Financially Savvy

With higher level of financial literacy and greater awareness of the importance of investing, investors today, be they young or young-at-heart, have access to a wealth of Information to guide them on how to manage their money and build their portfolios to attain different goals – be it to pursue a desired lifestyle or prepare for milestones in life, such as marriage, parenthood or buying a first property.


Read the stories of SMU students, faculty and alumni who share their investment approaches and risk appetite, recount their hits and misses, and outline plans to take control of their own financial future. These stories were published in The Straits Times and Business Times.

Foodie's recipe for success

Banker turned entrepreneur says he was taught from young to always be independent

Published on 12 Feb 2017

One of the early triumphs of Mr Anant Hada's life was to secure an investment banking job when he was aged just 21.
He was one of only a handful of graduates from Singapore Management University (SMU) to achieve this feat, back when SMU was a new university. But after more than five years in the job, he followed his love for food and invested in Baja Fresh Mexican Grill at Rendezvous Gallery in Bras Basah Road in 2012.
In 2013, he felt confident enough in the business to leave investment banking to join his wife, Ms Jaya Hada, now 30, as a full-time Baja Fresh director.
Now aged 31, Mr Hada, who was born in Kolkata but is now a Singapore permanent resident, says: "I was 27 when I started Baja Fresh and with a venture capitalist coming on board in 2013, it just felt right. If not, I wouldn't be able to take the risk 10 years down the line."

Investor's must-read: Daily newspapers

Where others see bad news, analyst Terence Chua looks for opportunities

Published on 9 Oct 2016

Waking up at the crack of dawn to devour the day's news is a must for this young investor.

"Sometimes I wake up at 5am. I read a lot in the morning, such as the local and business newspapers. They are not always the best source but it helps you understand what's happening around the world.

"I don't enjoy reading brokers' reports. Instead, I read the newspapers, and spot issues where opportunities could potentially be," Mr Terence Chua, 28, says.

Mr Chua, who is an equity investment analyst at an institutional fund investment house, believes the way to get to the heart of the financial markets and investing is through reading, and there's no short cut.

Every dollar adds up for ShopInSEA's co-founder

Customer base for 'South-east Asia's first online dollar shop' has been growing by 70% to 80% month on month

Published on 11 Sep 2016

While exploring futuristic technology as a bank management associate, Mr Andre Loh just could not ignore the allure of entrepreneurship.

After stints at DBS Private Bank, in the family office, and the investment bank within the equity capital markets division, Mr Loh, 31, landed in the DBS technology team, in what was called the Future of Work department.

"This was where we tried to discover the latest technology that could be adopted at DBS, and that was where my interest in start-ups developed."

But the recently minted start-up founder didn't go into fintech, a path that some would assume to be a natural option.

Instead, he and three other co-founders identified the potential of the dollar-store or discount store segment - where items are sold at unbeatable prices - to bloom in a slowing economy.

Nudged by dad, but going her own in money matters

Published on 5 Sep 2016

While many of her peers in university are still building up their financial knowledge, Grace Lim, 21, has been busy teaching others about financial literacy.

The third-year accountancy undergraduate from Singapore Management University (SMU) has conducted more than financial literacy lessons with students from the Institute of Technical Education colleges.As vice-president of the Citi-SMU Financial Literacy Club, she endeavours to inspire other young adults to start managing their finance early.

However, teaching financial literacy is a passion that has come her way somewhat unplanned.

"Initially, I joined the club because I wanted to learn more about personal finance," Ms Lim said. She was attracted to a 10-week financial literacy course that the club conducted for its members. 

His only regret? Not learning to invest sooner

Civil servant started investing at 22, with $50k from NS and temp jobs

Published on 21 Aug 2016

Instead of spending excessive sums of money on material desires, civil servant Chan Choon Yuan prefers to spend most of his time on investing and personal finance.

The avid reader of this column is so dedicated to encouraging financial literacy that he started blogging at Investmoolah in August last year while in between jobs.

Mr Chan, 28, also took accounting modules while he was studying at the Singapore Management University so that he could better understand financial statements, even though he was then a political science student. His academic background has helped him tie in what he learns about the world and the economy, but a large part of it was achieved through self-study.

Stint at marine firm charts his course in life

SMU student’s 2-month stint in Dubai after NSturns into a year-long job, laying the ground for his business ventures

Published on 7 Aug 2016

An initial two-month stint at a Saudi marine firm in Dubai after national service ended up charting the course ofMrEric Chean’s life.
Not only did that turn into a year-long job from 2011 to 2012 – which involved giving up a spot at university – but it also laid the ground for his businesses.
“I slept in the office. I followed my boss around, during which I exchanged name-cards, gotsomecontacts to start with, and learnt how to network,” saysMrChean, 26.

Heartland boy is happy to invest and make losses

He cites his grandfather, who started off as a rag-and-bone collector, as the greatest influence in his investment decisions

Published on 26 Jun 2016

His pals at school and university complained that getting rich was not possible if you were not from the "cream of the crop" but oil industry worker Lim Ding Jun had no time for that fatalistic view.

He told The Sunday Times: "I believe all of us have plenty of chances to grow and to accumulate our own wealth... independent of our financial background."

Mr Lim, 26, a settlement executive at PetroChina International, believes strongly that it's not where you come from that shapes you, nor is it a matter of family wealth.

After all, he grew up in a middle- income family and lives in an HDB flat in the heartland.

Investing savings via hard work

Published on 6 Jun 2016

FINANCIAL literacy is not rocket science, said a top financial literacy trainer who made his first investment at age 12 and started investing in individual stocks at 21.

Rather, being financially savvy is about taking ownership of one's finances and being independent, said Seow Chin Juen, now 24 years old and a final-year economics major at Singapore Management University (SMU).

Mr Seow said his parents instilled in him the value of hard work and independence.

"If you want something, you're going to have to work for it," he said.

Starting young, starting early

Published on 17 May 2016

Malcolm Chan

A decision to specialise in fund management after secondary school jump-started 23-year-old Malcolm Chan's investment journey. "It was two days before I had to make my decision and I had gone for junior college open houses but I felt they did not really fit," he recalled. His dad then suggested he consider the fund management course at Nanyang Polytechnic. He thought it a good idea, having had fun when his dad would buy shares and ask him to track their performance.

"I kind of knew I wanted to be in the finance industry back then." Today, the second-year SMU student is the vice-president for research at the EYE Investment Club at SMU and manages a portfolio of about $30,000.

Creating apps an apt way to build a business

Originally US started with $500 in capital, now it's 'on track' to break 7 digits in annual revenue

Published on 21 Mar 2016

Mr Tay Wei Kiat, co-founder of local start-up Originally US, started the business in 2014 with just $500 in capital.

Now, two years later, the mobile application development business is "on track" to break seven digits in annual revenue. It has even expanded to include an office in Vietnam.

"We didn't have staff at the start. It was just the two of us and we bao ga liao," said Mr Tay, 28, using the Hokkien phrase for doing everything themselves. His co-founder was Torin Nguyen.