Monday, June 17, 2013

Restarting This Blog - Reflection

It's been 1 year since my last post. Prior to that, the last time I wrote was on October 2009. Technically this blog has not been active for over 4 years. Many things have happened during these 4 years.

  • I had my wedding in 2011. 
  • I bought my new condo in 2012.
  • And i shifted into my new place early this year.

Job wise, I have stayed within the same company for close to 4 years now. I'm currently doing quite well, taking a much bigger role in the company and I've managed to learn many things with regards to business within these 4 years. I'll talk about this on my next post.

4 years have given me a whole new perspective on many things. Including life, career, and also how I personally view my own life.

Personally I am a lot more positive now. I am grateful to everything that has happened to me. Good things that stayed within me as a constant encouragement and strength, and bad things that helped me grow into a better person. It has not been a smooth journey but I'm enjoying every single step I'm taking.

Another key difference is the presence of my wife who provides me with constant encouragement and reminder. Couldn't have asked for a better person than her.

An amazing 4 years that I hope will be followed by an even more amazing 40 years ahead of me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Business Survival Tips in a Competitive Singapore

(My article from

There are many perks of doing business in a well developed country such as Singapore. Low corruption rate, clarity in rules and regulation, and an open market policy that attracts many foreign companies to open their subsidiaries here.

Sadly though, open market also invites a lot of issue for existing businesses. Significantly high number of competitors often pushes a lot of companies into price war, which in long run only makes it harder for everyone to survive.  The “pie” that is not that big in the first place has to be shared by thousands of other companies operating in a similar manner. 

As a consultancy firm which focuses in growing businesses in Singapore, we have seen many sad cases where companies that were dominating the market have been reduced to such pitiful state where they are struggling just to cover their daily expenses.

By observing numerous positive and negative sample sizes, we can come up with a few points on how companies can continue to survive is such a competitive market.

1.       Be flexible. In a market that is constantly changing, complex and rigid businesses model only reduces a company’s reaction time towards any changes in the environment. Set a general direction for the company and react according to how the market changes. Do not set a “too specific” mission for your business as it will only prevent you to look at the changes in the surroundings. When the competition start coming in, remember to constantly steer your business to find more room to move to.

2.       Differentiate. When the competition is becoming too unbearable, sometimes the easiest way is to move away from the flock. Differentiation has been a key topic in business schools in the past decade. Reason is very simple, good profit margin and more stability in your revenue stream. Differentiation can be done in a many ways, either by going for a niche product, differentiate in your quality of services, offer a different focus in your value proposition, or simply targeting a completely different market. Differentiation gives you access to different pie or even create a new pie altogether.

3.       Don’t get complacent. Despite all your effort to fend of competitors and move to better place, when you are doing well, competitors will still come sooner or later. Keep your senses sharp and carefully observe any new players entering your playing field. Remember, the only constant in life is “change”.

“You can't expect to meet the challenges of TODAY with YESTERDAY's tools and expect to be in business TOMORROW.”- Anonymous

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Finding Ideal People

They say that no man is an island, everyone is a part of the continent. This applies in everything. No one can truly live by themselves without relying on other people. Either it is in our social life, romance, or even business. All this connections and the way we interact with others defines who we really are.

Business revolves around interactions. How people interact with each other defines their degree of relationship.

In life we would rarely find anyone who thinks exactly just like us. Each of us has our own set of values and standards which determine our priorities and affect our decision making process. This is the reason why conflict always happens.

Finding people to work for us can be done just by offering them a reward. On the other hand, finding people with similar mindset and passion is significantly more difficult. I experienced this first hand in terms of looking for business partners.

Until now, the only few people I can really share my thoughts on business and visions are either my girlfriend (that is why I am with her) and a group of businessmen with age of above 35 years old. Because these people have undergone sufficient difficulties and problems in life, as well as matured enough to know about their priorities.

Most of my peers don't seem to have the same degree of needs for success. It's quite problematic knowing that most of my passion and thoughts are not channeled properly. Until now I still can't find any friends who are passionate enough to start a new business or try out new ventures. Only businessmen seem to have this kind of mindset as only strong and fast businessmen are able to survive in this cruel competitive world.

I learn greatly from my boss who is currently 28, but is able to achieve the skill of a veteran businessman. One thing that really impressed me is when he made a 70 year old businessman who owns a 100 million dollar company look up to him as if he is a more senior figure.

Currently I am nowhere near that level. The desire to succeed is there, but if it's not properly channeled, the whole process will take quite sometime to materialize.

I believe I will be successful one day, it's just a matter of when. And all I can do now is to try my best to reach the top as soon as possible.

It's always great to learn new things from more experienced businessmen. But among my peers, I can't seem to find anyone who I can really share my ideas with. As for older generation, it is harder to make them look at me as equals due to my age. As I need to really achieve something great first before people really give a damn about me. I guess being young has its own problems.

Finding a good business partner is definitely not easy.

Hunter, Farmer, and the Landlord

Here is a short parable about hunters, farmers, and landlords. We can illustrate hunters as those who are actively looking for preys in order to sustain their lives. Live as a hunter may not be stable. There are times when they are not able to find a single prey for a long period of time. Hunters trade their preys with farmers for crops. Farmers are those who own their own farm. They plant crops and expect it to grow several folds. They live a more stable life. But there are also times when bad weather or other unexpected events happen. Farmers have to keep planting to sustain their life, as well as pay rental to the landlords. Landlords are those who own the land, and they only need to sit down and collect rents from people who stay on their territory.

In life, most of us starts as a hunter. By working hard, once hunters have saved enough money for themselves, some would start buying lands and start their own farm. It is the same principle as starting your own business. Great farmers will then expand their farms and occupy a vast area under him. Eventually playing the role of a landlord. Landlords are those who have reached the pinnacle of life. Millionaires or even billionaires who own groups of businesses with hundreds or thousands of people under him. They can just relax and do nothing and will still have no worries in terms of their daily needs.

Who are we then? Are we a landlord. a farmer, or a hunter.

Most of us started as either a hunter; or if you are lucky enough, a farmer. The only way to go upward is to learn how to climb from the people on higher ground. To become a farmer, we need to properly learn the ropes in farming. In order to become a landlord, we have to be able to surpass other farmers. So the major factor in getting a better life is having a good knowledge and skill.

The main problem is that knowledge and skill can only be truly mastered by those who have the desire and motivation to learn. Without motivation and ambition, it will be extremely hard for people to achieve bigger things.

Some are born with a head start. For example, they don't need to go through the hunter phase or their parents provide them with their own farm for them to run. Some have the ability to absorb knowledge and skills faster than others. But this kind of head starts won't do any good if the motivation is not there.

Landlords are those who can constantly sustain or even boost their rate of growth day by day. A lot of people become disappointed or lose their ambition once they have experienced failures. Only those who have the never say die attitude will be able to reach the peak.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Starting a business is NOT Easy

Starting a business is not easy. There are tons of things to consider. Here are some of the things to take note before you decide to start your own business.

1. Structure:

Just like a building without a proper structure, a business with no clear direction and structure will fall easily. There are hundreds of different options out there. As a good businessman, you must be able to decide the correct structure which fit your financial capacity and at the same time allows the company to grow. Some people establish a business that more or less stay in the same position for decades. You definitely don't want to happen to your business. Another thing to consider is what is your positioning in the market, whether you want to target the upper class, or middle. What kind of branding strategywould you want to push for. Should you decide to pay fixed salary or provide commission based structure. What is the proportion that the company need to take. What is your pricing strategy. And the list goes on and on..

2. Employing the right people:

Finding the right people for the job is often not easy.
The most important trait that you should look for is loyalty and honesty. Meaning that the person would not stab your back. The second trait is ambition. Ambition is a double edged sword. Meaning that employing ambitious people must be done in a careful manner. You must be able to align his goal with company's direction. Ambitious people are very self driven. Meaning that they can run automatically as long as they can see the finish line. Our job as a leader is to keep reminding and motivating them about their personal goal.

Training is also crucial. Untapped potential does not worth anything. In order to bring out the best in everyone, training needs to be done. A good leader leads by example. Meaning that if you expect the employee to be able to perform up to 9 out of 10, you yourself must be able to perform a 10 out of 10 consistently.

3. Marketing

The most important thing in business is marketing and sales. You will still make money as long as you can sell your products and services. Doesn't matter if you have the most advanced technology in the world if you can't even sell it. Deciding on your marketing and branding strategy is extremely hard. The reason why most businesses fail is because they can't seem to find the correct way to attract customers to use their products or services.

4. Strategic Maneuver:

Strong companies are flexible. They are not tied down by routine tasks. They are able to adapt themselves to the ever changing environment. What happens to a lot of big companies is that once they grow big, they become too large in terms of their structure which prevents them from responding to external changes. Resulting in their growth to stop.

A good businessman must be able to detect changes before it happen. They must also be able to spot any opportunities available in the market and flexibly maneuver the company direction accordingly.

When starting a business, we must be able to consistently analyze the performance and spot the bottlenecks of the whole process. Once you have grown to a certain level, sometimes the company's strategic direction would also need to be changed.

Starting a business is not easy.. But that does not mean you should not do it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Embracing Bad Times ~ Obtaining Wisdom

Sometimes in life, wisdom comes after a great fall. Failing at something sometimes gives us the chance to reflect on what went wrong.

Bad times force our brains to push ourselves to the limit. Analyzing things from a completely different perspective. Sometimes revealing things which were previously invisible to us. Unlocking the key to greater understanding.

Wisdom is commonly associated with age. But sometimes it may not necessarily be true. Wisdom comes to those who has undergone enough hardship and those who has pushed themselves to the limit.
The key to wisdom is continuous effort in improving ourselves. Human mind is a very powerful tool. By optimizing it, a lot of things become clearer. We will be exposed to the bigger picture where everything becomes logical. The previously unbearable circumstances become less traumatic.

2 kinds of people out there. One continues to lament over their bad experiences. Another one sees bad times as a chance to reflect and improve.

Majority are the first type. Those who fall and never recovers. That is why there are more losers than winners in the society. A common knowledge, 20% of the population owns 80% of total wealth in this world.

The question is which one do you choose to be?

The only way to obtain greatness is to be different than the rest of the flock. To completely outperform our peers especially in the way we think. Eventhough we are still young, try to use our mind as if we were 20 years older than our age.

Most people succeed in their 40s or even 50s because that is when their wisdom is at its peak. If we have a much more advanced mindset, being successful in our early years is not an issue. If the controller (mind) is functioning properly, we are bound to reach our target no matter how many detours (failures) we need to take.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Reacting to your Good and Bad times - a great read

I came across this book a couple of months ago. I was attracted to it due to its catchy title "Peaks and Valleys". At that moment I was at my low point in life. Thanks to my girlfriend for buying this book for me. I hesitated on whether I should buy the book since I rarely finish the books that I read. But nevertheless she bought it for me without any hesitation. Apparently this book is special.

Basically to summarize the content of the book.

In life there are ups and downs. Well in this case the author illustrate it with "peaks" and "valleys". This book teaches simple practical things for us to overcome our valleys. Valleys refer to our down period. Sometimes we cannot avoid bad things from happening, but what we can do is to control how we react to those things. By doing this, we can actually change our valleys into peaks. By having a positive mindset, good things are bound to happen to us.

Peaks on the other hand reflect good times. Some people became complacent during their peaks and ended up falling into a deeper valley. One thing that we should understand is that peaks and valleys are always connected. Only by going through valleys would we be able to reach higher peaks. So once you understand how everything works, life becomes much more simple. There is no need to complain or question why bad things happen to you. Once you know that it is only natural for good and bad things to come and go, you will be able to accept it positively. You can focus your thoughts not on the bad things that are happening to you, but on how to reach a higher peak than before.

The logic involved in this book is very simple, but in order to fully understand and be able apply it you would need to go through some of the lowest points in your life. For my case, this book was something that came at the right moment.

I feel that now I can really appreciate the good things that happen to me and I am more grateful and positive for all the bad things happening around me. And once I have this kind of mindset, no valleys would be too deep for me. I am able to look at things from a broader perspective and am continuously learning from my errors and past mistakes.

So for those of you who are feeling very down and you feel that you have lost your sense of direction, you may want to spend a bit of your time by reading this book.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

After 1 year

This is my post after one and a half months of absent. Been busy with my side business on web designing field. Orders start to come in. Do get to meet some strange clients along the way. Need to slowly fine tune the whole system. Currently quite occupied with 4 projects at the same time. Eventhough I'm not the one doing the design, I still need to meet the clients every once in a while and also arrange the allocation and details for the project.

Still doing Financial Consultancy on Walton. There are some new guys joining our group. Quite a nice bunch. Got one Indonesian also.

Still looking for any other opportunities along the way. I believe I dont have to be 30+ before I become successful. Looking forward to new opportunities.

Almost 1 year has passed since I graduated from NTU. To think that in this 1 year I have changed a lot inside. Now I see things from a broader perspective. Still struggling to overcome some of my weaknesses. I've undergone some really bad experience in this line. But I believe it is all part of the process. I'm a stubborn guy, takes time to change my weaknesses. Maybe those few painful experiences will speed up the process.

Continuing my journey upward. Hope to reach greater height each and every day.


Art of Employing People

In business, one of the most important skill is the ability to employ the right people. Employing the right people does not only covers how to recruit, but also how to unleash the full potential of every individual. The things I'm going to share here may not seem so straight, but this is what great people do to attract talented people to their side.

If we look back at older times especially the war period, we can see a lot of extreme examples of this kind of strong leaders. The ironic fact is that all those megalomaniacs in history were excellent employers. In the sense that they can make people do crazy stuff without any objections. Some of the followers would even die happily for the leader's cause.

Imagine that you can have this kind of people who will give 100% of their effort for you, and would willingly sacrifice themselves for you. It is very ideal in business to be able to make use of such devoted people.

Along with time, especially in the current modern world, people are becoming more and more egoistic. In the sense that they always put their own well being as the first priority.

So as a business owner or a leader, to be able to control different people with different individualistic mindset is not in any way easy.

I have personally done my observation and I'm currently trying to rationalize why certain people would gladly give their all to their leaders and some would sell off their leader for their own benefit.

A. Basis of Loyalty

No matter which era we are in, there is one single universal rule. People follow a leader which they can respect.

Respect comes mainly from 2 things.
1. Admiration
2. Feeling of being indebted

For people to be able to admire you, you must be good at what you do, either you have the skills or you have accomplished big things in life. There is also an X factor which is Charisma. Charisma is not something that just everyone can possess. Some says that it can be learned, while others believe that it is a unique talent or gift exclusive to only a bunch of people.

The second factor is feeling of being indebted. Some people who feel they are indebted can really go to the extreme in devoting themselves. This is why some leaders try to make their employees loyal to them by keep repeating how much good things they have done towards the employees. There is no right and wrong in this. In a way it may sound a bit weird as normally when you do good things to others you dont normally keep reminding him of the things you did. But by keep repeating and reminding the same thing over and over again, the employee would somehow be slowly brainwashed into accepting that they are indebted.

B. Motivating

Everyone has their own drive or goal in life. In order to unleash the full potential of your employee, you would need to first understand their hot button.

Hot button refers to something which people consider to be their goal or objective in life. Every people have different hot buttons. Some wants materials such as good car or condo, some want the feeling of safety and being able to sustain their family. A good employer or leader is the person who is able to identify this point and use it to his advantage. He must be able to relate the job and place it alongside the person's goal.

Another point to note in doing this is to make the employee visualize their goal. No matter how much you try to motivate your employee but if they cant see a single light at the end of the tunnel, they wont feel motivated.

C. Employing Young People

Young people are unique beings. In the sense that sometimes they are not aware of their goals yet. But this actually gives you more opportunity to bend it to your desired direction. It's like moths attracted to light. You have to be able to give them directions and show them great visions to attract them. This will make them put in their full effort in their work.

To gain the trust of young people, you need to give them respect. Young people are well known for their ego. That is the reason sometimes kids listen to their friends more than the parents. Because when they are with their friends they feel more respected and among the friends their opinion matters. Same thing applies in business, if you treat your underlings as machines, and you dont give them chance or trust to perform, they wont come in good terms with you.

D. Art of Employing

1. Set good example> Set correct corporate behavior

2. Show them why you are leading> Impress them. Give them reason to acknowledge you as the one holding the key position. If they can perform better than you, they wont look up to you

3. Sell your vision> Let them see the goal to achieve and align it with their personal goals

4. Do subtle reminder of the good things you've done to them. Make them feel indebted> This point can be a double edged sword. If you intend to do this you better really treat them well. If what you do does not align with what you say, it will make things worse

5. Mutual Respect> Treat them as human with their own dreams. Give them opportunity and respect

"In order to get people to die for you, you must make them believe you would die for them."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Project: Sprout Creative Studio

I always believe that the only way to get to the top is through business. No matter how hard you devote yourself to a company, at some point there will be no more gap for advancement.

Let's call this my first step of initiatives

Me and my friend came up with this idea. Basically the "high end" web design firm out there are charging ridiculous amount for web designing works, while the employees only get to eat a tiny chunk of that profit. Sourcing out from my personal network, I get to realize the potential of this business. Basically we will try to take on projects by providing "corporate quality" works at a much cheaper price tag. At the same time to "grow" together with our colleagues and clients to achieve greater height.

The name that we decided to use is "Sprout Creative Studio"

"Sprout" refers to how we are just starting out, and at the same time describes the directions that we hope to achieve. The word "sprout" has a few connotations to it. First, it refers to something new, a fresh idea, and a fresh start. A sprout has only 1 direction to go, which is to grow upward and become stronger. We would like to portray the same image, which is to steadily grow our business to greater height. The last thing that a sprout describe is potential. Even the largest tree in the world was once a sprout.

Do visit our new "temporary" website at

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Work Hard VS Work Smart

We all have a predetermined way of thinking whenever we are faced with obstacles in life.

Sometimes the solution required does not have to be so complicated. Let me share with you one example that really happened in real life. 

Few years back there was a invention competition for grass cutting machine. The previous design which uses rotating sharp metal blades is deemed to be dangerous. Many people came out with all the innovative design using blade covers, and uniques blade shapes to try to tackle the problem. But everyone was surprised when they annouced the winner who was creative enough to simply replace the metal blade with a nylon stick.

This simple example teaches us one thing. There is a difference between working hard and working smart. People only judge our performance purely from the result. Doesn't matter whether we put in 10 hours worth of work if other can do the same thing in simply 15 minutes.

To solve a problem effectively, what needs to be done is to simply go back to fundamentals. 

1. Understand the main problem and what you are trying to achieve.
In the sample case earlier, the problem was not "How to design a cover for the rotating blade"
It is actually "How to provide a safer solution to cutting grass"

2. Remove any preconception.
We may have a set of predetermined rules that is blocking our creativity. Most of the time people do not realize this.

3. Think out of the box.
Once the limitations in our mind is removed, we are more able to think creatively.

Just remember, Sophisticated does not mean Efficient.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


People views their life differently. We all wear different "spectacles" in looking at the things around us.

This "spectacle" is something unique that is formed by our past experience and often projects how we were raised to become.

Although there is something called "free will", but we can't deny that our surroundings influence who we are right now. This also creates different perception in how people view their life.

By having different ways of viewing life, we all go through different paths. Each of us are walking through a "direction" which we feel is right one according to our spectacle.

The norm in the society sometimes condemn people who walks different path (do things differently) as compared to the majority. This different way in viewing life, does not necessarily mean that it is wrong. Because in viewing life, there is no absolute standard which can claim itself the correct one.

There are a view categories of people in this world.

1. Those who are chasing after the spiritual side of life.

There are a lot of ways for people to chase after the spiritual side of life. The most recognizable way is when we see monks who have cast away the materialistic side of life. 

Some people focus all their attention in pursuing the spiritual side and neglect the rest, while some others try to focus on different things in life. In the end, it all comes down on each of our standards.

2. Those who are aiming for wealth and materials as their final goal.

Usually people who climb up from difficult background have this as their final goal. Adversity pushes people beyond the limit. Many poor people stay poor, but those who are able to change their destiny will usually go very far.

3. Those with high pride who aims for recognition from others.

This type of people are usually those with high ego. They possess a hunger for recognition and respect from other people. They are usually the type who are easily offended and usually appear very arrogant.

4. Those who are content with love and affection.

In contrast to those who are chasing after wealth and materials, there are few people who are content on spending enough time with the ones they love.

They dont emphasize on having excessive amount of wealth as long as they can provide enough for the well being of their families.

5. Those who have no idea what they want in life.

Surprisingly there are more people who has no idea what they want in life as compared to those who know it. These are the type who work because they have to work, without knowing what they are aiming in life.

Without knowing the goal that we want to achieve, it's difficult for us to determine the direction that we should take.

For most people, we are usually trying to achieve several things in life. Be it spiritual, affection, or wealth. Because all these things constitutes who we are. We rarely see people who are focused solely on one thing.

The key is to know which finish line we are trying to reach.

 "Great people have their eyes fixed on the finish line. The trip may have its ups and downs, but no matter how bumpy the road may be, it will not put them out of route. Because they control the direction of their life."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Investment Basics (Part I) - Equity Market

The purpose of this post is to share with you on the means of investing. On this particular post I will only touch on the equity market and what are the options available, along with the risk. For those who wants to know more feel free to contact me, as I am currently conducting some weekly basic trading lesson for some of my friends.



In business and finance, a share (also referred to as equity share) of stock means a share of ownership in a corporation (company).

When you buy stock in a corporation, you become one of its owners. If the company does well, you may receive part of its profits as dividends and see the price of your stock increase. But if the stock price falls, the value of your investment can drop, sometimes substantially.

A stock has no absolute value. At any given time, its value depends on whether its shareholders want to hold it or sell it, and on what other investors are willing to pay for it. If the stock is hot, and lots of people want shares, the price may go up. If a company is losing money or a particular industry is doing poorly, those stocks may drop in value. Some stocks are undervalued, which means they sell for less than analysts think they're worth, while others may be overvalued.

Investors' attitudes are determined by several factors: whether or not they expect to make money with the stock, by current stock market conditions, and the overall state of the economy.

Types of Stock

Stock typically takes the form of shares of either common stock or preferred stock. As a unit of ownership, common stock typically carries voting rights that can be exercised in corporate decisions. Preferred stock differs from common stock in that it typically does not carry voting rights but is legally entitled to receive a certain level of dividend payments before any dividends can be issued to other shareholders.

Buying Stocks

Though you probably use the term broker to describe all the professionals who buy and sell stocks, the financial markets use titles to describe more precisely the ways securities change hands.

Brokers handle buy and sell orders placed by individual and institutional clients. They may earn a commission on each transaction or receive an annual fee based on the value of the client's account.

Dealers buy and sell securities for their own or their firm's account, helping to keep the market liquid. Dealers make their money on the difference between what they pay to buy a security and the price they can get for selling it.

Traders, also called registered or competitive traders, buy and sell securities for their own portfolios. The term trader also describes those employees of broker-dealers who handle the firms' securities trading.

Usually you buy or sell stock in multiples of 100 shares, called a round lot. But in some countries (e.g. United States) you can buy just a single share, or any number you can afford. That's called an odd lot. Brokers at one time charged you more to buy and sell odd lot orders. But now these orders are handled electronically, without additional charge.

Value movement

“A stock's value can change at any moment, depending on market conditions, investor perceptions, or a host of other issues.”

The price of a stock fluctuates fundamentally due to the theory of supply and demand. A stock doesn't have a fixed price, or value. When investors are buying the stock, the price tends to go up. But if they think the company's outlook is poor, or if the overall market is weak, they either don't invest or sell shares they already own. Then the price of the stock tends to fall.

But price is only one way to measure a stock's value. Return on investment — the amount you earn by owning the stock — is another. To assess return, you add any increase or decrease in price from the time of purchase and any dividends the stock has paid over that time. Then you divide by the amount you invested to find percent return. As a final step, you can find the annualized return by dividing the return by the number of years you owned the stock.

The stock market goes through cycles, heading up for a time, and then correcting itself by reversing and heading down. A rising period is known as a bull market — bulls being the market optimists who drive prices up. A bear market is a falling market, where stock prices fall by 20% or more and may remain depressed. Overall, the market has tended to rise higher following a fall. But bear markets can take a big bite out of your portfolio's value in the short term. 


Derivatives are financial contracts, or financial instruments, whose values are derived from the value of something else (known as the underlying). The underlying on which a derivative is based can be an asset (e.g., commodities, equities (stocks), residential mortgages, commercial real estate, loans, bonds), an index (e.g., interest rates, exchange rates, stock market indices, consumer price index (CPI) — see inflation derivatives), or other items (e.g., weather conditions, or other derivatives). Credit derivatives are based on loans, bonds or other forms of credit.

The most common type of derivatives being used are: futures and options.


An option is a contract written by a seller that conveys to the buyer the right — but not the obligation — to buy (in the case of a call option) or to sell (in the case of a put option) a particular asset, such as a piece of property, or shares of stock or some other underlying security, such as, among others, a futures contract. In return for granting the option, the seller collects a payment (premium) from the buyer.

Call Option

In the case of an equity option, a contract that gives the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to purchase a set amount of stock (usually 100 shares) at a predetermined price anytime before the contract expires (American Style option) or at expiration only (European Style Option). The predetermined price is known as the strike price.

Put Option

In the case of an equity option, a contract that gives the holder the right, but not the obligation, to sell a stock at a set price for limited period of time. The seller or writer of the option is obligated to buy the stock at the strike price in the event that the option is assigned.



Holder (Buyer)

Writer (Seller)

Call Option

Right to buy

Obligation to sell

Put Option

Right to sell

Obligation to buy



What are Futures?

A futures contract is the obligation to receive or deliver a commodity or financial instrument at a specific date in the future at an agreed upon price today.

These contracts have the following standard specifications:

1.     Underlying instrument

The commodity, financial instrument, or index upon which the item is based.

2.     Size

The amount of the underlying item covered by the contract.

3.     Delivery or contract cycle

The specified months for which contracts can be traded.

4.     Maturity date

The date by which all particular futures trading month ceases to exist and all obligations must be fulfilled.

5.     Grade/quality specification and delivery locations

A detailed description of the commodity or security and where, when, and how it can be delivered.

6.     Settlement procedures

Rules for physical delivery of the underlying item, including how payments are made and received, or the specific cash series and procedures used for cash settlement of the contract.

These contracts are traded on an organized and regulated futures exchange enabling buyers and sellers to transact business. In most cases, traders fulfill the obligation of the contract by taking the offsetting position. For example, if a trader is long a futures contract, he must sell the contract prior to the expiration date to avoid taking delivery of the physical commodity.


Futures and Options Distinctions

While both futures and options are derivative products, they have their differences in terms of obligations.





Has the right to buy or sell the underlying security

Has the obligation to take delivery of the underlying commodity or financial instrument on expiration at the settlement price.


Has the obligation to buy or sell the underlying security

Has the obligation to make delivery of the underlying commodity or financial instrument on expiration at the settlement price.


Traders that hold futures position always have the obligation to buy or sell the underlying commodity. In order to meet this obligation, traders need to offset the futures position.

In most equity markets, 1 Options Contract gives the right to buy and sell 100 shares while 1 Future Contract normally involves 1000 shares. Thus, options are more affordable to most people as compared to futures.

Leveraged  Trading

Stock that a trader does not actually own may be traded using short selling; margin buying may be used to purchase stock with borrowed funds; or, derivatives may be used to control large blocks of stocks for a much smaller amount of money than would be required by outright purchase or sale. Be cautious that this type of trading involves higher risk and may result in the loss of the initial amount. Not advised for amateur traders.

Short selling

In short selling, the trader borrows stock (usually from his brokerage which holds its clients' shares or its own shares on account to lend to short sellers) then sells it on the market, hoping for the price to fall. The trader eventually buys back the stock, making money if the price fell in the meantime or losing money if it rose. Exiting a short position by buying back the stock is called "covering a short position." This strategy may also be used by unscrupulous traders to artificially lower the price of a stock. Hence most markets either prevent short selling or place restrictions on when and how a short sale can occur. The practice of naked shorting is illegal in most (but not all) stock markets.

Margin buying

In margin buying, the trader borrows money (at interest) to buy a stock and hopes for it to rise. Most industrialized countries have regulations that require that if the borrowing is based on collateral from other stocks the trader owns outright, it can be a maximum of a certain percentage of those other stocks' value.


Contract for Difference (CFD)

Another example of leveraged trading is CFD. A contract for difference (or CFD) is a contract between two parties, typically described as "buyer" and "seller", stipulating that the seller will pay to the buyer the difference between the current value of an asset and its value at contract time. (If the difference is negative, then the buyer pays instead to the seller.) For example, when applied to equities, such a contract is an equity derivative that allows investors to speculate on share price movements, without the need for ownership of the underlying shares

Contracts for difference allow investors to take long or short positions, and unlike futures contracts has no fixed expiry date, standardized contract or contract size. Trades are conducted on a leveraged basis with margins typically ranging from 1% to 30% of the notional value for CFDs on leading equities.

Currency or Forex Trading

Is another form of trading which capitalize on the the movement of the exchange rate between base currency and quote currency (often mentioned as currency pair). The aim is to earn the difference by converting between the 2 currencies at different timing. Often the currency pair being used are US Dollar (USD) and the local currency, depending on the location of the trader.  Another way is to trade using major currency pairThe Majors are: EUR/USD, GBP/USD, USD/JPY, USD/CHF, AUD/USD and USD/CAD.

There are also a few derivatives used in forex trading, but I won't go in depth on the subject.


"The only way to have plenty of money is to learn how to handle the money"