Saturday, August 13, 2016

Mr. Tan
I want to share with you a bad unethical practice from bank X.

They sold a credit card to me at a mall. I don't really need the card, but the sales person was persistent. I obliged to help the young man.

I used the credit card on a few occasions but forgot to pay the bill. They charged a high interest rate on the card.

For my normal credit card, I have set up GIRO to deduct from my account. For the new card, I overlook it. Why did they not tell me to set up GIRO? I suspect that they want to make me overlook the payment, so they can charge a high interest rate on the card. This is how they make money.

I asked for the GIRO form and submitted it. The form was quite complicated. I was surprised to learn that they only deduct the minimum amount each month and carry forward the balance to charge interest. I have more than sufficient balance in my bank account - so I intended to pay each month's bill in full.

Bank X told me that there was a column in the GIRO form to pay the minimum amount or in full. I did not tick in full, so they assume that I want to pay the minimum amount.

This bank is quite dishonest in its practice. They purposely want to catch their customers unwary and to find ways to charge their exorbitant interest rate for late payments.

Please share this experience with your readers.

Thank you. I agree with you that Bank X is greedy to make profit. They do not have any hesitation to "cheat" their customers. I suspect that many banks practice this unethical model.

Investor lost 20% of family wealth on Dual Currency Investment

Hi Mr Tan,
I just want to share with the readers that I have suffered 20% loss of my family's wealth via DCI investment. We just want to make good use of money by earning a conservative interest yield and the banker had effectively helped us made a loss! 

Our original fund is SGD later converted to AUD and then converted to USD. Double whammy with SGD and USD currency sliding down. You will see that the banker will stick to the same pitch. Keep on investing USD. The currency will rise up sooner or later. The banker of mine even dared to say that the USD currency will go up to 1.45. This is a dangerous message. Exactly your advice. 

The banker said we are not losing your base fund. Just keep it as AUD and USD until the currencies rise. This is all bullshit. Now, we are stuck with USD and earning no interest rate. This is a long term investment loss in value and in time. Please don't invest in DCI unless you are economics/market savvy yourself and is able to take risk. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Financial articles for consumers

Here are some useful everyday financial articles written for consumers in Singapore

Bad service from DBS Bank

I wanted to pay my Standard Chartered credit card bill by GIRO from my DBS account. My relationship manager told me that I have to get a manual from from SC Bank, sign it and send it to SC Bank for processing.

DBS allows my to go online and submit my GIRO request to many organizations. But they don't allow it for payment of credit card to another bank? Why?

This is another example of the wasteful and inefficient practices that is allowed to happen in Singapore.

I wonder if the government or MAS will step in and ask the banks to wake up and help to improve productivity and reduce waste in Singapore.  

How property agents sell very expensive apartments

Here are some ways that property agents sell very expensive apartments.

Case 1
The buyer went to view some unsold units. The property agent said that the price was $2,000 psf. It was way too high, but it was an expensive condo facing the sea. The buyer could not afford it. The agent said, "Let me show you a unit where the developer has not yet raised the price. It was $1,800 psf (still too expensive). The buyer nearly bought it to avoid the price increase. She could not afford it, but this was momentarily forgotten.

Case 2
The  buyer was shown a condo unit in an expensive development in Upper Thomson Road. The price was $1,500 psf. It was about 50% higher than older developments down the road. The agent, who was a friend of the buyer, told the buyer that she had a unit with an excellent view of Pierce Reservoir. The buyer almost bought the unit for its excellent view. She did not realize that almost all high rise blocks have excellent views of reservoirs, forested areas or of the sea. 

The property agents are trained in marketing. They know how to catch the weak points of the buyers. They will bring out an "exclusive offer", when it is not really exclusive. The price may be inflated, but the buyers generally do not know the difference between $1,000, $1,500 and $2,000 ps - so long as it is a "discount".

Thursday, August 11, 2016

How Shape Quiz can train your mind in problem solving

This short video explains how the shape quiz can be used to train the mind in problem solving.

I organize a 1 hour tutorial on Saturday in my office for children age 7 to 10 years. I invite the parent to sit in and learn with the child.

This is not a game. It is fun, yes, but it is a subtle way to train the child in the correct approach to solve problems. It also gives them the confidence in dealing with challenges and uncertainty.

This can be practiced. The skill can develop over time.

Here is the video

If you like to register your child to attend the 1 hour tutorial (and you can sit in as well), you can register here:

When I showed this to an elderly person, he liked this concept. He will bring his grandson to attend.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Shape Quiz - training on problem solving

I am giving a tutorial to children (7 to 10 years) about the Shape Quiz. It helps to train them in problem solving - what to look out for, and where to start.

Civil servant with wrong focus

My staff called the Ministry of Manpower to enquire about S Pass. She passed the call to me.

MOM - You are Mr. Tan. May I have your full name and your NRIC for recording purpose?

TKL - (I gave them the particulars)

MOM - Mr. Tan, you are calling the wrong number. For general enquiry, please call the MOM hotline. This telephone is only for CPF issues and complaints.

TKL ????

If my staff got the wrong number, why does MOM to ask my full name and NRIC "for record purpose"?

This staff is so focused on getting data to complete the KPI, rather than to serve the public.

Start a business to manufacture chocolates

You can try this simulation game. Select a New Game and choose Chocolate.

You are asked to decide on the price to sell your cholcolate (in cartons of 100 bars), how many to produce and how much to spend on advertising.

You will see the results of your decision at the end of each round. You complete with other manufacturers.

Good luck.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Waste of education budget

I met a foreigner who studied and graduated from a polytechnic. She is required to work 3 years in Singapore to contribute to our economy in return for the cost incurred by the government for her study.

The Ministry of Manpower requires the employer to pay a monthly salary of at least $2,200 and a levy of $400 to a S Pass holder. She was not able to find an employer who was willing to incur this cost.

A monthly cost of $2,600 appears to be too high for a poly graduate who does not have outstanding results. As she could not find a job, she has to return to her country.

Singapore would have wasted the cost of educating her for three years.  Is this how our education budge is being wasted?

Business Simulation Game - Video Guide

I have created a new video guide for the Business Simulation Game. It is a 10 minute video and shows you how you can play the game on the platform. It also gives you some tips on how to set your inputs for each rund of the game.

Enjoy the game.

How to get a child intersted in a subject

I showed Mr. Kang a technique to learn the shape quiz. Look at the solution and put the pieces to form the shape. Practice many times until the child knows how to do it without any help.

Mr Kang agreed with that approach. He told me this incident. His friend bought her son three assessment books and asked him to work out the problems. The son hated the extra work.

Mr. Kang took over the task of getting the son to be interested. He asked the child to look at the solutions and work back on the problems. By being exposed to different types of problems for the same topic, the child was able to learn through the worked examples. He become more interested in the subject.

Mr. Kang observed that by the child improved his understanding and interest in the subject through the practical examples.

I hope that some parents will try this approach and see if it works.

If you are interested to send your child (7 to 10 years old) to learn how to solve problems using the shape quiz practice, you can register here:

Monday, August 08, 2016

A skill for a lifetime

Mr Kang visited my office. We had a nice chat about life in Singapore.

I showed him my Shape Quiz and explain how it helps people to think and to solve problems. He liked it. He wanted to enrol for his 10 year old grandson to attend the tutorial.

He said, "Many parents send their children for music and art classes and spent a few hundred dollars on these classes. Often, the children did not like these lessons. What you teach with the shape quiz will be a skill that they can use for a lifetime. It opens up their mind and give them confidence in dealing with problems. The $70 is definitely worth spending".

I said that the parents are welcome to attend the tutorial with their children. This will be an added benefit. They get two people learning the skill for the price of one!

A corrupt legislature

When the constituion of the United States of America was first drafted, each state was allowed to elect two senators into the US Congress, which is the highest legislative body that makes laws for the entire country.

This seemed to be a good approach - the people elect their state legislators and these legislators could be counted on to elect two most suitable people to represent their state in the US Congress.

This approach led to a corrupt practices in some states. Some rich people offered bribes, subtly or openly, to the legislators to elect them into Congress  It was easy to bribe a few dozen legislators.

This corrupt practice was quite bad. A change was made to the US Constitution to allow the people to elect their members of Congress directly. This replaces the election through the state legislature.

The experience of America showed the danger of giving too much power to the legislature. They could make bad decisions and pass bad laws. They could be influenced by corrupt practices.

We cannot trust our legislature on making major decisions affecting our long term future. We need some of the major decisions to be passed to the people through a referendum. We need to be more active in deciding on the people to be elected into our Parliament.

Change constitution through a referendum

The people of Thailand voted in a referendum to change the constitution. The process went smoothly. The changes were approved by the people in the referendum.

The constitution of Singapore was changed a few times over the past decades to implement the Group Representative Constituency (GRC) system and the Elected President. On these occasions, the changes were passed by a two third majority in Parliament. They came from the ruling party.

What is the difference between the two processes? One is a referendum of the people and the other is a decision by Parliament.

Are the elected members of Parliament in a better position to decide what is good for the future of the country, rather than the people in general?  Surely, the majority of the people voting in the referendum would be unfamiliar with the issues and would be swayed by inflammatory campaign speeches? Some people had put forward these arguments.

I agree that with the risks of a referendum.

However, the referendum process will allow the two sides of the issues to be fully discussed and debated before the actual referendum. This rigorous process ensures that the unintended consequences are discussed as best as possible, before the final referendum take place.

If Singapore had adopted the referendum approach, the changes to the constitution would probably be rejected, as they were not adequately considered. A Parliament that is controlled by the ruling party does not play an effective check against bad policies.

We should be more active in using the referendum approach to decide on long term changes that affect our country.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Learn problem solving the fun way

This is a small tutorial for 4 children aged 7 to 10 years old. They can learn the skill of problem solving the fun way. This skill may be useful to them in unexpected ways.

Case study in business simulation game #2

This table shows the results for round 10 of the business simulation game.

It shows the input (price, capacity, advertising) submitted by the players. One player is a real person. The others are robots, submitting random inputs (but fairly intelligent figures).

The chart shows the quantity sold (also called demand) by each player and the dollar amounts of sales, cost, expenses and profit for the round. The cumulative profit is also shown. The rank shows the ranking of the players based on cumulative inputs.

This table shows how the demand varies according to the price and advertising. The player with the highest profit for this round is the one who submits the best combination of price, capacity and advertising.

Case study in business simulation game

This table shows the inputs (price, capacity, advertising) for round 1 to round 9 of the business simulation game.

Based on the input, the platform calculates the quantity sold (also called demand), and the dollar amount of sales, cost, expenses and profit and cumulative profit for each round.

This player achieved the top rank in cumulative profit from round 1 to round 9 (except for round 3) by adopting the right strategy.

Practice the business simulation game

Dear Mr Tan,
In your business simulation game, I find that if I increase the price and advertising, I usually get better profit. Is this correct?

This is what the results appear to show, but up to a point. Beyond that point, you will get lower profit.
If you play the game a few times, you will get a "feel" for what the turning point is.
this is also what happens in the real business world. You need to get the "feel" based on experience.

You can practice the game at

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