy if it fits your needs and budget. Terms and conditions apply.

Find out more about MoneyOwl’s ongoing promotion here. 

This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.