Peer-to-business lending platform Minterest sets sights for series A round in 2019

The company has completed over $10m worth of deals in the eight months to the end of 2017.

When Banama Corporation was seeking financing to pay suppliers to meet rising customer demand, it had limited options due to its negative shareholder equity position with losses in its last two financial years. It did not help that Banama was in the coal mining industry, which has been in the tough cycle in the past few years, making the prospect of lending to Banama unattractive to most financial institutions. But not to Minterest, a Singapore-based digital peer-to-business lending platform, which connects small businesses to investors.

“Due to historical financials they were unable to secure bank financing and had to rely on family support,” said Charis Liau, CEO and Co-founder of Minterest, of the predicament that Banama faced – and the kind of challenge that their platform was made to overcome. Minterest was able to complete a deal with Banama and established a repeat lending relationship. “The client has returned to do three more deals with interest rate reducing as it builds a track record with the members on the Minterest platform,” said Liau. “Subsequent loan requests were taken up at an increasing pace, the last being fully subscribed in 13 minutes.”

Through its unique approach to deal structuring and the guidance of a management team that has more than 125 years in banking and finance, Minterest has completed over $10m worth of deals in the eight months to end of 2017, according to Liau, which established the startup with two other veteran former bankers, Ronnie Chia and Loo Wei Choong. And the platform is looking to further build momentum leading up to a strong fundraising milestone next year.

“The initial response was very encouraging with deals completed quickly for borrowers while delivering good, attractive returns to investors,” she added. “Funding for Minterest is currently from founders and seed investors. Together with strategic investors’ funding, Minterest has enough runway for its expansion plans before undertaking a series A round in 2019.”

Proprietary credit scoring system

Liau credits Minterest’s key strength to the way it processes deals. The lending platform has developed a proprietary credit scoring system, called MintGrade, to assess deals, taking into account the business and financial risks of each borrower and their respective financing requirements. “We utilise not only quantitative data, but also qualitative observations obtained during the due diligence process,” the co-founder said. “More than 200 data points are processed through our proprietary model to generate a MintGrade rating. Only deals that pass our criteria are listed online for members to invest in.”

The easy application process also serves to attract more borrowers and investors. After signing up online and submitting verification documents, as well as completing a know-your-customer, or KYC, process, investors can start topping up their e-wallets and participate in business loans offered by the SME borrowers. The platform matches investors with borrowers where loans are made, and present investment options from as low as $1,000 with interest rates that range from 12% to 18% per annum, and tenure of up to 12 months. Investments can be monitored real-time on a dashboard, whilst loan documentation is uploaded online for easy safekeeping.

For SME borrowers, Liau said Minterest promises the efficient raising of financing, and quick securing funds within two weeks. A combination of automatic screening and face-to-face meetings enables the platform to better understand the SME’s financing requirements, debt sizing and repayment capability. KYC and MintGrade credit assessments are made, then the startup prepares a loan request fact sheet detailing the borrower’s profile, management, financials, repayment capabilities and additional loan terms. This is then listed so investor members can participate. A portfolio management team monitors repayments after loan imbursement.

“There is a very large credit gap in the market which traditionally banks are not serving,” said Liau. “We aim to fill that gap. And provide our investors with well-structured, risk-mitigated transactions they can invest in, so as to build a diversified portfolio over time.”

 

This article was contributed by Singapore Business Reviews

Money Sitting In Savings Account? Time To Start Investing!

When it comes to personal finance, most of us usually lock up all our cash in a Savings Account. Even the well-paid lot are averse to investing, keeping their money stashed away in a Savings Account.

Though keeping one’s money in a Savings Account is a safe option, it will earn very little interest compared to the other options. The returns usually are not even enough to beat rising inflation rates. In that case, why aren’t these high-earning individuals not opening up to investments?

This mentality could be due to the surplus investment choices out there. It is common for people to avoid making a choice when there are a lot of options to choose from. The reason is that they don’t want to end up making the wrong choice.

Also, most people are afraid of making mistakes. What if they make an investment and later realise that there was a better option? Therefore, some people feel that it is better to let things be as they are. So, they let their money lie in the bank even if it is not earning much. At least it is not losing value because of any investment error.

Who is most affected by this syndrome?

Well, the people who fall in the age group of 40 to 65 years (Source: Economic Times). The rise in incomes, that we see today, is more of a recent occurrence. The people that fall in the above-mentioned age group may have been born and brought up in a rather inflated and deprived environment.

But today, people have access to a lot of wealth – many earn way more than they can spend. Yet, they are still not open to the idea of investing. They still maintain a conservative stance when it comes to spending and investments. Everything boils down to confidence and caution.

So, what should people do to get rid of their fear of investments, build confidence and practise caution at the same time? Here are a few quick tips to follow:

Past is history

Investment mistakes you have made in the past should not determine your present decisions. If you are still working and retirement is not anywhere on the horizon, then you still have a lot of time to make up for past mistakes and invest and grow your money.

How to get started? First, choose an investment intermediary to help you with your investments. There are a plenty of options, like automated ‘robo’ advisors, personal advisors, tech platforms, Internet operations through your bank, etc.

No complications, please

Your investment decisions should not be complicated. Out there, people are going to tell you that you must set your goals and invest in a variety of products each dedicated to a specific goal. But, it is better to un-complicate things and start by focusing on just one goal – to grow your wealth that is parked in your Savings Account at a rate that beats inflation. If you manage to do this, you will be able to fund all your other goals easily.

Typical formulas don’t work for everyone. For example, if you already save half your income and have more than enough money in your bank to buy a new house, then you will just have to focus on growing the money in your bank by investing it wisely. You get the drift here, right?

Annual plans

Create an annual investment plan for yourself. At least four to five investment products should be a part of this plan. If you are not confident enough to make this decision, you can always take the help of your investment intermediary – financial advisor, banker, broker or platform.

Make sure that you nag your intermediary for thorough information about an investment. Don’t forget that you are paying them to do this job. Apart from that, you’ve got to do your own research and make comparisons if you don’t want to end up investing in dud products.

For example, when it comes to equities, you need to check the long-term performances of funds rather than just the immediate performances. Make your decision only after considering and carefully analysing the investment product.

Also, you need to review your plan every year (that’s why it is called an ‘annual plan’). And do not hold more than 10 different products in your portfolio at a time.

Consistent investments

Now that you have already chosen the best investment products, stick to them. You may be tempted by new products with big promises. Or your funds may not be performing very well. But, always remember that you had chosen these products after much deliberation.

So, don’t give in to the temptations and stick to your plan, as long as it makes financial sense. Consistency matters!

Nothing new

If you think that a particular new investment product is worth considering, you can think about it further during your annual review.

Whenever any new product hits the market, it will come with a lot of promotion, advertisements and public discussion. Don’t let these get the better of you. Rather wait till the product proves itself in the market and only then should you consider putting your money in it.

On a final note…

Money lying in a Savings Account isn’t going to help you build wealth. If you want to grow your money, you need to invest in the right products. Investments may seem scary at first. But with a little caution and the right help, you will be able to get rid of your fear and become a pro-investor. All the best!

If you want to get started with your investments right away, sign up as an investor on our website now!

 

This article was contributed by Sanesh Mathew.

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for a Business Loan

Businesses will require an additional injection of capital, big or small, several times throughout their cycle. Business loans are one of the options companies can look into to get additional funding which can be used various purposes: for purchasing additional IT equipment and machinery, cover operating expenses, grow or expand your venture, etc.

Common Business Loan Application Mistakes to Avoid

Applying for the right business loan and having it approved will depend greatly on avoiding several mistakes that you may commit during the whole process. As a business owner, you need to make sure you avoid making these grave errors during the loan application process:

1. Failing to have a clear picture of your business’s financial situation

This is the number one loan application mistake you can make from which all others can stem from. Having a messy bookkeeping and accounting system will make it difficult for you to understand where you are losing money and where you can best appropriate or use the loan for.
It is therefore important that you keep good financial records or at the very least, know the basics of bookkeeping. When you regularly review your financial records, you will be able to make accurate financial forecasts and create a suitable long-term financial plan for your business which will help you to borrow more wisely.

2. Not knowing your credit score

Your business credit score is one of the biggest factors banks and lenders will consider in reviewing your loan application. They will base the amount they will offer, related fees, interest rates, repayment terms, and even the actual approval of the loan on your business credit score.
Before applying for a loan, get a copy of your credit report from several credit bureaus. Also, make sure that your credit scores are up-to- date and accurate.

3. Having a poor business plan

When applying for a business loan, you can’t just submit your financial statements and other documents to assure the lender that you have a regular source of income. Keep in mind that if you are applying for a loan, you have to demonstrate how your business will continue to operate and make money.
With a good business plan, you will show the lender your goals, how you intend to reach them, supporting data, and your past and current financials. This key document will help convince the lender they should invest in your business.

4. Failing to have a clear idea of what the loan will be used for

All lenders will want to know where and how you will use the loan they will grant you. As such, you need to know the specific reasons why you need a loan and explain this thoroughly to the lender. The best business bank or lending institution will need to know how a loan will benefit your business.

5. Applying for the wrong type of business loan

There are different types of business loans and when applying for one, you should always match the type of loan to its purpose. For instance, if you have to finance commercial real estate, don’t take out a business loan with a 12-month term.
Also, avoid applying for a long-term loan to pay for some short-term expenses such as meeting payroll or purchasing additional supplies to satisfy your customer’s request. If you’re still in the initial stages of applying for a loan, look for a lender that offers the particular type of financing you need.

6. Selecting the wrong lending institution

There are now more establishments offering business loans: banks, credit unions, crowdfunding websites, etc. Take some time to evaluate all of your options. You can even send your applications to several lenders and when you receive an approval, carefully compare the offers to make sure you’re getting the best possible terms.
The lender you ultimately choose should be the one that offers the best deal suitable to your needs and payment capability.

7. Not reading the fine print

Lastly, before signing the contract or agreement, go over all of the loan fine print and carefully read every term and condition. Make sure you know the specific interest rate and if this is fixed or variable. If it varies, be sure you know when it will change.
Get all details about payment schedules, grace periods, late payment fees, and prepayment penalties, if you decide to pay off the loan early. In case you have any questions about any of these, discuss them with the lender before signing the agreement.
A business loan can be the best solution you can get if your company is struggling or needs a substantial amount of money quickly. However, to get prompt approval and to make sure taking out a loan won’t cause more financial issues for your business, study the different types of loans offered by various institutions. Make sure you prepare for the whole application process properly as well.

This article was contributed by a guest on Invest Openly.

Minterest: Top 25 fintech companies in 2017 in Asia Pacific

The global financial industry is undergoing digital transformation with FinTech startups creating a paradigm shift in the financial sector through digital innovation. This innovation is addressing various hassles that have prevailed in the industry for long – one of which is the inability of organisations to access the services of traditional finance providers. Singapore-based Minterest, a peer-to-business financial technology platform, facilitates financial inclusion of these entities by enhancing and enabling access to financial services. The company paves the way for more transparent and efficient operations for these unbanked and underserved businesses. Minterest is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and holds a Capital Markets Service license to deal in securities. Wei Choong Loo, Co-founder, states, “At Minterest, we take our reputation in the market very seriously. The integrity and experience of our entire team is key to the success of our business.”

Minterest aims to deliver a financial ecosystem that empowers both investors and borrowers to achieve their long-term financial goals. The financial technology platform is founded by a team of former bankers with profound experience in corporate and structured finance to provide simple, cost-effective, and customised solutions for businesses. “We have known each other and worked together for about 13 years and bring our collective fund raising, financial and corporate governance experience to create value for our investors, borrowers and other stakeholders,” says Ronnie Chia, Co-founder and COO, Minterest.

We have a dashboard for our investors and borrowers where they can monitor the status of the loan request 24/7, in real time

One key differentiating factor of Minterest is its speed of executive. It recently raised SGD2 million for a borrower within four days, and within a three-week time frame from its first meeting with the borrower to deal closure. The firms facilitates the borrowers’ journey where it first conducts a basic financial analysis for them. It further analyses the businesses, their cashflow needs and offers them a suitable financing solution. The firm utilizes its own proprietary credit scoring methodology to automatically and swiftly assess and rate each loan request, utilising a combination of quantitative data sourced from third party independent providers (such as Dun and Bradstreet, Singapore Credit Bureau), financials (historical and forward looking), as well as qualitative data including information about the borrowers’ promoters and management team.

Each loan is then priced according to the credit score generated. Once the loan details such as the loan amount, interest rates, and security mechanisms are agreed with the borrower, the loan request is listed on to the platform. “We have a dashboard for our investors and borrowers where they can monitor the status of the loan request 24/7, in real time”, says Charis Liau, Co-founder and CEO, Minterest. Furthermore, investors can screen through the loans using Minterest’s platform and invest directly into the loans after evaluating the information online.

To provide a seamless user experience, the matching of investors to borrowers is done completely online on the platform. Once a loan is funded, a loan repayment profile is generated and each investor would be notified automatically of his repayment schedule. All investments made by the investor can also be easily accessible on the platform and each investor has an e-wallet that reflects each deposit, withdrawal or investment made.  To safeguard investors’ funds, the funds are independently held by an international licensed trust services company regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

The Minterest platform is fully scalable allowing multiple deals to be listed and is also able to accommodate large number of  investors on its platform. The firm intends to work on a broader spectrum of innovative technologies to further enhance the automation process using big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to further enhance its credit scoring methodology. Being an acclaimed peer-to-business lending platform in Singapore, Minterest plans to expand its borrowing base to include non-corporate sector and also expand geographically into other APAC countries.

 

This article was contributed by Apac CIO Outlook

Nine in 10 Singapore SMEs successful in securing debt financing: survey

Over two thirds or 60 per cent of SMEs that sought external financing this year did so for cash flow management, said Spring Singapore in a statement disclosing the findings from its second edition of the SME Financing survey.

Bank loans were the most popular form of external financing across SMEs of different sizes, industries and stages of development.

The majority of the remaining 87 per cent that did not turn to external financing, indicated sufficient funds to operate, while a smaller proportion (9 per cent) indicated a personal preference not to borrow.

The survey also found that larger SMEs were more likely to seek external financing given their growth needs and the approval rate for debt financing was higher compared to micro companies (companies with revenue below S$1 million). On the other hand, micro companies faced lower approval rates largely due to the lack of financial documents and/or weaker business performance to support their debt application.

Spring Singapore also said that a top finance-related challenge for SMEs was managing delays in customers’ payment which affected cash flow and working capital management.

 

This article was contributed by The Business Times.

Minterest: Top 5 platform lending players in Singapore

South East Asia (SEA) is finally embracing financial technology and marketplace lending is at the heart of this boom. The breadth and depth of solutions across FinTech Lending in the region is quite impressive and clearly signifies that a digital revolution is underway in the South East Asian lending industry.

Top and Emerging Fintech Sectors in South East Asia by Country

Singapore in particular has become a hub for the nascent fintech lending industry. It is the runaway leader in the region and holds 52% of the market share (both by number of deals and money invested). It is followed by Philippines which accounts for 14%, Thailand 13% and Indonesia 12%.

fintech asia deal share

However, with so many different governments involved, SEA poses an overregulation risk. Already, P2P lenders here have to criss-cross through various layers of regulations that their competitors in other regions don’t have to face.

Singapore Fintech Market: Overview

Singapore has always been known as the technology capital of Asia; MNCs and financial institutions have considered it a natural choice as HQ for their Asian operations. Though Singapore has deep roots in technology and innovation but ironically it got on the Fintech bandwagon rather late. But with the support of regulators, Singapore has established itself as the “Fintech Hub” of South East Asia. Singapore fintech market crossed $83 million in deals during the second quarter of 2017. In 2016, investment in Singapore based fintech companies dropped by staggering 65 percent (US$605 million to US$214 million), as per KPMG International study- Pulse of Fintech. But interestingly the number of deals decreased by only two to 28 during the same period. The main reason for the fall was complicated authorization process for fintechs, but Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is working aggressively to streamline the authorization process, in order to attract more fintechs to Singapore.

Regulatory Ecosystem

“Over the longer term, MAS hopes to see more fintechs using Singapore as a base to pilot and then deploy solutions to other countries within South-east Asia, such as Indonesia and Thailand,” said Mr Chia Tek Yew, the head of financial services advisory at KPMG Singapore.

Monetary Authority of Singapore; the regulatory body has backed the fintech industry right from the get go and that is the reason why Singapore has become the leader in South East Asia. Some of those favorable regulations are mentioned below:

  • Last year, under the “FSTI” scheme, MAS committed S$225 million (US$164.2 million) over the next five years to foster the innovation ecosystem in Singapore.
  • It also developed the road map that showed the central bank’s move toward an open Application Programming Interface (API) architecture.
  • In association with National Research Foundation, it announced the establishment of a dedicated FinTech office to facilitate the use of technology and innovation in the financial sectors (FinTech office to review, align and enhance FinTech-related funding schemes across government agencies).
  • It also released a consultation paper on proposed guidelines for a ‘regulatory sandbox’ that will enable financial institutions (FIs) as well as non-financial players to experiment with financial technology (FinTech) solutions.
  • Struck partnership with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to help FinTech companies from their respective countries scale into each other’s markets and help reduce regulatory uncertainty and time to market and it is trying to strike such more partnerships with other countries as well.
  • MAS have also announced it will be opening a fintech innovation hub “the looking glass” to promote innovation.
  • It also released a consultation paper on proposed changes to the payments regulatory framework and establishment of a National Payments Council, whose key initiatives are to promote interoperability and adoption of common standards.

This highlights that though the regulator was slow from the blocks, but has aggressively covered ground to create a supportive environment for the fintech lending community.

Leading players in the Singapore Market

Capital Match (https://www.capital-match.com/)-is an online peer-to-peer lending marketplace for SMEs based in Singapore and Southeast Asia. It provides SMEs with affordable working capital from professional investors through its online platform. It was founded in 2014 by Arnaud Bailly, Kevin Lim, and Pawel Kuznicki. Since inception, it has facilitated over S$60 million in cumulative origination. It has raised S$1,000,000 from three investors; Innosight Ventures being the lead investor. It offers business and SME loans and invoice financing facilities of S$50,000- S$200,000 with loan duration ranging from 3-12 months.

Minterest (https://www.minterest.sg)- Minterest is a peer-to-business financial technology platform founded by a team of former bankers with more than 120 years of collective experience in corporate and structured finance. It was founded in 2016 by Charis Liau, Ronnie Chia, and Wei Choong Loo. It offers various flexible funding options with interest rate as low as 1% and loan terms ranges from 3-12 months.

SmartFunding (https://smartfunding.sg/)- is a platform that provides trustworthy alternative financing solutions that are 100% focused on small and medium businesses. It was founded in 2016 and raised S$700,000 as seed funding. It offers invoice financing to SMEs.

FinAccel (https://finaccel.co/)- FinAccel is a financial technology company creating products for the retail credit sector for Southeast Asia. With an all-star team of investors, founders and employees, FinAccel is currently focused on disruption in the unsecured lending space. It was founded in 2015 by Akshay Garg, Alie Tan, and Umang Rustagi. It raised S$1,100,000 from various rounds of funding. Kredivo is the flagship product developed by the company; it gives ecommerce shoppers instant credit financing based on real-time decisioning. Jungle Ventures led the funding round in the company.

InvoiceInterchange (http://invoiceinterchange.com/)- is a peer-to-peer invoice-trading marketplace that provides working capital solutions to fund growth for small- to medium-sized enterprises. It offers both selective invoice discounting and the whole turnover invoice discounting to SMEs. It was founded in 2015 by Brian Teng and Nalinee Chinowuthichai. Investor fee is typically between 0.8% – 1.5% (per 30-days) of the advanced amount. Transaction fee is typically between 1.0%-1.5% of invoice amount.

Conclusion

Singapore has emerged as an undisputed leader in the SEA region but considering it has always been the gateway to Asia, it will certainly want to have a bigger share of the fintech lending pie. The MAS has laid out a well-thought out road map to attract startups and investments. With a massive demand-supply mismatch in credit, Singapore is poised to witness a marketplace-lending boom.

 

This article was contributed by Heena Dhir of Lending Times

Challenging the world of finance – What changes will digitalisation bring? What’s in for Fintechs?

“We need banking, but we don’t need banks” this was famously quoted by Microsoft’s Co-Founder, Bill Gates.

Interestingly, 20 years after that statement was made, digitization and fintech are now the major disruptive forces for traditional financial institution. This was a key discussion at the German-Singaporean Financial Forum on the future of banking. Our CEO, Charis Liau was one of the speakers on that forum as she shared her opinions and perspective having transited from a traditional financial institution to the fintech industry.

 

Click here to find out more: https://bit.ly/2IZEBlC

All for one and one for all

As the saying goes, in any team sport, it is always the weakest link that makes even the very best team lose its home ground match.  Each player plays a critical role of ensuring that he or she gives the best of his or her own ability to the team.

This is not only for their own personal satisfaction, more importantly, it is for the glory of the entire team, to captivate the loyalty of their fans and the respect of their deserving opponents.

This analogy can be squarely applied to the crowd funding industry, in Singapore or anywhere in the world.  The “players” are the incumbent crowd funding platforms and the aspiring new entrants (collectively “platforms”).  Together these platforms represent the crowd funding industry (team).  How each platform conducts itself in the market place will have a positive, neutral or negative impact on the entire industry.  The above is especially so, in the context of Singapore for two reasons.

Firstly, whilst the concept of using financial technology for crowd-funding has been around for more than two decades, globally speaking, this trend has only caught on in Singapore in very recent years.  As with all things new and especially when money is involved, it hinges on reputation, and reputation to succeed.  Inherently, each platform has to shoulder a common responsibility of ensuring that the public perception of the entire industry (team) is one of repute.  No matter how successful our own platform already is or may become, it will only take one weak link (errand platform) to give the crowd funding industry a bad name.  That is the reality especially so in the social media and trial by media world that we live in.  Mr Trump comes to mind but that is another story altogether.

Secondly, again as with all things new, crowd-funding can be seen as a hype, something faddish that will quickly fade away just like that cutesy bubble tea shop around the corner from my home.  So, just like any sporting match, the platforms must have the stamina to last the full duration of the game and not “run out of steam” before half time!  If the public impression becomes one where crowd funding platforms are perceived to exist just for a “quick win” and perhaps they are “here today gone tomorrow”, the industry will not be able to reach its fullest potential.  Hence, as with Singapore’s nation building era during the days of our fore fathers, each platform has to see themselves as part of a team player, whilst retaining their own identity and playing style, they have to firstly come together as a team to build a sustainable, bona fide financial eco-system.

With the above in mind and coupled with the possibility of headwinds ahead of the crowd funding industry (I do believe tension is good for us), if we are divided on our mission, we will not get pass half time in the game.  We cannot lose sight of the vision that crowd funding platforms can actually change lives by providing bona fide alternative source of financing that can benefit all stakeholders involved.

In conclusion, the Singapore Government has recently set the vision of becoming a SmartNation.  The financial technology space is a critical pillar of this initiative.  Crowd funding platforms have much to gain from this financial technology pillar.  The stakeholders, that is financing and investing community, will also have much to gain and lose from it too.  Crowd funding platforms can only thrive if we have the on-going confidence and trust of the stakeholders.  Hence, we have to ensure a winning team so as to build this new alternative financial eco-system that is credible and sustainable in the long run for all Singaporeans to benefit from.

At Minterest, we have come to form the standpoint that we are here to serve the stakeholders.  How Minterest live, breathe and eat must always have these peoples’ interest at heart.  Hence, we believe that as a crowd-funding platform, we have to maintain not only our own credibility but to also call upon other platforms to come together to do the same.  All for one and one for all!

For more information about peer to business lending or if you just want to ask anything under the sun, please send me an email to [email protected] or visit us at https://www.minterest.sg.

Alamak, not fried rice again!

My grandma used to refer to me as a “bee tang”.  In Hokkien, it means rice bin or 米桶 in Chinese – referring to someone who consumes a good amount of rice.

When I was a child, I could finish a big serving plate of white steamed rice blended with mashed salted egg.  My love for fried rice is well known amongst close friends of mine.  My favourite kind of fried rice is the one luncheon meat in it, not just any spam, but the Ma Ling type!

Recipe for Ah Ron’s fried rice (Serves 4)

You know something? I can’t help thinking how a good tasting fried rice with the right textures, flavours and colours is pretty similar to how a good investment portfolio should be.  If the fried rice is balanced properly (or dare I say, perfectly?), it is the ultimate comfort food to me.  It is the same for my investment portfolio.  It needs to be of the right balance – types of investment products invested through multiple channels, diversification of products within the channels themselves.  A well-diversified, balanced investment portfolio is key to managing investment risk while earning acceptable returns.

Like a good plate of fried rice, having seemingly the right balance of ingredients that you do not normally think will work together, an investment portfolio that has investments that have a low correlation to each other helps in spreading and reducing overall risk.  Investments with similar attributes e.g. in the same industry or rely on the same economic factors have a high correlation to each other.  A low correlation means that your investments are reasonably independent of each other.  You should aim for a portfolio that include investments that have a low correlation to each other so that should some perform badly, others may not.

At Minterest, we aim to offer this variety of investments for our investors.  People have asked, what segment of industries do we focus on?  The simple answer is that we don’t.  Not because specialisation is a bad thing, but we want to provide our investors with the widest investment varieties possible.

Minterest’s team are made up of experts in cash flow analysis with good understanding of macro-economics, we strongly believe that we can deliver good investment opportunities to our investors irrespective of the borrowers’ industry or profile.  If you invest in a well-structured instruments, you should end up with a diversified portfolio within the Minterest platform – this is what we advocate to our investors.  Pretty much like a well-rounded plate of fried rice with all the textures, flavours and colours.

A big bowl of fried rice curled up on the sofa watching an episode of Downton Abbey and knowing my investments are well balanced and diversified – now that’s comfort.  Till next time, may your investment journey be a profitable one!

For more information about this article, how you can diversify your investments or if you just want to ask anything under the sun, please send me an email to Ask[email protected] or visit us at https://www.minterest.sg

My secret weapon to investing

“Hey, Ron, share with us your investment strategy leh!”, I get that a lot from friends often.  Yes, I have made a fair number of investments in my time.  Some successful ones, some not so.  But do I have an investment strategy?

Well, come to think of it, I never really had one, a so-called strategy when I started my “investing life”.  I like to invest in stuff that I use or companies that resonate with me.  For example, I invested in Lululemon shares because I like their technical athletic apparel and in film making as well as artificial intelligence.  Pretty varied, eh?

As I start to search for an answer, there is one thing that keeps coming back at me.  And I think it is my secret weapon to successful investing.  Now, come closer and let me whisper into your ears… “diversification”.  Yes, diversification is the key to success in investing.  “What? That is no secret at all”, I hear you cry.  Very true, but the secret is applying it diligently.  More often than not, as amateur investors, we do not put theory into practice.  So, ladies and gentlemen, the secret is applying the not-so secret weapon called “diversification” every time an investment decision is made.

As I began to write this, my mind brings me back to my past.  After all, the past shapes our present as we mould our future.  “Ah Hee-ah, remember not to put all the eggs in one basket!” Huh? But I have only one basket leh.  My grandma used to shout at me in Hokkien as I walked towards the chicken coop at the back of the family house when I was seven or eight years old. It is such an old cliché but one to bear in mind especially when it comes to investments.

In my mind, there are three key factors in the diversification process.

1) PRODUCTS

We need to decide what we want to invest in.  Shares, bonds, cash and structured notes are examples of the various types of investment products we can invest in.  Variety is the spice of life and it is so true when it comes to investing.  Hence, one should invest in various type of products.

2) CHANNELS

Once we have decided on the type of investment products, we then need to determine what investment channels to use.  We may decide to invest directly e.g. buying shares of a listed company or through a unit trust that invest in, say, bonds.  Or invest through a crowdfunding platform which seems to be “in-thing” these days amongst the tech savvy folks.

3) PRODUCTS WITHIN CHANNELS

And within each investment channel, we should further apply the diversification theory.  That is to say, if you are investing via the unit trust channel, ask yourself whether you want to invest in a few different funds that cater to different risk profiles so you can spread out your risk.  Or when buying shares directly on the stock exchange, make sure you spread your investment dollars across various companies. Or within a peer to business lending platform, diversify your investment to as many loans as possible.

Now, if you can achieve a balance with these three factors, I am pretty sure you will be in for a relatively smooth and successful ride as far as your investment journey is concerned.  Brings to mind the three-layered tea I love so much.

High risk investments when approached and managed properly can be turned into acceptable risk investments which yield attractive returns.  Take the world of peer to business lending for example. You invest in 20 different loans of $1,000 each at an average interest rate of, say, 12% per annum.  Assuming 10% of the loans you invested defaulted.  In a simple scenario, you will only have earned less than 2% return (not that exciting, right?) because whatever interest you have earned will mostly be negated by the loss of capital.  However, not every borrower will default on day one.  In fact, this is extremely rare.  If on average, defaults happen half way through the tenor of the loan, your actual loss of capital is only 5%.  Overall, you will still be up about 7% which is not a bad return for loan investments which is generally safer than equities.  By diversifying your loan portfolio, you would have averaged out what is reasonably high risk investments on a standalone basis into a group of investments that have acceptable risks, yet delivers attractive returns.

You can better manage investment risks by seeking out platforms that look at loans in a detailed, customised manner to ensure as much risks as possible are considered and mitigated.  This will enhance your rewards for the amount of risks that you take.  At Minterest, this is what we do best.

Granted, there is much more to say about the diversification process.  For example, we also need to take into consideration the investment time horizon, investment goals, tolerance to risk and how correlation between investments will determine the success of an investment portfolio.  But for now, I just wanted to share with you that the secret is not about another theory but applying a well-known theory into practice diligently.

As I am finishing this article and reminiscing a bit more, I doubt my grandma was worried about me dropping the basket and breaking the eggs.  I think she just wanted me to make more trips (only one basket, remember?) between the chicken coop and the kitchen so that I will get some exercise for the day.  You see, I was a little fat child, then.

Till next time, may your investment journey be a profitable one!

For more information about this article, how you can diversify your investments or if you just want to ask anything under the sun, please send me an email to [email protected] or visit us at https://www.minterest.sg

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