Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Mom and pop investors don't stand a chance

In my job, I read many, many stock reports written by sell-side analysts, who work for the major brokerages. Last weekend, I was trying to access a report by a local broker, which I had read in the office. After exhausting my normal channels, I decided have a look at the broker's research website. I had to register for access, which I did under my personal trading account since it was the weekend and I couldn't call the account manager for my company. Unfortunately I couldn't get immediate access, and had to wait for the broker to "approve", which was to take a couple of days. Oh well.

So, I was rather amused to get this reply today in my e-mail:


We refer to your application for an access to the [name blanked] regional research website and regret to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful. According to the MAS rule, clients has to have a net personal assets exceeding S$2m or equivalent in foreign currency or income in the preceding 12 months of not less than S$300k. For stock investment information, you may wish to visit our website at [URL blanked] or check with your dealing representative for advice. Should you have any query, you might want to get back to us.

Thank you for your interest in our research reports.

Yours sincerely
[name blanked] Research Singapore.
Wow. I suppose they mean that under MAS regulations, unless you are a high net worth individual, they are not allowed to give you access to their investment research. Why? Is it because unless you are HNW, you can't handle investment research? Why would MAS think that way? Why would MAS think that way and yet have a research scheme to "widen research coverage of stocks listed on SGX and provide investors with more information to facilitate their investment decisions"? Moreover, reports written under the scheme are accessible by anyone, not just HNWs, and are written by local and international brokers and research houses. Mucho strange.

In comparison, the broker's website has only got for public access snippet-style write-ups without detailed numbers, mostly on small-cap stocks. In this environment, how do mom and pop investors stand a chance? They are already disadvantaged in the type of brokers they can get access to (the top international names serve only institutional clients). And obviously they don't have the same access to management. Now I find out that they don't have access to the same research, even though they probably pay the brokers more per dollar traded than institutional clients. Not a good situation.

I have access to all the investment research and information that I need in my job. And I am lucky to have an employer who will let me invest personally in the same investment ideas which I generate as part of my work (under certain ethical restrictions). If I wasn't in this industry, I'd seriosly consider not trading stocks directly.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Too funny not to post

It's Bollywood, it's drama, it's the painful reality of outsourcing.

It's The Call Center Movie!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Starting 'em young

Same pose, same place, 4.5 years apart. And yes, that's a vintage Zip drive in the earlier photo.

Jia-Hui at seven months.

Xin-Hui at seven months.

Dinner at Xi Yan, Hong Kong

We were lucky enough to get a table at the acclaimed private kitchen on short notice, as someone else had cancelled. The tiny six-table restaurant is located on the third floor of a grimy office building on Queen's Road in Wanchai. The decor was modern Chinese, but hell, it wasn't the ID that we came for!

Our 12-course meal was well-paced over 2.5 hours, contrary to some comments that dinner at Xi Yan's sister restaurant in Singapore tended to be draggy. With a few bottles of wine and good company, it was a breeze, and a lot to eat. Other than that, I'll let the pix do the talking. Damn, the HK trip put me up 1.5kg...

Crummy, but within lies culinary genius.

Skinned tomatoes with a sesame and chinese
mustard sauce.

Steamed tofu topped with fried shallots, salted egg
yolk and dried shrimp, on a soya and vinegar sauce.

Runny-yolked duck egg topped with fish roe
and shredded dried scallop.

Crab and prawn on toast with roe.

Deep fried chicked with plum-powder.

Mix of white-chopped chicken, century egg
and mung bean strips on a mala sauce.

Crispy grouper on a bed of pomelo.

Szechuan braised beef brisket and tendon
with you tiao.

Refresher of guava and jambu air.

Chicken and wolfberry-seed soup with
coconut slice.

Simple stir fried dou miao.

Not pictured: Sweet potato soup with tang yuan.

Iggy's makes it to world's top 100!

Alerted by the Sunday Times today, I was happy to see that Iggy's is getting the recognition it deserves. I remember thinking "Can I say pretentious?" when I first saw its menu years ago, but after several great experiences, I'm well and truly converted. Chubby Hubby does a better job covering the honours, I feel, and proposes a very sensible and exciting ranking for the Asia-Pacific as well.

Iggy's makes it to world's top 100
Tiny eatery is ranked 98th among world's best restaurants

Sunday Times, 14 May 2006
By Teo Pau Lin

BRING out the champagne: Singapore officially has a world-class restaurant. Iggy's, a tiny, 28-seat modern European eatery in The Regent hotel, has been voted among the best 100 restaurants in the world by the British-based Restaurant magazine.

Put together by an international panel of 560 food enthusiasts, the annual poll, published last month, was topped by the El Bulli restaurant in Spain.

Iggy's came in 98th and was the only South-east Asian restaurant to be ranked.

It came in fourth in Asia, behind Bukhara (46th) in India, and Felix (82nd) and Spoon (91st) in Hong Kong.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Dogs need help

pc is helping out a friend who runs a dog shelter which is desperately in need of funds. Check out his post, or the shelter's website.

Caring for strays has put these S'pore sisters in debt.
Now they wonder... What is to become of 44 dogs?
By Nicole Na and Belle Charlene Kwan
29 April 2006

MORE than $250,000.

That's how much the two sisters have spent from their own pockets, over the last six years, giving a home to 44 dogs.

They called it Doggie Rescue Shelter.

Ms Jessie, 36, and Elsie Ng, 33, didn't give up even when they changed jobs and took massive paycuts.

But now, their savings have dried up. They hate to think of what would happen to the dogs, which are now housed in 14 rented kennels in Pasir Ris Farmway.

Said a tearful Ms Jessie, who earns less than $2,000 a month from her temporary sales-executive job: 'We can no longer afford to look after these dogs.

'The cost is overwhelming. We have tried every possible way to lighten the financial burden, like switching to lower grade dog food and looking for places with cheaper kennel rentals, but nothing has worked out.

'Ms Jessie hopes that with donations from fellow animal lovers, and interested pet owners coming forward to provide homes for the dogs, she would not have to put them to sleep.

Friday, May 05, 2006

PM accuses WP of inciting insecurity


Read what Mr Wang and Mrs Budak has to say about inciting insecurity.

And BTW, you have not read election coverage till you read Yawning Bread's eloquent essay on the rally at Hougang on May Day. Bread is one hell of a cerebral dude. Read his other writings too.

Monday, May 01, 2006

More interesting headlines

Taiwan's underperforming economy
Political infighting affecting island's economic reforms and performance

From today's Straits Times.