“Does it make money?”

About a month ago, The Sunday Times published an article on Exchange Traded Fund (ETF). I think this is the first time in my memory ETF is featured in the Invest section. I was interviewed for part of that article. And after the article was out, I got some questions from friends (and from my mom, thanks to the prank played by my brother who said I was on paper because I was caught littering and was fined and sent for labour reform to clean up beach, haha).

One of the most difficult question was actually “does it make money?” (“有赚吗?”). The portfolio I have started is quite new, so any short-term return is not meaningful. Also the first return figure I got is not spectacular, so I answered honestly “not much lah”. Before there is a show of disbelief that I had an ace up my sleeve to be kept secret, I had to follow up by saying “what I get follows the market return because I track market indexes”. Well, not a particular exciting answer but that’s what my portfolio is about, nothing up my sleeve.

Flashing back my childhood memory, the adults always talked about individual stock picking when the conversion was about investing. The hot topic circled around “which stock is going up”, “does this stock make any money”, etc. While profit is important, I seldom hear “what is your strategy”. So under this kind of influence, when I first started to earn income and wanted to invest my saving, the first thing in my mind was “which share to buy”, not asset allocation, not diversification, not keeping cost low, not risk profiling. I think proper financial education is long overdue in our society.


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