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7 Brutal Truths About Investment

Last week, the market had one of the worst weeks for the past 5 years. The S&P500 dropped more than 10% in a single week.

Various markets across the world also dropped significantly in a short span of time. As such, it may be a good time to share some hard truths about investing in the market.

Below are some lessons I had gleaned over my past 18 years of being in the market.

1. The market didn't make you lose money. You did.

The only time we lose money is when we sell our investments. If we held our investments and ride out the volatility, then it is just paper loss.

Yet, most investors I had seen panic when the market falls and let emotions take over. They would rather exit and take a "small" loss than a big one down the road.

What these investors don't realise is that if the market has the ability to go down, it also has the ability to go up. As such, do have patience and stomach the drop are my keys to having a fruitful investing journey.

Having a well-versed advisor to walk you through will also be helpful.

2. Volatility is often associated with the market drop.

The connotations of "volatile" to most investors usually means losing money.

The reverse couldn't be more accurate. If it's volatile, it also means your likelihood of having multiple fold returns is there.

Don't ever forget that.

3. Focus on values of your investment, not just the prices.

Of course the prices we buy matter. We want to buy undervalued assets and flip them at a premium.

Yet, when the market drops, most investors I came across are focusing on the prices rather than the value they can get at that prices.

Case in point, one investor I came across told me DBS (SGX: D05) shares are expensive. He had bought the shares at around $13 or $14 some time back. He wants to get back at those prices again if possible.

It is true that there is a chance that he may buy the shares at those prices. However, the chances are slim, in my opinion in the current context.

On the other hand, I view DBS as an attractive investment at around $25 given the growth opportunity and around 4% dividend yield. Again, it doesn't make me right. In fact, the prices of DBS at this writing is around $24 (2 Mar 2020 closing).

However, I know that down the road, the company is unlikely to go bust and the chance of crossing $30 is very possible.

As such, I would not quibble over the dollar or two and miss out on a potentially great run.

Fat hope? Maybe. Only time will tell who can get the better deal.

4. What is high, can go higher.

I remember a few friends asked me if they should consider Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) after it shot from $300 to $500 within a short period.

I shared that this is a very "volatile" stock and the chances of success are pretty high as long as Elon Musk is still spearheading the company.

Disclaimer: there are many other reasons I find Tesla attractive but I'm a little lazy to type out here.

Some shrugged me off saying that it is already at a high and will wait for a pullback.

Instead of a pullback, the stock shot through the roof.

It hit a new record high of $900 and now it is having a "pullback" at $703 as of this writing (2 Mar 2020).

If the friend had bought it at its "historical high" then of $500, he would be sitting on a 50% gain.

And if you think I was good, I can be honest and tell you that I didn't see that coming too.

Then comes the next question? Is it still a good time to buy Tesla now?

Refer to point 3 :P

5. Investing takes discipline.

As cliche as it sounds, it is very true.

Ask any successful investor, they spent a large part of their day looking through financial related materials. Some dig into financial reports, some the news, some websites of other financial/ advisory institutions or bloggers.

My mentor Jim Rohn, says it best,

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.

If you randomly put aside some money for investment rather than doing it on a regular basis, your investment is likely to get random results than someone who does it consistently.

6. You can't produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.

It sounds funny and very logical.

Yet, in the investing context, this is what most beginners I had come across are trying to do.

And if you find this quote familiar, it comes from Warren Buffett.

There is another quote I had come across that was very apt too.

It's easy to make 15 friends in 1 year. But keeping 1 friend for 15 years is special.

Likewise, having 15 investments in 1 year is easy. But keeping 1 investment for 15 years is a dinosaur.

Therefore, you not only need to have discipline, but you also need to have patience.

7. There is no protection from losses.

Regardless of any investment tool, there are definitely losses.

Be it safer instruments like bonds, gold or even property, these assets will, at some point, lose money for you.

How can you lose money from bonds?

Look no further than Hyflux bonds. Hyflux was previously backed by Temasek and aggressively sold by one of the local banks to investors.

What happened to most investors' capital now?

How can you lose money from gold?

Buy high and sell low. If a person were to sell his gold when the gold market drops 10%, how will he not lose money?

How can you lose money from property?

Property is a tangible asset. And Singapore is a stable country. Very hard to lose money from property.

Especially if it is a freehold property, 4 mins walk from an MRT station. A very good location isn't it?

Here is one example.

Source: Chart from

In 2010, the property was transacting at about $2.1 million. Come 2017...

Source: Chart from

You can refer to this link for more information.

As such, don't fall into the trap that property "sure make money".

If every asset has a possibility to lose money, what should we do?

The same old advice comes to mind,

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your assets.

Better still, you should also consider assets that have the word "guarantee" in it. Because that, my friend, is your best hedge against any potential losses.


Investing was never meant to be a walk in the park.

However, if you can accept the following truths, then you're on your way to a successful investing journey.

  • It requires discipline (point 5) and patience (point 6).

  • You need to be able to take some losses (point 7).

  • It can be counter-intuitive sometimes, what is high, can go higher (point 4).

  • We need to take responsibility for our investment, good or bad (point 1).

  • Volatility doesn't always mean going down, it could also mean up (point 2).

  • We should be focusing on the value of the investment, not just prices (point 3).

Send me some love by liking the post or sharing it if you find this post useful! :)

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