stock investment

Investing – Types of orders in stock market

As a novice stock market investor, I often find it confusing about different types of order when buying ordinary stocks. Here are the information I collected for the different kinds of orders.

Tl; dr;

  • Stop order: triggers buy/sell stock when stock price reaches a predefined price. When triggered, stop order becomes market order.
  • Market order: matched the closest orders in the current market, the condition is different between buying and selling.
  • Limit order: Sell price >= trigger price, or buy price <= trigger price.

Stop order

Probably the most complicated one when it comes to buying stock in the normal way.

Supposed that you want to buy 10 stock X, currently trading at $9. You put in a stop order at $10. The market depth is as follow.

Stop order market depth

Now, the order will be fulfilled as follows:

  • 4 stocks for $10 each
  • 1 stock for $9 each
  • 3 stock for $11 each
  • 2 stock for $12 each

Why is this happening?

The stop order triggers at $10, so it starts buying all stocks that are selling at $10, in this case there are only 4 stock. After that, the order becomes a market order (more on that below). And with market order, it will buy stocks from lowest to highest price available in the market, until the buy order is fulfilled.

Market order

When you buy a stock with market order, you don’t care how much you’re paying for it, as long as someone is willing to sell, you are going to buy. The same happens when you sell a stock with market order.

Market order market depth

Let’s examine the same market depth, only difference is that the buying price now is the market price. The order of buying is as follows

  • 1 stock for $9
  • 4 stock for $10
  • 3 stock for $11
  • 2 stock for $12

As we can see, we end up with the same total as the example in Stop order, however the order of purchasing is different. We buy it from the lowest price first, and work our way up. In the sell order, the order is reversed, we sell with the highest buying price first, then work our way down.

Limit order

This is easy to remember, the limit order only allows the broker to buy a stock price when it reaches the trigger price, or lower. And to sell when it reaches the trigger price or higher.

Limit order market depth

With the above market depth, the buy order is as follows:

  • 1 stock for $9
  • 4 stock for $10
  • 3 stock for $11
  • Remaining 2 stock in the buy order

The stock broker will not buy any stock that is priced above $11.

Summary

The 3 different types of orders are the most popular order types in buying and selling ordinary stocks. There are a lot more that we can explore on other form of trading stocks. However they are more advanced and allow you to understand the instruments deeper to use them.

Risks come from not knowing what you’re doing.” – Warren Buffett

By Tuan Nguyen

stock investment

Investing – What are bonds?

Recently I have been taking a (free) course about stock investment. And in a few units we discussed about bond and its components. I think it is a good idea to note down what I learned and hopefully it makes me remember better.

6 James Bonds
Not these Bonds

Tl; dr;

  • Bonds, especially government’s, are considered zero risk.
  • Bond values are dependent on the reserve bank’s interest rate.
  • Don’t look at Current Yield, look at Yield to Maturity figure.

What is a bond?

A bond is essentially a loan of money. Considering company A, they want to finance a project for $500 million dollars. They can go to a bank and borrow that money at 5% interest rate for 30 years. The bank gives them the money and create a loan, but then split that loan into 500,000 bonds, each holds $1,000 in value (this is called par value). These pieces can be sold to investors for, say $1,005 per bond (the $5 extra is called underwriting fee, and that’s how the bank makes money as well).

Corporate Bond explained

Once all bonds are sold to investors, the bank is no longer in the picture. Investors and company A will deal with each other directly. Every year, company A will transfer $50 to investors for each piece they hold. Normally it will be splitted to 2 “coupons”, each coupon is $25 and 6 months apart.

After 30 years, company A will then transfer the full amount of the par value back to the bond holders, i.e. the investors.

Government bond behaves exactly the same. We can replace company A with the government, the bank with the Reserve Bank, and the model still works. The reason why government bond is considered zero risk is because the Reserve Bank can print money (or quantitative easing) if needed to pay back its investors.

How to trade them?

There are a list of bonds available here. Which describe the type, when is the maturity date, the interest rate, etc. However, there are only a few stock brokers that can trade them, for example Commsec, CMC Markets, etc. The list can be found in this PDF.

One thing to note is that bonds often have fixed interest rate. Let’s say one that has the coupon yield (technical word for interest rate, or rate of return) of 5%. Then if the RBA interest rate drops lower, its value will go up, since the government will issue new packages with lower rates now, and existing bonds with higher interest rate is considered more profitable. However it goes both ways, if the interest rate rises, existing bonds’ values will go down.

Another thing to remember is that bond value will approach its face value as it approaching maturity date. The reason is once we reach the maturity date, investors will receive the full amount equals to the par value.

Bond yield evaluation

There are 2 ways to look at the yielding value, with simple interest and with compound interest.

Simple interest

We can find the yield simply by dividing the market price into its payment per annum.

current yield of a bond
Bond current yield

As we can see, the yield is lower if we buy with a higher price than its par value, and vice versa.

Compound interest

The calculation above ignores an important aspect of this financial instrument. What happens when the bond matures?

For this calculation, we assume that all coupon payments will be reinvested in something that will return the same interest rate as the coupon yield. And at the maturity date, we also take into account the full returned amount.

Yield to Maturity explained
Compounding bond yield calculation

As we can see, the Yield to Maturity (technical term for Compounding yield) is much lower than the Coupon yield. Bond market will display both of the rates and it is our job as investors to understand them.

To calculate Yield to Maturity number, you can use this link.

So, when to invest in bonds?

Since bond values goes up if the RBA interest rate goes down, I would say if you expect the interest rate to drop in the near future, they can be a financial instrument worth looking into.

However, most investors look at bond like a low risk investment. This is a great way to preserve wealth and ensure that the capital is secured, and earn a bit of profit along the way.

Summary

Bonds are often ignored as its return rate seems to be low. However, if we can utilize its attributes to our advantage, one can actually profit from investing in them and at the same time, preserve his or her capitals.

By Tuan Nguyen

property investment

Discussion – what exactly do you own in real estate?

Recently I ran across some interesting matters regarding what do we own in terms of owning the title of a piece of real estate. I think it is useful to note down and share with people.

Tl; dr;

By owning the title of the land, one has the right to the air above and the earth below.

If you find something valuable, e.g. gold nuggets, in your backyard; it belongs to the Crown.

Air rights

dollar signs on the sky

In Australia, if someone owns the title of the land, he or she has the rights to use the air space above the land.

In Latin, this is defined as follows “cujus est solum ejus est usque ad coelum et ad inferos”Property Rights, 2016. This means “to whom belongs the soil, his is also that which is above it to heaven and below it to hell”.

So we own the airspace, but how far up do we own? Surely it is not as far as the airplane altitude, which is somewhere around 35,000 feet, or about 10.6km. According to the Property Rights, it is as high as to “be necessary for the ordinary use and enjoyment of his land and the structures upon it”. It highly opens for debate of how high can an airspace be. One can argue that if a helicopter flies too close to the house and that stops him from enjoying the land, then it is an invasive of the air rights.

Subsurface rights

Well it is not called “Subsurface rights” in Australia, nor defined separately from the air rights. However, this is related to the land and the mining rights of the soil below the land.

Similar to Air Rights, there is no hard limit on how far the owner of the land can dig. However, you need to obtain a permit from The Crown to be able to dig down for minerals and natural resources.

Which brings us to the most interesting facts…

Valuable items found in your backyard

gold nuggets
Gold nuggets

So what happens if you found something precious in your backyard? Gold, precious gems, or even a natural oil vein.

According to the mineral rights, The Crown is the first in line to say about all coal, oil, silver, gas and gold found on public or private property. Therefore even if you found something valuable, it will be the Queen’s property, and should be returned to her.

Summary

Those are interesting facts about owning the land in Australia. Now we know better about what we actually own, and realize that we actually own more than we know.

By Tuan Nguyen

property investment

Investing – Some thoughts on the Real Estate market

Recently I have been listening to quite a few podcasts and videos about real estate investing. And today I listened to a few pieces of thoughts that I find interesting. Which I decide to note them down for future references.

Tl; dr;

  • Land is a commodity, house is a consumer good.
  • Income growth is a major force to sustain real estate appreciation.
  • Real estate is a strong force to push inflation.
  • Real estate does not produce capital goods unless redeveloping.

House is a consumer good.

“A commodity is a basic good that is most often used as inputs in the production of other goods or services.”Investopedia.

“Consumer goods are the end result of production and manufacturing, which is what consumer sees on the store shelf.”Investopedia.

With the above definitions, we can clearly see that land fits the definition of a commodity, which is a basic input good that is used to produce; or in this case, develop; real estate. At the same time, the house is the final result of the real estate production chain, available for the consumer to purchase.

From this, we can see that if we treat real estate as an investment, the land is what we look at in the form of growth, as it is the only thing that appreciates in value. While the house degrades and goes out of fashion as other consumer goods, or as we call it “depreciate”. I have known about this for a while, but the explanation above so far is the simplest way to describe the fact.

Income growth sustains real estate appreciation

Australian income growth by year

As explained by Ray Dalio, production growth increases income, and as a result, increase affordability and push real estate price. If the income growth has not been too much, but the housing price is still going up, we need to figure out what caused it. At a macro-economics level, there are 2 other things that push housing price up, debt and foreign imports.

With debt, people in Australia rarely buy a property in cash. They almost always borrow most of the purchase amount from a financial institutions. The more we leverage, the more buying power we can afford to purchase one, two or multiple properties. This in turn will push the price up, especially in an auction environment, since everyone has the leverage to pull and they do not hesitate to get the dream house they want. However, without a good income, the buyers soon realize that it is challenging to keep up with the mortgage payments.

Foreign imports are pretty straightforward. People from other countries see Australia as a developed country with a stable government. They start to pour money into the Australian real estate market as an investment, or just a form of wealth preservation. For these people, it is difficult for them to borrow from Australian banks. Therefore they mostly purchase with cash. And because of the vast number of purchasers available with a limited amount of land, they push the real estate price up immensely. The cause of real estate growth is external and we all know external causes are not stable comparing to internal 

Real estate is a strong force to push inflation

Imagine a property worth $100,000 that is rented out for $200 a week. The market is growing for 10% a year in that area. In the next year, the house worths $110,000. Now the landlord has 2 options, either to keep the rent as is, or increasing it to fit the new “value” of the property.

This normally is not a problem for existing landlords, however it can be a big issue for the new investors who just bought into the area. They need to have the rent up to keep up with the mortgage repayment. Therefore the median rental price will be increased, without the change in supply and demand. This is what is known as the cost push inflation, and is generally considered as a bad form of inflation.

Real estate does not produce capital goods.

Probably the most controversial topic, however I think it has a good point.

Unless you are developing/redevelop the land, whether by sub-division, building granny flats or straight out building a new construction, exchanging blocks of dirt back and forth and drive the value up does not help improving the country’s economy since it does not produce capital goods, i.e. goods that are used to produce consumer goods and generate profits.

So would it be better if people do not dump so much money into the housing market, and pour it into other industries that could have improved our economy. In turn, it increases our income, and then increasing the housing market steadily?

I guess people are not patient enough for that to happen. Investing in economy takes time and we will not see a rapid growth in the housing market if that is the path we take.

Some final thoughts.

Is real estate investing good for an individual? Yes definitely. It increases our income by renting out the property. And there are more millionaires who get rich from real estate than any other form of investment in the world.

Is a rapidly rising real estate market good for the economy in general? Probably not, since if it is rapidly rising without a strong base to support; in this case, income growth; we could be over leveraging ourselves into the properties that do not produce enough income for us to keep it.

Summary

There are good and bad aspects of investing in real estate. We normally see it as a good form of investment for ourselves and the family. However whether it is good for the country, that is left to debate about.

Some ideas are inspired by The Economics of Real Estate.

By Tuan Nguyen

property investment

Book review – 20 questions for property investors

Margaret Lomas, the author of 20 Must Ask Questions For Every Property Investor, is a financial adviser who has been operating in Australia for quite some time. And in her book, she discusses about a system to determine if a property is suitable to add into your portfolio.

Tl; dr;

After a rough filter of all regions that you can scan, an investor can apply 20 questions in a specific order to determine if the property is a great one to buy, or quickly eliminate it from the list.

Margaret Lomas believes that capital growth and cashflow can go together, and not mutually exclusive.

Why both capital growth and cashflow can go side by side?

With a good entry price, any property can have positive cashflow. And if you can pick a property before the growth happens, people will be left questioning how you have a great performing property. You do not need to pick the property just before the boom time, rather buying it when it shows all signals of growth, but the market has not moved to reflect the changes.

Since rental income will always be running after capital growth, most people will see the growth first and ignore the rental income when they are out there doing house hunting. But without a good rental income, it can be difficult to hold on to an investment property, especially when you are holding it negatively geared.

People who buy into an area with a steady growth in the past few years, can be left devastated because the growth time is coming to an end. This does NOT apply if the area still shows all growth signals and they are getting stronger. However, most property investors listen to property gurus, or their friends to determine if a particular area is a good place to buy. As a result, their approach is a buy and pray strategy, hoping that the property value will go up and they will enjoy the capital growth one day.

Some preparation before applying 20 questions.

The end goal for us is to choose a property with the best possible chance of growth, while sustain the highest possible cashflow that we can afford.

  • Determine the scanning area: first thing to do is to determine the top level area that we want to scan for a property. For me, it will be the whole Australia. For others, it can be just a city region, e.g. Melbourne regions; or a state, e.g. Victoria.
  • Workout how much you can afford: obtain a pre-approval from a financial institution. However, keep in mind that if the pre-approval says $500,000; it does not mean the bank will lend you that amount. But it will adjust to your financial situation when you actually apply.
  • Scan real estate websites like realestate.com.au or domain.com.au for possible properties that have their indicate price that suits your pre-approval. For example, I want to look for properties with price between $350,000 and $500,000; where the area’s average price is $500,000. Margaret’s argument is that these properties are in the lower end of the area, therefore it is easier to buy and to sell.
  • Dismiss properties in areas that have less than 15,000 population: these areas are too small to sustain a good population growth, and most likely they do not have a good infrastructure or diversified industries that can support a good population growth.
  • Determine the average yield of investment properties in the remaining areas: we want it to be around 4% to 5%. Anything lower or higher show signs of unsustainability.

What I learned after reading through 20 questions?

They are extremely detailed on what to look for in an area in the first 10 questions, which are only concern about the area’s economy, population growth, external and internal growth drivers. This can eliminate most properties in the above list already.

Then we apply the remaining 10 questions, which focus on the property itself. The good thing is that if we stick to the system, at the end, there may be just 1 or 2 properties left, or we are left with an empty list. This does not mean that the method is invalid, it just means that we need to be more patient and wait for a suitable property to come on market. Or just hire a buyer agent to search for us in those areas we choose.

Summary

Overall, this is the most detailed on a system of how to choose a property to invest in that I have ever read. However, property investment is an industry where many fake gurus reside. Whether or not the system is sound, I will need to implement for the upcoming purchase to have a sound proof.

If you want to read the book and discuss ideas, you can obtain a copy here.

By Tuan Nguyen

property investment

Discussion – Deposit bond

I just learned about something called Deposit bond while reading How to achieve Property Success by Margaret Lomas. It is quite helpful in helping people buying properties more efficiently.

Tl; dr;

Deposit bond is an insurance policy that purchaser gives to the vendor, instead of the deposit amount. This can be done because of various reasons. One of which is the purchaser may not have 10% deposit available after winning the auction, but still financially able to purchase the property.

To utilize deposit bond, one must seek approvals of the vendor. And have the auctioneer/vendor approves it on writing.

What is a deposit bond?

deposit button on keyboard
Source: smartline.com.au

A deposit bond is an insurance policy. It covers the vendor in the event that the buyer defaults on the purchase. The vendor will receive the full amount of the deposit, should the conditions of losing deposit are satisfied.

Instead of giving the vendor 10%, or any amount that represents a deposit, the buyer can just hand over the deposit bond. This means no money has actually been exchanged, and full amount of money will still need to be transferred at settlement date.

Benefits of a deposit bond

There are benefits to both buyers and sellers in the usage of deposit bonds.

For sellers, they enjoy the insurance that the deposit is fully paid, no matter the circumstances of the buyer. Since once the conditions are met, the insurance company will disburse the money. Then they will go after the other party to claim that amount back. It reduces the awkwardness when it comes to financials.

For buyers, the advantages may slightly be better.

  • They keep the deposit in their bank/offset accounts, and it continues to earn them interest/offset their mortgages during the settlement period.
  • In the situation where they are in the process of selling a property before purchasing another one. Buyers may not have the cash in their possession yet, and a deposit bond may be the answer to that circumstance.
  • The premium amount is small, on average it is 1-1.5% of the deposit.

An illustrated example of the deposit bond at work.

Jane purchased a property for $500,000, with a 6-month settlement term. She was required to put $50,000 as a deposit when she won the auction. However she did obtain the deposit bond for $500 and gave it to the vendor.

John also purchased a property for $500,000, with the same settlement term. However he pays the deposit up front.

Given that they both have other mortgages to pay, and assuming that their interest rates are the same at 4% pa. Over 6 months, Jane saved $1,000 ($50,000 * 4% / 2) in interest by parking that deposit amount in her offset account, while John has to pay that amount from his pocket.

JohnJane
Purchase price$500,000$500,000
Settlement term6 months6 months
Deposit$50,000$0
Deposit bond expense$0($500)
Interest over term period($1,000)$1,000
Total cost($1,000)$500
Illustration on John and Jane’s choice of handling deposits

Limitations of Deposit bonds.

Not surprising, nothing is all good. So what is the limitations of Deposit bonds?

First off, vendors have the right to not accept the deposit bond, and requesting the full amount of deposit to be paid up front. Especially in Victoria, where the deposit bond is not at all popular. This is why buyers need to obtain the approval in writing, should the disagreement arise later.

Previously, the deposit used to be transferred directly to the vendor’s bank account. They can use it to put down on another property if they need to, or pay the Real estate agents their commissions. The agents prefer to have the money sooner rather than later, so a deposit bond goes against their interest.

However, with the recent changes, everything has to be in escrow, meaning that a third party will hold all the money until settlement. In Australia, one such company is PEXA. Therefore it does not matter whether the deposit is in cash or in deposit bond anymore, since nobody can touch that money until settlement date.

Secondly, buyers will need to go through another round of financial approvals when they apply for the deposit bond. This can take more time before they can go out and find their next home.

Thirdly, it is hard to know the exact amount of the deposit in an auction situation, therefore normally the insurance company will insure the maximum amount of deposit on the maximum price that you can afford. As a result, sometimes it may not be beneficial to do so due to a higher premium. E.g. you’re insured for $50,000 deposit, but you only purchase a property for $300,000 (in this case, deposit amount is $30,000).

Summary

Deposit bonds are definitely something to look into, or be aware of when buying properties. I will certainly be exercising this options when purchasing my next property.

Should I be successful in utilizing deposit bonds, I will have a recap on the experience.

By Tuan Nguyen

property investment

Discussion – Rental guarantee

Many property advisory companies promotes their properties with rental guarantee benefits. While this sounds reasonable and brings many benefits to the buyer. Let us take a better look at this benefits.

Tl; dr;

As the old saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” 

Rental guarantee often indicates that the project, or a particular property, has some negative aspects. These issues are not highlighted by sale agents because of obvious reasons. 

If a project offers rental guarantee benefits, it is highly advised to research a lot more into the project, see if they are viable to your property strategy in the long run.

Benefits of Rental Guarantee

There are multiple benefits that can come out of this scheme, provided that the sellers hold up their end.

Firstly, it is often advertised of having a guaranteed rental income that is the same with the current mortgage interest rate, or higher to represent a good cashflow amount. This amount can cover the interest payments and all buyers have to spend is for principle payments and other operating costs. And since it is guaranteed, investors can have their peace of mind if the property cannot find tenants for an extended amount of time.

Secondly, it is much easier to forecast cashflow if there is a rental guarantee scheme in place. You can always have that much income, and if the property can find tenants, it will be even more income. The sky has never been bluer.

What are the dark sides of Rental Guarantee?

Who pays for the Rental Guarantee?

Just taking an example from Property Update.

The developer wants to sell properties at $600,000. However the market price in that area is around $520,000. And the rental yield is about 4.6% in that area.

If he offers the rental guarantee scheme, say 6% guarantee over 3 years. The amount to spend on that scheme, provided that there are tenants is $600,000 x (6% – 4.6%) x 3 = $8,400 x 3 = $25,200.

So if he can sell the property at $600,000, factor in the rental guarantee, he can still walk away with a nice bonus comparing to the market price of that property.

So the first hidden gem is that most of the time buyers actually pay for their own Rental Guarantee.

What happens after the scheme expires?

Most investors found that after 3 years, the yield drops back to its real value. If the market has not responded to the rental growth, they are stuck with an under-performed property.

Worse case, if investors try to sell, they can only sell it at market value. And if within those 3 years, the capital growth is not as good as it was advertised, they may end up having a property that is over-priced, and unable to find a buyer.

One more thing to note is banks are cautious to lend to this kind of properties. They will NOT consider the rental guarantee amount, but taking in the real market rent amount instead.

Do you actually get paid?

Sometimes, the entity operating Rental Guarantee scheme can go broke. And in that event, all “guarantee” is simply gone.

Let’s say the developer creates another company called Rental Guarantee Pty. Ltd. with $1 equity. This company will provide rental guarantee to the investors in a project. Then when people come around asking for the guarantee payment, the company simply goes bankrupt.

Since there is no regulations related to this scheme, it is totally possible to do so. Developers do not need to register with a government body to assimilate this scheme.

What can we do to protect ourselves?

If you are offered properties with this scheme. You need to do more research into the area.

  • Find out what is the market rent, and how much growth it has over the years.
  • Find out what is the average market price over the area. If the advertised price is a lot higher than the market price, it is certainly something to look further into.
  • Ask if you can have any discount if you just don’t take rental guarantee.
  • Check the entity that provides the scheme, as well as their ability to honour the payments.
  • Note for myself – Best thing to do is just don’t buy into those projects.

Summary

Rental guarantee is advertised mostly by developers and their reseller networks. Although on the surface it may seem beneficial, but personally I think it is a way to rip investors off of their hard earned money.

This is by no mean saying that there is no investor that benefits from this. I just feel that the chance I can land such benefits is minimalistic.

I do not think I will buy into any of those projects in the foreseeable future.

By Tuan Nguyen

2 black swans

Book review – Black Swan

Black Swan is a phenomenal book that everyone should read. It discusses about the unexpected, and the impact that it has to our lives.

Tl; dr;

We should be more aware of unexpected events, as they bear significant consequences comparing to expected events. If we are aware that they can happen, we will tread more carefully in everything we do, especially in our investments.

The book can be yours here.

What is a Black Swan event?

The term “Black Swan” was coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his book of the same name. A Black Swan event is an event that rarely happens. So rare that most people do not expect, or think that it is impossible to happen.

The inspiration of the term dates back to pre-colonial age. During that time, people believed that all swans are white. The belief was solid for hundreds of years. Then when the British came to Australia, they first encounter a swan with black feathers.

2 black swans

Black Swans (source: birdlife.org.au)

This discovery forfeited the belief that all swans are white, and completely unexpected. But it happened.

The same thing had happened in the past so many times, each time caused magnificent consequences. The “11 September”, GFC, and this Coronavirus health crisis, etc. are considered Black Swan events. All of them just happened, hardly nobody expected them, and bear (terrible) consequences.

To be classified as a Black Swan event, one must be completely unexpected. If we already know of a certain “risk”, it becomes a “Gray Swan”. For example we know that a plane crash is unlikely to happen, the chance is minimalistic. In this case, a plane crash is a Gray Swan event.

Why we should ignore the Gaussian bell curve?

Galton board

A Gaussian Bell curve represents the standard distribution of certain events. Statisticians use it to classify risks of various matters, from Casino machines to complicated financial products.

However, this model will never be able to handle extreme outliers, which normally bears the most consequences. The chance of such outlier is unbelievably small, and most of us will never see all beans tilt to the far left or the far right of the board above.

Let’s say a casino assessing risks for the business. They figured out the most harmful events that could happen are cheating, so they upgrade their machines, install cameras and other measures to prevent customers to play dodgy. This could save them, say a few millions of dollars a year. However, there are events that potentially screw up their profit, things like a staff accidentally pour water to the on-premise servers, causing the casino to shut down for a day; or a terrorist just happen to detonate a bomb inside the casino. These events are, like the managements say, impossible to happen. But when it happens, the whole business suffers, and can go bankrupt because of a single such event.

How do we become more aware of such events?

These events, as the definition says, completely unexpected. Therefore we can only be aware of something harmful could happen. We do not know exactly what, just need to open our minds that such events can happen.

When we are open to the concepts, we will be more careful to the things that we do. Sometimes redundancy is a good thing. Sometimes optimization exposes us to these Black Swans. Executives are prone to maximize their company profits, via various methods. One of which is optimizing operating cost. Let’s say they cut costs and only employ 1 person to do multiple things, the workload may be enough for 1 person. But if that person goes on leave, or be sick, then the whole optimization concept is exposed to certain consequences.

How do we capitalize on positive Black Swan events?

Not all Black Swan events are bad. Some are positive and can be capitalized upon. Considering a venture capital, they are the prime example for capturing the benefits of Black Swans. They know, statistically, that 95% of startups fail. However, they focus on the remaining 5%. Let’s say they fund 100 startups, they are exposed to the chance that 1 to 5 of them can be successful. And if they are, the venture capital fund can recover all the losses from the other 95 failed investments.

Black Swans can be subjective

An event can be a Black Swan to us, but may not be to others.

Considering this, a chicken that get fed everyday for 60 days. On the 61st day, it gets butchered. To the chicken, being killed is a Black Swan. Since all historical data points towards the prediction of being fed on the 61st day. However, to the butcher, it is not even considered an unusual event.

Summary

Being aware of Black Swan events can help us in our lives. We do not need to be too scared to do something, just because it potentially causes harm to us.

If you want to buy the book, you can get a copy here.

“Always hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

By Tuan Nguyen

stock investment

Investing – Why do I decide to buy VTS?

VTS is a Vanguard Investment product. It tracks the total US stock market index. You can read more here.

This week I bought a small amount of VTS, opening my position in investing in VTS.

Tl; dr;

VTS is one of the most popular ETFs that Australians invest in. It exposes us as Australia residents to the US market. In a way, we can invest into US market by buying VTS and related products.

You don’t need to beat the market, you go with the market. And ETFs are a good and simple way to do that.

Why ETFs?

ETF stands for Exchange-traded fund. It is a stock that involves other stocks. Normally an ETF will track an underlaying index of a collection of stocks. We have ETF that tracks Gold price (NYSEARCA:GLD), we have ETF that tracks Steel price (NYSEARCA:SLX). Basically we can group anything that share a common characteristic, and create an ETF for it.

With the above concept, an ETF should reflect the average value of the underlaying securities. This also applies to ETFs that track a group of company stocks. VTS tracks the whole US market, meaning it is the representative of all companies that operate in United States.

By investing into an ETF, a busy person can just keep pouring capitals into ETF without thinking about picking stocks. Therefore freeing up the time to concentrate to other important matters.

Why VTS?

As stated above, VTS tracks the whole US market. Considering US companies have the potential to grow a lot more than Australian companies. It makes sense to expect a higher growth rate by investing into an US market tracking ETF.

VTS historical performance

VTS historical performance

From the earliest recorded time (2009) to the most recent days, amid the CoVid-19 crisis in 2020, the value has grown from $60.30 to a whopping amount of $204.20. An increment of nearly 3,400% within 11 years. That is 11.72% compounded rate annually.

Not a lot of investment instrument can perform like that over a long time, especially when you don’t need to think about it and basically just keep throwing money buying ETF.

To compare against Australian share index, VAS.

VAS historical performance

VAS historical performance

We can see that even without the drop (peak at about $90.55), the compounded rate of return after 11 years is about 5.4% annually. A figure that is much lower than the US market.

But what about VHDG, tracking a bunch of ETFs itself?

Let’s take a look at the historical performance.

VHDG historical performance

VHDG historical performance

There is not much to discuss here, since VHDG does not have a long track record comparing to the above 2 ETFs. But from what we can see, it grows at compounded return of about 6.5% annually. This rate is not bad for our current situation, when the RBA cash rate is at all time low.

Summary

Considering all historical data, I have positioned myself into VTS. With the current drop, I have the advantage of investing in 2019 again (the current price is the same as early 2019).

In the future, I will pour more capitals into VTS, mainly because I have passion with real estate and decided that it will be my main investment form. Stock market will be my secondary. Therefore I do not want to spend much time picking stocks.

By Tuan Nguyen

stock investment

Investing – Why did I fail in my first CFD trade?

Following up on the previous post about CFD trading, I ended up losing all the deposits due to no risk management plan in place.

As a retrospection, I would like to reflect on what I learned and how to improve my position in the future trades.

Tl; dr;

Due to the massive fluctuation caused by the Coronavirus, my positions on CFD breached the 20% stop loss. Therefore the system sold my position and I lost my capital. This is mainly due to me not having a good risk management.

Is is a good period to jump back in using CFD? Probably not, due to recent events, my salary dropped 25%. Therefore I will need to temporarily suspend more risky investments for a short while.

The down side of CFD

As you might have guess, the major flaw of CFD is when the market goes against you big time. For my case, the stock I bought was AIZ, and it went down at least 40-50% in the last 4 weeks, making my position go bust. at 20% drop. I bought it when it already went down 20%, and from there it dropped another 30% and push the share price down to $0.8.

The problem is that we cannot control the market, therefore this is the risk that CFD traders have to bear. Let us make some calculations on how long we have to go to recoup our cost before we just don’t care about whether our position is foreclosed or not.

CFD calculation

As calculated above, we need at least 5.5 years to recoup the principle, and anything after that is pure profit. We don’t need to care whether the principle is lost or not. This is assuming that we do not get margin called during that 5.5 years.

To summarize, the risks are significant when deciding to leverage to buy shares and to get good return are as follows:

  • Market can be fluctuated more than what we are allocated for.
  • Companies have to pay dividend continuously during the period we are involved in.
  • Overnight fundings have to be prepared before the dividend starts rolling in (normally we need to prepare a year of interest).

How to mitigate risks?

The above risks are only what I can think of. There must other risks that I have not been able to forecast.

However, let’s take a look at how can we reduce our exposure to these risks, or how to have a risk management plan.

Fluctuation market:

This may be hard to mitigate, since it is completely out of our control. However, there are some points that can help.

There are multiple types of fluctuation. Company-specific fluctuate can be neglected by choosing blue chip companies. They are more resistant to market changes and therefore the chance of them dropping below our stop loss (20%) is small.

Industry-specific fluctuate is harder to forecast the risk. Something could happen that disrupts the whole industry. Therefore a criteria when choosing which company to buy can include only buying companies that participates in old industries, such as banking, supermarkets, real estates, etc. These industries have proven track records and can be a bit more sturdy.

Worldwide fluctuation, or a global crisis, affects everyone. This is basically a dead sentence to people who are already participated in CFD trading. Market is absolutely impossible to predict, and the change deltas are unrealistic. To respond to this risk, the only thing that I can think of is not using a traditional CFD way to leverage in share investing, but rather using a different source to leverage, e.g. property equity.

Companies pay dividend continuously

The risk of our chosen company not paying dividend, or reducing dividend payment is real. However, we can partly mitigate this risk by choosing companies that have a long track record of paying dividend, as well as increasing dividend payment annually. We can also look at their financial reports and see if their dividend is sustainable.

Overnight funding

This is probably the only thing that we can control. Basically we need to keep an amount of cash in the trading account to pay for the overnight funding charges. This is completely in our control so there is no excuse not to have enough funding. If we cannot pay the overnight funding, the platform might sell our position to cover the cost.

Summary

CFD trading is considered a high risk instrument. We need to be aware of foreseeable risks and find ways to mitigate them. In other words, we need to have a risk management plan in place.

My strategy going forward is to leverage into property and buy some dividend shares that can cover the interest rate from the mortgage.

By Tuan Nguyen