So you have a sum of cash sitting in the bank doing, well, nothing much really. You know you should invest it and make your money work for you but with all the options available and an uncertain economy out there, you feel petrified about taking the first step.
By Ariel Chew
Fortunately, we have sought the opinions of four seasoned financial experts who give their input on how they would invest their own money this year, be it RM10K, RM50K or RM100K. Here are the experts and their thoughts listed in alphabetical order:
By nature, I’m a conservative person. Thus, in 2017, I would focus on attaining two key results from my capital. First, to boost my dividend yield and second, to preserve the purchasing power of my capital. This is important as the Ringgit continues to depreciate against the US Dollar.
If I have… to invest:
RM10K: I would add two or three Singapore-listed REITs (S-REITs) into my stock portfolio. I prefer the ones that possess a solid track record of expanding its portfolio of properties and grow distributable income consistently. This is because S-REIT prices are now much lower than prices in 2014 and 2015. Thus, they are more affordable.
At current prices, I’m able to find many S-REITs which can pay above 6% in net dividend yield. Some are paying up to 7% – 8% per year. This is after netting of brokerage, transaction and other related fees for acquiring them.
The transactional currency is in Singapore Dollar. It has a track record for holding onto its value better than Ringgit Malaysia. Thus, I’m able to enjoy some hedge against the continuous fall in the value of our Ringgit.
RM50K: If I’m able to secure a bank loan, I may use it as a down payment to purchase a property priced under RM 500,000 if I’m able to rent it out to cover the monthly mortgage payments.
If not, I would probably set aside RM 5,000 to buy a 20g gold bar and a 500g silver bar. This is because prices of precious metals are still depressed despite strong fundamentals. They are meant to be an insurance against a possible economic downturn and a fall in value of both the US Dollar and Ringgit Malaysia.
The remaining RM 45,000 would be split into 10 different stock buying transactions. In addition to S-REITs, I may include Malaysia-listed REITs (M-REITs), and any other high-yielding stocks in Malaysia into my portfolio if their prices are reasonable.
RM100K: I’ll still make it a priority to buy a positive cash flow property located in the Klang Valley. If I spend RM70,000 in down payment, I would probably choose not to invest the remaining RM30,000 as they could be used as cash reserves to either buy another property or to pay off a portion of my mortgage in the future.
About Ian Tai
Ian Tai is the founder of Bursaking.com.my, a platform that empowers retail investors to build wealth through ownership of fundamentally solid stocks. It is an essential tool that sifts out stocks that grow profits consistently from a database of over 900+ stocks. Thus, it enhances success of investing while eliminating chances of making costly investment mistakes.
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I like income-generating assets, mainly two assets classes – properties and business (public-listed company). In any year, there will be assets that are under-valued, be it a neighbourhood property, or an unfavourable stock.
In 2017, many things can happen, and frankly, I can’t predict any of it. So I’ll just stick to what I know best.
If I have… to invest:
RM10K: RM10K is not adequate for a property venture but is sufficient to buy a few stocks, which are my all-time favourite. Due to weakening ringgit, I have my stock portfolio split locally and globally to diversify currency risk.
Locally, the stocks that are not in favour are mostly in the oil and gas and also property development sector. These are cyclical businesses. Common sense tells us that stocks are cheap during a downturn, but overvalued when the market is hot. I don’t mind if the stock is not favoured in the short term (one to two years).
As long as the balance sheet is healthy, I would park my money with the best management team that I can trust. I will keep monitoring some good companies with high return on equity ratio (ROE) and low debt level. When the price is right, I’ll act and increase my position.
RM50K – RM100K: With RM50k or RM100k, you can invest in property. If I can find a property with high rental demand and yielding 7% rental and above, selling at a discounted price, I would consider buying it.
Since it is buyer’s market now and probably will still be throughout 2017, I can take the time to do the house hunting. To find a recession-proof property, look into the areas near colleges and hospitals.
Whether I have RM10k, RM50k or RM100k, I stay invested at all time. I believe trying to time the market is extremely hard, and I don’t think I will do any better than those who are employed full-time to observe the market.
So the common sense for me is to ignore it. Then it will free my time not to bother about how the market will react to certain news or trend. I can then use the “freed” time to focus on the activity that generates the best return, which is my business.
Therefore, in investment, I always consider the long-term effect. So I buy and hold good businesses and properties for a long time like five years and above.
About KC Lau
KC Lau, the founder of KCLau.com, a personal finance educational blog for Malaysians, has been involved in the financial industry since 2003.
Realising that most problems people face are related to money, KC has made it his mission to make Malaysians financially literate through publishing free articles and guides on his blog, writing physical financial books, conducting online courses, and organising online seminars (webinars) featuring various experts of the financial industry. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
I prefer to invest these monies via Unit Trust funds, for the benefit of instant diversification as well as ease of management. Also, the fund size mentioned in these hypothetical situations is not huge enough to consider many other forms of alternative asset classes.
Other than Unit Trust funds, Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) will be a good alternative; however, ETFs in our local bourse is limited and they are not as diversified as other stock exchange markets; hence there is a slightly higher level of risk involved, as well as the liquidity risk concerns.
Therefore, I will prefer Unit Trust funds at this juncture. My investment choices are tailored for someone with a long-term investment horizon (five years or more), and a growth-oriented risk profile.
If I have… to invest:
RM10K: I will have a portfolio of one equity and one fixed income fund. The composition of the E-FI will depend on the type of risk-reward profile or expectation of return.
With the objective of diversifying the portfolio to not only focus on a single country e.g., Malaysia, I will select a regional fund that offers instant diversification towards different countries in Asia. This fund will most likely have allocation and exposure to Malaysia equity market.
To gain exposure to the real estate sector, I would also consider investing in REITs listed on stock market, or REITs Funds, but bear in mind that REITs will be more sensitive towards interest rates compared to stocks, and also have a sectoral risks, etc.
RM50K: I will not do things too differently but I will be able to have more than one equity fund in the growth space e.g., 15% to a single country fund that invests in emerging markets like China or Indonesia. I will also divert say, RM3,000 towards retirement planning instruments such as the PRS.
RM100K: I will take a more holistic approach and construct the portfolio with the following allocation:
- Equities: Developed Market (US, UK, Europe or Japan);
- Equities: Emerging Market (China, India, Brazil, Malaysia, etc.);
- Fixed Income (local or offshore).
Assuming the portfolio has a 70% exposure in Equity, I will allocate 20% towards the US small-mid cap sector, and the balance of 50% to be allocated between single country funds such as China, India (or just one China-India Fund), with an Asian diversified fund.
For the fixed income portion I will probably be looking at an Asian high-yield (HY) bond fund or funds that invest in the HY bond space. For an alternative flavour, I would consider putting aside 5-10% in private equity via an equity crowdfunding project.
No matter where our money is being invested, if we make it a habit to consistently add contributions to our portfolio, this portfolio will grow. As we save and invest more, our tendency to spend it aimlessly will also reduce, and hence it will increase our chances to achieve our life goals ultimately.
About Kevin K.M. Neoh, RFP, MBA, CFP CERT TM
Kevin Neoh is a Licensed Financial Planner from VKA Wealth Planners Sdn. Bhd who strongly believes that families of all income levels should have access to professional financial planning assistance. He actively seeks to assist people on the street to live a financially confident life.
Kevin was also awarded Malaysian Financial Planner of The Year Award (MFPYA) in June 2016. MFPYA is National Financial Planner of the Year Award for all financial planning credentials from regulator-recognized bodies in Malaysia, based on global standards adjudication. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Before I start investing, I would first ensure I have enough emergency savings, and that my debts are minimal and manageable. It is also important to determine my risk profile, which is moderate, and to determine the duration of time I have to invest from now based on my life goals.
For the purpose of this article, the various amounts are for a duration of 10 years and are earmarked for retirement. As I have a very busy schedule with minimal time to track my investments, my choice of investments are also influenced by that.
If I have… to invest:
RM10K: I would put into a dividend yielding unit trust fund with monthly auto debit for the next 10 months to dollar-cost-average my investment, as the amount does not give me the luxury of diversifying into different types of asset class or investments.
RM50K: I would put RM20K into a diversified portfolio of unit trust funds consisting of equities and bonds which is suitable for my risk appetite and duration of investment.
The next RM20K I would put into a portfolio of blue chip stocks. Through this, I spread my risk by letting someone else do the stock picking for half of the amount whilst the other half, I will carefully select suitable stocks.
The remaining RM10K I would invest in myself by attending a course that can help me in my retirement, e.g., the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification programme so that I can become a Licensed Financial Planner in my retirement, and use my experience to help others and have an income in my retirement at the same time.
RM100K: I would invest RM10K on self-improvement as above. RM90K will be placed in fixed deposits while I scout around for a good property to invest in for rental purposes, which is definitely a small condo or apartment. The rental yield must be able to cover my instalment, service charges, electricity and quit rent and assessment.
About Linnet Lee CFP CERT TM IFP®
Linnet Lee is the Chief Executive Officer of Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM). She has over 16 years of financial industry experience which began in marketing unit trust, insurance and estate planning services and naturally progressing towards financial planning.
Linnet is responsible for driving FPAM to the next level, building on the solid foundation to achieve its mission to continuously professionalising the industry and educating the public on the importance of financial planning. Linnet can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Right Approach
As you can see, each of the experts has certain preferences and approaches based on the investment class that they are most familiar and comfortable with.
There is no short cut to gaining such knowledge and experience – you have to get started at some point (the earlier the better) and build your own know-how from there.
If you are interested in an asset class and want to know more about it, feel free to attend good courses, workshops and approach any of these experts above or a trusted financial planner who can guide you in that area.