Saturday, February 22, 2014

the decided

A direct continuation from the previous post... here I am, in Malaysia, still, knowingly that I let the opportunity to have that sweet 'student time' slipped away. Could've decided the other way.

About the field i'm currently in; Equity Investment. Stocks. It's one of the sexiest type of investments in the field. People who are at least financially conscious would ask the million dollar question - What stocks to buy now? Words and noises are buzzing around all the time on what are the popular stocks to play with. And often not, the most knowledgeable and most well-informed of them all, are of course the very people who are in the industry itself.

Equity Analysts should know the most on the fundamentals, as they are the one writing their pitches, crunching valuations on companies and have direct contact with the managing directors and those higher-ups in these big corporations.

but they aren't always correct in giving calls. No one can forecast how the market would move with high accuracy. That's a given. There are just so many variables that play into the market movement that some are not quantifiable and couldn't be incorporated in the models. Historical evidences are indeed useful indicators of the future, but not always a 100% reliable anchor on valuing a company.

It is indeed an exciting occupation, more so if the pitch we made has the market move according to it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

the decision

Im kinda sleepy right now. There are, however, some works to do. Especially in writing the post I’ve long ago wanted to put out. Materializing the thoughts I have into a readable form. So that, when the time finally came, I can read back and ponder upon how I weighed my decision back then.

Ever since I set my footsteps into the working field, there’s a hidden voice within my head that screams for opting out. Yes, I really did feel like becoming a student back. The transition seemed pretty rough, and while it wasn’t a soul breaker, it really made me realize how my laid back attitude during all those undergraduate years transferred into a conundrum, uphill battle of getting things right. I am naturally lazy, and I really needed someone to push me around doing things. Haha. It IS hard to initiate a self-driven action; an initiative to really go ahead and build up my own identity and caliber in the workplace. It is even harder to do it outside the office, when I am already back at my home and having to willingly put my precious hours into something work-related.

But right now, it is 17th of September, which means I have less and less time to decide what is the BIG next step. The decision I made since last year, that I applied for pursuing a masters program instead of using these ‘green’ years deciding on having a head start on the corporate race. I applied for Masters of Actuarial Studies in UNSW, and yes I did get the offer for March 2013 intake. The whole application was too easy for a graduate program and there weren’t any stringent requirements for being eligible to join the program. But at that time it was only the offer that was available. I literally have no funds to go there. So I deferred the offer till March 2014 and tried to apply for the MARA overseas postgraduate semi-loan, semi-scholarship, and yes that too was an easy course as I literally answered 100 easy personality MCQs to secure an RM300,000 top worth of funding for my studies, and are only required to pay back 20% of the total sum. Isn’t this sweet? Only in Malaysia I guess, and specifically, only for the bumiputeras. I heard last year MARA approved about 400 ‘scholarships’ for this overseas postgraduate funding, but this year it seemed like they upped the amount to around 2000. That is quite a lot, honestly. I have the offer ready, and money is no longer an issue, now where’s the catch?

The decision I have to make right now is whether I would further my studies for one and a half year, or sticking around with the current job I have? Firstly, I ended up in this job, as a soon-to-be analyst in equity research, by accident. Never had I planned to venture into this field. I attended the interview after I wildly searched for any related vacancies in any positions advertised that interested me at that time. Posts 1 and 2 written before, stories can be found there.

The prospect of this job is definitely great, given I whack through the relevant professional qualifications and get to know the right people. On the other side of the coin, passing on the opportunity to experience a student’s life in Sydney is just too good to just, well, be passed on. I have a bunch of friends and colleagues I know that just recently furthered their studies, all funded by the generous, wealthy MARA:

§         A recently married guy and his wife, both actuaries, doing masters program in actuarial science in UK. Both have 2 years of relevant working experience in the actuarial field, and they already bought an apartment. At least their future living place is already secured.

§         A guy who graduated with a 3.8 CGPA and passed 4 actuarial papers, but failed to secure a job in United States, came back to Malaysia to work as an actuarial analyst for a few months before going back to US to do masters in actuarial mixed-computer science or programming. A good decision, since programming skills are highly regarded in the actuarial field.

§         A guy who did physics in UM and is going to UK to do exploration geo-science. I bet he will end up in the OnG industry making big bucks.

§         A colleague pursuing ACCA in Dublin, together with his wife. He worked for 5 years already.

§         Another colleague who will go to UK as his wife is doing masters program.

One way to decide on which path is better is certainly by looking at the return on investment on both decisions. Of course this is to be seen solely in financial terms and disregarding all other variables.

In the short term, I’ll definitely be better off by sticking to my current job as I can save at least a third of my income, while reaping the bonus worth a year’s salary, for 2014 and 2015. During those times, I can at least try to pass CFA Lvl I and try to add in some extra actuarial papers too, just for fun. Haha. If only I have the will and the time to actually put this plan into action, then this route seems pretty interesting. Furthering my studies, on the other hand, would theoretically put me into a debt of around RM60,000. On a net basis, I will sit on an advantage of approximately RM150,000. This is of course theoretical too, under the assumption that I’ll get a hefty 12 months bonus each year (according to boss’ statement that the bonus has been on that amount on average so far),  a payback  of 20% from the total sponsorship on the whole tenure of my studies in Australia, which I estimated about 300k (hah), plus a fixed savings averaging slightly above RM1k each month. All this, not including the future prospects I’ll be getting by passing those professional exams that I deemed will put an added value on my career-building process. Wow, there’s the kiasu in me.! It’s all just a numbers’ game after all.

So what about furthering studies then? I get to experience, if not, the best 1.5 years of my life so far, way better than spending the same 1.5 years working. I can kiss the Coogee beach, cycle around the Sydney city, enjoy a much more free time, and the best part, all of these, with her J

And also opening up the possibility to get a job in Australia, if I managed to breeze through the masters program with flying colors, which I don’t think is an easy task. The intangible things in life, that perhaps can’t be reflected on the numbers in the bank account. After all, life is about taking risks and facing challenges, and also to live on the present, but a part is also to struggle now for hoping for a better future. So should I tank it out and just go there?

It is hard to decide, but I am already inclining on one side.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

exams that shall be taken

A proposed timeline for adding knowledge as well as value-added employability:

2013: -nil-
with now being September already, not only due dates for registration are long passed away (dead?), but I haven't start studying anything yet. Not a single thing. Ah I forgot one exam, Security Commission Module 19a, a needed exam for being eligible to write research reports. It's just a minor exam, nothing much. Probably will take this on the next few weeks.


March - Exam 3/MFE            Difficulty:   7/10 | Materials: 5/10

June - CFA Level I                Difficulty:   6/10 | Materials: 10/10

October - Exam 4/C              Difficulty: 12/10 | Materials: 10/10

From this point of time, I have 6 months to go through the MFE materials in which I barely know, as I never took the intended course before, and I have a cushioned-9 months to go through CFA stuffs, which is by far the most shit-tonnes of materials that are needed to go through in a single exam. It has 6 textbooks, one of each contains around 400 pages worth of undergraduate stuffs that I might still remember. Exam C? This shit is the hardest among all that I've learned in any classrooms so far. I honestly did not understand 99% of the things being taught in the class. And a mere 3 months worth of learning all the way back and revision after a CFA exam? Definitely not plausible.


Exam 5/MLC                        Difficulty:   8/10 | Materials: 8/10

June - CFA Level II               Difficulty: 10/10 | Materials: 10/10


June - CFA Level III              Difficulty: 20/10 | Materials: 10/10

Some would say trying to thrive a CFA qualification at such a young age would definitely turn oneself into a living, workaholic zombie. The twenties are so much of a valuable span of age, and one shall not simply waste it thriving for something that may be very worth in the workplace, but not on the social side of life, or basically the very life that one possesses at that time. A no-brainer, career-driven person would have the ample motivation to get through this run of completing all 3 CFA exams in 3 straight years, but for me, I'm pretty much doubting myself. Not being pessimistic, but rather realistic, based on what I am capable of. Gaining one side of a thing requires a sacrifice of another.

Life is a zero-sum game. Well, sort of.