WILFRED LING’s first encounter with investment was buying into structured deposits which, later on he found, did not deliver its goods. He found that the real problem was that the banking salesperson was only interested in making a sale rather than understanding his needs. “My risk appetite assessment was done after the sales was closed. If the adviser wanted to understand my needs, she would have done the risk appetite assessment first.”
His second encounter with investment was with unit trusts. “Finding good funds is like finding a needle in a haystack”, says Mr. Wilfred Ling, an adviser with PromiseLand Independent. “To make matters worse, many investors do not know how to manage their own portfolio of unit trusts and shares, resulting in losses even during the bull markets.”
When a new on-line investment forum community was formed by three retail investors, he jumped on the opportunity to exchange ideas with the internet community. He made his own research, studied literatures and published findings with fellow forum members free of charge.
“Little did I know that the amount of contributions I made was so much that I became the top contributor of the forum!” said the 35 year old adviser. The postings he made eventually attracted the attention of the media which featured the forum SGFunds.com at the front page of The Straits Times on 23 November 2005 (“Amateur investors find a voice on the Net”). “It's research I do for my own investments which I like to share with others,” he told The Straits Times. “It's also to counter biased articles put up by others.”
In the article, “Saving their way to early retirement” (The Sunday Times, 15 Oct 2006), “He [Wilfred Ling] reckoned that he could do even better as a financial adviser… That is why he joined financial advisory firm PromiseLand Independent after passing the necessary examinations to be licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.”
Singapore Press Holdings also invited him to write two articles for The Sunday Times: “A degree could cost $125,000 in 10 years” (The Sunday Times, 15 January 2006) and “How to save $200,000 in 18 years for school fees” (The Sunday Times, 19 February 2006). Prior to this, he was featured in The Sunday Times for his opinion on car ownership (“He doesn't want the burden of keeping 4 wheels” The Sunday Times, 6 November 2005).
Mr. Wilfred Ling started his own blog and website at http://wilfredling.com (later on renamed in 2014). “Through my blog, I pen down my thoughts in an informal manner and hopefully, others can learn from my two cents worth,” says Mr. Ling. He receives many feedbacks about his blog. Some feedback are from his clients while others are faithful readers who keep on asking for more. “I think I am the first and currently the only licensed adviser maintaining a blog. Many people are intrigued by what a licensed adviser really does for a living.”
But there is one thing that Mr. Ling is always troubled with. “There are so many people in Singapore looking for advice and help in their investments, and it pains me to see them losing so much money in speculations which are mainly based on hearsay and rumors,” he told PromiseLand. “With so much publicity on the necessity to invest for the sake of retirement, I believe many will lose more money than they can afford to lose.”
That is why these days he spends much of his time looking at his clients’ investment portfolios, advising them on their investments on an on-going basis. Investment has three portions – initial portfolio construction, funds selection and on-going portfolio management. “If any of these three tasks are not done right, it is going to be a rough time for the investor”, says Mr. Ling.
Setting himself apart from the conventional adviser such as the banking salesperson who sold him an unsuitable product, he doubles-up as a friend and a supporter. “As a friend, I lend my ears to my clients because I want to understand their emotions,” explained Mr. Ling. One of the significant obstacles of getting good returns from investment, is the investor’s own unmanaged emotions and expectations. “All investors are emotional when it comes to subjecting their money to risks. If unmanaged, an emotional person isn’t going to be very rational in his decision making process. That’s why many people jump into investment during the bull run and give up during the bear market.”
As a supporter, he says “Investment is a marathon. Only those who endure and complete the race win. I want my clients to win the race and it is my duty to support and encourage them all the way.”
This article was first published in http://www.promiseland.com.sg/Investment/invest_wilfred.html in 2006.