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4 Types Of “Alternative Investments” The “Average” Singaporean Should Steer Clear Of

Wine, Art, ILPs & Overseas Properties

Do you consider yourself an “average” Singaporean when it comes to investing? By average, we mean you don’t understand terms such as Dollar Cost Averaging, Passive Investing & Risk Premium. You do not know how an Exchange Traded Fund actually works, and you don’t know all the different type of insurance policies out there.

If you are such a person, welcome to the club. And for the record, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being an “average” Singaporean, as long as you are fully and conscionably aware of it yourself.

In our first newsletter issue back in August (do sign up if you have yet to do so!), we wrote about how people continue to make “sub-optimal” investment decisions. One of the main reasons for that was due to a lack of knowledge and transparency in information.

People make investment decisions regularly. And if you consider yourself an “average” person, here are some investments we feel you should never be considering.

1. Investing In Wine

Over the past couple of weeks, there have a couple of reports published on “wine investors” crying foul over their “investments” made with “wine investment companies.”

  • High profits of up to 30% within 3 years – Check
  • Assurance of buyback at market prices – Check
  • Posh office in the CBD area – Check

If ever you are in doubt, just look if the investments carry these characteristics, as they are hallmarks of common scams.

Investing in wine is ridiculously complex and we can safely say that 99% of Singaporeans have zero idea (some of us included) on what we even need to be looking out for to begin with. So do yourself a favour and stick to drinking wine, instead of investing in it. There will be no need for added insurance, professional storage, paper trail plus you will be a whole lot happier.

And yes, all wine, even the expensive ones, do eventually expire. If you don’t already know that, you should never be investing in it.

2. Investing In Art

We can say a lot about investing in art but we think a picture speaks a thousand words. So we will let it explain for itself.


This Barnett Newman painting was auctioned off at US$44 million. If you can’t understand why, then you shouldn’t be investing in art.

 From what we see, the lines aren’t even painted straight.

3. Investment Linked Policies

Do people who buy investment-linked policies (ILPs) really understand how it works? If they don’t, then why are they buying it?

The truth is that most investment-linked policies have quite a few variables that may result in returns being much lower than expected. These include sales charges, ongoing management fee, insurance charges, margin spread due to the buying and selling of units for the purchase of insurance coverage.

Most sales representative will not take the time to explain everything to you, since it is far too extensive and you probably would not really understand it anyway, even if they do explain. Don’t blame them.

We can spend a whole series of articles explaining how ILPs work, but then we would just be doing the job of the insurance agents for them. So instead, we will leave you with the Ugly Truths Of ILPs

4. Overseas Properties

We know Singaporeans love investing in properties but what happens when property prices in Singapore are too high and there are borrowing restrictions enforced by the government?

We turn to “cheaper” overseas properties.

To put things into perspective, we do know of people who have been investing in overseas properties and who are very satisfied with the returns they have been making. However, these people tend to be very experience and well-informed property owners who we dare say know a lot more than the “average” Singaporean, and only in property dealings. You won’t find them making bets in art or wine collections.

Don’t Invest In Something You Don’t Understand

All the above 4 investment instruments above share one common similarity, and that is, they are not easy to understand. It goes back to the idea that you should never invest in something that you do not understand, no matter how good it sounds.

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