Recently, Yap Ming Hui, MD of Whitman Independent Advisors Sdn Bhd, an SC-licensed financial planning firm, launched ‘Financial Freedom Investing’, his seventh book. Through his writings, Yap shares how average Malaysians can grow their retirement assets and attain financial freedom with a higher degree of certainty. This is executed with Yap’s SRB Standard, which I’ll explain in this article.
I spent almost a week reading Yap’s work, and from it, I gathered five key talking points that I found interesting. In this write-up, I will expound on them and conclude with my views on their effectiveness and suitability in assisting us to become financially free.
Talking Point 1: Greed and Incompetence
They seem to be the common theme of ‘Financial Freedom Investing’. In the book, Yap shared many stories of how the rich, the affluent, the well-to-do, and the high-income professionals have either incurred losses or failed to optimise their wealth from investing in different investment products. They include stocks, real estate, unit trusts, ETFs, cryptos, gold and even unregulated schemes. These financial losses mainly stemmed from the following:
1. Greed: A desire to obtain quick and unrealistic returns.
2. Fear: Concerns of financial losses due to a wrong investment decision.
3. No Holding Power: Investing without consideration of financial liquidity.
4. Incompetence: Inability to tell a good investment from a bad investment.
From Yap’s stories, I believe readers can take heed and avoid investing in pitfalls detrimental to their financial health. Doing so is already half the battle won, especially for those who is serious to attain financial freedom.
Talking Point 2: Invest Objectively, Not Conveniently.
Instead of sales pitches and hype, in his book, Yap strongly emphasised that we should make investment decisions holistically after taking into account our current and desired financial positions, life goals, beliefs, and so on. This allows us to be more objective in investing, limiting the tendency to make ad-hoc and emotional investment decisions, which can be convenient but often result in unnecessary losses.
Understandably, drawing up holistic financial plan and knowing what we want to accomplish in life might not be the most exciting part of investing, especially for those who want a piece of the action quickly. But sincerely, this process is vital if we intend to build a sizable portfolio worth 6, 7 or even 8 figures. It is easier to invest big and sustain it with a plan or structure.
In this sense, I favour Yap’s work and believe we should all adopt this attitude of objectivity in investing.
Talking Point 3: The SRB Framework of Investing
In the earlier pages of his book, Yap detailed three strict criteria for choosing an investment, which is known as the SRB Standard. Basically, it is the acronym for Safe (S), Rises (R) and Best-of-Breed (B). According to him, Safe is about the test of regulation, underlying assets, and a trustee structure of an investment. Rises refer to an overall increase in value in the long-term. Meanwhile, Best-of-Breed is about choosing the best performer within the same asset class.
To his criteria, here is my take:
If readers follow such strict criteria, they could shield themselves from losses arising from unregulated schemes and scams. So, there is no worries of a total loss of capital due to fraud and malicious operations. Certainly, the criteria include a focus on the underlying assets of the investments, however, very little was mentioned about valuation. Possibly, this is due to him focusing on using professional managers through unit trusts than DIY, which bring us to our next talking point.
Talking Point 4: Unit Trusts
Many readers may find Yap has a positive and strong emphasis on unit trust as a vehicle to build a diversified portfolio to achieve financial freedom. According to him, unit trust is a good investment vehicle to help one to diversify his investment money across various asset classes globally, namely equities, bonds, money market, REITS, commodities and more. In addition, a portfolio of globally diversified unit trust funds is one of the primary vehicles that meet the SRB framework, as introduced in his book.
As a financial educator and a value investor in stocks and real estate, I built my wealth, not through the unit trust route. But for laypeople who find it too troublesome and challenging to evaluate stocks and properties, unit trust is the best investment option. Of course, I would wish for Yap to elaborate on how his SRB framework could be applied in more case studies and expound on their specific attributes, strengths and roles objectively in achieving financial freedom in his book.
Well, to some extent, Yap did, and this leads us to the following:
Talking Point 5: Investment Case Studies
In the last section of Yap’s book, he wrote many investment case studies and offered his invaluable views and opinions to them extensively.
These case studies include various schemes on land-banking, gold and oil palm, conventional vehicles such as PRS and EPF i-Invest and newer asset classes such as cryptos, robo-advisors, ETFs, CFDs and P2P platforms. Yap has included many stories of failures due to greed and an absence of due diligence. I do applaud Yap’s efforts in sharing his viewpoints and experience on these vehicles.
While such stories are educational, I think it would be more interesting if Yap included both success and failure stories of Malaysians investing in various investments. For instance, he can offer two stories on how different individuals have different returns from applying different investment strategies on the same investment. If Yap could offer such contrasting stories, I’m sure readers can learn not just ‘what not to do’ but also the formula for successful investing.
Conclusion: Will This Book Make You Financially Free?
Overall, Yap is sincere and has placed significant effort into writing this book. To reiterate, Yap’s book is highly educational and suitable for Malaysian investors, and I’m optimistic that you will be more aware of how people suffer unnecessary losses from various investing mistakes. Knowing them helps you preserve not only your capital but also your profits or gains from suitable investments. Hence, they are helpful towards building and sustaining your financial wealth.
Win this New Book by Posting a Comment Below
Do you want to win a copy of this book? We will send a free copy to the top TWO commenters on this post. To participate, write at least three sentences about what financial freedom means to you. Please post it in the comment section below.
The contest ends on 14 February 2023, 11.59 PM.
We will contact the winners on 15 February.
By the way, you can find this book at major bookstores, or get it online at:
To your financial success!
Update 15 Feb 2023: Winners of the book
Please be informed that the winners are Teong Siew Meng and Eliza. Kindly look for our email to receive the prize. Congratulations!
And thanks everybody for participating and providing your views. We all learn from each other.