Monday, September 23, 2013

The millionaire next door......part 1

What are the signs that you have too much time? I find that it is getting increasingly difficult to find undervalued stocks. So I decided to take a break(it has been almost 1 year plus actually) and let the market sort out by itself. I am now have so much time that I begin to re-run TVB dramas that produced between 80s and 90s. I hardly watched any of the TVB drama post millennium perhaps the quality of scripts and cast have not been as good as before. The Korean dominates post 2000. 

I know that I am in trouble because I started to go back watching classic dramas(a sign of old age). The latest series is The Shanghai Bund. I remembered in those days, housewives would prepare their dinner early so that they could watched their favorite drama at 6 pm. The streets will literally empty because most people will be glued on the TV screens. I remembered TV was a luxury item that not every household can afford it. We would need to "tumpang" watching at neighbors. The doors of neighbors opened widely that we could walked in and out as if it was our own house. 

Today Malaysian house probably will have at least 2 TVs(mine one only) protected by high walls and monitored by CCTV(mine none) and guards and gates, things have changed rapidly. We probably have done a little bit better materially but certainly going backwards spiritually - getting more insecure. 

Chow Yun Fat is certainly my idol. Back then he was 25 years old, today he is fast approaching 60. There is no mistake that people called him People's actor. I did not know much about his humble background until 33 years later where I get more information about him by "google-ling". 

Chow was born in Lamma IslandHong Kong to a mother who was a cleaning lady and vegetable farmer, and a father who worked on a Shell Oil Company tanker.[2][3] Of Hakka origins,[4][5] he grew up in a farming community on Lamma Island in a house with no electricity.[6] He woke up at dawn each morning to help his mother sell herbal jelly and Hakka tea-pudding on the streets and in the afternoons he went to work in the fields. His family moved to Kowloon when he was ten. At seventeen, he quit school to help support the family by doing odd jobs including bellboy,[7] postman, camera salesman, and taxi driver. His life started to change when he responded to a newspaper advertisement and his actor-trainee application was accepted by TVB, the local television station. He signed a three-year contract with the studio and made his acting debut. With his striking good looks and easy-going style, Chow became a heartthrob and a familiar face in soap operas that were exported internationally.
He is a superstar today with net worth more than billions(HKD) but surprisingly he lives a frugal lifestyle. He is frequently spotted taking public buses. The best part of all, he pledged to donate 99% of his wealth after he dies.

He still patron wet market, going to Kowloon to buy 'vegetables'. I can't agree more with him that there is a strong correlation between shopping at wet market and finance literacy. It's the best place that you learn about inflation and budgeting. Jim Rogers is another person who shops frequently at the wet market. 

He walks freely with his wife with no social consciousness. Can't find a better picture but this the one that I can find conveniently to show that she is a plain Jane but a person who can provide security, support and frankness with him. They stay married for 26 years. She is his mean finance manager.  

Since this is a finance blog - I must go on to talk about personal finance stuffs though gossiping sometimes is fun. There are two superstar Chows who are very investment savvy - he and Stephen Chow.

Both of them famed for their speculative or investment skills. Both of them earns substantial profits from their property investments even though they also made killings profits from stock market and businesses.

So far, it is quite true that behind every successful man there is a woman. It was unfortunate that Stephen and his longtime girlfriend  Yu Wenfeng did not work out well at the end after 10 years of dating. She is the youngest daughter of one of the largest real estate founder Hong Kong Construction Holdings, Ltd. She was the head of finance for Stephen Chow company. She has been his excellent advisor by asking him to refurbish and then hold back from selling a particular property that resulted his net worth to increase by HK$2 billion.

There is a favorite pair of mine - Sean Lau Ching Wan and Amy Kwok.

Lau Ching Wan 1992 successful tv series The Greed of Man has created a strong brand of him as investment actor. His well accepted image has landed him various stock market movies like Overheard, Overheard 2, Life without principle or even in a less popular ATV series of divine retribution. 

He was quite straight forward to tell everyone that he is quite bad with investment decisions and knew very little about investment. He leaves everything to his wife Amy Kwok. Their lifestyle is extremely frugal  like regular salaried "workers" - going to wet market, breakfast at old shop and shopping at regular shops. 

His wife was once aspired to be a professor in the university ended up winning Miss Hong Kong 1991 title and a successful actress. She is almost like goddess reincarnation who has beauty, brain and tremendous character. She earns a degree in mechanical engineering and master degree in electronics. She seems to be really the one that wearing the pants at home. 

Most people would know especially in entertainment world that easy money can come and go very easily. She probably realized that. As early of their acting career and dating way back to 1994, she has been in the driver seat making property investment decision. Lau Ching Wan is the passive investor by just entrusted the money to her. She was so good at it that she did never lose any money in property speculation/investment. She had withdrew herself from acting since 2006 to concentrate managing the family affair and finance.

She is very hands-on. She dressed like a regular housewife not shopping for LV bags but shopping for best property deals in town. 

What I like about this couple is though they did not reach the superstar status, commanding a lot lesser acting fees, but by compounding their wealth over time, they accumulated hundreds of million wealth quietly. They seems to be happily married for 15 years.

This reminds me of the traits of many wealthy people in a book written and published in 1995. 


cina said...

You find the most interesting and relevant stories to write about.. I really enjoyed reading it and your thoughts on it to ;)

Keep it up Mr T and don't stop..

Turtleinvestor said...


Long time no hear. What a big pleasant surprise to hear from you again. I was hopping on the floor when I saw your comments.

It was really sad when I found out you deleted all your works though you have been expressing that you may do so one day. To pull that trigger, I figured, it must be one of most difficult decisions you ever made in your whole life as well. But it was probably the best decision you have made for yourself too.

Keep in touch. Take care.