Confused About Investing?
The world of investing can be scary, with so many technical jargons that can make your head spin. From exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and options to stocks and bonds, there is a huge selection of investment tools out there, and these can get confusing even to an experienced trader.
Whether you are a risk-averse beginner or an investing veteran looking to diversify your portfolio further, this article breaks down all the different types of investments available in Singapore for you.
Table of Content
- Types on Investments in Singapore
- Other Types of Investment
- Other Investment Terms You Should Know
- Getting Started
- Additional Resources
Types on Investments in Singapore
First up we have what is probably the most well-known form of investment. A stock represents a share or a stake in a publicly-traded company. A company sells a share to the public as a way to raise funds to finance operations and initiatives that will help the business grow.
For example, Apple or Tesla sell a small percentage of their company in the form of a share in the US market.
Some people buy shares so that they can have a legitimate stake in the company, control the business’ direction, and receive dividends. This is where the term ‘shareholders’ comes from. However, to become a shareholder, one needs to hold a large stake in the company, about around 20%. This can amount to millions of dollars.
For most people they buy stocks so that they can sell them at a higher price or hold them long-term for dividends.
Read Also: A Basic Guide to Stocks
Next on the list are bonds. Bonds are like a money lending contract that you obtain at a brokerage where you are the lender. Through bonds, you can lend your money to a private or government entity for a certain period of time. While your money is on loan you get consistent interest payments. After the bond matures, you receive your principal sum.
In Singapore there are many types of bonds for you to check out. Singapore Savings Bonds (SSBs) are long term bonds with a step-up interest, meaning the longer you invest the more interest you will receive. It is also fully backed by the Singapore Government.
Another choice for those investing in sustainability and green practices is the Singapore Sovereign Green Bond.
A mutual fund pools money from many investors and makes money by trading in stocks. These are typically managed by a fund manager who decides where the money goes and what trades are going to be made.
Mutual funds are a popular choice as they allow investors to have a diverse portfolio without spending too much time or energy in the actual trading.
There are a few types of mutual funds out there but we will expand on three: ETFs, Index Funds, and Hedge Funds.
Hedge Funds and ETFs
ETFs or exchange-traded funds are a form of a passively managed fund. ETFs are a basket of assets that can be tracked and sold on the market like any other stock. Typically ETFs track a particular index (or market), but can also group and track assets differently.
ETFs that track indexes are called index funds. The fund manager of an index fund essentially follows the natural progression of the market index by selling stocks of companies that are losing share value and buying those that are gaining value.
For example, the Straits Time Index has companies like ComfortDelGro, DBS, and CapitaLand as a few of their top enterprises. As the market moves, with shares losing and gaining value, the index fund manager follows these movements and trades accordingly.
Hedge funds are another type of mutual fund. However, hedge funds fall under the actively managed category of mutual funds. This means that the fund manager actively makes trading decisions designed to generate returns beyond the market standard. These are typically available to accredited investors, have a large initial investment (think in the millions), and may even impose net-worth requirements.
Singapore based hedge funds like Vanda Global Fund and Quantedge Capital manage billions of dollars worth of assets and trade in global markets actively.
Options are a tricky way of trading stocks, making them slightly more complicated. Let’s break them down into two types of options: a call option and a put option.
A call option is an option that gives an investor the right to buy something. For example, you buy a S$500 stock with an upfront payment of S$5 set to expire a month from now. Within this month, you can exercise the choice to sell this stock as though you own it. If the market price of this stock increases to S$600, you make a S$95 profit. If you don’t sell the stock before the deadline, you default the premium which is S$5 in this case.
A similar mechanism works for a put option, which gives the seller a right to sell. Options are a way for people to control risk or protect against severe risk like in the event of a stock price massively falling.
A future is an agreement between a buyer and a seller on the price of the stock at a predetermined date and time. Once that predetermined date and time is reached, the buyer must buy and the seller must sell that stock for the agreed amount, regardless of what the market price is.
REITs stands for Real Estate Investment Trusts. These are companies that own income-generating real estate. By investing in REITs you can obtain the benefits of earning from real estate without having to source, buy, maintain or finance any properties yourself.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs) is a form of investment where you can place your money in a bank or credit union and gain interest as time goes on. This interest payment is usually reinvested, leading to a compounding effect.
However, do note that CDs are not very liquid. The duration of the term that needs to be fulfilled and you will need to pay an additional fee if you withdraw prematurely. Sometimes this fee can be large, making it difficult for you to retrieve your money without incurring high additional costs.
Annuities are contracts between a buyer and an insurance company. A buyer pays either a lump-sum upfront or makes a series of payments, after which they are entitled to receive regular disbursements. For more information on the types of annuities, refer to this page.
A robo advisor is exactly like a financial advisor, except, well, it’s not human. Based entirely on artificial intelligence, robo advisors provide automated investment and trading services. There are so many kinds of robo advisors out there. Some specialize in strategies optimized using modern portfolio theory and others are even created to mimic the trades of hedge funds.
Read Also: Best Robo Advisors in Singapore 2022
Other Types of Investment
Private Equity Funds: This is another kind of mutual fund but these funds usually pool money so as to obtain a controlling stake in an operating company. They usually target companies in booming industries or startups with growing potential.
Commodities: Purchasing commodities is essentially buying tangible resources that appreciate in value due to their scarcity. Items like gold and oil fall under this category.
Other Investment Terms You Should Know
Trading on Margin
Margin interest is a loan interest rate between you and your broker if you do not have the funds to purchase a stock right now.
For example, you may be interested in a stock that costs S$1,000 but do not have that kind of money to invest at the moment. You can trade on a margin by reaching an agreement with your brokerage.
So perhaps they agree to let you trade with a 10% margin, meaning you can buy a S$1,000 stock for S$100. The remaining S$900, you need to pay eventually with an interest rate.
Bull / Bear Market
A bull market is a term used to describe any market where prices of stocks are showing an upward trend, indicating that the value of the market is going to rise.
On the other hand, a bear market illustrates a declining trend of falling stock prices. The strict definition is a price decrease of 20% or more. This is the opposite of a bull market.
Dividends are payments made by the company to its shareholders. These typically come from the company's earnings and provide incentive for investors to purchase a stock, even though the stock price may not be rising.
However, not all companies choose to pay out dividends as this decision is up to the board of directors. For instance, Tesla does not pay dividends to stakeholders, instead choosing to use profits for other business purposes.
You now know briefly about the many types of investments available and want to get started. The next step is to pick a trading platform to get started.
There are so many trading platforms for you to choose from depending on your investment needs and financial situation. Here are some of our favorites.
If you’re looking for large market access to trade in China, HK, US, Australia, and Singapore, but also one of the cheapest commission rates on the market, Tiger Brokers is a great option. It offers stocks, options, bonds, and many more types of investment. Tiger Brokers is also an all inclusive digital platform with both mobile and desktop applications at your fingertips.
At the time of writing, you can enjoy 180 Days unlimited commission-free trades for U.S. stocks, NYSE AcroBook and 30 Days Reuters Video Card, if you sign up today.
If you’re a true novice, uSMART is a great beginner-friendly brokerage to start your investing journey. uSMART boasts the lowest commission fee on the market, and as of today they are offering a free 0.1 Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) fractional share (worth~ S$100) for new users with your first deposit of S$200. uSMART also houses features like Buy-Low and Sell-High that make trading intuitive and easy.
Now that you are familiar with most investing types such as stocks, ETFs, and REITs as well as know some of the platforms you can use, you are prepared to make your first investment..
However, it is important to note that all investments, even the relatively stable ones, carry a risk. You may lose money and your investments may depreciate. Nevertheless, it is equally as important to recognize the benefits of investing, and exercise caution when doing so.