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  • Timothy

Overheard in the office: 'Drop so much liao, can you tell me what to do?'

I hate an open-plan office design, as everyone and their activities are literally within earshot distance. I get to hear things that I don't want to nor have any interest in. Trust me, hearing an auntie occasionally scream in laughter while another shouts into the phone while trying to work out a complex algorithm in my head is not at all a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, owning a good pair of noise- cancelling headphones is my only respite (but man, those shrills can sure defy the state of the art...).

These few days, the chatter has been about the volatility of the markets. The aunties would shout across the aisles to each other: 'wah lau drop until 18 liao!!'.

Even the younger guys on my team have been hit by the sudden interest in the markets. Their chairs have been wheeling toward each other's desks more frequently, discussing if they should go for Interactive Brokers, or SAXO, etc. Now these are young chaps who have just started their careers and don't know much (or any) about macro-economics, reading financial statements etc.

Knowing this, being the (definitely) older, (mistakenly) wiser person on the team, I've been eavesdropping on their conversations to make sure they don't go crazy with their monies.

Putting together the different parts of the conversations last week, their game plan was basically this:

- open a brokerage account which offers cheap transaction fees

- buy the S&P 500

- ...

- profit!

This week, they got together again and was lamenting how the index has been dropping and wondering if they should liquidate their holdings and get out of the market.

Of course, this was foolish talk.

But it just reminds me that there are newbies who, seeing an opportunity, are thinking of dipping their toes into the financial waters.

If you're one of them reading this, congratulations! I can't think of a better period to enter the market. For some seasoned investors, this is the moment that they have been saving up the past few years for. It would be good if you can capitalize on this.

But please take this appeal to heart: know exactly what you're buying, the different types of risks and exposure you are opening yourselves up to, and the potential costs that you will face should you not do this properly. It is not a sprint you're about to enter; it's a marathon.

Not doing the above might cost you a delayed wedding of a few years just because you made some bad decisions with money you shouldn't be touching in the first place. Or worst, no wedding left to have at all.

Be wise in all your interactions, do your due diligence, caveat emptor, and all the best!

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