Getting started on investing can be intimidating. You have deadlines to meet, bills to pay, and life goals to hit — investing feels like an intimidating chore to add to the pile. You know you should do it to secure your financial future, but it feels hard. And with so many investment choices out there, where should you begin?
But investing is not as painful as it seems. To do this, let’s discuss why the Endowus Flagship portfolios have been our most common start to clients’ investment journey.
Investing that is simple
The stock market allows you to become an owner of the profits and future growth of the biggest and best companies all over the world. Profits rise and sometimes fall during business cycles, but research shows that markets always emerge stronger through the cycles as businesses increase productivity, innovate, and produce more goods and services for the world.
Despite many tumultuous episodes, time in the market is more important than timing the market. Even the worst investor in the world can do well over the long run. A person who invests at the peak of the market in every decade from 1970 to our present day would still have had an annualised return of almost 9%, just by having his money grow in the market.
The question is, how should you be invested? We often hear of worries that investing in the stock market feels like gambling because stock picking has such random outcomes. It is true that buying and selling single stocks or sectors and even countries or regions can be exciting, but it can lead to unpredictable returns.
Endowus uses scientific research sharpened by decades of empirical data that tells us there is no need to try to beat the entire market. Instead, look at the market indices that represent the performance of the overall markets — the broadest global benchmark is the MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI) — and buy portfolios with funds that track their performance.
The Endowus Flagship Portfolios are designed to give investors broad exposure to global markets in a strategic and passive asset allocation. This is opposed to a tactical — or short-term and opportunistic — allocation. It is also unlike an active allocation that most of our competitors espouse. Our allocation strategy for core portfolios such as the Flagship Portfolios — known as the Strategic and Passive Asset Allocation (SPAA) — means that we largely track the global indices over time.
This portfolio should form the core of your total investment. Investors may want extra exposure to a specific market, theme, or sector. Perhaps you’d like to buy some direct exposure to the growth of clean energy, the global property market, and/or to China. That would mean a tactical allocation through a satellite portfolio.
Together, this is known as a core-satellite approach, but that should come after — not before — starting with a well-diversified core portfolio that tracks the big, broad global market over the long term.
Investing that is accessible
Endowus has kept the investments well within reach for an investor who is just starting out.
A new investor can start on the Flagship Portfolios with a minimum investment of $1,000. Subsequent investments are at a minimum of $100.
Endowus allows investors to seamlessly make regular investment contributions, by setting automatic monthly investment instructions.
The Endowus Flagship portfolios are created to be accessible and easily understood by new and experienced investors, and across different life stages. Unlike using a brokerage, where you select and pick a specific stock or fund, you start by selecting a risk tolerance that allows us to curate a portfolio of funds for you.
From then on, Endowus will monitor the portfolios, and only rebalance them when they significantly deviate from your initial allocated portfolio mix, to make sure it is aligned to your risk tolerance. Our Investment Office is constantly screening for better fund products, and makes recommended portfolio changes so you are invested in the best product.
Whether you are a student or a young parent looking to invest funds through CPF, the Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS), or cash, there is something for everyone at Endowus.
Here are four investing myths we debunk for budding investors, and financial planning strategies for new parents. To learn about dollar-cost averaging (DCA), click here.
Investing that is fair
Endowus believes that retail investors should get access to best-in-class funds at lower costs.
For a long time now, the cheaper class of funds — known as the institutional share-class — was only available to investors who park significant amounts of money with their private banks.
To add, it was once hard to find low-cost funds, and practically impossible to find fund distributors willing to forgo the commissions paid by fund management companies.
Our aim was to level the playing field for retail investors. We have brought in access to the S&P 500 for CPF investors, and since then, added in another global stock index fund, both of which are used to construct our Flagship CPF Portfolios.
For Flagship Portfolios funded by cash or funds specifically from your SRS account, clients can invest in low-cost, best-in-class funds from names like PIMCO and Dimensional. Again, access to these was once largely reserved for family offices and private wealth clients, or they were not actively distributed. Not anymore.
We also return these fund-distributor commissions — known as trailer fees — to our investors. The amount of trailer-fee rebates that Endowus has returned to customers since inception has crossed $3 million as of the end of June 2022.
Investing that is tailored
Many new investors, unfamiliar with financial markets, often prefer safer investment solutions such as saving plans, annuities or even fixed deposits as these are not perceived to be risky.
But for longer-term investment goals from two years onwards, conservative investors can consider a diversified fixed income portfolio that generates higher yields.
You get to select your risk tolerance as part of setting up your Endowus Flagship Portfolio.
When you select your risk tolerance, which is measured and represented by the deepest loss that you can tolerate, we will match the portfolio that historically had a similar loss.
The thought process of choosing an appropriate risk tolerance will help you stay disciplined in holding your investments during market uncertainty.
If you were to choose a higher risk tolerance, you would be recommended a portfolio with a higher allocation in equities.
A higher risk tolerance does not equate to taking more single stock, or single country risk. Diversification is critical to long-term investor success, and the Flagship Portfolios are broadly diversified across thousands of equities, countries, and fixed-income products.
Investing that is transparent
Endowus fees for our Flagship portfolios starts from a cost-efficient 0.6% per annum for cash, and 0.4% per annum for CPF and SRS.
We are committed to your investment success as there are no lock-ins, or no early withdrawal penalties when you invest with us.
While some other robo-advisors may be charging similar fees than us, we are committed to ensuring that hidden costs are minimised. These include:
Foreign exchange fees/costs: Our Flagship Portfolios are created using Singapore Dollar denominated funds. If you are invested in other robo-advisors which use US dollar denominated ETFs, there may be a foreign exchange fee involved. Some are as high as 1%.
Dividend withholding taxes: We only use UCITs funds for our portfolios, because a US-listed fund would invite a 30% dividend withholding tax. For comparison, Vanguard's US-listed VWO has an total expense ratio of 0.14%, but with taxes imposed on investors in Singapore, that total expense ratio shoots up to at least 0.85%. As UCITs funds are only subjected to dividend withholding tax at the portfolio level, you are not paying two layers of taxes, and getting lower returns from this hidden cost as a result.
Investing that is performing
While many robo-advisory platforms tout to be a passive investing platform, and claim to have a passive strategy as they use exchange-traded funds (ETFs), few are truly consistent and coherent with their investment approaches.
These platforms often claim that they are either using smart beta strategies or have an investment framework that can identify economic regimes and re-optimise portfolios around it. These tactical asset allocation are shown to fail against the strategic asset allocation that Endowus espouses.
The Endowus Flagship Portfolios have performed strongly against benchmarks and our competitors. You can refer to the Endowus performance in our quarterly updates. The historical returns of our Flagship portfolios are also transparently shown in our website, detailing how the portfolios have performed during periods of volatility as caused by the Global Financial Crisis, the global Covid-19 pandemic, and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
There are also external comparisons showing how Endowus stacks up against Stashaway and Syfe. The more pertinent issue has been the significantly higher volatility and low hit rate of the other robo-advisors’ performances, especially when they promise an all-weather, lower-volatility investment approach. We’ve written about how not all robo-advisors are created the same.
Investing that is for you
Investing should be made simple, for everyone. Endowus has helped to level the playing field for retail investors, so all of us can have a fair shot at improving their finances, without losing sleep.
Endowus Flagship Portfolios are where you can begin to build your investing journey, and allow your returns to compound over time. Get more details about the Flagship Portfolios here.
For peace of mind and conflict-free investment solutions, get started with Endowus.
Next on the Endowus Fin.Lit Academy
Read the next articles in the curriculum:
- Wealth building: The power of passive investing
- Personal finance: Why do habits matter?
- Retirement: Plan for retirement in Singapore with this simple checklist
- CPF & SRS: Making our first CPF contributions
Investment involves risk. Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance or returns. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up, and you may not get the full amount you invested. Rates of exchange may cause the value of investments to go up or down. Individual stock performance does not represent the return of a fund.
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