First foray into cryptocurrency

My first foray into cryptocurrency was disastrous to say the least, but it taught me a very valuable lesson: the importance of not jumping on the bandwagon without doing the necessary basic research.

It was October 2017. I was only 20 years old then and serving my NS duties. While having some lull time, I was chatting with my great and trustworthy buddy then about Bitcoin and Ethereum which was all the craze during that period of time. Hearing about the background and vast potential of cryptocurrency, I was eager to cash in on this potential money-making trend. Hence, I decided to “invest” $400 to buy 1 unit of Ether (cryptocurrency on Ethereum platform). While $400 did not seem like a huge sum of money, it was actually almost half of my monthly army allowance. However, I did not hesitate as I thought that it was sure to reap the rewards of this “investment”.

As luck would have it, the price of Ether skyrocketed to a high of $1800 at one point at the beginning of January. However, having read about the potential of Ethereum in news articles and the high prices that it could continue climbing towards, my greed got the better of me and I decided to hold on to it. However, my stubborn persistence proved to be fatal as the price plunged to $100 at the end of 2018.

Lessons Learnt

1.NEVER invest in something you have no knowledge about

Just because everyone is buying a stock or a certain investment product, this does NOT mean that you should follow in their footsteps.

2. Investing in Cryptocurrency is highly speculative and risky

It should not be something for a beginner to start investing in.

3. Do the necessary research before investing

Do NOT purely rely on what analysts say because they may have their own vested interests. They may also make assumptions in their calculations which may not be revealed to you.

4. Have a target price to sell the investment product to stop losses

It is easy to let emotions get the better of you. Have a target price to sell the investment product to minimize one’s losses.

5. Have a proper strategy to invest

It is important to adhere to this strategy to reap the rewards. However, the problem may lie in finding a suitable strategy. It is advisable to read up on different investment books to understand the different strategies and approaches and decide which is the most suitable for oneself. I will talk about my own strategy in my upcoming articles. Stay tuned!

Beginning of my investment journey in stocks

Mindset

In 2017, as my savings increased from a 3-digit sum to a 4-digit sum with the excess from my National Service allowance, I was not contented to let it lay inactive in my POSB Save-As-You-Earn account even though the interest rate was a relatively attractive 2% per annum. Hence, I decided to embark on my investment journey.

With my limited financial knowledge, the beginning of my investment journey was truly challenging. The economy was booming in 2017 and it seemed like it was the best time to start investing. Armed with the savings from my NS allowance, I decided to take the plunge and opened an account with DBS Vickers. Investing in unit trusts or saving bonds or even exchange-traded funds were out of the question for me as I wanted to actively monitor my investments and gain experience from my initial investments. My strategy then was simple but essentially non-existent: all that I intended to do was to purchase blue-chip stocks which were given “buy” recommendations from different sources such as investment analysts as well as investment blogs.

Even though I understood the terms used in the reviews and recommendations from my basic economics knowledge, my limited financial knowledge meant that I did not appreciate the underlying assumptions made in the recommendations. I was unable to conduct my own analysis as well. However, I thought that investing in blue-chip stocks will be almost risk-free and suitable for a beginner like me.

First stock: Raffles Medical

The first stock that I decided to buy in July was Raffles Medical for a few reasons:

  1. It was a blue-chip stock
  2. It was in the healthcare industry which I thought had great potential for growth considering the increasing reliance on healthcare

It turned out to be a really poor investment. I purchased it at $1.38 in June 2017. Its price now is only about $1.03. However, the silver lining in the dark cloud is that the company’s fundamentals are still strong.

Second stock: Singtel

The first stock that I decided to buy in July was Singtel for a few reasons:

  1. It was a blue-chip stock
  2. It paid attractive dividends (~5.4%)
  3. Analysts were confident of its prospects
  4. Everyone of all ages seemed to be holding on to Singtel stocks.

At that time, Singtel’s price was $3.86 and it did not occur to me that it might have been too expensive. Hence, I decided to buy Singtel stocks. It turned out to be an unwise decision as the price plummeted to $2.90 in 2018 before recovering to a current price of about $3.20. Similar to Raffles Medical, the company’s fundamentals are still strong.

Lessons learnt:

1. It is important to invest with a strategy in mind. 

Investing without a clear and well-thought out strategy is akin to gambling.

2. Both fundamental and technical analysis of stocks is important.

My mistake was to completely neglect the technical aspect of investing and merely focus on the fundamental analysis. This was not practical, especially given the poor knowledge I had of a company’s financials at that time. Moreover, purely relying on fundamental analysis will not be effective in the short to mid term.