What do money and love have in common? The answer is… a fair bit. To start, both are complex, difficult to grasp and potentially heartbreaking. The pandemic has also heightened interest and awareness in both subjects – the importance of financial literacy and well-being has come to the forefront in an unprecedented crisis, as many households faced financial challenges due to job loss, pay cuts and the likes; usage of dating apps has also surged in the face of lockdowns and social restrictions as meeting someone new organically at a restaurant or a bar is logistically more challenging during this period. In this article, we draw three tongue-in-cheek parallels between lessons learnt from dating apps, and how we can apply them in our investing journey.
Do Your Research
Some of you may have watched the latest Netflix documentary “The Tinder Swindler”. This show is basically about a serial conman by the name of Shimon Hayut, who portrayed himself as the son of the Russian-Israeli diamond mogul, Lev Leviev. He wooed his marks with lavish trips, fancy dinners and private jet escapades, only to ask them for money afterwards when he was allegedly in danger from his enemies in the diamond business. It is an extremely elaborate tale of scheming and surely, a horror of dating app story. As a security feature, several dating apps now encourage users to get verified (a blue tick will be shown) to help weed out fake accounts or prevent catfishing (i.e. matching with a fake person).
In the investment world, there is no lack of scams in various categories and it is easy to fall prey to one. Scammers are now increasingly sophisticated in their techniques and ways. “The Tinder Swindler” reminds us not to take everything at face value and the importance of fact-checking. In the show, it was mentioned that “you google everyone whom you are supposed to go on a date with”. Similarly, before you make an investment decision, it is of paramount importance to do your homework beforehand and understand the product you are purchasing. If you are new in your investment journey and self-education is insufficient, you may also consider approaching a licensed financial advisor who is aligned to your interests. Bottom line: do not get involved in anything that you do not understand.
Bringing this point closer to home, according to a Straits Time article in August 2021¹, table below shows the top 10 scam types in Singapore in 2020 and 2021. Scam victims lost $168 million in such cases in the top 10 scam categories in the first half of 2021, which represents a surge from $63.5 million in the same period last year. Notably, investment scams made up the highest total amount cheated in 1H21 ($66.2m), followed by internet love scam ($25.1m). Well, after watching “The Tinder Swindler”, we should not be surprised! In this piece by Mothership on 31 January 2021², it illustrated an investment scam that wiped out over $50,000 of the victim’s savings in just 2 months. Alas, as they say, “when something looks too good to be true, it usually is”.
¹ Source: The Straits Times, “$168m lost to top 10 scam types in first half of 2021; overall crime up by 11.2%”, 30 August 2021
² Source: Mothership.sg, “S$50,000 in 2 weeks: S’porean man loses life savings to investment scam”, 31 January 2021
Determine Your Risk Appetite
Here we introduce the risk-reward concept, which essentially states the higher the risk of a particular investment, the higher the potential return. Every investor has his/her own unique risk tolerance which depends on several factors. First, it is critical to determine your end goals. People join dating apps for a variety of reasons – be it to find a long-term partner, meet friends with similar interests or simply to pass time. For investing, the objective in mind – for an emergency fund, to buy a property or retirement planning just to name a few – will determine the type of investments you choose. For example, bonds are generally less volatile but offer more modest returns. On the other hand, stocks historically carry higher risk and hence potentially higher returns. Cryptocurrency could be what we consider as a highly speculative asset class.
Another factor to consider is the time horizon. In the world of dating, everyone moves at different speeds – while it may be relatively easy to swipe right and score a date, some people enjoy the “slow-burn” process, while others enjoy expediting the journey with a passionate and fiery relationship. Again, it truly depends on what your dating motivations are. Drawing this analogy to investing, an investor with a longer time horizon may feel more comfortable taking on a riskier, or more volatile, investment because he/she can withstand the changing market conditions in a longer time frame. By contrast, an investor saving up to buy a home in the short term would likely take on lesser risk due to a shorter time horizon.
Before you judge, hear me out. Every dating app may offer you something different. For example, only females are able to kickstart a conversation on Bumble after a match, unlike other apps. Unsurprisingly, it is female-founded with majority of its board also led by females. Having multiple dating apps gives you more opportunities – mathematically speaking if we refer to “law of large numbers” – to expand your social circle and/or meet people with different interests whom you may not typically have access to.
So how does it relate to investing? To put it loosely, if you are not diversified across asset classes, sectors, and/or countries, you may miss out on opportunities that you are not exposed to. We all know we should not put all your eggs in one basket. A diversified portfolio lowers your investment risk. The theory behind this is that if some investments lose value due to market changes, others may rise and/or remain status quo. Therefore, diversification safeguards you against various market cycles and helps to reduce your portfolio volatility. This brings us to the concept of asset allocation – a strategic approach to diversification among or within different asset classes that aims to achieve the highest potential return within a certain range of risk.
Below are simple illustrations of different asset allocations.
At the end of the day, we learn from the experiences that we undergo, both from dating and investing. There are good and bad days, with aplenty of ups and downs. . There are many factors in play, and ultimately, luck and timing play a role as well. So good luck to all of you out there – whether you are looking for love and/or money!
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