I often write on Quora.com, where I am the most viewed writer on financial matters, with over 267.5 million views in recent years.
In the answers below I focused on the following topics and issues:
- Is there an index fund for South East Asia companies like Vietnam, Thailand? If so, is investing in such a fund a good idea?
- What would I do if I was given $1million tomorrow? Would I spend it, invest it or do both?
- How can human nature actually help us save and invest more? I discuss some of the simplest strategies for saving more without trying.
- What kinds of assets do high-net-worth individuals invest in apart from stocks and real estate? Does it matter how the person got wealthy to begin with?
- How can people invest in US stocks from Ghana? Do most people need advice and guidance?
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There are loads including iShares Asia 50 ETF, country specific ones like iShares MSCI Thailand ETF as an example, and also broader Asia funds including (and excluding Japan).
Global X also has something called the FTSE Southeast Asia ETF.
However, often people looking to buy a SE Asian index are doing it for the wrong reason
There are broadly two “wrong” reasons for this:
- The assumption that economic growth and stock market performance are correlated. They aren’t. The US stock market has beaten emerging markets even long-term. Not every year or decade, but that has been the overall trend. The Chinese stock market did well in the 1990s and early 2000s, but has done terribly since 2006. US stocks have also had some of their best periods during weak, or even falling, economic growth. The excellent GDP growth rates seen in the reason doesn’t mean these stock markets will outperform.
- Familiarity. The first issue is one reason why people globally want to invest in the region. Yet there is a local reason as well. Many expats who live in the region get to know local firms, so want to invest in the local stock market. That isn’t a good reason in and of itself to invest as an expat. Plenty of locals also suffer with this same familiarity bias which investors suffer with globally as per the charts below:
Markets aren’t always efficient but they aren’t stupid either. If having a huge allocation to SE Asia was so obvious, all that institutional money from the banks and hedge funds would leave the New York Stock Exchange and move to SE Asia.
I am not saying don’t have any allocation, merely be sensible about it.
Firstly, I wouldn’t widely advertise this luck, for obvious reasons. It can only cause trouble
Second, I would invest it for a potentially rainy day, when I might actually need the money, rather than want things now.
I have criticised Kiyosaki on some of my previous answers, even though I mentioned some good things about his book as well.
However, one of his best points is concerning the difference between wealthy people’s mentality and those who go broke (including high-income people who lose it all).
He mentioned how wealthy people are more likely to think “how much can my money earn me, and not how much can my money buy me”.
That is true as is his comment below:
Too many people say things like “$1million doesn’t buy you what it used to”.
That is irrelevant if somebody wants to stay wealthy. The same is true concerning income, as per his quote below.
Income from a salary, lottery win or any source won’t last unless the money is actually put to work.
If the money is put to work, it can earn you (long-term at least) much more than putting it in the bank.
That means you have more options, security and yes even consumption in the long-term. All for delayed gratification.
That doesn’t mean that it makes sense to take things to the extreme.
Treating yourself is great, so I would use maybe $10,000-$25,000 of the $1m to do something which I don’t exactly need, but want to do.
Balance is important but spending most of the $1m within a few years isn’t balanced at all.
Even if somebody wants to retire early, which can be good for those who don’t like their job, would be better off investing the whole money and taking a sustainable income from it for life.
Consider this. Why are Apple, Amazon and many other tech firms so profitable?
Is it for the following reasons?
- They are cheaper, at least in the case of Amazon, compared to traditional bricks and mortar?
- They are trusted as they are huge companies?
- They got in to markets at the right time.
- The people behind them are smart?
- They now have a lot of money behind them?
- They have a great strategy for expansion?
- At least in the last year the pandemic has helped them, even though they were growing before that?
All of these things are important and have contributed to their success.
However, people often forget about another factor……they make it easy to buy.
The Amazon check out is easy, and they save your cards into the system:
Apple Pay even allows you to pay with one swipe of your finger:
They understand the path of least resistance.
I was watching a good documentary, ironically, on Amazon Prime.
It was featuring a man who many believe to be the greatest sports coach ever:
They asked him how he retained over performance and motivated his team.
He mentioned how “human beings like to take the easy option, so that means people will accept lower performance if they feel comfortable with it”.
A great coach has to avoid that and essentially fight against human nature.
What does this have to do with saving money? Well, fight with human nature, and not against it.
You can do that by making saving and investing money easier.
For instance, put in a direct debit to your investment account one day after you are paid.
Studies have shown people will save up to triple what they did when they wait until the end of the month to invest.
That is because it is seen as a bill payment, similar to a mortgage.
If you are currently saving $100 a month and you put in a direct debit for $250, one day after you are paid, you will be amazed how you just get into the habit.
Likewise, if you make buying on impulse easy, get hid of some of your cards.
Go on Amazon, Apple and others and click “forget” the card.
That will mean every time you want to purchase something, it will be more hassle. This will ensure you do it less.
Of course, the most effective way to invest a lot more money is to scale your income, without dramatically scaling how much you spend.
But that takes time for most people, and if good habits aren’t established, it is easy to just spend more as you earn more.
Making saving, and especially investing, the path of least resistance is a good starting habit.
It doesn’t rely on self-control and cancelling the order takes hassle.
There are broadly three types of high-net-worth people:
- Those who run businesses
- People who are salaried employees. That isn’t just high paying executives. 14% of the world’s millionaires are said to be teachers
- Those who don’t work – retired and inherited wealthy for example.
The second group of people are more common. It is true to say there are more ultra-high-net-worth individuals who run businesses, but most high-net-worth work.
This links back to your question. The lions share of the second group have a job, usually middle or higher income, and invest for decades into assets like stocks and real estate.
There has been various studies which have been conducted on the asset allocation for such investors.
A lot suggest that stocks is the asset of choice, with bonds playing a part in the portfolio:
However, the above asset allocation is American-centric. In the UK, Singapore and several other countries where people are obsessed with property, real estate plays a bigger role.
That is because it is more familiar. We all lived in a house when we were young.
Things are changing these days. Many younger investors, regardless of their nationality, prefer liquid assets like stocks and bonds, which can be more easily sold.
The first group of people, business owners, aren’t a monolithic group, of course.
Some put 100% back into their businesses. Others are sensible enough to diversify, having seen how events like Covid-19 can affect even well established firms.
Retired people are more likely to have a higher percentage in fixed income, like government bonds, compared to younger people.
This is only sensible. It pays less, but there is an argument for increasing fixed income exposure in retirement.
The big change has been the reduction in cash across the board. It pays close to 0% now.
The exception is some business owners need more liquidity for unexpected events, or mergers.
The short answer is that you need to find a broker for your needs.
If you are a local who is just starting out, with limited capital, find a do it yourself (DIY) brokerage.
Learn how to invest by yourself. If you start to have more capital, seek advice.
There aren’t many DIY options which accept for Ghana, which also allow access to the US market, but some options exist.
Once you have found a good option, you need to supply your proof of address + ID and do the online application form.
If you have more capital, or are an expat which will move around, it gets harder to DIY effectively, even if it is possible.
Your needs are likely to be more complex. Many brokerages don’t accept if you will be moving around.
In any case, it is important to be long-term and be emotionless.
Most DIY investors get bad returns (as per the graph below), due to emotions:
I suspect one of the biggest reasons for the above underperform is checking valuations too frequently:
That is why some people need guidance which goes beyond the technical.
Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?
Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 267.5 million answers views on Quora.com and a widely sold book on Amazon
In the article below, taken directly from my online Quora answers, I spoke about the following issues and subjects:
- Why should I save a lot of money for when I get old instead of using that money to enjoy life while I am young? What are the trade-offs? I explain how older people often have more energy and happiness than people expect, as shown by a famous behavioural finance book.
- For most English-speaking expats, is Tokyo, and Japan more generally, a decent place to live?
- Is Siem Reap, in Cambodia, a good place to retire, or do superior options exist in Asia, such as Malaysia and Thailand?
- If you aren’t interested in personal finances, or even hate the subject, how can you ensure that you will become financially secure? I explain how not being interested in a subject doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.
To read more click on the link below.