Today, 24 October 2023, Tuesday, is the last day of MoneyOwl’s investment services. From 6:00pm onwards, MoneyOwl’s investment applications will be disabled. Soon after, from midnight, you will be served fully on the iFAST platform, and iFAST will be your new fund manager and investment adviser.
While there is sadness in the hearts of all of us at MoneyOwl, we know that the ups and downs of our journey are but a faint reflection of our larger condition – as a human race, as countries, as societies and as individuals. We all face circumstances that we cannot control, try as we may to do so. The shock of the Israel-Hamas conflict and the accompanying humanitarian disaster, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, and the gyrations in big economies both East and West, threatens to shake us and tempt us to despair. On an individual level, some of us may face unexpected shocks, tough times, or just unsettling uncertainties as we move from one season of life to another.
Yet, there must always be some beliefs in our lives that anchor us, so that our core will not be shaken. And as it is with our lives, so it is with investing. Whatever is happening around you and in the world, please remember that the human spirit for recovery and progress, has never been quenched by wars, pandemics, natural disasters or man-made crises. COVID-19 was the most recent example, but it was neither the first crisis we have overcome, nor would it be the last. As J.S. Mill put it, writing in a period that Charles Dickens described as both the best and the worst of times:
“What has so often excited wonder, is the great rapidity with which countries recover from a state of devastation…… An enemy lays waste a country by fire and sword, and destroys or carries away nearly all the moveable wealth existing in it: all the inhabitants are ruined, and yet in a few years after, everything is much as it was before.”John Stuart Mill, “Principles of Political Economy”, 1848
When you invest in a globally diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds – instruments that companies and countries issue to finance their economic activities – what you are really investing in, is the future of human enterprise. It is a vote of confidence in the human race. In the long run, stock prices are driven by earnings, and earnings, by the increase in global aggregate demand, which is in turn driven by a combination of global population growth and the quest for increase in standards of living. That is why no matter how bad the crisis, the stock market always recovers and goes up in the long run. This is the reason the stock market has a positive expected return. It is backed by logic and evidence.
The principle, however, does not apply to individual companies, sectors or even countries. It is also not so easy to read the tea-leaves to try to catch the short-term turns of ups and downs, to do better than the market’s long-term return. The best of times often follows the worst of times. We just don’t know when it turns. While being in a bad season is temporary, being out of the market because you timed it wrong, is the one sure way of missing out on the recovery.
In its past 4.5 years of serving you, our dearly valued investment clients, we have rigorously upheld this standard of logic and evidence in curating and selecting solutions for each type of goals you may have – wealth accumulation, receiving income and cash. Time and again, and even now, we hear feedback that we could have done better commercially if only we had put in more variety and choice: that’s what works marketing-wise! Yet, it is vanity to do with more what can be done with less, and the long-term report card of “active management” both in terms of stock-picking and market timing is poor. For those who don’t have much, the cost of betting wrongly is much heavier. Thus, we had declined to place our commercial interests above what we believe is the best for you. Instead, what we had sought to do with every investment decision and every advisory note, was to constantly put the odds of capturing the long-term return of capital markets in your favour, so you can retire comfortably, send your kids to college and meet your important life goals, whatever they may be. That – rather than maximising return, even risk-adjusted return – should be the ultimate purpose of retail fund management and investment advisory.
For years, MoneyOwl has said that the keys to successful investing lies in the principles of staying invested, being globally diversified, not timing the markets and keeping costs low. But the final key actually rests with you: whether you are able to adjust your mindset to prioritise sufficiency over maximisation, and reliability of return over outsized gains; and whether you have that belief in the way of human enterprise and the markets to anchor your core plan through the ups and downs of the world. As we say goodbye, I hope that you will root for your own success, by staying invested, investing regularly by automating your investments – paying yourself first every month – and focussing only on what you can control in terms of your monthly savings and expenses. If you do this, you will reap the rewards of long-term investing, which is to have enough for your life goals. And having enough, at the right time, is not too little.
Once again, thank you very much, for allowing us to walk this journey with you over the past 4.5 years. May you always have all you need to live your best possible life, whatever the times.
Chuin Ting Weber, CFP®, CFA, CAIA
CEO and Chief Investment Officer
The information and opinions expressed herein are made in good faith and are based on sources believed to be reliable but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to their accuracy, completeness or correctness. Expressions of opinions or estimates should neither be relied upon nor used in any way as indication of the future performance of any financial products, as prices of assets and currencies may go down as well as up and past performance should not be taken as indication of future performance. All investments carry risk. The author and publisher shall have no liability for any loss or expense whatsoever relating to investment decisions made by the reader