Hello everyone, welcome to our interview series – “MyTwoCents”.
Today, I have the honour of inviting Leigh over for our interview.
Leigh is a financial blogger @ http://dividendmagic.com.my/ and a certified financial planner currently advising several clients on their finances and investments. On top of that, he has managed to grow his portfolio from a mere RM10,000 to RM345,955.92 in just 4 short years from 2013 to 2016. He even owns 2 properties with an average yield of 11.5%!
With that, let’s get straight to the Q&A.
1. Kindly tell us more about yourself.
I’m 28 this year (2017) and all about Financial Independence. I strongly believe in living frugally, saving up and most importantly – Investing.
2. What led you to start your own blog about investing/personal finance?
The main objective of the blog is to help all Malaysians, young and old alike understand that investing is nothing to be afraid of. With a little common sense and some time spent researching and reading up on companies, anyone can do it.
With our cost of living increasing every single year, I believe that investing is one of the best (and probably only) ways to keep ahead of the curve.
3. I see that you have very clear financial goals (i.e. to be financially independent by 35 years old). Can you share a bit more on how you plan to achieve them?
It’s proving to be quite the uphill climb as I’ve set myself a monumental task. But with the help of compounding and time on my side, I hope to prove that an average investor such as myself is able to achieve financial independence. We don’t have to rely on (and pay) professionals or fund managers to help manage our investments.
Depending on the market, I may or may not be able to achieve F.I. by 35. Nonetheless, I am certain that I’ll be financially independent in the near and foreseeable future. 7 more years to go.
4. Do you have a role model and what have you learnt from him?
I have many role models and people I’ve learnt from and always try to emulate. There are however 2 figures I follow closely when it comes to investing – Warren Bufett of Berkshire Hathaway and John C. Bogle of Vanguard.
Warren Bufett as almost everyone knows is all about value investing and I’ve read loads of books about him. I find it especially fun and enlightening to read his annual letters to shareholders as well.
John Bogle’s Vanguard is an investment management company with USD 4 trillion in assets under management. Think about that – 4 trillion. They provide low cost mutual funds and ETFs to invest in. What I’ve learnt from Bogle’s books and sayings are that the fees charged by most mutual fund companies will eat into your investment returns. And the size they eat into can be very, very significant depending on your fee’s %.
Let’s say you invest RM10,000 and earn 7% over 50 years.
0.0% fee: RM10,000 grows to RM294,570
1.0% fee: RM10,000 grows to RM184,202, and you lose RM110,369 in fees
2.0% fee: RM10,000 grows to RM114,674, and you lose RM179,896 in fees
3.0% fee: RM10,000 grows to RM71,066.83, and you lose RM223,503 in fees
5. What is your investment strategy and what do you like about it?
I invest in financially sound companies and I hold them for a long time. When I say long term, I mean anything from 5 years to forever. When I sell is when the fundamentals of the company has changed or if the shares are way overvalued ie. More than 40% of my valuations.
Investing in sound companies and holding stocks long term gives me peace of mind. Almost every other ‘investor’ I know lose sleep over their investments.
The first thing they do at 9am in the morning is check the prices of their shares. When the market closes, they worry about their losses or when to sell their stocks that’re making money. As for the long term method, the fluctuations on stock prices do not worry me. I evaluate my holdings every other month and make decisions then. It’s a worry-free form of investment and I love it.
6. We noticed that you have listed down your holdings in the Freedom Fund. Can you give us more insights on some of the stocks?
I don’t make it a habit to discuss stocks or tell people how to pick their stocks. But one of the companies I’m most proud of in my portfolio is Scientex. They were a little known manufacturer of industrial stretch film back then.
Since, they’ve diversified into various other industries including development of real estate. Dividends from Scientex has been growing annually and my unrealized capital gain on the stock is at an all-time high of 172%.
The thing to take away from a company like Scientex is that – undervalued hidden gems are usually found in the lesser-known companies. When the fundamentals are there, the company will eventually flourish.
7. How do you stay the course when markets are down?
As per No.5, when markets are down but the fundamentals of the company is sound, I’d most likely pick up more shares. I just hope I have enough saved up for those golden opportunities.
Also, my dividends will continue to flow in regardless of market conditions. The share price might drop, but the business should still be making the same amount or more money. With those dividends coming in, I’ll be able to add more of the company’s shares that’ve tumbled due to an economic downturn.
8. If you could only use one metric to evaluate a stock, which one would you choose?
There is no way one can evaluate a stock using only one metric. But the first thing I use to evaluate a business is common sense. I think of the product the business is offering, its competition, etc. If a business makes sense that way, I then delve deeper into its financials.
9. Is there a particular book you will recommend for our readers?
The Millionaire Next Door. Hands down. It’s not really a book on investing, it’s more on frugality and savings. Savings are so important because without it, you’d have nothing to invest with.
10. Lastly, any advice or words of encouragement for fellow young aspiring investors??
Save up and live below your means. Invest early because time is your biggest asset when you’re young. Forget that expensive car and house. Instead, put your money into income generating assets.
Stocks may not be your thing so invest in whatever you have knowledge in and are comfortable with. Thank you for having me James.
And that’s all folks!
We wish to say a Big Thank You to Leigh and hope you all have learnt something from this Interview too. Stay tuned for more success stories of financial bloggers @ MyTwoCents!