Saturday, November 12, 2016

A fun way to lean problem solving - for children

Your child needs to start with the right concept and develop this skill of problem solving through practice.

I give a 1 hour tutorial for a group of up to 4 children (preferably 7 to 10 years old) in my office on Saturday morning and afternoon. The parents can join in. You can organize the group among the friends and share the fee of $200.

I can also conduct the tutorial at a location outside my office for a fee of $250.

All places up to 3 December have been taken. There are a few slots left in the December holidays. If you are interested, book early.

Buying the right property, based on budget

Many people are spending too much money on their property. They should set aside some savings for their future instead of using all their disposable income to pay the property.

What is the right amount of the monthly income to set aside for property? You can get some tips from the video "Buying a property" in

Friday, November 11, 2016

Taxi driver tried to charge extra

I booked a taxi to take me from the hotel to the airport in Madrid. The hotel staff said that the standard fare was Eur 30. This was expensive compared to Singapore for the distance travelled.

On moving off after the luggages have been loaded, the taxi driver spoke in English, with some difficulty. The fare is 30 euro and 5 eur for booking.

I replied - the hotel told me that the standard fare is 30 euro. They did not indicate a booking fee.

He repeated - the fare is 30 euro and 5 euro for booking.

I did not continue the conversation. He was not fluent in English and I was not fluent in Spanish.

What happened?

After arriving at the airport terminal and unloading all the bags, my wife gave him exactly 30 euro. The taxi driver said "Gracias" and went to his taxi and drove off politely. He did not ask for the 5 euro booking fee.

This government practice lost a lot of wasted time

I went to the Ministry of Manpower website to apply for a work pass. They require me to open an account with my Singpass. They then ask me to apply for an ID to act on my company affairs. They told me that a password will be sent by ordinary mail to me within 4 days.

The letter did not come after one month. During this time, I had to travel, so I could not call IRAS to check on the letter that did not come.

Five years ago, I had a similar experience. After I lodged a complaint, they sent a staff to personally deliver the password and help me to set up the authorization.

Why make it so complicated. Why can't MOM just allow me to apply for the work pass online without the hassle of creating the access ID? Why can't they send the password by email? I have wasted so much time on a simple matter. Does the government realize that our mail delivery is now unreliable?

The ministers urged the small businesses to be more productive. How can we be productive when the government introduces processes that waste a lot of our time? I experienced difficulty with many government websites - not just with MOM.

Big data - unreasonable expectation or scam?

"Big data" has been a buzzword for the last decade in Silicon Valley. Investors and tech companies, from little-known startups to corporate giants, have poured billions of dollars into software and computer systems that promise to pore through mountains of information and glean useful insights into business trends or consumer behavior. David Dill, a computer science professor at Stanford University, said it has opened the door to do things that weren't possible before. It enabled the collection of vast stockpiles of information all while advances in computing hardware and online networking have made it possible to run more sophisticated analytical programs and crunch bigger sets of data more quickly.
Even so, there's plenty of hype and unreasonable expectations for what analytics can do.
"Even if you have a lot of data and you go after it with the most sophisticated, amazing techniques, it may not tell you anything or it may mislead, because the data doesn't have the information you need," Dill said.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Questions asked by young people

From time to time, I receive a request from a young person asking for guidance regarding their financial planning and insurance.

I have created several short videos to address the common questions that they ask. These videos can be viewed here:

If they like to know more, they can attend a talk organized by FISCA ( They can also read the articles here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

There is hope for America and a lesson for Singapore

It does not matter whether Clinton or Trump will be elected as president of the USA in a few hours time.

America will change, and for the better.

Clinton will make the changes to their government policies and strategies, as set out in her campaign platform - on minimum wage, employment benefits, college education, trade agreements and health care. She might go back on her word, but that is not likely. At her age, she will look at her legacy and make the effort to change her reputation.

Trump will introduce policies that addresses the root of America's problems.

Even the senators and representatives that are elected in this election will get the clear message - they have to change the status quo. The establishment cannot continue their old ways. They need to deal with the root of America's problems.

The most important step to find a solution is to recognize the problem. America has taken this important step to know what their key problems are.

We need our political system in Singapore to change and be as dynamic as what is produced by America in this election.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Suggestions to simplify the government websites

I faced the following problems in submitting mandatory returns to government agencies, such as IRAS, MOM, CPF and ACRA.

a) I have to login with SingPass and also submit my business registration number. The introduction of 2FA for SingPass adds to the pain.

b) I have to navigate through a complicated website to reach the page to submit the return. Usually, this will require 3 to 6 clicks and reading through a few complicated pages.

c) I often don't know figures are required to be entered until I come to that page. They also ask questions which the lay person finds difficult to answer - e.g. are you an exempt company (under ACRA) or are you entitled to certain tax credits (under IRAS) or what are the different types of revenue under GST? After reading a complicated FAQ, I still don't know the answer.

d) I often have to abandon the entry and try to get the correct answer before trying again to make the submission.

Here is my wish list for a website that is simpler to use:

a) The relevent agencies should send the correct link by email to me. This link will show the information that I have to provide, without having to login. I can get the relevant information.

b) They should provide a hotline for someone to guide me through the areas of doubt. Their staff who handles the issues daily will know the answer. To the lay person who has to submit their entry once a year, it is a big challenge. (Currently, their hotline is difficult to get through).

c) After completing the online entry, the website can ask me to "sign off" with the SingPass and 2FA.

I have to spend a lot of time submitting the quarterly and annual returns. I am sure that many small business owners face the same difficulty. We have to spend a lot of time on these returns instead of doing our business.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Airline self service gives a lot of hassle

In designing their self service check in, the airlines have reached the level of insanity.

I received an email from Singapore Airlines asking me to check in online. I did. They send the boarding pass to me by email and asked me to print it out. I do not have a printer. So I saved it on my mobile phone, hoping that it would be accepted.

At Heathrow Airport, a staff managing the queue told me to go to the kiosk to print the baggage tag before dropping my bags. The kiosk asked me to scan mhy passport and  printed the boarding pass. It ignored the fact that I had already checked in online.

The kiosk did not ask me to print out the baggage tag. I asked the staff where do I get the baggage tag. He asked me to check with the airline staff who was at another kiosk. That staff was busy serving another passenger, and refused to tell me what was happening.

I had to approach another staff who confirmed that the non-responding staff was printing out the baggage tags. Many other passengers were also confused with what was happening.

Finally, I got my baggage tag and had to join a long queue to drop the bag. I had to affix the baggage tag to my baggage. This requires some knowledge as some part of the tag had to be retained by me and other part has to be taken out to be placed on the luggage.

To an airline staff who does this a few hundred times each day, it is easy. To a passenger, it is easy to make a mistake leading to a loss of baggage.

I prefer the old system where the check in staff handle the entire process for the passenger. They are familiar with the process. To make the passenger do self service, they have to provide other staff to guide the passengers on what needs to be done. It is a big hassle.

The move towards self service has reached the level of insanity.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Donald Trump as President?

America will vote for their next president on November 8. Will a Donald Trump presidency be good for America and for the world?

While the voters in America have to make this decision, you can also express your views here.

A surprise on November 8?

Donald Trump conducts several rallies every day. He flies all over the country to give these speeches. You can watch the speeches in Youtube.

The speeches carry the same messages. They resonate with his supporters. If you listen to the speeches, you will find that they are expressed in quite moderate tones - unlike the characterization given by the mainstream journalists.

He has received a last minute boost in the polls. He has narrowed the gap with his opponents down to a small margin, within the margin of error

As he has enthusiastic supporters, who do not care about his negative points painted by the mainstream media, they are likely to turn up and vote. This may tip the balance in his favor.

The likelihood of a Trump presidency and a surprise in the voting on 8 November (2 days away) is getting to be quite possible. Be prepared for this possible change. I could be like Brexit again!

A big impact on your financial future

This page contains several short videos to guide a person person, who has recently started work, on how to manage their financial planning and the type of insurance policies they should buy, and those that should be avoided.

The videos are short and cover a specific topic that is frequently asked by young people. They are easy to follow.

Spend 2 hours to go through the videos. It will be a good investment of your time. It will help you to make the right decisions that have a BIG IMPACT on your financial future.

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