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Most of us would agree with the importance of investing for our future. Typically, we associate investing with putting money into financial instruments such as stocks, bonds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The idea is relatively simple. By investing during our younger days, we give our investments a longer period of time to grow their return for us.
When we think about it, the concept of investing extends to many other important areas of our lives. Besides just the financial markets, many of us also want to invest in our career, health and relationships. By putting in the time and commitment today, we hope to harvest the effort we are putting into these areas for our future selves.
One young Singaporean who is doing this today is Brent Wong. A current full-time engineering student at NTU, the 25-year-old not only spends time studying in school for his exams, but also holds a part-time job at Lululemon. In between his hectic schedule, Brent also works out about 4 times each week in the gym (he used to compete in strongman competition prior to NS).
But investing his time in his education, career and his fitness isn’t all. At just the age of 25, Brent is already an investor in the financial market since his NS days. As he reaches an adulting phase in his life, he intends to continue setting aside some of his income to invest.
In this article, we talk to Brent about how he juggles between a very hectic schedule at school and work, and yet, finds the time to train and also invest.
Brent Wong in Hanoi during his university break
Timothy Ho (Timothy): Most university students would typically spend time studying, participating in CCAs and maybe doing summer internships. On the other hand, you are holding down a part-time job at Lululemon and before that, you were working at Apple. How does a regular week look like for you juggling between school, work and everything else?
Brent Wong (Brent): Right now, schools are usually 5 days a week from Monday to Friday. Due to COVID-19, most lessons are conducted online so that saves me some time from commuting or having to stay in hall. I work at Lululemon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, usually from about 4pm till 11pm until they close.
To work out, I go to a gym near my home about 4 times a week. I also spend most nights reading books about investing and researching stocks that I am intending to invest in. It’s a pretty hectic lifestyle but one that I embrace because I like what I’m doing (including studying!)
Timothy: Is it just purely for the income that you are working or are there other reasons why you want to work during university?
Brent: Yes, it is for my daily expenditure, but I also save a large part of my salary to fund my business that I want to work on once I’ve graduated from university. The other reason is to have some money so that I can invest in the stock market.
Timothy: Saying that you are a full-time student who works part-time doesn’t accurately describe all that you do. Share with us how and when your fitness and finance journeys started?
Brent: I love to hit the gym and play sports. I figured that there are 3 important things in life. Fitness, family and finance. So, I ventured on my own path to try to champion all of them.
Brent participating in a strongman competition
It started when I was 17 in polytechnic. I was studying mechanical engineering and joined a strongman club there. That’s when it really got me started seriously. From there, I learned how I can train to get strong, learned more about body mechanics, nutrition, and a whole lot of doors opened since.
It was at Singapore Polytechnic when Brent started weight training seriously
As for finance, I was heavily influenced by my family and yes, my cousin who works at DollarsAndSense. I wanted to be financially literate and to understand how I can get my money to work for me. That’s why I started reading and investing in stocks.
I also started my first business dealing with supplements and was able to break even on that business. I am currently running a micro-business with my partner customising built-to-order PCs, as well as a fitness webpage where we share our experience, stories and other people’s experiences about their fitness and how to get to your goal of being fit as a busy Singaporean.
Timothy: What are some of your biggest challenges that you face as a young investor in Singapore? How did you overcome them?
Brent: Starting out was quite tough. There were conflicting schools of thought about the various types of investment strategies and how a new investor should invest, plus there were many technical terms to learn. In the end, in spite of not being sure, I figured, heck, I might as well just jump straight into it.
Turns out that was the best decision I made in a while. I started reading books like The Intelligent Investor and Security Analysis, both by Benjamin Graham and One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch.
Brent: One of the difficult parts of investing at a young age was having money to invest in the first place. So, to get access to capital, I started working part-time to fuel this new hobby of mine. Most of my peers don’t really invest. They speculate and gamble, which to me, it’s like drawing another card when you’ve drawn 18 when playing blackjack.
The toughest part, in fact, was the mindset. It is easy to read and know. But to have that proper mindset and investing strategy is tough. It took me a few years to calm my nerves and to have the discipline and confidence to invest.
Timothy: Once you graduate in 2022, I am assuming you will be getting a full-time job instead of thinking about an early retirement. What does your investment portfolio mean to you right now?
Brent: I don’t think I will want to retire. Like my dad, I love to work and create new things. I am intending to get a full-time job whilst running my micro business at the side for the time being. Who knows what the future holds.
My investment portfolio, on the other hand, is to build my overall wealth. To steadily grow over time. I always remind myself; I don’t need to have fast money. I just need to build it consistently over time. Compound is key, consistency is king.
In his free time, Brent also enjoys playing golf
Timothy: What is some advice that you will give fellow young Singaporeans who are thinking of investing, but may think it’s too early and risky for them?
Brent: Just get into it. You’ll burn and crash, but you’ll learn. There is no such thing as no risk, even driving down the road is a risk. Or even taking a stroll in a park has its risk. The best way to start is to start early. If you’re older, just do it. The longer you take, the harder it will be.
Using Tiger Brokers To Start Your Investment Journey As An Every Day Student Investor
Currently, one of the platforms that Brent uses to invest in stocks is Tiger Brokers. As shared with us, he invests some of his money via Tiger Brokers mainly because of the very low commission fees they charge (0.01 USD/share, minimum of USD 1.99/order) for the U.S. market and also the ability to trade the Hong Kong and Singapore market as well.
With a very intuitive Tiger Trade mobile app that you can download from the App store or from Google Play, it’s also easy for investors like Brent who is always on the move to invest at any time, via their Tiger Trade mobile app.
If we prefer a hands-off approach towards investing, Tiger Brokers also offers access to a wide variety of mutual funds that you can invest in via Tiger Brokers Fund Mall. With Tiger Brokers Fund Mall, we can search for different funds based on our investment preference, and to invest directly into these funds via Tiger Brokers. This way, we can have a single account with Tiger Brokers that can hold our entire investment portfolio, across equities, ETFs and mutual funds.
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