Friday, September 30, 2016

How Is A Humble Chicken Rice Recipe Worth S$2 Million?

(, Singapore's leading personal finance comparison platform, provides free and easily accessible resources such as its up-to-date credit card product page and the latest personal loan packages available in real-time.)

Timothy Ho of Dollars and Sense tries to make sense out of the S$2 million valuation of Hong Kong Soya Sauce’s S$2 chicken rice recipe. Can a chicken rice recipe really be worth S$2 million? That’s the question many Singaporeans are wondering after it was reported that the chef-owner of Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice And Noodle at Chinatown Food Complex, Mr Chan Hong Meng, is looking to explore a partnership opportunity to expand his Michelin hawker brand. The price? S$2,000,000. Along with a few other conditions that any partner will have to also meet. Valuing the price of a recipe, or the business that currently holds the recipe, is a tricky task. So does one start with the valuation? Here are some possible ways we can think of.
1. Peer Comparison
One of the most straightforward methods would be peer comparison. Investors and business owners look at similar companies within the same industry that have been sold (or valued) in recent years, taking its value as a base, before adding a premium or discount to it. Mr Chan have said that his asking price was based on the $4 million dollars that Aztech Group paid for Kay Lee Roast Meat in 2014, which also included $2 million for the shop that they own. The possible flaw in his argument, however, could be whether or not he is actually selling his business, as what the former owners of Kay Lee did, or simply looking for a strategic partner to help him expand the brand. If he is selling his business, that valuation could make sense based on the deal that was done for Kay Lee Roast Meat. However, if he is looking for a business partner, then the $2 million dollar is similar to what is called in the venture capital space as taking “cash off the table”. This means that in spite of being a future partner in the business as what he said he wanted to be, the founder is also personally cashing out a significant chunk of value in the form of the $2 million payouts. Don’t get us wrong. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a great one-time off payout especially in the later years when you are near retirement or contemplating the possibility of retirement. But one cannot have it both ways. Unless Mr Chan holds the majority in the new partnership, he is unlikely to have any say or control of the future expansion of the business.
2. Multiple Of Revenue
Another way to valuate a business would be to base it on a multiple of its revenue.  But how much revenue does Mr Chan stall generate? Let’s do some estimates. Mr Chan shared that he sells about 180 chickens a day. At a price of $14 per chicken, we can estimate his sales to be about $2,520 each day.
Chicken Sold Per Day
Price Per Chicken
Revenue Per Day
Days Per Month
Total Revenue Per Annum
If we assume 24 days a month schedule, that would give us a revenue of about $725,000 per annum. Based on a valuation of 2 times revenue, such a business could be worth about $1.45 million. Add in the Michelin star that it has and the valuation of $2 million would reasonable.
3. Projected Future Profits
Instead of revenue, an investor could also base current valuation on projected future profits. For example, if we assume that the current net profit margin the business enjoys is 25% (this is just a guess and include labour, rental, taxes and cost of goods sold), then current profit based on estimated revenue would be about $180,000 per annum. An investor could be confident of expanding the brand both locally and globally. They may also aim to charge more to increase profit margin, which wouldn’t be a bad idea given the brand name of the business and the willingness of Singaporeans to queue and pay for good food. Given the current brand value that the company already has, increasing profits by about 4 times could be the goal. If that happens, net profit could be about $720,000 per annum. Assuming a price-to-earning (P/E) of about 6 times, we could be looking at a business that might be worth about $4.5 million in the future. That’s not a lot, especially for a strategic investor.
4. Brand Value And Operational Synergy
A strategic investor who is already known in the F&B sector could find the potential partnership with Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice an attractive one. Given the fact that the stall already has a loyal fan base in Singapore, it is likely to be able to generate its own cashflow for years to come. In addition, the Michelin Star it has already earned puts it on the tourist map, a strategic investor could see limited downside to the investment. At the same time, the upside could potentially be quite high, especially if operational synergy can be obtained.
Is S$2 Million Too Much To Pay For A Chicken Rice Hawker Stall?  
In our opinion, a non-strategic investor would find the sum of $2 million to be too high. Unless they have access to lots of capital to expand aggressively, in addition to the $2 million they have to pay, it would be difficult to grow. Another Chicken Rice brand, Sin Kee Famous Chicken Rice Recipe, was also sold recently for $42,600. That could represent better value for money if getting a recipe is what a buyer is looking at. On the other hand, a strategic investor, perhaps a Group that is already running a few F&B businesses, could find this a meaningful partnership to enter into. For such a group, the downside to this investment would be limited, given the brand name already established. If an investor is able to sync up the chicken stall to its existing business operations, the returns could prove lucrative. Only time would tell how well this development pan out.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why Singaporeans In Their 20s Shouldn't Invest All Their Money In Bonds

(, Singapore's leading personal finance comparison platform, provides free and easily accessible resources such as its up-to-date credit card product page and the latest personal loan packages available in real-time.)

Corporate bonds will be available to the average Singaporean in 2016. While older investors will benefit from this, 20-somethings should be careful about buying them. The recent incident with Swiber bonds left many investors burned. And with more bonds becoming available to retail investors (read: the average Singaporean), there are some potential hazards on the horizon.
What Are Bonds, and Why Will You Want to Buy Them?
Your wealth manager will nag you into buying corporate bonds in Singapore soon. Bonds are fixed income assets*. While they do not have the potential to pay out as much as stocks, they provide a predictable and consistent stream of cash. Wealth managers will often advise older investors to reallocate to bonds. This is to shift emphasis from income growth to wealth protection. We’d like to emphasise that this is not a lie. The only reason you seldom heard about bonds before is because they used to be the province of wealthy individuals. They have only now started to become accessible to the average Singaporean, where they will be an important retirement tool. That being said, there are a few ways to lose money investing in bonds: (*Actually, not all bonds work this way. And the term “fixed income” has been a misnomer for a while now. But the vanilla bonds that will be available to regular Singaporeans mostly do.)
1. Place All Your Money in Bonds, Especially at a Young Age
Bonds provide consistent, fixed income. So the risk averse types will naturally love them, and some will go overboard and load up almost entirely with bonds. This is a terrible idea, particularly if you’re young. The interest rate on a bond may not grow with inflation. If a 10-year bond promises four per cent per annum, you get exactly four percent, even if the inflation rate rises to match it. A lot can happen to the inflation rate over 10 years (assuming you hold the bond to maturity, as passive investors are wont to do). You may find, at the end of it, that you’ve effectively lost money as inflation outpaced the interest. This is less of a problem for older investors. But for young investors, who have decades to go, too many bonds can dangerously impair the growth of their retirement fund.
2. Buy Unrated Bonds
If you happen to be wealthy enough, unrated bonds might be pushed on you. These are essentially cases when the bond-issuer does not want to pay an agency to rate them. In some cases, these make sense. For example, a bond from McDonald’s or Apple may be unrated, and still be a pretty good deal (it’s doubtful either will go bankrupt tomorrow, or even in the next 50 years). However, bonds can also be issued by questionable companies. And when those companies issue an unrated bond, they don’t haven’t been thoroughly vetted by a third party. They may not even have to prepare proper financial documents. You also cannot assume the person selling the bond has performed appropriate checks. After all, they are getting a commission for selling the bond to you. You’re buying blind, and if the company goes broke (or worse, turns out to be a fly-by-night scam), your bond is a useless piece of paper. Don’t lend money to people you don’t know.
3. Assume Bond Ratings Are Guarantees of Financial Stability
The bonds available to retail investors are usually AA or AAA (investment grade). However, you should understand that the ratings are an opinion – by a credit agency –  about the financial stability of the company. It is not a form of guarantee. During the Global Financial Crisis in 2008/9, several established companies had high credit ratings the day before they collapsed. Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are both examples of this. Remember that the opinion of the credit agency is (1) not necessarily correct, and (2) in no way guarantees safety. No one is guaranteeing anything with the rating. Thinking that the bond rating is a recommendation is always a way to lose money. AAA suggests the company issuing the bond is probably financially stable. “Financially stable” is not the same as good. The bond yields may be terrible in comparison to other options. And depending on your retirement goals, it may still be an inappropriate product for you.
4. Buy Bonds When You Need Liquidity
With a few conditions, you generally can’t change your mind and ask for your money back anytime you want. To get your cash out of a bond, you’ll generally have to sell it. There is no guarantee that you won’t make a loss; if interest rates have gone up significantly, few people will want to buy your low yielding bond. This means that, if you need liquidity but your money is tied up in bonds, you might be in trouble. If you don’t sell at a loss, you may be stuck with taking up a loan. Both options are going to cost you money. Before committing large sums to bonds, make sure you have savings on hand. Don’t start locking your money in bonds when you plan to buy a house in three years, or when you might need to pay medical costs in the near future. We suggest you keep an emergency fund of at least three months of your income before you start buying bonds. An exception to this is Singapore Savings Bonds, in which you can cash out any month. However, the interest on Singapore Savings Bonds is low, especially if you need to cash out early.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

When Are Fixed Deposits Better Than Singapore Savings Bonds?

(, Singapore's leading personal finance comparison platform, provides free and easily accessible resources such as its up-to-date credit card product page and the latest personal loan packages available in real-time.)

More Singaporeans are moving away from Singapore Savings Bonds and back to fixed deposits. But is this the smartest thing to do? For most of 2015, Singapore Savings Bonds (SSBs) were considered the ultimate in savings products. Some even predicted they might fully replace fixed deposits in banks, due to their higher interest rates and greater flexibility. In 2016, however, some Singaporeans have started to drift back to fixed deposits. We examine why:
Singapore Savings Bonds versus Fixed Deposits
Singapore Savings Bonds (SSBs) offer an interest rate based on Singapore Government Securities (SGS). This is typically projected at between two and three per cent per annum. In order to get the full interest rate, SSBs must be held to maturity* (10 years). However, you can cash out on any month, although this will mean getting a smaller amount of interest. (*The coupon, or interest payment on a SSB, is variable. It steps up every year for which the bond is held. However, the payout upon maturity matches what you would earn from holding a SGS, for the same 10 year period). Fixed deposits generally have interest rates of below one per cent. However, many banks have recently launched promotions, with some offering rates of 1.2 per cent per annum or higher. Unlike SSBs, fixed deposits require the money to be committed. If you withdraw the money before the deposit matures, you will typically lose all the accrued interest. In theory, SSBs are almost always better than fixed deposits. Not only is the interest rate higher, you also have the option of taking the money out (without losing accrued interest) when you need it. Another attractive feature was the low minimum amount to buy SSBs. It only costs S$500, whereas the lowest qualifying amount for a fixed deposit is at least S$1,000.
However, Things Aren’t Looking Good for SSBs Lately
Due to wider economic conditions, the rate on SGS has fallen. If you were to purchase SSBs this coming October, the effective return per year (if held to maturity) is about 1.79 per cent (not the two to three per cent that was predicted in better times). To be clear, this is still a much higher interest rate than bank fixed deposits. The critical issue is what happens when you try to cash out early. Say, for example, you put your savings of S$10,000 in SSBs and then withdraw them three years later. At the current rate, you would get around S$10,301. This is effectively a return of one per cent per annum. By comparison, say you put the same savings with a bank fixed deposit, with an interest rate of 1.2 per cent per annum (this rate for fixed deposits is possible at the time of writing – be sure to compare different bank account options to find the best rate). Assume it is a deposit that matures in three years. At that point, the payout would be around S$10,360. Of course, the S$59 in this example may not seem like much. But if you are storing your life savings, larger amounts will mean commensurately larger differences in the amount of interest earned.
When Should You Get Fixed Deposits Instead of SSBs?
Assuming you buy SSBs this October, the effective return per annum would be one per cent if you hold it for three years, and 1.19 per cent if you hold it for four years. As some banks have fixed deposits that pay out 1.2 per cent or more for the same time period, the fixed deposits are better if you are expecting to tap your savings then. For example, if you are 25 years old and in a committed relationship, you may need to tap your savings in three to four years to get married. If so, you could derive higher returns from putting your cash in a fixed deposit. That said, SSBs will still beat fixed deposits as a long-term product, even with yields falling. And of course, SGS rates will not be low forever, so this entire situation may be different when we revisit SSBs next year or beyond.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Which Online Grocery In Singapore delivers The Biggest Savings?

(, Singapore's leading personal finance comparison platform, provides free and easily accessible resources such as its up-to-date credit card product page and the latest personal loan packages available in real-time.)
We compare baskets between RedMart, Honestbee, Kenny Grocery, FairPrice, Cold Storage, Sheng Siong, and Giant. Which online grocery is the cheapest? You might agree that grocery shopping is one of life’s necessary evils. Like scrubbing the bathtub, doing the laundry and having dinner with the in-laws, it’s essential but rarely fun. Thankfully, we live in an age when we can now eschew the chore of queuing endlessly at the supermarket once and for all. With just a few clicks and your trusty credit card by your side, you can have your day-to-day items sent to your door. And with the sudden proliferation of online grocers in Singapore, the stiffening competition in the sector means these vendors can offer free or even same-day delivery — making your life that much more convenient. So, armed with a short list of 10 daily essentials, we loaded up our virtual shopping carts with the same items at six of the most well-known online supermarkets to see what the differences would be — and came away quite surprised at the potential price gaps. Witness the savings free delivery can mean to a simple grocery order:
Cold Storage
Kenny Grocery
All For You by Sheng Siong
Thai fragrant rice – 5kg
Eggs 10s (cheapest available)
White bread loaf – 400g
Vegetable oil – 2L
Kai lan – 300g
Kikkoman Premium soya sauce – 600ml
Coke Light, 4 cans
Dove Daily Shine shampoo
Kleenex 20s toilet roll
Dishwashing liquid refill (cheapest)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Why Brand Loyalty Makes Singaporeans Spend More Money

Being brand loyal is rewarding – or so you think. Because of several cognitive biases, brand loyalty actually makes Singaporeans spend more. Knowing how to save money and spend wisely is well and good, but what really drives our money habits? Why do we Singaporeans spend as we do? In our new Money Mastery series, we take a look at the psychological workings behind the scenes that govern your relationship with money. Being brand loyal is rewarding. You get special invites, exclusive gifts, dibs on the latest announcements, motivation to scream at complete strangers over the Internet – all for the privilege to spend more money than anyone else. In today’s confusing world, it’s more taxing to choose between the brands and packages that come flying our way. Better to choose a particular brand, stick to it, and it’s apples all the way, right? After all, we’re rational creatures, and every choice we make is a carefully considered one, crafted with the cold steel of our clearly superior intellect. It follows, then, that there are good reasons for aligning ourselves with a particular brand, and everyone else is an idiot. Well, not quite. The truth is, we prefer the things we own not because of any demonstrable superiority over the other choices, but because we defend our past choices to protect our sense of self. Here’s how brand loyalty actually makes you spend more.
Brand Loyalty Hijacks Your Experience
In a fascinating experiment conducted by Baylor University, Texas, participants were divided according to their professed preference for either Pepsi or Coke. They were then given unmarked samples or either Coke or Pepsi to drink, while hooked up to an MRI machine. The participants showed a clear preference for Pepsi (blasphemy!), as evidenced by pleasure centre activity showing in their brain scans. But when Coke fanboys were given Pepsi again – and this time, knew they were drinking Pepsi – their brain scans actually showed reduced pleasure signals. And, in contrast with their brain scans the first time round, they reported that they enjoyed Coke more than Pepsi. What happened? Being brand loyal had altered their sensation of the product, turning an objective experience (sensation of taste) into a subjective assessment (preference for the inferior product). The next time you’re tempted to proclaim how the iPhone 7’s lack of headphone jack is the superior option – even though it will cost you more in terms of convenience and money – ask yourself if it’s not brand loyalty hijacking your experience.
How Brands Get You Hooked
You may think that it’s the brand that’s working hard to keep your loyalty. After all, we’re at liberty to take our business elsewhere, anytime we want, right? However, it is our own cognitive biases that keep us on the hook. Take the Endowment Effect for example, where we think the stuff we own has higher value simply because we own it. Researchers found that people who get free items – say, a bottle of water – tended to want more money in compensation for selling that item. In contrast, if given the choice to buy that exact same item, they wanted to pay less money. And then, there’s Choice Supportive Bias, a major confirmation bias that triggers every time we purchase something. Choice Supportive Bias works like this: to reduce the inherent anxiety that comes from making a choice (and the more expensive the choice, the higher the anxiety), we make justifications after the fact to explain why our chosen option is the best one. Taken together, it’s easy to see why being a fanboy (or girl) has become the cultural norm in our world of rich and diverse consumer goods. All a corporation has to do is to create an association with their products or services that we identify with. Once we’ve bought into it (i.e., become branded), our cognitive biases kick in and keep us engaged.
What is Your Brand Loyalty Costing You?
Brand loyalty is such an insidious force that we fail to notice the price we are really paying. Take for example, Apple, which has built up brand loyalty to such an impressive degree that it can get away with things other companies wouldn’t dare dream of. Remember the good old days when we could swap out depleted mobile phone batteries for fresh new ones? Apple came along with the iPhone and took that away, to nary a peep from the famously vocal tech industry. Now, Samsung has followed suit with its latest iteration – the Note 7’s battery is non-removable, arguably contributing to the PR and logistical nightmare of resolving its current “exploding phone” image. Take another recent craze – Taiwanese milk tea. The one which prompted that one Tampines guy to go on a hoarding spree, inspiring much virtual hate in the process. Fans of Cun Cui He milk tea thought nothing of getting up in the wee hours and paying $2.80 per bottle when it debuted at local 7-11 stores, never mind the fact that these sell for about $1.20 in Taiwan. Enterprising Singaporeans even started re-selling their haul, at the totally reasonable price of $4 per pop. Or maybe you prefer your cuppa freshly brewed. If you’re a Starbucks regular, you’d surely have noticed how the prices of your favourite drink have crept up over the years. But it doesn’t bother you as much as it rightly should. An expert at value-based pricing, Starbucks shrewdly hikes up prices in a way that ensure their core demographic – higher-income coffee drinkers who see the beverages as an affordable luxury – remain pliant and accepting of ever-increasing prices. There’s no doubt that being a fanboy is fun. You get to obsess over every little detail, trade gossip, gobble up every piece of news, defend every criticism, snigger at scathing memes and categorise your friends. Keep in mind that brand loyalty is a self-created, self-sustaining phenomena that have very little do with our chosen brands. In fact, corporations couldn’t care less the heights to which you take your brand loyalty – as long as you keep buying the shinier, more expensive offering at release, right on schedule. Next time you feel shivers creeping down your spine at the sound of the next keynote playing, it’s a good time to remember that brand loyalty costs you more than it gets you.
(, Singapore's leading personal finance comparison platform, provides free and easily accessible resources such as its up-to-date credit card product page and the latest personal loan packages available in real-time.)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

How Any Singaporean Can Afford To Travel Every Year

Here’s how your friends afford their annual vacations abroad, and how you can save enough money to travel every year. Listening to friends talk about how often they travel is terrible. Like sitting on thumbtacks, or using a sandpaper napkin. The humble bragging is just grating (“Oh, I so stupidly lost my passport in Venice. For the third time this year.”) Well if you can’t beat them, join them. Here’s how they afford all those annual trips abroad, and how any Singaporean can do it too.
1. Create Small, Realistic Side Income Goals
You could try to afford travel just be strict budgeting. And if your income is at least $4,000 a month, it could be manageable with just disciplined saving. But if you’re making less, the only way you can afford to travel often is by earning a side income. You will probably have to consider tutoring, freelancing for one-off projects, etc. But the good news is, you don’t need to make thousands in side-income. Don’t exaggerate the amount of effort involved. All you need is a way to raise your income by a small amount–about $200 a month–to be able to travel once a year. An extra $2,400 a year will cover airfare and Airbnb accommodations in most places. And an extra $200 is far from impossible; some of you may even be able to negotiate it as a raise. So focus your efforts on this small, realistic goal. Forget disempowering delusions, like believing you have to become a CEO, or found a million dollar startup, before you can travel regularly.
2. Keep Up-to-Date on Hotel Promotions
With few exceptions, accommodations will make up the bulk of the cost. You will note that many frequent travellers seem to make spontaneous plans. This is because they are responding to last minute deals from hotels, or have spotted Airbnb lodgings that are going for cheap. Sign up for the mailing lists of travel aggregators, and set up a separate email address so you don’t get bombarded. Check it periodically for deals; you can save as much as 30% to 50% on last minute offers. Stalk your credit card for promotions too, as they often partner with such websites. Currently, there are a number of Agoda credit card promotions being offered for destinations in Asia and Australia.
3. Have a Working Vacation
Ever wonder how some travellers seem to have unlimited leave to go on vacation, or can afford to skip work for prolonged periods? The answer, most of the time, is that they can’t. Most people don’t have enough leave, and can’t afford to take unpaid leave for a few weeks or a month. But many of them organise a temporary, flexible work schedule: they talk to their bosses about being able to work remotely, just for the duration of the trip. This means they still get paid, and don’t lose out on leave. And if you think it gets in the way of a vacation, you’ll be surprised how little it interferes–how about doing some work during the night, when you’ve already retired to your hotel room? Three or four hours of skipped television isn’t a big sacrifice, surely. Most employers can be flexible, just for a few days or weeks. Just ask.
4. Get an Air Miles Credit Card
With the right air miles credit card, you can rack up points (or miles) for anything you spend in Singapore or abroad. You can then use these for free seat upgrades or free tickets. You can compare air miles cards at In addition to earning miles, these credit cards even offer access to airport lounges and discounts when you book accommodations on Airbnb, Agoda, or Expedia. This can shave hundreds of dollars off your airfare and make traveling a lot less stressful. Another trick to maximising your air miles card is to repay the card in full every month. Not only will the interest rate overpower any savings if you fail to do so, but you can’t use your accumulated miles while you have outstanding debt.
5. Synchronise Your Trips with Your Paycheques
This is not an endorsement for you to live paycheque to paycheque. Always save at least 20% of your monthly income for emergencies. That said… Try to time your trip so that your bank account isn’t dry when you return. For example, say you always get paid between the 27th and 31st of the month. You could time your return from your trip on the first week of the next month, so that when you come back your pay is already in. Some people overspend while on holiday and come back to find they have two weeks to their next paycheque. They then tap into their savings or buy on credit–neither are advisable options.
6. Use Public Transport When Visiting Developed Countries
It doesn’t matter if you get lost a few times–discovery is part of the fun. Plus the next time you visit, you will know your way around better. In most countries, locals will be happy to help you with directions. The cost of cabs or private cars can be steep, especially if you are visiting capital cities like London, New York,Tokyo, etc. Think how quickly you would deplete your pay by cabbing everywhere in Singapore – the same will be true in other major cities.
7. Try to Get Free or Discounted Travel Insurance From Your Agent
Ask your family’s trusted insurance agent for special deals on travel insurance. Some agents may flat out buy your travel insurance for you, because you’re a valued client. Otherwise, they can probably a get you a better deal. (That doesn’t just mean cheaper–it could mean better coverage.) Some air miles credit cards also automatically give you a complimentary travel insurance coverage when you charge your trip on them. Check to see if your air miles credit card offers this.
8. Avoid “Group” Areas When Traveling Alone
Some places are “group” areas. In other words, they are much more expensive if you go alone. The best example of this Bali–many activities are run for groups of three to four people. If you have no one else to go with, you will have to pay the cost for the entire group on your own (or find some friends, quickly). The easiest way to do this is to check on TripAdvisor. But you can also email the tourism commissions of the countries to ask how a given activity is priced.
9. Hold Off Converting Currency When You Return
Whenever you convert your currency, there is a chance you will lose money. So if there is potential for a return visit, simply don’t convert the currency back. Leave it in your drawer for the next time you visit. Over three or four trips, you will be surprised at how quickly these incidental “sock drawer savings” can pile up. These can partially fund your future trips.
(, Singapore's leading personal finance comparison platform, provides free and easily accessible resources such as its up-to-date credit card product page and the latest personal loan packages available in real-time.)