Saturday, December 24, 2016

FSMOne and the our crap Financial Sector

If you don't know what is FSM One, go browse their website yourself.

After that, read this great primer by D&S (I got to say it again, I'm absolutely awed by the quality of the content, and also the edginess of the content from D&S!).

Honestly, it is a bold move.

Singapore has a SHIT financial industry.

Why do I think so? While being highly literate with supposedly genius population and 5/10 younguns sporting some sort of "degree" (read this to see why I call them "degrees"), we are still so lacking.

1. Mainstream acceptance of financial advisors as the FIRST and PROPER way to buy insurance
2. Complete willingness to pay $2500 a month to drive yourself, sit in traffic and do your own valet parking
3. Belief that insurance is savings
4. They have this thing continuous expense called "face" that constantly requires endless amounts of money to maintain

etc, etc. If I was making a list about how bad the financial sense of Singaporeans are, you can print it out and quiz all your relatives and friends. Obviously, if you read financial blogs, you aren't a basket case. You're in the good basket of un-deplorables. For the general population, they are lacking. You might grudgingly admit it, but you would admit it. You know you would.

With such willing lambs that are pretty much self-fattening and self-walking themselves to the slaughterhouse, why would any of the traditional financial institutions stop themselves and their greedy hands?

It's funny how FSM One can no longer do SGX trades.
It's also funny how the only top insurer they have on their platform is NTUC income. (they have TM and Manulife, but not under the search and comparison. You need to contact them for a quote)

Not a surprise to me given that all the brokerages would be pissed at the $10 trades.
And that only NTUC is willing to work with them. It is the NATIONAL trade union after all.

Without access to the SGX market (well played OCBC), the FSM One offering falls apart. Their 0% fees on UT is similar to what they were previously offering, with just quarterly platform fees, so it's not game changing at all. Their insurance platform is a joke until they can get more providers and products. How do you compare if you only have 1 product by 1 provider? Anyone who is already planning to do it online can just as easily go to CompareFirst and buy Direct insurance or go through DIY Insurance and get a premium rebate. Choices are not aplenty, but there are other choices.

Singapore has a shitty, crappy and backwards finance industry, make no mistake about that.

Are things improving? It's hard to say. They did have the fintech expo in Singapore, but there is nothing to show for it - yet. (I'm STILL waiting on Smartly to launch, though I'm afraid that they are pretty much going to launch - if ever - at the peak of most global assets. Their last update was 13 Dec with a year-end launch target, but that doesn't seem likely.)

I'm still surprised by the proliferation of cash usage in Singapore. I know so many people who are "afraid" of credit cards. Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay have all been major flops. Perhaps over the next 1 or 2 phone replacement cycles then things will pick up, once more phones and more people have access to such services. Paywave (Visa) and Paypass (MC) are actually moving along quite well. NETS FlashPay and EZ Link still confuses me. Why are there 2 standards? One of them should be consumed by the other. I vote for EZ to be killed off and absorbed into NETS.

Seedly actually has a very good offering, but it's more to do with the personal backend of stuff - tracking, spreadsheets and all. It is nice that it is linked to the major banks so that you can see all your stuff together. I can see how this would help really lazy people. I personally still update all my accounts at the end of the month. It takes just 30 minutes and I get to test out my memory with all my variation of usernames and passwords. I'd encourage people to at least use Seedly, if not just manage it personally with a simple spreadsheet. Why?

I personally do not believe in expenses tracking. I think it is extremely time-consuming and it is only useful for a handful of people. If you've spent $500 this month on Uber/Grab and another $500 on drinks and parties, I'm pretty sure you know why your bank account is down $1000. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that expense tracking is useless. I'm saying that it's too much effort for not much reward at all. I'm starting to find out slowly that time is becoming the main limitation of things that I can / want to do, rather than any other resource.

Then again, the main reason why I am saying this is that because I am very aware of what I spend my money on. If I bought something, it's because I need it. If I spent money on a want, it's because I've actively decided that I'm going to save less this month and enjoy more. But that's also because the way that I treat my income might be different from most people. Once my income comes in, I DO NOT PAY MYSELF FIRST. I pay all my recurring expenses, then all my one-off expenses, then 100% goes into my emergency fund (which is full), and then overflows in my savings & investments.

I don't understand why people limit their savings. I have heard of people that do budgeting and realize that they have some "excess entertainment budget" and then goes out and spend the extra on whatever. They are forcing themselves to spend more money. It doesn't make sense to me.

Anyway, I went a little off topic there in the back, but oh well. I guess I'm just gonna wrap this up and post it since it's been a draft for like 2 weeks.

TL;DR - FSM One is bold, but meh.
Our finance industry is greedy and shit.
Expense tracking takes up a lot of time. If it doesn't help you much, having a $100 accuracy of your expenses is good enough (ie. I spent $600 this month - I spent $617.52 this month)
Don't turn budgets into spending #goals

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