Sunday, April 29, 2012

Singapore Retirement Statistics

According to a survey released last month, Singaporeans want to retire before 60 but many feel they do not have the means to do so.

The Nielsen Company's Global Ageing Report found that 35 per cent of Singaporeans plan to or have already retired before the age of 60 - two years before the official retirement age of 62.

However, only 14 per cent believed they were financially ready for retirement while 47 per cent were uncertain if they had enough money to retire on, the report found.

Another 40 per cent neither agreed nor disagreed that they were financially ready for retirement.

Friday, April 27, 2012

RFLOI: Reinvent the Toilet Challenge (Round 2)

From the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

RFLOI: Reinvent the Toilet Challenge (Round 2)

SOL: 1063751
Open Date: April 23, 2012
Proposals Due: May 10, 2012
Apply here with a one page LOI, by May 10th 2012The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announces the second round of its Reinvent the Toilet Challenge designed to prototype a means of dealing effectively and cost-efficiently with human waste for the 2 billion people on earth who currently lack access to safe and affordable sanitation.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.
We concentrate on areas with the potential for high-impact—sustainable solutions that can reach millions of people. We work closely with our partners to support innovative approaches and expand existing ones so they reach the people who need them most. We also support policy and advocacy efforts to accelerate progress against the world’s most acute poverty.

Global Development

Nearly 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day. For one person in eight, hunger is a constant, potentially deadly companion. The vast majority of the poor also lack access to the most basic financial services, and only a tiny minority have access to the Internet. The foundation's Global Development Program is working with motivated partners to create opportunities for people to lift themselves out of poverty and hunger. Our strategy is focused. Because most of the world's poorest people rely directly on agriculture, we support efforts to help small farmers improve crop production and market access. Because loans, insurance, and savings can help people weather setbacks and build assets, we facilitate access to financial services for the poor. In addition, because information can change lives, we support free public access to computers connected to the Internet. The newest Global Development program area — Water, Sanitation & Hygiene—focuses on sanitation that works for the poor.

The Sanitation Challenge

 A large share of the solids and liquids people eat and drink are passed on in urine and feces. Human waste contains potentially valuable and recyclable resources such as water, energy, urea, salts, and minerals. It also consists of large amounts of useful as well as harmful microorganisms, mostly bacteria, as well as pathogens ranging in size from viruses to helminthes. Many diseases are passed on from person to person through the fecal-oral pathway—pathogens in one person’s waste end up ingested by another. For some diseases, this is the primary transmission pathway; for others, it is one of several transmission pathways.  Human waste also contains residues of the many complex, engineered chemicals people use, such as food additives, antibiotics, hormones, and nutritional supplements, some of which remain in the environment and result in unsafe accumulation in waste sinks.

Water,Sanitation & Hygiene Program

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works with a wide range of partners through its Water, Sanitation & Hygiene program to reduce the burden of excreta-related disease and improve the lives of the poor. Our approach aims to expand the use of toilet and sanitation technologies that do not connect to a sewer, as this is by far the most common type used by the poor. We invest in effective approaches that help end open defecation and unsafe sanitation in rural communities, and we help develop the tools and technologies that will allow the urban poor access sustainable non-piped sanitation.

Request for Letters of Inquiry

The Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Program will be disbursing a set of new grants to support its Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.  These grants are intended for exceptionally highly-qualified research groups interested in contributing to major advances in sanitation and hygiene in the developing world.
Successful applicants will participate in the next phase of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge: designing, prototyping and testing  entirely stand-alone, self-containedpractical sanitation modules which intake bodily wastes and swiftly dispose of them  without any incoming water piping, outgoing sewer piping or electric or gas utility services.  These modules must intake all outputs of the serviced population – ultimately at single-residence scales – with minimal module footprints and assured biosafety. Thus, chemical and mechanical engineering approaches are preferred.
At present, the Foundation is soliciting letters of inquiry and capability declarations from groups, primarily in the academic sector and from for-profit organizations, who are well qualified to undertake R&D and execute pertinent program plans. Full proposals for grant awards are not being solicited at the present, but submission of proposals may be invited in the near future from those whose letters of inquiry and capability declarationsare of extraordinary quality.

How to Apply

single-page typed-or-printed letter of inquiry and capability declaration should be submitted no later thanMay 10th 2012 in order to be assured of consideration.  This should concisely declare the nature of interest, relevant backgrounds and salient qualifications of Principal Investigator(s) and key group members, cite pertinent publications and the date by which a grant-supported effort could commence (after August 31, 2012 and before January 1, 2013), and the basic architecture, scale and key milestones of the contemplated effort to be proposed for grant consideration.  Please note that submission of a letter of inquiry or capability declaration does not imply, directly or indirectly, that any such submission will result in an award of a grant or any other funding.
Non-Confidential Application Process. The Foundation does not guarantee that any information submitted will be maintained as confidential.
Apply for this LOI

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

FINEX Gym Session 3: Risk Management

FINEX Gym Sessions are regular gatherings of individuals hugely passionate about learning how to manage their own finances through sharing by invited experts and the participants themselves. It is by invitation only! Hence, if you are interested, drop me a message, and I will invite you to the next session!

Blog Post of the FINEX Gym Session

Wow! Sounds like it is either going to be a really scary or a really dry topic huh?!

Why Scary?
Risk Management is by definition, the Identification, Assessment and Prioritization of risks. In layman terms, it is about the management of uncertainties, and to put it into financial context, it would be the management of our financial uncertainties.
And that would certainly be a scary thing to do, because many of us simply hate uncertainties, not to mention managing it!

Yet, it is very much a truly important activity which we ought to do or at least be involved in, on a regular basis.

In Financial Risk Management, every individual ought to first ask themselves these few questions (Not exhaustive):
  1. What is my risk appetite? – Relates to your personal comfort with potential losses.
  2. What are my current and potential liabilities?
  3. What are the current and potential liabilities of my family?

These few basic questions would help us realize that it is important to identify the financial risks in our life, so to be adequately prepared for them.
However, it is important to note that financial risk management is often found done not for yourself, but for the people around you; for the people you love. Especially so, if you are an important financial provider in your family, where the absence of your income could make financial burdens derived by the family liabilities and lifestyle unbearable, leading to downsizing or other financial hardships.

To assess a risk, we have to estimate the likelihood and impact of each “risk event”.
For the likelihood of a risk event, “Age” would likely be a major factor among others. This is because the likelihood of an aged man falling ill would normally be higher than a youth, and hence the greater the likelihood of potential shortfall in income to support the liabilities and daily needs of the family.
For the impact of risk events, it may be contributed by many factors, such as the number of dependants, the amount of financial liabilities, or even the lifestyle of the individual/family which determines their daily needs, etc.

Thus, from the looks of it, we will realize that risk assessment varies from individual to individual. And hence, it is truly important for us all to take time to assess our individual risks, or even seek out a reliable financial advisor to help us gain better perspectives of these risks.
Nevertheless, at the end of the day, it is critically important to note that we should always be actively involved in assessing our own risks and to be firm in making our own decisions after consulting our financial advisors; simply because we are the best masters of our own fears and uncertainties, and that there are certain confidential information that we might not wish to share with our advisers that may lead to improper estimations.

Some may ask, “Why is it important to prioritize?”
Well simple. It’s because there are just too many things we want in life! And we just can’t afford to have them all! Simply due to scarcity, we have to decide:
  1. What are our wants and what are our needs?
  2. How much to spent, how much to save and how much to invest?
  3. What does wealth means to me? What does success means to me? What will allow me to attain self-actualization?
  4. For each aspiration, what is my time allowance to achieve it? Besides time, how much will it cost? And hence, which is more feasible to strive for?

These are important questions to be answered, so to lead you in making decisions that will determine the life you want to live.

Questions asked and answered in the Gym

  1. Difference between Limited Pay, Investment linked and Term Plans

Cash Value
Premium Holiday
Linked to investment
Limited Pay

Investment Linked

Yes – Get to select investment fund
Generally cheapest

  1. Should we just buy term and invest the rest instead of buying an investment linked product?

Investing ourselves would be a better option for those who are:
i.                     Disciplined to save and invest regularly
ii.                   Knowledgeable and ability to make rational investment decisions as oppose to gambling
iii.                  Have the risk appetite to invest

However, if you do not have the time, ability or risk appetite to invest by yourself, it would be a better option to consider an investment linked plan.

  1.  What are the qualities of a Financial Advisor we should look out for?

i.                     Takes effort to understand your needs and risk appetite.
ii.                   Educates you on your “financial needs” and “liabilities”, without scaring you to buy their products.
iii.                  Knowledge of the products they are selling; such as the portfolio held by the investment linked plans or the real underlying costs behind each product, etc.