A trial by fire (source: Grammarist) is a situation in which the participant’s abilities and determination are tested. A trial by fire is a test of one’s ability to function under pressure, and the implication is that once one successfully survives a trial by fire, he has proved his mastery.

This stock market crash is the trial-by-fire that all robo-advisors (AutoWealth, StashAway, Endowus, MoneyOwl, Syfe, Syfe, etc) have to go through. The honeymoon period from 2016-2019 meant that investors signed up easily and were comparing returns after having invested for mere weeks/months (hahaha). In a bull market, everyone is making money. It is simply a matter of more, or less.

Now? People will see the results of whether proprietary algorithms that attempt outperform the market indeed work as intended. I have no doubt that many of the robo-advisors in Singapore are quality firms and will prove their worth.

AutoWealth is the only robo-advisor I’m currently investing with.

Below is the chart of the Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (USX:VT) that tracks the performance of the FTSE Global All Cap Index, which covers both well-established and still-developing markets. This is basically how the world is doing.

In a matter of months, the global markets have been negatively affected. My initial buy thresholds were reached and I went ahead to make purchases. My original idea was to stick the plan and make measured purchases at each stage.

BUT.

As the global crisis surrounding Covid-19 evolved, it became clear that this crash is very different from the historical stock market crashes and bear markets that we were familiar with. Take a look at the Wikipedia page I linked.

People like to say that “statistically ..” so and so, and “historically ..” this and that. But, you do realize that none of them (crashes) were healthcare/pandemic related. This isn’t something that mankind can fix simply by relying on printing money financial mechanisms. We have no solution, yet.

Even if we all stay home and play Nintendo Switch or surf porn watch NetFlix for 30 days, and we successfully flatten the curve. Then what? At the moment, the best short-term solution would likely be in below two forms –

  • Reactive : Finding a cure in the form of drugs/medication
  • Preventive : Vaccine to prevent people from getting it

All the current known measures of controlling Covid-19 is the direct opposite of what promotes economic growth and activity. Read the story of my experience handling SARS 🙂

Having said the above, I doubt any recovery would be in the form of a quick bounce (although I do hope so, for the sake of millions worldwide) and I have decided to take a more patient stance in terms of my managing my expectations.

Doubling My AutoWealth Deposits For Next 9 Months

On top of lump-sum deposits, for the duration of nine months, from March 2020 to November 2020, I will be increasing the amount that I’m investing via AutoWealth on a monthly basis. AutoWealth is also the only robo-advisor I’m currently investing with.

For the months of March 2020 and April 2020, I will be up-ing my monthly DCA amount to 250% of my original amount. This month was when the crisis truly reached a global scale and all most countries are scrambling to contain it.

For the months from May 2020 to November 2020, I will be investing 200% of my monthly DCA amount. Next month is likely when some preliminary economic data will start becoming available.

The volatility have been off-the-charts and AutoWealth is going bonkers re-balancing my portfolio. The good thing is, all transactions are included in the platform fee i.e. unlimited free re-balancing.

Why stop in November 2020, you might ask? Well .. 13th month bonus comes in during December 2020! Haha!

Bear-ish

I haven’t tweaked my asset allocation yet. At the moment, my AutoWealth is still on 60% equities vs 40% bonds (since 2017). What does this mean? It implies that I am bear-ish on the market and expect worse to come. Having 40% in bonds would therefore protect my portfolio more, even as I continue to put in more money.

The reverse scenario for a bull-ish take (you think the market has bottomed) is therefore to switch the allocation to 80% equities vs 20% bonds first, such that future funds deposit would result in a larger percentage being deployed into equities.

On the stock-buys side of things, I haven’t done much apart from adding more of my trusted old friend : CapitaLand Mall Trust.

Health and job security now takes top priority and I’m conservatively looking at 2022 for global recovery. Hopefully, it will be faster. I think I’m pretty lucky to have gotten the out of the way last year, so it is one less item to worry about in my lifetime. Now is also the time when I can sleep soundly, knowing that the entirety of my remaining HDB loan can be serviced from my CPF Ordinary Account even if I stop working forever. My HDB apartment is cheap plus I have never transferred out a single cent of my CPF-OA.

On the plus side, both my wife and myself are relatively sheltered from the current crap-storm. Some people we know were retrenched or forced to take no-pay leave. Some acquaintances, I don’t really dare to ask how they are doing. The economic situation has affected my mum’s Malaysian tenants and they would be moving out next month.

No choice but to roll with the punches and get on with life. What doesn’t kill us, will make us stronger. Apart from playing Nintendo Switch at home with my wife, I’m also reading Quit Like A Millionaire by Millennial Revolution (Kristy Shen & Bryce Leung) and its straight-talking style is definitely different from the usual perspective. E-book version for Kobo is going for US$12.19 and Amazon’s Kindle at US$8.71 if you want to get it on the cheap (vs S$27.77 from Kinokuniya).

Announcement : I’m closing my Telegram account and Facebook Group. I will be at  if you want to chat!

     🙂

    😛