This article was written in collaboration with IG, Singapore’s No. 1 CFD/FX broker (by total number of client relationships. Investment Trends 2022 Singapore Leverage Trading Report). All views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg based on our research. DollarsAndSense.sg is not liable for any financial losses that may arise from any transactions and readers are encouraged to do their own due diligence. You can view our full editorial policy here.
Over the past years, we have seen the word ‘hustle’ being used to describe various aspects of working. For some, hustle means spending time on a side hustle to earn extra money. For others, it could mean embracing the hustle culture, where we work hard to achieve the career or business goals that we have set for ourselves. And for a few, hustling could mean leaving what we are already used to so that we can build something new.
Leaving a comfortable, well-paying job with good career progression that you are already good at to start something entirely new is generally not the best career advice.
As an entrepreneur, my first advice to young aspiring entrepreneurs is to find a job with a company that they love, with the right mentors that can guide them. This is easier than starting a business from scratch, where passion and hard work may not always suffice.
However, following the conventional norm is not something that many entrepreneurs do. One such individual who isn’t sticking to the script is Gerald Wong, Founder and CEO of Beansprout, a MAS-licensed platform guiding retail investors to make better financial decisions.
Before he started Beansprout, Gerald worked at Credit Suisse for more than 12 years, initially as an Analyst covering the European market. But by the time he left in 2021, Gerald became the Head of Singapore Securities Research. Gerald was also consistently featured among the top Singapore equity research analysts in Institutional Investor All-Asia Research Survey.
Having worked for more than a decade in an established MNC, it wasn’t easy for Gerald to step outside of his natural comfort zone and start on his own. To us, Gerald is an example of an individual who is hustling to go beyond what he is naturally used to.
Since everyone may have their own version of what it means to hustle, we thought it would be worth exploring this topic in greater detail in 2023.
This is why we are starting a #MyFirstHustle series, where we interview different people in Singapore to find out from them what it means to hustle. This is a content series brought to you in collaboration with IG, the Singapore’s No. 1 CFD/FX broker (by total number of client relationships. Investment Trends 2022 Singapore Leverage Trading Report).
For this first article in our series, we talk to Gerald about what led to the eventual decision he made to leave his corporate job as an Analyst to start Beansprout and the challenges he has faced thus far in building the company.
Timothy Ho (Timothy): Gerald, thanks for chatting with me. Did you always wanted to be an analyst and what is it that attracted you to the role?
Gerald Wong (Gerald): In school, I always wanted to be a teacher and play a part in shaping the next generation. I was not even aware of the role of analysts in financial markets until I started my undergraduate studies.
This changed when I took on an internship position as a research analyst at Credit Suisse. During the internship, I enjoyed the experience of deep diving into how various macroeconomic and industry developments can affect stock prices. I also had the opportunity to learn how to invest in a disciplined manner.
I often see the role of an analyst as not being too different from that of an educator. First, you would need to understand the subject well. Next, you would have to explain this to others in a clear and concise manner.
The only difference might be that rather than teaching economics or some other subjects, I now have a role that allows me to raise financial literacy.
Timothy: You started your career at Credit Suisse and you end up staying there for about 12 years. Did you ever thought you were going to be working there for so long?
Gerald: I was at Credit Suisse for about 12 years from 2008 to 2021, which is a fairly long time as I have friends who have switched jobs four to five times during this period.
One of the things that I learnt during my career as a research analyst was the importance of mastery. This encompasses both mastery of the subject, as well as the skills required to perform the role well.
As an equity analyst, you are required to understand the industry and stocks you are covering very well in order to provide insights to clients. This meant consistently putting in a lot of hard work.
What sustained me during this period is that financial markets are always evolving, allowing me to constantly learn and for the role to remain engaging. For example, we’ve seen quite a number of unexpected developments in the past few years, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, rising US-China trade tensions, and the disruption brought about by emerging digital technologies.
Who would have imagined a few years ago that remote working or work-from-home (WFH) was something that would become the norm?
Timothy: The longer you stay in one place, the harder it could be to leave. At what point in time did you know that you would leave Credit Suisse?
Gerald: My decision to leave Credit Suisse came during the Covid-19 pandemic, when we saw the devastating impact that unexpected events could have on the livelihoods of many people around us.
It was then that I realised that there was a significant gap among many Singaporeans in trying to get to their financial goals.
While there has been a proliferation of financial platforms and products on the market, there is still a lack of insights to guide individuals in their financial decisions.
This planted the seeds for Beansprout to start growing.
Timothy: What were the reasons that got you thinking, and to eventually, starting Beansprout?
Gerald: The reason why I started Beansprout (https://growbeansprout.com) is that I think with trustworthy, clear, actionable insights, more individuals can be on their path to financial wellness.
At Beansprout, we hold the philosophy that everyone can make better financial decisions if they are empowered to do so. After all, the humble beansprout is one of the easiest plants to grow. You only need some water, sunlight, and a little care, and you’re on your way to something good.
While many have advised me to start this as a side-hustle project before diving into it full-time, I have always believed in putting my heart and soul into something I have committed myself to.
This is especially true when it comes to providing financial insights, which I believe comes with a certain set of responsibilities.
Timothy: Is Beansprout the first business you have started?
Gerald: Yes, and I am still learning how to run a business and build a good product.
While being a research analyst has offered me the opportunity to interact and learn from many outstanding business leaders on how to run a company, the entrepreneurship journey has been humbling so far when I have to put these lessons into practice!
For example, we had to compete with many other firms to hire software engineer talents during the tech boom in 2021. Thankfully, with the help of our network, we were able to bring in a founding team with the right skillset, values and fit.
I am also extremely glad to have known many other founders (like Timothy and Dinesh from DollarsAndSense), who have provided me with much mentorship and have been generous in lending support and assistance.
Timothy: What were some of the biggest worries that you had starting your own company and how did you overcome it?
Gerald: To start a hustle, you’d need to have the right mindset. You’d also need to be resilient as rejection and failure are almost inevitable.
I try to see failure not as something that is negative, but a stepping stone for us to grow and learn. After all, what is a hustle without taking some risks and facing some hard knocks?
The most important thing is to make sure that what you have built is resilient enough such that these failures are not catastrophic, and to always stand up again to keep fighting.
Timothy: A lot more people are interested in investing and trading these days, presumably because people are realizing that they can’t only work for money and that they need to let money work for them. How does Beansprout help investors achieve their financial goals?
Gerald: We’ve noticed a stronger desire on the community’s part to empower themselves with the increasingly uncertain economic outlook.
Many have shared with us that they’d like to understand how they can better make financial plans in a high inflation environment, and be able to avoid financial losses such as those brought about by the collapse in cryptocurrencies.
Beansprout offers clear and actionable insights to help individuals make better financial decisions. These insights are driven by a team of dedicated professionals with deep expertise in financial markets.
We’ve been very encouraged that Beansprout has been able to resonate with Singaporeans from various walks of life. One of the greatest joys of the journey so far has been receiving appreciation messages from our readers who have managed to improve their financial wellness, such as by earning some additional interest income by putting their spare cash into T-bills.
Timothy: What are some common mistakes that you see new investors and traders making when they first enter the financial market?
Gerald: One of the things I try to avoid is investing in anything I do not understand. This was drilled into me by a question that a client asked me when I was trying to pitch a stock to her “Can you explain this to your mum?”.
The other mistake I try to avoid is investing based on emotions, especially with swings in the market. This is why one of the advice that we often share is “don’t FOMO (fear of missing out)”.
The way I try to keep my emotions in check through the highs and lows of investing is to think about the risk-reward ratio of an investment.
For example, when markets were falling sharply during the Covid-19 period, understanding how much lower a stock can go in the worst-case scenario, and comparing this to the potential upside when the market recovers, gave me more confidence in holding the stock through the correction.
This has also enabled me to sleep more soundly through the pandemic and spend my time on what truly matters – caring for family and friends trying to cope with the lockdowns.
Timothy: Final question. What does the word ‘hustle’ mean to you?
Gerald: To me, ‘hustle’ means to keep striving to improve things. As an entrepreneur, I try to bring about better solutions to the problems faced by our customers.
Having witnessed the boom and bust of market cycles, the most important lesson I learned as an analyst is that both good and bad times don’t last.
Hence, ‘hustle’ to me also means never giving up, regardless of how many times the door has been closed on you. Learn from each of these opportunities, and you will be where you want to be one day.
Being An Informed Investor & Trader
Gerald and I share many similar beliefs when it comes to how we feel that everyday person can make better financial decisions for themselves.
Our core belief is that having the right knowledge would allow individuals to make better investment and trading decisions for themselves. As an analyst, Gerald was trained to research and understand companies and to communicate this to his clients in an easily understandable manner so that they too can become better investors. At Beansprout, his aim is to offer clear and actionable insights to help individuals make better financial decisions.
For those of us who are trading, it’s important to be a knowledgeable and informed trader. One avenue where traders can access useful content to help improve their trading knowledge is the IG Academy. Offered by IG, Singapore’s No.1 CFD/FX broker (by total number of client relationships. Investment Trends 2022 Singapore Leverage Trading Report), the IG Academy allows us to access a wealth of information, including free online trading courses catered to traders of different experience levels. There are also live sessions held regularly where traders can keep themselves abreast of the latest news in the financial markets and how it could affect during asset classes that they trade. We can also attend live seminars and webinars organised by IG, or browse the IG trading webinar library to access past webinars that are still relevant.
For new traders, having a demo trading account is a great way to allow us to practise trading with virtual funds. This allows us to get a feel for how it’s like to trade the various asset classes, become familiar with the trading platform that we are using, and try different trading strategies to see what works and how to improve our performance.
For experienced traders, we can sign up for an IG live account that allows us to trade more than 13,000+ markets across shares, indices, forex, commodities and others.
Learning To Trade Well Is A Journey
Similar to becoming an entrepreneur or starting a side hustle, the process of becoming a good trader is also a journey. When we trade, we naturally experience our fair share of losing trades.
To improve as traders, we must also learn from the losing trades that we encounter, and to find ways we can improve our trading strategies. Over time, the aim is to be more consistent as a trader so that the gains we make on our winning trades can exceed the losses we incur on our losing trades.
IG provides an execution-only service. The information in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute (and should not be construed as containing) any form of financial or investment advice or an investment recommendation or an offer of or solicitation to invest or transact in any financial instrument. Nor does the information take into account the investment objective, financial situation, or particular need of any person. Where in doubt, you should seek advice from an independent financial adviser regarding the suitability of your investment, under a separate arrangement, as you deem fit.
No responsibility is accepted by IG for any loss or damage arising in any way (including due to negligence) from anyone acting or refraining from acting as a result of the information. All forms of investment carry risks. Trading in leveraged products, such as CFDs, carries risks and may not be suitable for everyone. Losses can exceed deposits.
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