Me & My Money

Respect money, and it will respect you back: Money FM 89.3 DJ Desmond Wong

Money FM 89.3 DJ is a strong believer in investments and wants to help listeners grow their money

Before joining Money FM 89.3, Mr Desmond Wong, 41, spent several years as a dealer with a stockbroking company and had a stint as a radio presenter with a local radio news station. From 2011 until last year, when he took time off to be a homemaker an
Before joining Money FM 89.3, Mr Desmond Wong, 41, spent several years as a dealer with a stockbroking company and had a stint as a radio presenter with a local radio news station. From 2011 until last year, when he took time off to be a homemaker and child minder to his son, who has autism, he was a full-time stock investor. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

As a presenter at Singapore's first financial radio news station, DJ Desmond Wong hopes to help listeners of Money FM 89.3 know that investments are a good thing.

His cause is helped by the fact that he has seen both sides of the fence, so to speak.

Before taking up his new gig on the airwaves, Mr Wong, 41, spent several years as a dealer with a stockbroking company and had a stint as a radio presenter with a local radio news station.

He says: "Investments are not just an enticing name that fraudsters use to lure their victims. I want listeners to know that their money can grow no matter what they have - no amount is too little to start with.

"I also want to convey day-to-day tips to help accumulate and grow their money. And for one and all to respect money, so that money will respect them back."

In his role at Money FM 89.3, which will be launched tomorrow, Mr Wong will focus on matters such as money management, financial planning and investments.

He will also give regional market updates and the latest corporate announcements.

  • Worst and best bets

  • Q What has been your biggest
    investing mistake?

    A My biggest mistake was going into Golden Agri at the wrong time and trying to average downwards as the price fell. This happened between 2012 and 2013. I am sitting on a paper loss of about $7,000 for my 300 lots of Golden Agri. While it is true that other investments have outdone this loss, for some reason I am still holding on to this stock. I've learnt not to try to time the market or be greedy. This lesson still keeps me grounded and to be more of an investor than a trader.

  • Q And your best investment?

    A The banking stocks have done really well for me. For 2016 and 2017, I reaped healthy four-figure realised profits from a combination of dividends and capital gains. Our holidays to nearby destinations were fully funded by these investments. It took some experience from watching the markets, and my stockbroking experience helped a great deal too. The timing looked right and certain trends seemed to make sense when the banks looked to be trading at too low a price to be true. This was around the 2014 to 2016 period. For instance, in April 2014, DBS was trading at $15.35 and OCBC was $8.45, while UOB was trading at $18.40 in June 2016.

His background gives him a more unusual perspective on how families manage their money.

From 2011 to last year, Mr Wong took time off to be a homemaker and child minder to his son, 17, who had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in primary school. During that period, Mr Wong was a full-time stock investor.

His son attended APSN (Association for Persons with Special Needs) Katong School, and is now in Delta Senior School studying horticulture.

Says Mr Wong: "While it was devastating for us at that time, it taught us that faith and acceptance is key. I took some years off work to be a full-time homemaker to see to the needs of my son and (16-year-old) daughter.

"She has just finished her O levels, with results that will see her continue her studies at Temasek Polytechnic.

"I want to say that nothing should be seen as so bad that we give up on life. Just like money, respect life, and life will respect you back."

Mr Wong graduated from Nanyang Polytechnic with a diploma in risk and insurance management in 1997. Ten years later, he earned a bachelor's degree in science (Honours) majoring in finance from the National University of Ireland.

His wife, 43, is the practice manager of a global immigration law consultancy.

Q Money-wise, what were your growing-up years like?

A I come from a family of five and I am the middle child. My father was an accountant with an oil drilling firm, after which he went into financial planning and is now a happily retired grandfather of six. He still drives a private-hire car for fun.

My mother is a retired insurance agent but teaches English and mathematics to primary school children to "keep the mind going".

We grew up pretty comfortable for the most part. At one point after my father left the oil industry, he went into the business of electrical subcontracting. Quite a bit of money was lost there because of crooked partners and main contractors, but it was an excellent lesson for us in that it taught us unity, survival, humility and prudence.

My older sister and I took on part-time jobs that taught us a great deal of life's lessons.

Q What is in your investment portfolio?

A The stocks in my portfolio include DBS Bank, Frasers Hospitality Trust, Lion-Phillip S-Reit ETF (exchange-traded fund) and Golden Agri.

There were concerns over supply shortages in the commodity sector, especially palm oil, some years back, so I bought shares in Golden Agri as it is one of the largest oil palm plantation companies in the world.

For the banks, it was a matter of fundamental analysis and how DBS, United Overseas Bank and OCBC Bank are ranked among the strongest banks in the world. And for diversification and to ride on the Reit (real estate investment trust) growth the past few years, I invested in Frasers Hospitality Trust and Lion-Phillip S-Reit ETF.

Most of my stocks are blue-chip banks, with the balance of 15 per cent to 20 per cent allocated to stocks from other sectors.

In terms of the average annual return of my stocks for last year, including dividends and capital gain readjustments, the banking counters earned about 16 per cent, while the other sectors gained about 4 per cent to 5 per cent. I also took the opportunity to invest in CWT Logistics when HNA Group announced its buy-over of the home-grown company. I was inspired by its "Belt and Road Initiative" ideas and enjoyed the dividends and capital gain.

Q What insurance planning have you done?

A My wife and I have a personal accident and a term-life insurance plan each. In case something happens to us, the children will not have to worry about sudden expenses.

All four of us have a whole life policy each. If I were to die before age 44, I would be covered for nearly $500,000, and my critical illness cover would be about $210,000.

Q What are your immediate investment plans?

A I am looking at the opportunity to realise capital gains on my DBS shares, which stand at about 15 per cent unrealised gain. I bought them in the middle of November last year, but I feel that there is perhaps still some way for them to go up. I am also planning to buy more banking stocks to time their dividend distribution cycle this year, the same way I did for 2017.

Q How did you get interested in investing?

A In school, we studied subjects like capital markets and financial instruments. Comparing that with rates of savings accounts and fixed deposits, I saw investing as a better means to grow one's savings and have savings grow investments.

There was also a lot of hype back then relating to the trading of Malaysian Clob shares and their spectacular performance from 1990 till the shutdown of the Clob market in 1998.

Q Describe your investing strategy.

A I am more of a fundamentalist than a technical analyst; more of an investor than a trader. I just see it as a means to grow your savings instead of letting the money sit in the savings account, or under the mattress. I look for sound investments that could see a bit of a short-term paper loss within an acceptable timeframe.

Q How are you planning for retirement?

A My wife and I started our family with next to nothing, so we have adopted humility when it comes to being lavish.

A treat to us is not a meal at a fine dining restaurant, but more of a heartier order of our favourite zi char (a selection of common and affordable dishes which are close to home-cooked fare) dishes. For example, instead of chicken rice, we will treat ourselves to chilli crab.

Retirement funds would be in today's terms of about $500,000. From there, we are looking at income from dividends and maybe a meaningful job (like being a radio presenter) to see to our day-to-day expenses.

I plan to retire at 68 because I like the number. But seriously, as long as the mind and the body are willing, it is a good thing to continue to work till we are unable to do so.

Q Home is now...

A A four-bedroom Housing Board executive apartment in Tampines since 2011, and the size is really nice. We decided to get a bigger place because we felt our son and daughter would benefit from having their own rooms as they grow up.

We previously lived in a three-room corner HDB unit in Bedok Reservoir. We love Bedok and still visit the neighbours and stallholders there frequently.

Q I drive...

A A white Honda HRV.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 28, 2018, with the headline Respect money, and it will respect you back: Money FM 89.3 DJ Desmond Wong. Subscribe