My parents are not risk takers. The riskiest kind of investment product that had in the past (without losing money) are endowment funds from some insurance companies. You put in a lump sum at the start and wait for the term to mature, then you take out a sum greater than the lump sum you put in at the beginning while still giving you assurance that if anything goes wrong with you, you'll still get paid when it matures - that's basically how endowment plan works. This tranche of money that my parents had, they initially wanted to put in a fixed deposit offering maybe 1.2 to 1.3%. I thought I can do better than that, and offered to give them a higher return and also offer them capital guarantee too but they have to tell me a few months in advance if they need the money back. In other words, they are buying a bond from me, with me as the party guaranteeing that amount invested with flexible maturity date.
|The magical point of all portfolio - to balance returns, risk and liquidity. Can't have it all.|
The portfolio consists of preference shares from banks and some high grade bonds with strong corporate (and government backing, so they say). No equities at all because given my parent's requirements (they really just want their initial capital to be safe and liquid). How's the projected returns? It is expected to give around 3.6%, with capital losses incorporated (Most of the pref shares and bonds are bought above par from the secondary market at SGX, so when it's recalled back, I'll lose some capital). Can I push it above 3.6%? Yes, but something will have to go. The risk of capital losses increases with the portfolio yield. I can get some very high yield bond (e.g. from Olam) but if something happens, I'm the one bearing the losses because I'm the guarantor. Bo hua for me.
So yes, I totally get it that if CPF returns is 6 to 8% pa, then it can't be capital guaranteed. We have to balance portfolio returns, risk and also liquidity and you just can't have it all.
But not easy doesn't mean that CPF board should take the easy way out to beat inflation by raising the minimum sum. I think more options can be given to CPF holders to participate in the growth of their retirement funds. I would really be happy to see more growth in the bonds market offered to retail investors. If you're talking about normal bonds, you need at least a quarter of a million to participate - and how many people has that kind of money to spare? If SGX can break up the size of the offer into smaller chunks (in 1k lot, for example), it'll be a great move towards helping retail investors adjust their respective portfolio returns with the risk of capital loss.
More selfishly, I think it'll be good for people who don't have CPF (like me) to plan their retirement funds their own way.