Sam Phoen is a seasoned financial markets practitioner with over 20 years of experience. His professional career has included 16 years in the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), where he was the deputy department head of the Foreign Exchange Department when he left to join a large Singapore-based hedge fund as a senior macro portfolio manager. He then had over seven years with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), where he was mainly based in Shanghai managing the Global Markets business for ANZ China.
Sam is a graduate of the National University of Singapore, and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). Sam was also a board director for CFA Singapore for three years before he left to work in ANZ China.
With his passion, experience and expertise in investing for the firms he has worked for as well as for himself, Sam wrote “High Net Worth Investing – How to grow your wealth through practical asset allocation” aiming to help investors grow their wealth. Whether you are a PMEB looking to secure your financial future, a high net worth individual (HNWI) seeking to optimise your portfolio against your objectives, or a Premier, Priority, Privilege, Treasures or Wealth banking customer with capital to invest, read on to find out more about what contributed to Sam’s success as a trader, and why he has chosen to share his experience and insights on how to maximise your portfolio’s value with his book.
How did you start out your career in finance?
I’ve always been interested in investing since young. After completing my CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to transfer from the IT division to the Foreign Exchange division, and that started my career in investment.
What are some of your most memorable moments as a trader?
There are numerous global events that were challenging but memorable. Some key events I traded through include the Asian Financial Crisis, the Dot Com bust and the Global Financial Crisis and I learnt a great deal from each of them. The most memorable moments were how I managed to navigate through these difficult periods of market disruptions and emerged relatively unscathed.
What do you love most about the financial industry?
The financial industry is one that is constantly evolving, so one cannot stay still. Everyone tries to outsmart one another and only the fittest survive. I love learning new things and pitting myself against the best in the market. It is tough but at the same time extremely rewarding when one does well in such an environment.
What is the single most important thing you have learned throughout your career?
The single most important thing I have learnt is humility. With the markets, we can’t always be right, and the market will punish us if we are over-confident, so it is important to accept that with humility. With people, it is crucial to know that there are always people smarter than us, including people junior to us. So learn to accept that and better still, use or get help from these smart people to accomplish one’s goals!
Could you briefly introduce us to your book, “High Net Worth Investing – How to grow your wealth through practical asset allocation”?
The title of my book “High Net Worth Investing” is meant to be read in two ways:
1) high net worth individuals investing; and
2) investing to become a high net worth individual.
It is thus intended for anyone with investable money and not just for the rich. The book introduces the common asset classes available to retail investors, explains in simple terms what some of the common investment products are, and finally helps individuals think about how they could devise practical asset allocation plans so as to achieve their financial goals.
What inspired you to write “High Net Worth Investing”?
Colleagues and friends often ask me about investments they are about to make. Very often, I find that sellers of financial products do not sufficiently cover the rationale or risks scenarios of the products. On the other hand, buyers are often blindsided by the attractive yield and do not always know what they are buying or getting themselves into. It is my hope that the book will help buyers understand what they are buying, while also helping wealth practitioners see it more from the buyers’ perspectives.
What made you specifically target High Net Worth Individuals and PMEBs?
High Net Worth Individuals and PMEBs are the biggest users of retail investment products available in the market. The Global Financial Crisis reminded us of the toxicities of complex investment products. Now barely 8 years later, many have already forgotten how important it is to invest only when you understand the product. There is an urgent need to raise their awareness of the investment products they are buying.
What differentiates your book from the other financial literature out there?
Most financial literature out there covers investment from a very theoretical perspective, and almost always involves complex mathematical formulas where most layperson would not comprehend. My book is written in simple language where even a non-finance person would be able to understand. It does not have any complex mathematics even for complicated products. It breaks down investment products into bite-sized pieces so everyone could understand what the product is about, and whether the product fits into their investment views. It explains in simple examples how one could start doing asset allocation to secure their financial future. The book is really simple to understand and practical in implementation.
If you could give our readers (or budding retail investors) a quick piece of advice, in as few words as possible, what would it be?
Know What You Are Buying!
What are your future plans?
In the current fast evolving world, tech and robots will eventually replace many things currently done by humans, so obviously fintech is an area of huge growth potential. Outside tech, we have to think about what gives us an edge over machines. In my view, advisory and management from credible people, and personalized services where robots can’t do well in are two broad areas where we could add value. I will be focused in all these areas.
In your opinion, how relevant is Call Levels in today’s financial landscape?
There are numerous asset classes, exchanges, and time zones to trade in. It is almost impossible to be always on top of where they are trading. Call Levels is solving this problem for us without us checking on levels all the time.
What do you like about Call Levels?
We already spend too much time on our phones and portable devices, the last thing we want is to be staring at market prices on our devices all the time. Call Levels alerts me when my pre-set price levels are hit, thus freeing me up to do other more important things in life!
How can Call Levels stay relevant moving forward?
Call Levels need to cover as many asset classes and instruments which investors trade in as possible, all in one app. Users don’t want multiple apps for different assets/instruments. In the future, it could consider tie ups with bank/brokerage partners where levels reached could be automatically translated to entry or take-profit/cut-loss levels, making it a seamless experience for users!
Did a notable instance occur where Call Levels helped you in your personal trading life?
I use Call Levels mostly to track my FX positions. As an individual without access to sophisticated tools like Reuters and Bloomberg provide, Call Levels is really helpful in keeping me posted whenever there are big moves. In that aspect, there isn’t a single instance, but really multiple instances where Call Levels has helped me to maximize profit and minimize loss!
Click here to find out more about Sam’s book, “High Net Worth Investing – How to grow your wealth through practical asset allocation”.