Tag Archives: Finance

The Survival of The Luckiest

Today is your lucky day.

Luck fascinates me. It is always an interesting topic for me. Anything that is related to chance, randomness, or luck intrigues me. This leads me to the following observations.

In today’s world, it is no longer the survival of the fittest, or the strongest or the most adaptable. It is the survival of the luckiest.

There is No Reason for Our Existence on Earth

Only those who are lucky can survive. And those who are extremely lucky, thrive. It goes naturally that those who are unlucky get eliminated. We are the lucky ones. Some species of animals are extinct. They are the unlucky ones.

Environment plays a big role in explaining luck. External factors, that are random and unpredictable, are influencing everyone’s life. Different environment promotes different culture, different atmosphere and different style of living, therefore creating different outcome for different people.

The “weak” (e.g. patients who are very sick) survive thanks to easy access to the latest technology (e.g. medicine). They can then thrive. It is the environment that is the most adaptable that leads to the survival of the luckiest (or the weakest). For people that don’t have access to this modern environment, they die.

Those who have easy access to resources will have higher chance of surviving. Those who do not, disappear.

The riches or those who have the resources can shape their environment. Therefore, change their destiny.

How to Be Successful?

Those who climb to the top are lucky, given the large pool of skilled and talented people that we have. Most people are intelligent and hard working. But only a few are at the top.

What explain their success? What explain the shape of the distribution curve, especially the farthest right corner? Luck. The luckiest are at the farthest right corner of the curve. They have the right opportunities, the right environment, the right background, the right connections, the right timing, etc.

You don’t have to be the best. You just have to be lucky.

Embrace Luck in Your Life

The force of luck is powerful even though you have little control of it. It can push you to the stratosphere or kill you.

Luck favours the prepared mind. You don’t know when luck will hit you because it is random and elusive and hard to “reproduce”.

Don’t be fooled by randomness. Someone living better than you are not necessarily smarter (or dumber) than you. Randomness alone can creates a variety of experiences in this world. Having an open mind could let you see this world more objectively.

Anything could happen in this world. You can be extremely lucky one day if you (are lucky enough to) live long enough to see it.

Get Lucky by Taking Calculated Risk

999 out of 1000 entrepreneurs fail. Those who succeed are lucky. Those who are extremely successful are extremely lucky. Entrepreneurship is never easy.

Most businesses fail. Given this fact, those businesses that thrive and are extremely profitable and seem like making everything right have stroke the life jackpot. They can milk their fortune for several generations or destroy them at their will.

It is not necessarily the best businesses that survive but the luckiest.

You can tap into their “luck” by buying those “lucky” businesses via the stock markets and prosper with them. This is a win-win situation. These businesses get lucky so that you don’t need to be lucky to get lucky.

You need to expose yourself to luck. Luck sometimes can be (mis-)classified as risk.

You increase your chance of success by buying the proven-to-be-lucky companies that have large earnings. This is the calculated risk.

Stock is The World Greatest Asset Class

In such a world that favours the luckiest, there happens to be one single thing that could bring luck to everyone. It is the stock.

Stock represents a business.

Business pays taxes which are used to develop the country and to pay government bond interest.

Business also pays corporate bond interest.

Business pays rent for properties and other real estate.

Business buys commodities (metal, materials, etc).

Business pays salaries.

Business innovates so that we can live a better life.

Business supports all finances in the world. Therefore, it must have the highest returns of all asset classes.

It is lucky for us to have invented the stock market. Within it, everyone prospers. We are lucky because our economic system, which is supported by a variety of businesses, works extremely well.

Most people are working very hard everyday in the system and some get extremely lucky to be rich and therefore can afford to live a different life.

Final Thought

Finally, luck is not that out of reach after all. We are already living in such a lucky environment.

A simple thought that any time and any where in the world, there are some companies that are getting lucky can make me happy because that brings opportunities for all of us.

You can change your life by moving towards where the resources are. One imperceptible small step at a time. By doing so consistently, you increase your chance to success. Over time, you maximise your lucky factor and you could be the luckiest person on earth.

Double Your Money Within Five Years Through ETFs

Exchange-Traded-Fund (ETF) is a game changer in the investment world. It creates a movement in the right direction where everyone can invest passively in index funds or any market sectors around the world in a very low-cost manner.

Without ETF, people who would like to invest in equities to participate in the economic growth would either invest directly in individual stocks or through mutual-funds.

Individual stock picking is not a trivial skill that anyone could learn easily. It requires tremendous time and effort. It is not everyone’s game. For average Joe, buying mutual funds is the only way to participate in the stock market.

Although mutual funds save people time in managing the portfolio, they charge as high as 5% commission per transaction. That is a big drag to the performance of any mutual funds. Let say a fund returns 10%, the investor only gets 5% after commission. Worse, most mutual funds don’t beat the performance of the passive index funds where the ETFs are tracking.

With ETF, people can keep almost all of the market returns since its expense ratio is usually below 1%. Let say an exchange-traded-fund returns 10%, the investor keeps 9% after expense. That is a huge advantage compare to buying mutual fund.

ETF is diversified in a way that it usually holds a bucket of companies at a time. This reduces the non-systemic risk of buying individual stocks.

ETF provides investors access to any asset classes that are categorised by value, growth, commodity, bond, geography (by country), sector, etc around the world. People can, thus, focus on allocating assets and buying the world market through ETFs.

According to research, 90% of the investment returns are coming from asset allocations instead of market timing.

Most of the ETFs are weighted according to market cap. This means that companies with the highest valuation get the biggest shares in the portfolio. There is also fundamentally weighted ETFs that meet the need of value investors where the most undervalued companies constitute the largest components of the index.

In a way, the fundamentally weighted ETFs have strategy automation built-in where the valuation is inversely proportional to allocation: the most undervalued companies are allocated the most funds. The automated rebalancing actually reduces risk and increases return.

With all the good things, ETFs also come with traps: leveraged ETFs and inverse ETFs. If you don’t understand how they work, stay away from them.

ETFs that could double your money in 5 years

CodeNameCAGR (5 Years)AUMNo. of HoldingsExpense RatioPEPTBVDistribution YieldIndex Weighting MethodologyInception DateBrand
RHSGuggenheim S&P 500 Equal Weight Consumer Staples ETF17.39%$757.02 M340.40%27.135.451.60%Equal11/01/06Guggenheim
PSCCPowerShares S&P SmallCap Consumer Staples Portfolio18.01%$124.15 M140.29%21.832.131.25%Market Cap04/07/10PowerShares
IYCiShares U.S. Consumer Services ETF17.93%$885.26 M1730.45% Cap06/12/00iShares
FXGFirst Trust Consumer Staples AlphaDEX Fund16.23%$2.47 B380.62%25.883.761.61%Tiered05/08/07First Trust
VCRVanguard Consumer Discretionary Index Fund17.63%$1.93 B3730.10%23.814.721.96%Market Cap01/26/04Vanguard
PSLPowerShares DWA Consumer Staples Momentum Portfolio14.70%$269.79 M300.60%27.235.410.91%Momentum10/12/06PowerShares
VDCVanguard Consumer Staples Index Fund15.10%$3.51 B990.10%25.725.073.35%Market Cap01/26/04Vanguard
SPLVPowershares S&P 500 Low Volatility Portfolio14.54%$7.64 B990.25%23.983.402.01%Volatility05/05/11PowerShares
DVYiShares Select Dividend ETF14.92%$16.27 B940.39%28.062.453.08%Dividend11/03/03iShares
KBWPPowerShares KBW Property & Casualty Insurance Portfolio20.92%$68.91 M230.35%14.631.311.61%Tiered12/02/10PowerShares
ITAiShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF19.16%$879.2 M360.44%33.703.780.85%Market Cap05/01/06iShares
IHIiShares U.S. Medical Devices ETF19.34%$1.43 B470.44%36.873.891.04%Market Cap05/01/06iShares
SPHDPowerShares S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility Portfolio--$2.68 B500.30%20.052.453.33%Dividend10/18/12PowerShares
DONWisdomTree MidCap Dividend Fund15.80%$2.04 B9690.38%41.072.642.47%Dividend06/16/06WisdomTree
DHSWisdomTree High Dividend Fund14.64%$1.31 B9620.38%29.632.673.19%Dividend06/16/06WisdomTree
JKDiShares Morningstar Large-Cap ETF15.83%$643.76 M760.20%20.583.332.27%Market Cap06/28/04iShares
PEYPowerShares High Yield Equity Dividend Achievers Portfolio17.60%$1.02 B500.54%43.632.313.19%Dividend12/09/04PowerShares
SDYSPDR S&P Dividend ETF15.41%$14.79 B1070.35%26.413.015.40%Dividend11/08/05SPDR
VIGVanguard Dividend Appreciation Index Fund12.70%$22.56 B1840.09%24.334.242.08%Market Cap04/21/06Vanguard
NOBLProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF--$2.45 B500.35%24.563.871.79%Equal10/09/13ProShares
WDIVSPDR S&P Global Dividend ETF--$82.31 M990.40%19.751.854.73%Dividend05/29/13SPDR
ETFs that could double your money in 5 years (data collected as of September 2016)

The above are some of the ETFs that have returned around and above 15% compound rate over a 5-year period. That translates to doubling your money over 5 years.

If you had $1 million at the beginning to invest in those ETFs, after 5 years, you would have $2 millions. $1 million richer.

Performance of RHS

Performance of RHS

The image above shows the performance of one of the ETFs.

Final thought

If you had been investing in stocks for more than 5 years but still were unable to double your money, you could consider to switch to buying ETFs instead. ETFs simplify things. My $0.02.

Open an International Trading Account with TD Ameritrade Asia

I had been registered with TD Ameritrade, Inc. since January 2015. After one and a half year of membership, I received a notice from TD Ameritrade, Inc. on 15 of July 2016 stating that my account will be closing on 4 of November 2016.

Below was the email I received from TD Ameritrade:

Dear Valued Client,

TD Ameritrade, Inc. has made the business decision to no longer offer brokerage services in your area, starting on November 4, 2016.1 However, we are pleased to inform you that there are a number of choices available to you for your account:

1. Move Your Assets Within the TD Ameritrade Family:
You may choose to open an account with TD Ameritrade Asia Pte. Ltd. (“TD Ameritrade Asia”). By transferring your account ending in 1486 to TD Ameritrade Asia, you will still have access to many of the same great benefits you have today, such as:

Our multi-award-winning thinkorswim® trading platform: a powerful, easy-to-use trading platform offering advanced customizable charting capabilities and elite-level analytics tools for trading on U.S. equity, options, and futures markets.

Service when you need it: a dedicated support team located in Singapore to help make your transition easy.

Free platform demonstrations and education: free weekly online platform demonstrations where you can learn how to use the thinkorswim platform to execute your trading strategies.

You will be able to transfer your account with no blackout period and little or no disruption to your trading. You will also remain on the same commission schedule you currently have.

How Do You Move Your Assets to TD Ameritrade Asia?

If you wish to open an account and move your assets to TD Ameritrade Asia, please follow these two easy steps:

Complete the online application
Go to www.tdameritradeasia.com and click “Open an Account.”

Submit the account-opening documents and the Internal Transfer Form
Once you complete the online application, you will be prompted to submit the account-opening documents and a completed Internal Transfer Form. You can fax these to (+65) 6238 6601 or mail them to TD Ameritrade Asia at: 1 Temasek Avenue, #15-02 Millenia Tower, Singapore 039192.2

If you have any questions or need assistance with this process, please contact the TD Ameritrade Asia office at (+65) 6823 2250 or via email at [email protected].

2. Transfer Your Account to Another Firm:

To do so, open an account with the receiving firm and have that firm initiate the transfer. Please allow three weeks for processing. If you choose to transfer to another firm, TD Ameritrade, Inc. will waive our transfer fee. However, until the transfer is initiated, any standard fees related to your account will continue to apply.

3. Liquidate Your Account and Request a Full Withdrawal:

You can sell all your securities and request a check, ACH, or wire transfer for the sale proceeds by logging in to your account and clicking My Account > Deposits & Transfers.

Wire, check, and ACH withdrawal requests (U.S. bank accounts only) are processed within one to two business days after they are received in good order. When liquidating assets, you’ll also need to allow for settlement time before the withdrawal can be made. If you choose to wire funds, TD Ameritrade, Inc. will waive our wire fee. However, until the wire is initiated, any standard fees related to your account will continue to apply.

Key Dates

Account Liquidation: If you have not transferred your full account out of TD Ameritrade, we will liquidate your account for you.

– On October 3, 2016, your account will be restricted to closing trades only, and we will not accept deposits of funds into the account except those intended to meet a margin call.

– On November 4, 2016, we will liquidate the account and mail a check for your account balance to your address of record. If your account holds securities positions, we will sell those securities and mail you a check once the trades have settled.

This came as a shock to me. Anyway, I chose to open the account at TD Ameritrade Asia (option 1 from the email above) so that I can keep my existing investments at TD Ameritrade intact.

I applied to TD Ameritrade Asia the next day on 16 July 2016.

I sent the required documents on 18 July 2016.

Documents to open an account at TD Ameritrade Asia

Documents to open an account at TD Ameritrade Asia

That was quite a lot of documents required (see picture above).

Four days later, I received an email from TD Ameritrade Asia telling me that I was not meeting the customer account review (CAR) requirements on 22 July 2016.

Below is the detail of the email:

Hi _____,

With regards to your TD Ameritrade Asia new account opening, we will need the following from you to complete the application

· As you did not meet the customer account review requirement, you will need to do the SGX quiz
· A copy of your employment pass (Front & Back)

SGX Quiz

SGX Quiz & Additional Information – Attached Instructions

If you do not meet the requirements in the CAR form, we require you to take the SGX learning module available at the “Online Education Programme.”

You may attempt the Quiz until you pass. The Quiz is free of charge.

Successful completion of the quiz following the module will qualify you to trade the listed Specified Investment Products TD Ameritrade Asia offers.

Once you have passed the test, please send the results together with your replies to the 2 questions below:-
a. The number of correct answers on any previous attempts BEFORE passing the quiz (if applicable)
b. The name of any brokers who have rejected your application to open an account to trade Specified Investment Products


Desmond Lim
Representative, Accounts

Here is the attachment: SGX Quiz Registration.

I took the quiz on 23 July 2016 and sent the passing result to [email protected] right away. Note: Be prepared to take about an hour or two to go through the courses and take the quiz.

Once you passed the quiz, you will receive an email notification. Sample quiz result notification email from sgx.com:

Dear ____ _____ ____,


You answered 18 questions correctly out of a total of 20 questions. Your overall score is 90%.

You have PASSED the quiz.

Thank you for taking time to complete this quiz.

We hope you have found the SGX Online Education Programme useful.


SGX elearning System Administrator

My account was ready on 27 July 2016 with a welcome email from TD Ameritrade Asia.

On 29 July 2016, the transfer from my TD Ameritrade account to TD Ameritrade Asia account is completed with all my open trades and cash balance moved to TD Ameritrade Asia. However, I am no longer be able to access TD Ameritrade dashboard.

So there it is: it took about two weeks (14 days) to move your asset from TD Ameritrade to TD Ameritrade Asia.