StashAway Simple vs Versa vs KDI Save vs T&G Go+

Best FD Alternatives: StashAway Simple vs Versa Cash vs KDI Save vs TNG Go+ vs BIMB BEST Invest

Fixed Deposit (FD) has always been the go-to place for many Malaysians to save their cash. However, most FDs require a high deposit, and they lock in your money for a long time (+charges a penalty on early withdrawal).

With product innovations in the financial industry, we are seeing the emergence of more flexible alternatives to FD over the past year. In this article, let's compare the latest KDI Save alongside StashAway Simple, Versa Cash, TNG Go+, and BEST Invest - the top 5 FD-killers available!   

p.s. This is a comprehensive comparison, so feel free to use the menu below to skip to the part you are interested in reading, enjoy! 

 

Overview of StashAway Simple, Versa Cash, KDI Save, TNG Go+ & BEST Invest

  • StashAway Simple is a cash management offering from well-known robo-advisor, StashAway. It is part of the offering within the StashAway investment app. Check out my in-depth review of StashAway Simple.
  • Versa Cash is a newly launched pure cash management app in 2021. Check out my detailed review of Versa Cash HERE.
  • KDI Save is a cash management offering. It is part of the offering within the latest Kenanga Digital Investing (KDI) robo-advisor app. Feel free to read my detailed review of KDI Save.
  • Go+ (GoPlus) is a newly introduced cash management feature in TNG e-Wallet in 2021. Go+ allows users to earn interest on their deposits with TNG e-Wallet.
  • BIMB Dana Al-Fakhim is a money market fund offered within the BEST Invest app by BIMB Investment. BIMB Investment is a subsidiary of Bank Islam.

What is Money Market Fund?

Money market funds (MMF) are funds that invest in a mix of (a) Fixed Deposits, (b) bonds, and highly liquid, short-term cash equivalent instruments called (c) Money Market Instruments.

Essentially, Money Market Instruments are short-term debts issued by banks in order to accumulate short-term cash-pile to make up for the shortfall in their daily deposit reserve. Simply put, MMFs are lending money to banks when they buy these Money Market Instruments. 

These instruments are relatively low-risk as they are backed by the banks. Moreover, they are highly liquid with short maturity periods. Through regular redemption of matured Money Market Instruments, it allows MMF to provide a similar rate to FDs without having to lock up users’ capital.

In short, through Simple/Versa/Go+/BEST Invest, you can earn a similar rate to FD through low-risk MMF without having to lock up your funds, unlike typical FDs.

They are great options if you are looking for a competitive and flexible alternative to FDs.


Similarities: StashAway Simple, Versa Cash, KDI Save, TNG Go+ & BEST Invest

What are the similarities or common traits when you place your money with these apps?

1. Regulated

All StashAway, Versa, KDI Save, Go+, and BEST Invest are regulated by the Securities Commission (SC) of Malaysia. This ensures that these services are always operating in Malaysia as per the guideline from the local authority.

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2. Flexible & Low barrier of entry

Generally, most FDs require a high minimum deposit to get started. Moreover, FDs lock in our funds for a period of time and charge a penalty for early withdrawal.

In contrast, every app in this article has a low minimum deposit from RM0 (Simple), RM1 (Versa), and RM10 (KDI Save, Go+, and BEST Invest). 

Furthermore, they do not lock in your funds as FD does. Meaning, you are free to deposit and withdraw anytime without penalty.

In short, with a small capital, anyone can start saving flexibly and enjoy rates that are on par with FD.

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3. Competitive returns to FD

As a whole, all 5 apps provide returns that are similar and/or competitive to traditional Fixed Deposits (FDs).

I will go through a detailed comparison in the next section, but safe to say they are all great alternatives to FDs.

One thing to be aware of, is none of them guarantee returns. Even though they invest in low-risk MMF, returns are still subjected to market fluctuation.

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4. Not protected by PIDM

Another thing to note is that none of the apps are protected under Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia (PIDM).

PIDM is an organization that protects deposits kept in banks and financial institutions that are a member of PIDM. Conventional FDs are usually protected by PIDM.


Comparison Part 1: Performance of the underlying Money Market Funds 

In this section, let’s compare the differences between each app. I will assign a winner at the end of each section:

Each app has an underlying money market fund, namely:

  • AmIncome Fund for StashAway Simple
  • Affin Hwang Enhanced Deposit Fund for Versa
  • Proprietary Money Market Instruments from Kenanga for KDI Save (p.s. not included in Part 1 as this is a newly established fund with no past data)
  • Principal e-Cash for TNG Go+ (p.s. not included in Part 1 as this is a newly established fund with no past data)
  • BIMB Dana Al-Fakhim for BEST Invest

Below, let’s compare the performance of the funds:

1a. 5-Year Performance (2016 – 2020)

StashAway Simple, Versa, and BEST Invest Underlying Fund 5-Year Performance
StashAway Simple, Versa, and BEST Invest Underlying Funds' 5-Year Performance

From the chart above, we can see that all the funds generally move in the same trend. The volatile performance drop in 2020 is mainly due to the pandemic which triggered a steep drop in interest rate, and in turn impact the returns. 

As a whole, the difference in performance between each fund is minimal. That said, we can see that Versa’s underlying fund, Affin Hwang Enhanced Deposit Fund has been leading the pack for 4 out of 5 years in terms of returns.

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1b. 5-Year Annualized Return (2016 – 2020)

StashAway Simple, Versa, and BEST Invest Underlying Funds' 5-Year Annualized Return
StashAway Simple, Versa, and BEST Invest Underlying Funds' 5-Year Annualized Return

Next, by generating the 5-year annualized return of these funds, you’ll be able to see the differences between each fund clearer.

The annualized return shows investors what they would earn if the annual return was compounded over a period of time (5 years, in this case).

From the comparison above, Affin Hwang Enhanced Deposit Fund (Versa) is the obvious leading fund in terms of annualized returns (3.41%).

Part 1 - Fund Performance Winner: Versa (Affin Hwang Enhanced Deposit Fund)

While not fully indicative of the future returns, Versa’s underlying fund did generate the best overall return over the past 5 years.

However, the differences, in my opinion, are minimal between funds. In the next sections, we’ll explore equally important aspects of these apps: Fees & User Experience.


Comparison Part 2: User Experience 

In this section, we’ll explore the overall user experience of these apps, from fees, how long it takes to deposit and withdraw, and so on:

2a. Funds’ Fees & Projected Returns

In terms of fees, all apps do not charge platform fees to users. The only fee while using these apps is the annual fees (management + trustee fees) from the underlying money market funds.

  • KDI Save, in this case, is totally FREE (0% annual fee) to use and promised a 3% promotional return until 31/12/2022 (up to RM200k). Thereafter, KDI Save will have a projected 2.25% return. 
  • Versa Cash, on the other hand, comes second with an annual fee of (0.35%) and projects a net annual return of 2.10% after fees.
  • In comparison, Simple has the highest annual fees (0.50%), but still projects the highest net annual return of 2.50% after fees. This estimate is possible partly due to the additional fees rebate that StashAway receives from AmFunds Management Bhd., though they do not reveal the exact rebate received.
  • On the other hand, Go+ has an annual fee of 0.48% but projects the lowest return of 1.47%.

All in all, I think StashAway Simple, KDI Save, and Versa are decent choices to save your money.

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 VersaStashAway SimpleKDI SaveTNG Go+BIMB BEST Invest
Projected Net Annual Return after fees*2.10%3.00% (first RM20k until 31/12/2022), 2.5% thereafter3.00% (first RM200k until 31/12/2022), 2.25% thereafter1.43%N/A
Total Annual Fees**0.35%0.50%Free0.48%0.52%
*Accurate as of 28/6/2022. Projected rates are not guaranteed.
**Total Annual Fees = Annual Management Fee + Annual Trustee Fee

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2b. Interest Payout Frequency

All platforms generate & compound their interest daily. However, each of them reflects them differently:

In this context, KDI Save and Go+ reflect users’ earnings on a daily basis. Meaning, you’ll receive your interest payout daily from both platforms. This is followed by Versa and Simple (monthly), and BEST Invest (quarterly).

Personally, except for BEST Invest, I think KDI Save, Go+, Versa, and Simple have a reasonable payout frequency.   

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 VersaStashAway SimpleKDI SaveTNG Go+BIMB BEST Invest
Payout FrqeuencyMonthlyMonthlyDailyDailyQuarterly

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2c. Deposits & Withdrawals

All 4 apps do not charge any fees on deposits and withdrawals. In addition, all of them have a low barrier for deposits, of which I think the differences are negligible.

As such, an important discussion here would be how fast we can receive our money in our bank account during a withdrawal. Of course, the earlier we can receive our fund, the better.

When it comes to speed, KDI Save, Versa, and Go+ lead with 1-2 days withdrawal. Meanwhile, Simple is slightly behind with 3-4 days and BEST Invest has a pathetic 10-days wait.

Another less-talked about comparison would be the minimum withdrawal amount. Versa has the highest minimum withdrawal amount of RM50, followed by KDI Save, Go+, and  BEST Invest (RM10). Meanwhile, Simple does not have such restrictions in place.

In my opinion, there is no clear edge for either app in this comparison. That said, BEST Invest certainly has the least favorable conditions due to its long withdrawal time.

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 VersaStashAway SimpleKDI SaveTNG Go+BIMB BEST Invest
Minimum DepositRM1No minimum deposit (W)RM100 initial deposit. RM10 thereafter.RM10RM10
Deposit Speed1-2 business days2-3 business days1-2 business daysImmediate (W)3 business days
Withdrawal Fees & SpeedNo, 1-2 business days (W)No, 3-4 business daysNo, 1-2 business days (W)No, 1-2 business days (W)No, 10 business days
Minimum Withdrawal AmountRM50No (W)RM10RM10RM10

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2d. User-Friendliness

I enjoy using well-designed apps. For me, I genuinely enjoy using Versa and StashAway Simple as their navigation is straightforward and works as intended.

In particular, for cash management & saving purposes, Versa nailed it in terms of simplicity as it is a pure cash management app.
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2e. Others (Shariah-Compliance, Limit to account balance)

In this comparison, only BEST Invest and TNG Go+ are shariah-compliant while the rest do not come with such compliance.

Aside from that, Go+ comes with an RM9,500 maximum account balance limit. This makes it the most restrictive condition for users that intend to save via Go+.  

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Part 2 – User Experience Winner: KDI Save, Versa, and StashAway Simple

In my opinion, KDI Save, Versa, and Simple are the best when it comes to user experience. They are not perfect, but they are great for people that are serious about managing their finances.


Comparison Part 3: Special features/promo

  • Limited-Time Promo: Get up to 3.2% on your savings! (StashAway)

From 1/7/2022 to 31/12/2022, earn up to 3.2% per annum when you place your savings on StashAway Simple! Here's how:

New StashAway Users

  • Step 1: Simply sign up for a StashAway account HERE 
  • Step 2: Make your first deposit into StashAway Simple from 1/7/2022 to 31/8/2022 to enjoy a rate of 3% per annum on up to RM 20,000 in your StashAway Simple portfolio.
  • Step 3: Next, refer two friends to use StashAway Simple before 31/8/2022 to enjoy a rate of 3.2% per annum on up to RM 20,000 in your StashAway Simple portfolio.

Existing StashAway Users

  • Step 1: Refer ONE friend and earn 3% per annum on up to RM 20,000 in your StashAway Simple portfolio when they make their first deposit into StashAway Simple between 1/7/2022 to 31/8/2022.
  • Step 2: Next, refer your SECOND friend before 31/8/2022 to enjoy a rate of 3.2% per annum on up to RM 20,000 for your StashAway Simple portfolio.

For full T&C, visit StashAway Simple's campaign site HERE.

StashAway Simple Promo

  • Investment integration (StashAway)

One thing I love with StashAway is its seamless savings (StashAway Simple) and investment (StashAway) integration.

So, let’s say you have RM50,000 in cash and would like to invest them. However, you do not want to invest the whole RM50,000 at once and would like to spread it over time (dollar-cost average).

Through the StashAway app, you can place your funds in Simple (low-risk + earn stable interest), then automate a weekly or monthly transfer from Simple to your main StashAway investment portfolio.

I think this is a brilliant feature from StashAway, which is one of the reasons why it is my favorite go-to robo-advisor at the moment. 

SA Simple Transfer from Simple to main Portfolio
Users can shift funds flexibly from Simple to their main StashAway investment portfolio.

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  • Spending and lifestyle integration (TNG Go+)

As an e-Wallet, I think TNG blends in everyday payment and lifestyle finances extremely well.

From payment, food delivery, movie & parking tickets to even insurance, I think the addition of Go+ makes TNG an all-round e-Wallet.

TNG Ewallet
TNG e-Wallet is a huge payment and lifestyle ecosystem for people's everyday expenses & consumption.
Part 3 – Special Features Winner: StashAway Simple. 

Personally, I really like how StashAway integrates savings and investing into an app. This makes StashAway a highly versatile app beyond savings.

READ: StashAway Review: My go-to robo-advisor!


Verdict: Which FD alternative should you choose? 

Personally, I’ve been using all Versa, Simple, KDI Save, Go+, and BEST Invest. All platforms are unique in their own way. Question is, which one should you use?

#1 Versa Cash: For pure savings purposes

Versa as a pure cash management app offers a straightforward user experience. Its underlying low-risk money market fund is also a fantastic alternative to FD.

As a whole, if you are looking for a low-risk way to save your cash, I highly recommend Versa.

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#2 KDI Save & StashAway Simple: For savings & investing

StashAway and KDI are robo-advisors that offer both cash management (Simple & KDI Save) and investment services (StashAway & KDI Invest). 

Within both app, users can easily transfer money from their savings to investments, which is really convenient.

Furthermore, I think KDI Save and StashAway Simple are equally capable alternatives to FD for savings purposes. 

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#3 TNG Go+: To earn interest on money that’ll be spent

Go+ is part of the extensive TNG e-Wallet ecosystem. As a business that actually motivates spending & consumption, I don’t think Go+ is the most suitable place for people to actually ‘save’ their cash.

In addition, the max RM9,500 cap is a huge restriction compared to other platforms.

Hence, I think Go+ is suitable for people to earn interest on the money that they have in their TNG e-wallet. In this context, I think TNG Go+ offers something that no other e-wallets can compare.

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#4 BEST Invest or TNG Go+: If you need shariah-compliancy

BIMB Dana Al-Fakhim (BEST Invest) and TNG Go+ are the only two shariah compliant fund among all.

While it is certainly not the best option, I think it still provides the benefits of low barrier of entry & flexibility to users looking for a shariah-compliant alternative to FD.

p.s. To be transparent, I have been using BEST Invest since 2020, and I’ll be shifting my money to Versa soon.

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EXCLUSIVE Promo codes/referral link (KDI Save, Versa Cash, StashAway)

If you find this post useful, do consider using my promo codes/referral links to open your account(s)!

This will greatly help me in sustaining my blog and keep on working on quality content like this one: 

  • KDI Referral Code: 101183

Use my dedicated KDI referral code – 101183, and you will get RM10 credited into your KDI Invest portfolio* when you successfully make a minimum deposit of RM250 on KDI Invest.

*Note: RM10 credit will be made within 30 days upon successful verification & deposit.

Open Your KDI Account HERE.

KDI Invest Promo Code

 

  • Versa Referral Code: LU8ARTEP

In collaboration with Versa, No Money Lah is bringing an exclusive deal for new users that are keen to start saving or investing with Versa!

Use my dedicated Versa referral code – LU8ARTEP, and you will get RM10 credited into your account* when you successfully make a minimum deposit of RM100 or more. That’s an instant 10% return on your investment.

Open Your Versa Account HERE.

Versa Invest Promo Code: LU8ARTEP

 

  • StashAway Referral Link:

No Money Lah is working with StashAway to bring new users an exclusive 50% off your fees for the first RM100,000 invested for 6 months.

To be eligible for this deal, sign up for your account through my StashAway referral link HERE. (or HERE if you are from Singapore)

StashAway Simple Referral Link


Disclaimers:

Investment in a money market fund is not the same as placement in a deposit with a financial institution. There are risks involved and investors should consult a financial planner before making any investment decisions.

This post contains affiliate links/codes that afford No Money Lah a small amount of commission (and help support the blog) should you sign up through my affiliate link/code.


Versa Cash Review: A Great Alternative to Fixed Deposit (FD)

Fixed Deposit, or FD, has always been people’s go-to way to save or deposit extra cash. The problem is, it locks your money in for a long period of time, or requires a high initial deposit to start with.

In this article, let’s look into Versa Cash, a great alternative to FD in Malaysia. Personally, I've been using Versa Cash since 2021, and in this post, let's explore if Versa is for you! 

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Highlights of Versa Cash

Established in 2021, Versa Cash is a digital cash management platform that provides users competitive returns like FD, but without the troublesome restrictions:

  • Regulated: Versa is regulated by the Securities Commission (SC) of Malaysia.
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  • Competitive Return: Through Versa, users can earn up to 2.4% interest per annum, which is on-par with the rates of Fixed Deposit (FD).
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  • Low Risk: The underlying fund of Versa is the Affin Hwang Enhanced Deposit Fund. It is a money market fund that invests users’ money in highly liquid & low-risk cash instruments.
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  • Flexible & Low Barrier of Entry: Malaysians aged 18 and above can start saving or investing via Versa from as low as RM1. Withdraw anytime without being charged penalty fees.

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How does Versa Cash work?

So, how exactly is Versa Cash able to deliver returns that are on-par with FD?

All of this is possible because Versa helps invest users’ cash into money market funds (MMF). MMFs are funds that invest in Fixed Deposits and highly liquid, short-term cash equivalent instruments called Money Market Instruments.

Essentially, Money Market Instruments are short-term debts issued by banks in order to accumulate short-term cash-pile to make up for the shortfall in their daily deposit reserve. Simply put, MMFs are lending money to banks when they buy these Money Market Instruments.  

These instruments are relatively low-risk as they are backed by the banks. Moreover, they are highly liquid with short maturity periods. Through regular redemption of matured Money Market Instruments, it allows MMF to provide a similar rate to FDs without having to lock up users’ capital. 

For Versa, the underlying MMF that they invest in is the Affin Hwang’s Enhanced Deposit Fund. It is a low-risk MMF by Affin Hwang Asset Management.

In short, through Versa Cash, you can earn a similar rate to FD through low-risk MMF without having to lock up your funds, unlike conventional FDs. It is a great choice if you are looking for a competitive and flexible alternative to FDs.

Versa Homepage
Versa is a new digital cash management app that gives competitive returns on par with FDs. (Source: Versa's website)

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Is Versa Cash Safe to Use?

When it comes to regulation, Versa is regulated by the Securities Commission (SC) of Malaysia. This ensures that Versa is always operating in Malaysia as per the guideline from the local authority. 

As for the safety of funds, the cash deposits from users are held by a third party (trustee), which is HSBC (Malaysia) Trustee. In other words, your deposits to Versa are separate from Versa’s company finances. As such, this ensures no deposits can be used for fraudulent purposes and you will always have full access and claim to them no matter what happens to Versa.

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Versa Cash Fees & Charges

As a digital cash management platform, Versa Cash does not charge a fee on users. That said, the underlying MMF, Affin Hwang’s Enhanced Deposit Fund, does charge reasonable annual fees, as shown below:

% per annum
Approximate Fund returns per annum (Before fees) 2.45%
Management fee per annum -0.30%
Trustee fee per annum -0.05%
Net returns per annum* 2.1%

*Note: Net return may fluctuate based on the fund’s performance

Next question: Are there any fees on fund withdrawal via Versa?

Unlike FDs, there are no charges when you withdraw your funds from Versa. Withdrawals are expected to be reflected within 1-2 business days depending on the time of withdrawal (ie. before or after 2:30pm during business days).

At this point, perhaps a question that you have in mind is “So how does Versa make money?”. From how I see it, Versa is most likely going to expand beyond their current offering in the future. As such, it is logical that Versa focuses more on user acquisition right now in preparation for their plans in the near future. Regardless, I see this as a win for everyday investors like you and me!

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3 things I like about Versa Cash

#1 Performance on par with conventional Fixed Deposits (FDs)

Through Versa, interests are compounded daily and interest payout is made every month, which is re-invested into user’s fund.

All of this combined, through its underlying Affin Hwang Enhanced Deposit Fund, Versa projects about 2.4% return per annum (before fees) for users.

Versa fund return
Versa enables users to get return that is on-par with FDs. (Source: Versa App)

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#2 Flexible & Low barrier of entry

2 amazing features about Versa are:

  1. Low barrier of entry: You can start investing or saving with Versa from as low as RM1. Even better, using my exclusive referral code LU8ARTEP, you can get RM10 credited into your Versa account when you make a minimum deposit of RM100!
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  2. Flexible: There are no charges to open a Versa account. In addition, you can withdraw your funds anytime and there are no fees on withdrawal.

Combined, both these features make a compelling edge against conventional FDs. Reason being, FDs usually have higher minimum deposits & they tend to lock in users for a period of time (and charge a penalty for early withdrawals).

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#3 Simple & clean user experience (suitable even for my retired mom!)

Perhaps my favorite experience with Versa is their simple and clean user interface.

As a simple digital cash management platform, I enjoy the design of the app that clearly shows the capital invested and payout.

In fact, when my retired mom was looking for a better FD alternative to save her idle cash, I recommended Versa without hesitation. This is because I know she can totally navigate the app with clarity & confidence.

Versa UI 2
Versa provides a simple and intuitive user experience that anyone can understand easily.

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Risks + What You Need to Know Before Investing in Versa Cash

In this part, let’s look at 3 things that you need to be aware of while investing your money with Versa:

  1. Market risk

While being a relatively stable investment, investing in Money Market Fund (MMF) via Versa still presents exposure to market risk.

One such risk is the fluctuation in interest rate. As an example, if Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) increases interest rate, MMF is likely going to generate higher returns. On the flip side, if BNM reduces interest rate, it’ll also affect the returns of MMF as a result. 

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  1. Not protected by PIDM

While investing in Versa, it is important to remember that your fund is not protected by Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia (PIDM).

PIDM is an organization that protects deposits kept in banks and financial institutions that are a member of PIDM. Conventional bank FDs are usually protected by PIDM.

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  1. Not shariah-compliant

In addition, Versa’s underlying MMF, Affin Hwang Enhanced Deposit Fund is not shariah compliant.

Hence, this is something that you need to be aware of prior to investing with Versa.

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Improvement: ONE Feature Versa HAS to Add

As a Versa user myself (also having opened an account for my mom), there is one handy feature that I think Versa lacks: Automatic Scheduled Transfer.

Being a digital cash management platform, I think having the convenience for users to automate their deposits every week/month should be a fundamental feature.

While I enjoy using Versa, I think this improvement will make Versa a more complete financial app.

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Eligibility + Is Versa Cash for You?

Versa is open to Malaysian citizens who are 18 years old and above with an NRIC/MyKad. This means that even young Malaysian adults can start building good financial habits by saving/investing from their phones – neat!

That said, is Versa for you?

To answer this question, it is best to first know what Versa is NOT:

  • Versa Cash does not invest in stocks/equities (ie. Higher risk assets). Hence, do not expect mutual fund/robo-advisors-like returns.
  • Versa Cash does not guarantee returns. Even though it invests in low-risk MMF, returns are still subjected to market fluctuation.

Hence, in my opinion, Versa Cash is great for:

  1. People looking for a flexible alternative to FD & typical savings account for general savings
  2. People looking to save for a specific goal (eg. house, car, wedding)
  3. People with extra cash and want to save it for the short-term

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Versa Promo Code: LU8ARTEP

In collaboration with Versa, No Money Lah is bringing an exclusive deal for new users that are keen to start saving or investing with Versa!

Use my dedicated Versa referral code – LU8ARTEP, and you will get RM10 credited into your account* when you successfully make a minimum deposit of RM100 or more. That’s an instant 10% return on your investment.

Open Your Versa Account HERE.

Versa Invest & Versa Cash Promo Code: LU8ARTEP

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How to open a Versa Account

Creating a Versa account is simple and straightforward:

Step 1: Click HERE to install the Versa app.

Step 2: Start your account opening process by keying in the necessary details such as a new display name, email address, and password. Remember to apply referral code LU8ARTEP for an exclusive RM10 account-opening reward!

Versa Account opening
Versa Account Opening process is simple & straightforward

Step 3: You’ll go through a simple identification process where you’ll be asked to verify your mobile number, IC, and personal details. This is a required process by the regulators to make sure it’s the real you that’s opening an account.

Step 4: It’ll take about 2-3 business days to verify your account. Once that’s done, you can start investing in Versa by making your first deposit!

Versa Deposit
Once your account has been verified, you can start depositing funds to Versa!

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Versa or StashAway Simple or KDI save?

In terms of offering, Versa’s closest competitor is certainly KDI Save and StashAway Simple. Both offer users flexible and low barrier access to MMF that pays competitive FD-like rates.

I think this comparison deserves a full article on its own so I’ll attach a link here (it's up!) when I come out with a comparison article real soon! 

Personally, I use both Versa, KDI Save, and StashAway Simple to save for different purposes and I am happy with them as an alternative to FD (I think you will, too!).

READ: The Ultimate FD-Killer Showdown: StashAway Simple vs Versa vs KDI Save vs TNG Go+ vs BEST Invest!

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No Money Lah’s Verdict

So there you have it, my review on Versa! If you are looking for an FD alternative to invest/save your cash, Versa is a platform that I can wholeheartedly recommend you to try.  

Personally, I enjoyed using the platform and I think you will, too! 


Disclaimers

Investment in a money market fund is not the same as placement in a deposit with a financial institution. There are risks involved and investors should consult a financial planner before making any investment decisions.

This post contains affiliate links/code that afford No Money Lah a small amount of commission (and help support the blog) should you sign up through my affiliate link/code.


StashAway Simple review - Get 3.2% return on your cash!

StashAway Simple Review: The Fixed Deposit (FD) Killer?

Fixed Deposit, or FD, has always been people’s go-to way to save or deposit extra cash. The problem is, it locks your money in for a long period of time, or requires a high initial deposit to start with.

In this article, let’s look into StashAway Simple, a great alternative to FD. Personally, I’ve been using StashAway Simple since mid-2020, and in this post, let’s explore if StashAway Simple is for you! 

[NEW!] For a limited time, get up to 3.2% when you save your cash on StashAway Simple! Find out how at the end of this article!

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Highlights of StashAway Simple

StashAway Simple (or 'Simple') is a cash management offering from robo-advisor StashAway. It provides users competitive returns like FD, but without the troublesome restrictions:

  • Regulated: StashAway Simple is regulated by the Securities Commission (SC) of Malaysia.
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  • Competitive Return: Through Simple, users can earn up to 2.5% interest per annum, which is comparable to the rates of Fixed Deposit (FD).
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  • Low Risk: The underlying fund of Simple is the AmIncome Fund from AmFunds Management Berhad. AMIncome Fund invests in a mix of money market funds and short-term corporate bonds.
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  • Flexible & Low Barrier of Entry: Malaysians aged 18 and above can start saving or investing via Simple. There is no minimum on how much you need to save with Simple. Withdraw anytime without being charged penalty fees.

[Update 29/6/2022] With the increase in interest rate by the central bank lately, StashAway Simple has also raised the returns from 2.4% to 2.5% per annum. 


How does StashAway Simple work?

So, how exactly is Simple able to deliver returns that are on-par with FD?

All of this is possible because Simple invests users’ cash into money market funds (MMF). MMFs are funds that invest in Fixed Deposits and highly liquid, short-term cash equivalent instruments called Money Market Instruments.

Essentially, Money Market Instruments are short-term debts issued by banks in order to accumulate short-term cash-pile to make up for the shortfall in their daily deposit reserve. Simply put, MMFs are lending money to banks when they buy these Money Market Instruments. 

These instruments are relatively low-risk as they are backed by the banks. Moreover, they are highly liquid with short maturity periods. Through regular redemption of matured Money Market Instruments, it allows MMF to provide a similar rate to FDs without having to lock up users’ capital.

For Simple, the underlying MMF that they invest in is the AmIncome Fund from AmFunds Management Berhad.

In short, through Simple, you can earn a similar rate to FD through low-risk MMF without having to lock up your funds, unlike conventional FDs. It is a great choice if you are looking for a competitive and flexible alternative to FDs.

[Update 29/6/2022] With the increase in interest rate by the central bank lately, StashAway Simple has also raised the returns from 2.4% to 2.5% per annum.

Is StashAway Simple safe to use?

When it comes to regulation, Simple is regulated by the Securities Commission (SC) of Malaysia. This ensures that Simple is always operating in Malaysia as per the guideline from the local authority.

As for the safety of funds, your funds in Simple are held by a third party (trustee), which is Deutsche Trustees Malaysia Bhd. In other words, your deposits to Simple are separate from StashAway’s company finances. As such, this ensures no deposits can be used for fraudulent purposes and you will always have full access and claim to them no matter what happens to StashAway.


StashAway Simple Performance, Fees & Charges

StashAway Simple does not charge any platform or service fee to users. That said, the underlying MMF, AmIncome Fund, does charge reasonable annual fees, as shown below:

 

% per annum

Annual Management Fee

- 0.75%

Annual Trustee Fee

- 0.05%

Net Annual Projected Return after fees & rebate

2.50%

A thing worth noting is that StashAway does get fee rebate from AmFunds Management, likely due to the size of capital that StashAway Simple can channel to the fund (p.s. just my opinion). As such, when AmFunds Management rebates StashAway, they’ll re-distribute this full rebate to users.

SA Simple Rebate
StashAway channels the fee rebate that they get from the fund managers back to the users.

Next question: Are there any fees when you withdraw your funds from StashAway Simple?

Unlike FDs, there are no charges when you withdraw your funds from StashAway. Withdrawals are expected to be reflected within 3-4 business days.


4 things I like about StashAway Simple

#1 Returns on par with conventional Fixed Deposits (FDs)

Through Simple, returns are compounded daily and interest payout is made every month, which is re-invested into user’s fund.

All of this combined, through its underlying AmIncome Fund, Simple projects about 2.5% return per annum (after fees) for users.

[Update 29/6/2022] With the increase in interest rate by the central bank lately, StashAway Simple has also raised the returns from 2.4% to 2.5% per annum. 

SA Simple Projected Return
StashAway Simple Projected Return

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#2 Flexible & low barrier of entry

There are 2 things that I absolutely love with Simple:

  1. Low barrier of entry: There is no minimum amount to start using Simple. Meaning, you can start investing or saving with Simple with any amount you want.
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  2. Flexible: There are no charges to open a StashAway Simple account. In addition, you can withdraw your funds anytime and there are no fees on withdrawal.

Combined, both these features make a compelling edge against typical FDs. Reason being, FDs usually have higher minimum deposits & they tend to lock in users for a period of time (and charge a penalty for early withdrawals).

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#3 Integration with StashAway main investment ecosystem

Another reason why I enjoy using StashAway is its seamless savings (StashAway Simple) and investment (StashAway) integration.

So, let’s say you have RM50,000 in cash and would like to invest them. However, you do not want to invest the whole RM50,000 at once and would like to spread it over time (dollar-cost average).

Through StashAway app, you can place your funds in Simple (low-risk + earn stable interest), then automate a weekly or monthly transfer from Simple to your main StashAway investment portfolio.

I think this is a brilliant feature from StashAway, which makes it the most versatile robo-advisor at the moment. 

SA Simple Transfer from Simple to main Portfolio
Users can shift funds flexibly from Simple to their main StashAway investment portfolio.

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#4 Intuitive user experience

As an app catered for the general public, StashAway is really simple to use.

Even if you need any help, StashAway’s customer support is one of the best I’ve ever experienced when it comes to financial products.

SA Simple in the app
Simple can be accessed easily from the StashAway app.

Risks + What you need to know before investing in StashAway Simple

In this part, let’s explore 3 things that you need to be aware of while investing your money with Simple:

1. Market risk

While being a relatively stable instrument, investing in Money Market Fund (MMF) via Simple still presents exposure to market risk.

One such risk is the fluctuation in interest rate. For instance, if Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) increases interest rate, MMF is likely going to generate higher returns. On the other hand, if BNM reduces interest rate, it’ll also affect the returns of MMF as a result.

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2. Not protected by PIDM

While investing in Simple, it is important to remember that your fund is not protected by Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia (PIDM).

PIDM is an organization that protects deposits kept in banks and financial institutions that are a member of PIDM. Conventional bank FDs are usually protected by PIDM.

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3. Not Shariah-Compliant

Futhermore, Simple’s underlying MMF, AmIncome Fund is not shariah compliant.

Hence, this is something that you need to be aware of prior to investing with Simple.


Changes to underlying fund (performance, fees & what you need to know)

In late June 2021, StashAway Simple made a switch in its underlying fund from Eastspring Investments Islamic Fund previously, to AmIncome Fund right now due to tax reasons.

Here is what you need to know about this switch:

StashAway Simple Underlying Money Market Fund (MMF)

Eastspring Investments Islamic Fund (Previous MMF)

AmIncome Fund (New MMF)

Invests in

Islamic money market instruments and/or Islamic Deposits

Conventional money market instruments and short-term corporate bonds

Projected annual return

2.4% after fees & rebate

2.5% after fees & rebate

Shariah-Compliant

Yes

No

StashAway Risk Index (SRI)*

1.8%

0.1%

 

*SRI is how StashAway conveys risk. A 0.1% SRI = there’s a 99% chance of you not losing more than 0.1% of your fund’s total asset value in a given year. (ie. Very low risk)

In short, the biggest shift for StashAway Simple for users is in terms of its Shariah compliancy. Simple is no longer Shariah-Compliant right now and this is something users may need to consider before using Simple.

Otherwise, it’s still a great savings solution.  


Improvement: 2 Improvements Needed for StashAway Simple

Having been a Simple user since its launch, I think there are 3 improvements needed for Simple to compete with competitors like Versa:

1. Automatic scheduled transfer

One thing that puzzled me with StashAway is, I can schedule a routine transfer to my normal StashAway investment portfolio from my bank account, but I cannot do so for Simple.  

I think having the convenience for users to automate their deposits every week/month into Simple should be a fundamental feature.

While I enjoy using Simple, I think this improvement will make StashAway a more solid financial app.

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2. Withdrawal speed

StashAway Simple has a 3-4 business days withdrawal speed. While this is reasonable, it falls behind competitors like Versa that has a 1-2 business days withdrawal.

I think this is a space that StashAway can improve on as well.

READ: Versa Review: A Great Alternative to Fixed Deposits (FD)!


Eligibility + is StashAway Simple for you?

The minimum age required to open an account with StashAway is 18 years old. Meaning, even young Malaysian adults can start building good financial habits by saving/investing from their phones – neat!

That said, is StashAway Simple for you?

To answer this question, it is best to first know what Simple is NOT:

  • Simple does not invest in stocks/equities (ie. Higher risk assets). Hence, do not expect mutual fund-like returns.
  • Simple does not guarantee returns. Even though it invests in low-risk MMF, returns are still subjected to market fluctuation.

Hence, in my opinion, Simple is great for:

  • People looking for a flexible alternative to FD & typical savings account.
  • People looking to save for a specific goal (eg. house, car, wedding)
  • People with additional cash and want to save it for the short-term
  • People with a stash of cash looking to invest, but would like to spread the investment across time. (StashAway & StashAway Simple is perfect for this)

StashAway Simple or Versa or KDI save?

In terms of offering, StashAway Simple’s closest competitor is certainly KDI Save and Versa. Both offer users flexible and low barrier access to MMF that pays competitive FD-like rates.

I think this comparison deserves a full article on its own so I’ll attach a link here (it's up!) when I come out with a comparison article real soon! 

Personally, I use StashAway Simple, Versa, and KDI Save to save for different purposes and I am happy with them as an alternative to FD (I think you will, too!).

READ: The Ultimate FD-Killer Showdown: StashAway Simple vs Versa vs KDI Save vs TNG Go+ vs BEST Invest!


StashAway Referral link

No Money Lah is working with StashAway to bring new users an exclusive 50% off your fees for the first RM100,000 invested for 6 months.

Since it is Simple is free to use, this deal is applicable if you eventually use StashAway robo-advisor portfolio to invest.

To be eligible for this deal, sign up for your StashAway account through my referral link HERE. (or HERE if you are from Singapore)

Start Investing with StashAway Today!


EXCLUSIVE: Use my referral link to get 6 months FREE management fee up to RM100,000 invested!
EXCLUSIVE: Use my referral link to get a 6-month FREE management fee up to RM100,000 invested!


[Limited time promo!] Get up to 3.2% return on your savings on StashAway Simple!

From 1/7/2022 to 31/12/2022, earn up to 3.2% per annum when you place your savings on StashAway Simple! Here's how:

New StashAway Users

  • Step 1: Simply sign up for a StashAway account HERE 
  • Step 2: Make your first deposit into StashAway Simple from 1/7/2022 to 31/8/2022 to enjoy a rate of 3% per annum on up to RM 20,000 in your StashAway Simple portfolio.
  • Step 3: Next, refer two friends to use StashAway Simple before 31/8/2022 to enjoy a rate of 3.2% per annum on up to RM 20,000 in your StashAway Simple portfolio.

Existing StashAway Users

  • Step 1: Refer ONE friend and earn 3% per annum on up to RM 20,000 in your StashAway Simple portfolio when they make their first deposit into StashAway Simple between 1/7/2022 to 31/8/2022.
  • Step 2: Next, refer your SECOND friend before 31/8/2022 to enjoy a rate of 3.2% per annum on up to RM 20,000 for your StashAway Simple portfolio.

For full T&C, visit StashAway Simple's campaign site HERE

StashAway Simple Promo


No Money Lah’s Verdict: Simple is the New Breakthrough

With the rise of innovations in the financial solution space, it is refreshing to keep seeing new, innovative products from robo-advisor platforms like StashAway.

In many ways, in the financial services industry, Simple is indeed the new breakthrough that the consumers need. With Simple, everyday consumers can enjoy returns on par with FD without the typical restrictions. 

Personally, I have always enjoyed using StashAway, and I highly suggest you to check it out too!


Related: Read my full review on StashAway HERE


Guide: 12 ways to protect yourself from online financial scams

Guide: 12 practical ways to protect yourself from financial scams

Financial scams are getting out of control.

Lately, I’ve seen reports/posts on scam cases popping up everyday on social media and news. It pains me to see people’s life savings go missing due to scams.

Financial scam malaysia

So, how does a financial scam happen? How to protect yourself from scams? More importantly, what should you do if this happens to you?

Let’s find out!

Oh ya! If you find this post useful, consider subscribing to my FREE weekly personal finance & investing newsletter! I’d really appreciate it if you can share this post with your family and friends too!

Useful post:

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Different ways scammers can steal your money

A scam can happen in many ways. However, there are 2 most common ways scammers find their way to your hard-earned money:

#1 Phishing scams

Phishing is where you are tricked to disclose important financial information through different tactics.

Some of these tactics include:

  • Email scams pretending to be from legitimate sources, such as Paypal, Amazon, and other shopping apps like Shopee or Lazada.
  • Scam calls pretending to be from a bank officer, government agency (eg. LHDN, JPN), or delivery company (eg. Pos Laju).
  • Fake SMS notifications, usually pretending to be from your bank.
  • Fake websites from the real ones (eg. banks) to trick you to disclose your login credentials.
  • Hacked social media accounts that send malicious links to you.

Usually, these tactics use a similar social engineering approach – to take advantage of one’s trust and/or create a sense of urgency (eg. refund, account locked, limited-time promo) so people would fall for the scam when they are least rational/cautious.

Phishing scam malaysia

#2 Data-theft

Data theft is where your important information (eg. credit card number & CVV, phone number, ID) is leaked without your consent.

This could be due to the failure of an organization/company/bank to keep your data private. Else, it could also be a lack of proper security infrastructure to safeguard customers’ information.

As a result, scammers can use this data to conduct illegal and unauthorized transactions without your consent.


Can money be stolen from your bank account without SMS OTP/TAC?

If yes, how?

I’m sure you’ve come across news where a victim’s money is stolen from their bank account even without One-Time Password (OTP).

Money stolen without OTPHow is this possible?

From a security standpoint, an OTP is part of 2-Factor Authentication (2FA). 2FA is an additional security layer on top of our usual username and password where we have to key in an OTP to approve a transaction.

So, technically speaking, OTP should reduce fraudulent transactions and make transactions safer.

However, as you can see by now, OTP is not 100% secure – and it can be exploited.

Here are some ways scammers can exploit OTP against you:

  • Installing malware/spyware that can read your SMS (where you get your OTP) when you install apps from unknown sources (apps that are not from Apple App Store/Google Playstore)
  • Through phishing, scammers can trick victims to disclose their SMS OTP by creating trust or a sense of urgency.
  • Impersonating you and requesting for bank to change the phone number linked to your bank account.

Scam prevention checklist – 12 ways to protect yourself from financial scams!

I hope it is clear now that we have to take our online security seriously. Here’s a list of 12 ways we can do to protect ourselves online:

#1 Scam Calls: Stay cautious of calls from suspicious numbers.

Avoid disclosing ANY information and end the call immediately. Install apps like Truecaller to filter for fake/scam caller IDs.

Install Truecaller to filter for scam/fake callers ID
Install Truecaller to filter for scam/fake callers' ID

#2 Email Scams: Always check the email address whenever you receive emails from a supposedly official organization/company!

Official emails will never be sent through a personal Gmail or Hotmail.

Fake emails: 12 ways to protect ourselves online

#3 Phishing Links: Always double-check the links attached in an email/SMS before clicking on them.

If you are on your desktop, you can hover your cursor to the link/button and you’ll be shown a preview of what you will click on to.

Do not click on links from suspicious email addresses, WhatsApp & telegram messages, and social media accounts.

 

#4 Fake Apps: Avoid installing unverified apps/APK outside of Apple App Store and Google Playstore.

Some of the recent examples include fake apps to hire maids. Who knows what other tactics will be raging next?

Fake app scam - 12 ways to protect yourself from financial scams online

#5 Check for unknown apps & In-app permission.

Check if you have installed apps from unknown sources. Review the permission you give to the apps that you installed and remove unnecessary permissions. (eg. File access, SMS permission)

For Android users, you can access the permission setting section by going to Setting > Privacy > Permission Manager. Remember to especially check if you are giving SMS, microphone, camera, and file access to unnecessary apps (and remove them)!

Financial scam - How to protect yourself online
Remove unnecessary app permissions.

#6 Privacy: Reveal as little private information online.

Never disclose your bank/card details + CVV security number and personal IC/ID on social media. Choose the platforms where you do transactions/online shopping carefully.

 

#7 Use a credit card instead of a debit card for online transactions.

Credit cards have an overall better consumer protection policy than debit cards. Find out more in my article HERE.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD IS COMPROMISED
What to do when your credit/debit card is compromised

#8 Use a better authentication method:

Replace the legacy SMS OTP/TAC authentication with a more secure in-app authentication (eg. Maybank’s Secure2u, Google Authenticator) wherever you have the option to do so.

 

#9 Password: Use strong passwords and never reuse the same password twice!

Use password managers like Dashlane and LastPass to organize your passwords securely and consider updating your passwords regularly.

 

#10 Don’t put all eggs in one basket.

Diversify your cash across different savings accounts and cash management platforms (eg. Versa Cash, StashAway Simple, KDI Save).

While this will not spare you from scams, it helps to reduce the damage should the worst-case scenario happens (ie. you fell for a scam).

StashAway Simple vs Versa vs KDI Save vs T&G Go+

#11 Use a VPN while going online:

VPN stands for ‘Virtual Private Network’ and it disguises your online activities and protects it from external access. 

There are free and paid VPN options such as Hotspot Shield, Proton VPN, Windscribe, and Nord VPN.

 

#12 Do not allow suspicious people to gain remote access to your computer (via Teamviewer or Anydesk).

This is a common refund scam that tricked victims into giving remote access to their computer to scam money out of the victim's bank, or worse, hold them ransom.

You can check out how scary it is by checking out the Youtube video below:

anydesk/teamviewer scam


Guide: What to do if you fell for a scam

Falling for a scam is devastating.

It may seem like there is nothing much that you can do - BUT there are actually things you can do to potentially recover from the scam.

Check out my guide below for more info!

4 things to do immediately if your money are stolen from the bank!
Click on photo to access article

Verdict: Do not take your online safety for granted

With scamming tactics getting more deceiving and advanced these days, it is more crucial than ever for us to protect ourselves with proper online safety routines and tools.

While the list above is not 100% foolproof, I am sure a combination of them will make your online presence more secure.

Oh ya, consider helping your less tech-savvy parents/friends out with the guide above! I am sure they'll appreciate the gesture.

If you find this post useful, consider subscribing to my FREE weekly personal finance & investing newsletter!


Disclaimers

This guide is produced with my own best effort and research. Online scams are evolving constantly and the list in this guide is not an exhaustive list of scamming tactics and preventative approaches.

Always refer to the official guideline from your bank and official Bank Negara Malaysia (or your respective central banks for my fellow foreign readers) for the latest info.


4 things to do immediately if your money are stolen from the bank!

4 things to do immediately as a scam victim! (+1 last way if nothing works)

Financial scams are getting out of control these days.

We hear worrying cases such as scam calls pretending to be from government agencies or banks, and worse, people's hard-earned money is stolen from their banks without even receiving an OTP.

Money stolen without OTP

In this guide, let's find out what you should do immediately in the unfortunate event that you become a scam victim. I've also included 1 final method if you've tried everything and nothing works.

If you find this post useful, consider subscribing to my FREE weekly personal finance & investing newsletter! I’d really appreciate it if you can share this post with your family and friends too!

Useful guides:

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What to do if you find out that you got scammed?

In the unfortunate event that you fell for a scam, here are 4 things you should do IMMEDIATELY:

Step 1: Remember, it is NOT the time to blame yourself!

Stay composed and proceed to the steps below as provided by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).

 

Step 2: Call your bank’s 24-hour fraud line and report the incident immediately.

Request for your card/bank account to be halted to avoid further unauthorized transactions. 

Please find the 24-hour fraud hotline for Malaysia banks below. You can also Google for your bank's most updated hotline:

  • Maybank: +603 5891 4744
  • CIMB Bank: +603 6204 7788
  • Public Bank: +603 2177 3555
  • HSBC Bank: +603 8321 5400
  • OCBC Bank: +03 8317 5200
  • UOB Bank: +03 2612 8121
  • Ambank: +03 2178 8888
  • Citibank: Can't find a dedicated fraud hotline (or it is really not obvious lol). You can try contacting Citibank HERE
  • Standard Chartered Bank: Call the number on the back of your bank card or on your bank statement.

Banks are given a maximum of 60 days to investigate a dispute.

 

Step 3: Contact the following numbers (Malaysia):

  • The Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) Scam Response Centre at 03-2610 1559/1599
  • BNMTELELINK at 1-300-88-5465

These organizations will facilitate immediate measures for CCID to coordinate with BNM and banks to help protect affected accounts.

 

Step 4: Lodge a police report to facilitate the investigation.


Can you get your money back if they are stolen/scammed from your bank account?

At this point, you’ve done everything you can. Since banks are given 60 days to investigate your case, the only thing you can do is wait.

Whether you are able to get a refund is highly dependent on the investigation process of your bank, and if they’d categorize your case as an ‘unauthorized transaction’.

Like it or not, you’ll really need a boost of luck at this stage.

That said, if you are unhappy with the final investigation result, you can file a dispute with the Ombudsman for Financial Services (OFS).


One Final Step: What is Ombudsman for Financial Services (OFS) and how it can help you

Ombudsman for Financial Services can help resolve your financial disputesOFS is a special non-profit organization approved by BNM to provide dispute resolution between consumers/businesses and financial services.

If you've tried everything and nothing works, OFS is where you should go to. The mandate of OFS is to resolve disputes via facts/evidence without taking sides.

The jurisdiction of OFS:

OFS accepts disputes which involve monetary losses that fall within the following limits:

  • Up to RM250,000 for banking products and insurance claims.
  • Up to RM10,000 for motor 3rd party property damage insurance/takaful claims.
  • Up to RM25,000 for cases involving unauthorized transactions through channels such as internet & mobile banking, ATM, or unauthorized cheques.

Check out the infographics below on how OFS resolves a dispute. For more info, check out OFS official site HERE.

How OFS resolve financial dispute
How OFS resolves a financial dispute

Financial Scam FAQs:

Q1: Will Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia (PIDM) protect my money from scams?

A: No. PIDM only protects consumers in the case where their members (eg. banks) go bankrupt. They do not provide coverage from scams.

Q2: Will I be able to get a refund if my money is stolen from my bank?

A: It is highly dependent on your bank’s investigation on your case, so I can’t give you’re a sure answer. Do your best to provide all the info you have to assist the investigation.

Q3: What should I do if I am not happy with the final investigation result from my bank?

A: Lodge a report to Ombudsman for Financial Services (OFS). OFS is established to help resolve disputes between consumers/businesses and financial services. Check out the prior section of this article for more info.


Verdict: We need more robinhoods against scammers.

Truthfully, seeing all the news of people falling to scams left me helpless and frustrated.

There are so many people losing their hard-earned savings to scammers everyday, yet our banks and regulators are WAYYY too slow and passive in handling the matter.

If your money has been unfortunately stolen by scammers while reading this, please know that this is not the end of the world. Remember, there are always people that love you – they’ll help you get through this together.

If there’s any comfort in this, there are ethical hackers cum Youtubers like Scammer Payback and Scambaiter that are returning the ‘favor’ to the scammers – letting them taste their own medicine. We certainly need more people like them.

scammer payback

I hope this guide is helpful and lastly, screw the scammers, and may they die in pain.

If you find this post useful, consider subscribing to my FREE weekly personal finance & investing newsletter!


Disclaimers

This guide is produced with my own best effort and research. 

Always refer to the official guideline from your bank and official Bank Negara Malaysia (or your respective central banks for my fellow foreign readers) for the latest scam prevention info.


No Money Lah Freedom Fund 2022 Monthly dividend income update

[Freedom Fund] 2022 Monthly Dividend Income Update

In this post, you'll see my monthly dividend income updates for 2022. 

My goal is to invest a portion of my funds to build a RM1,000/month passive income portfolio (and eventually RM4,000/month).

Through this journal, you'll see my progress month by month - and I wish you will find inspiration to start your dividend investing journey too! Let's go!

Related Post: If you like reading my journey, I'm sure you'll like the posts below as well:

If you enjoy following my dividend investing journey and would like to learn more, subscribe to my FREE newsletter and I'll be sending you the most updated content every week! 

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May 2022 Dividend Income Update

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Yi Xuan | No Money Lah (@yixuan_chin)

In May, I received RM255.65 in dividend income!

May is generally a nice month for dividends as quarterly distributions from REITs come in.

While MYR weakened against other currencies, dividends from foreign currencies also increased in MYR terms.

If you live in Malaysia, it is important to expand your income streams into stronger currencies (eg. USD, SGD) and dividend investing is a great way to go.

Took the chance to add SCHD, a US-listed ETF into the Freedom Fund as well. 

 

Stocks/ETF Ticker Dividends Received Dividends Received (RM)
Syfe REIT+ SGD3.99 RM12.73
Atrium REIT 5130 RM37.62 RM37.62
Axis REIT 5106 RM71.65 RM71.65
IGB REIT 5227 RM37.62 RM37.62
Harvest Brand Leaders Plus Income ETF HBF CAD4.59 RM15.79
Harvest Tech Achievers Growth & Income ETF HTA CAD4.25 RM14.62
Purpose Bitcoin Yield ETF BTCY CAD6.38 RM21.95
Purpose Ether Yield ETF ETHY CAD6.55 RM22.53
Total Dividends Received RM255.65

[Note] Rotate your screen if you cannot view the full table in portrait mode. Dividends are considered received as per dividend ex-date.

Exchange Rate: 

  • USD1 = RM4.38
  • SGD1 = RM3.19
  • CAD1 = RM3.44
  • HKD1 = RM0.56

May 2022 Wrap-Up

  • Dividend Income (April): RM255.65
  • Dividend Income (2022): RM708.12

April 2022 Dividend Income Update

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Yi Xuan | No Money Lah (@yixuan_chin)

In April, I received RM73.32 in dividend income!

April is generally a slow month despite many REITs announcing their earnings. Reason being, the dividend ex-date for my MREIT holdings (Atrium REIT, Axis REIT, IGB REIT) is happening in May. 

 

Stocks/ETF Ticker Dividends Received Dividends Received (RM)
Syfe REIT+ SGD0.33 RM1.04
Harvest Brand Leaders Plus Income ETF HBF CAD4.08 RM13.87
Harvest Tech Achievers Growth & Income ETF HTA CAD4.25 RM14.45
Purpose Bitcoin Yield ETF BTCY CAD6.38 RM21.69
Purpose Ether Yield ETF ETHY CAD6.55 RM22.27
Total Dividends Received RM73.32

[Note] Rotate your screen if you cannot view the full table in portrait mode. Dividends are considered received as per dividend ex-date.

Exchange Rate: 

  • SGD1=RM3.15
  • CAD1=RM3.40
  • HKD1=RM0.54

April 2022 Wrap-Up

  • Dividend Income (April): RM73.32
  • Dividend Income (2022): RM448.69

March 2022 Dividend Income Update

This month, I received RM152.78 in dividend income! 

I revamped my dividend portfolio by adding in new dividend-paying stocks & ETFs (3110). Unique Covered Call ETFs (HBF, HTA, BTCY, ETHY) that pay monthly dividends were also added. 

As a whole, this month’s dividend income is a fantastic 142.7% increase over March 2021 (RM62.94). That’s RM71.84 more dividend income than last March - not a lot by absolute means, but progress is progress!

 

Stocks/ETF Ticker Dividends Received Dividends Received (RM)
Maybank 1155 RM60.00 RM60.00
Syfe REIT+ SGD5.46 RM16.93
Global X Hang Seng High Dividend Yield ETF 3110 HKD22 RM11.88
Harvest Brand Leaders Plus Income ETF HBF CAD3.06 RM10.28
Harvest Tech Achievers Growth & Income ETF HTA CAD3.40 RM11.42
Purpose Bitcoin Yield ETF BTCY CAD5.74 RM19.29
Purpose Ether Yield ETF ETHY CAD6.84 RM22.98
Total Dividends Received RM152.78

[Note] Rotate your screen if you cannot view the full table in portrait mode. Dividends are considered received as per dividend ex-date.

Exchange Rate: 

  • SGD1=RM3.10
  • CAD1=RM3.36
  • HKD1=RM0.54

March 2022 Wrap-Up

  • Dividend Income (March): RM152.78
  • Dividend Income (2022): RM375.37

March is when I decided to concentrate more funds to build up my passive income portfolio. Various incidents in my family led me to realize the importance of consistent cashflow - and dividend investing is one, if not the best way to build consistent cashflow. 

I will continue to focus more funds to build this Freedom Fund so you'll certainly see more growth down the line!


February 2022 Dividend Income Update

In February, I received RM211.71 in dividend income. 

Since it's Chinese New Year break, I took the chance to 'slim down' my REIT portfolio by letting go of all my individual Singapore REITs (SREITs) and several Malaysia REITs (KIP REIT, Sentral REIT). For Malaysia REITs, I only sold them off after ex-date so I am still eligible for the dividends. 

I've been wanting to slim down my REIT portfolio as I have no capacity to manage individual REITs and now I finally got it done!

As a replacement, I transitioned to Syfe's REIT+ portfolio, which is essentially something like a REIT ETF that tracks a basket of SREITs. I truly like the ease of automatic dividend-reinvestment without the hassle to deal with corporate actions (eg. rights issue, DRIP) etc!

 

Stocks/ETF Ticker Dividends Received Dividends Received (RM)
Atrium REIT 5130 RM82.62 RM42.00
Axis REIT 5106 RM12.16 RM12.16
IGB REIT 5227 RM50.81 RM50.81
KIP REIT 5280 RM17.59 RM17.59
Sentral REIT 5123 RM43.51 RM43.51
Syfe REIT+ SGD1.62 RM5.02
Total Dividends Received RM211.71

[Note] Rotate your screen if you cannot view the full table in portrait mode. Dividends are considered received as per dividend ex-date.

Exchange Rate: 

  • SGD1=RM3.10

February 2022 Wrap-Up

  • Dividend Income (February): RM211.71
  • Dividend Income (2022): RM222.59

February is usually a high dividend month as most Malaysian REITs announce their Q4 dividends in late January with the following month as the ex-date. Now that I've sold many of my individual REITs, things may change a little moving forward. 


January 2022 Dividend Income Update

As a REIT investor, January has been a relatively slow month for me. All in all, I received RM10.88 from Keppel DC REIT, a small Singapore REIT (SREIT) holding in my portfolio.

I've received my dividends from many of my Singapore REIT holdings late last year and most Malaysian REITs have yet to pass their dividend ex-date after their Q4 2021 earnings report - hence the quiet month.

 

Stocks/ETF Ticker Dividends Received Dividends Received (RM)
Keppel DC REIT AJBU SGD3.51 RM10.88
Total Dividends Received RM10.88

[Note] Dividends are considered received as per dividend ex-date.

Exchange Rate: 

  • SGD1=RM3.10

January 2022 Wrap-Up

  • Dividend Income (January): RM10.88
  • Dividend Income (2022): RM10.88

Versa Invest review

[Sponsored Post] Versa Invest Review: Designed to beat the market!

If you are looking for a better savings alternative to Fixed Deposit (FD), Versa Cash from Versa is an excellent cash management solution that I reviewed last year.

Since then, Versa Cash has been my go-to app to store my savings.

This year, Versa has introduced Versa Invest – the latest investment solution designed to beat the market!

What do I mean by beating the market - or rather, how? In this review, let’s find out more about Versa Invest!

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What is Versa Invest + Safety of funds

Versa Invest is a new investment solution within the Versa app that offers users diverse access to top funds globally with just a single investment.

Versa Invest is a partnership between Versa and Affin Hwang Asset Management (AM). In other words, all Versa Invest portfolios are designed & managed by the fund managers from Affin Hwang AM.

As a result, you can manage both your savings (via Versa Cash) and investments (via Versa Invest) in just a single app within Versa.

Regulation & Safety of funds

As a company that provides financial services, Versa is regulated by the Securities Commission of Malaysia. This ensures that Versa operates under the guideline of the authority.

Meanwhile, your funds are held in a separate trust account in CIMB Commerce Trustee Bhd. for Versa Invest. This protects you from the unlikely event that Versa goes bankrupt, as customers' funds are unmingled with Versa.

For the most updated product & regulation info, please visit Versa Invest and Versa Cash's product pages.


Highlights of Versa Invest

#1 Versa Invest is designed to beat the market

In my opinion, the main highlight of Versa Invest is that it is positioned to ‘beat the market’.

How so? What makes Versa Invest different from all the existing robo-advisors?

To start with, Versa Invest’s portfolios are designed to be actively managed.

Meaning, depending on market conditions, Versa Invest (through Affin Hwang AM) can deploy users’ money in a combination of active and passive global funds.

Some of these funds include global funds from Vanguard, Blackrock, and Affin Hwang’s very own funds.

In other words, Versa Invest has the flexibility & diversity to invest in active funds when they are well-positioned to beat the market, while shifting to passive funds (eg. The S&P500 ETF) when the market favors them.

This investing approach separates Versa Invest from other robo-advisors in the market that generally only invest in passively managed ETFs.

Beat the market with Versa Invest
Source: Versa Invest website

#2 Gain exposure to premium funds at an affordable fee

Another benefit of investing in Versa Invest compared to typical unit trust is its relatively low fees to gain exposure to premium global funds.

As a user, you do not pay any fees to Versa while investing via Versa Invest. Instead, you only pay fees to fund managers:

You do not need to fork additional money to pay for these fees as they are charged on your invested amount (or Net Asset Value, NAV) monthly.

What’s amazing is unlike other unit trusts, there are no sales and withdrawal fees. This means all your investments are 100% invested to maximize your returns.

Annual Management Fee 1% per annum
Sales Charge 0%
Redemption Fee 0%
Trustee Fee 0.04% per annum

 

#3 Low barrier of entry to premium funds globally

Unlike conventional unit trust with a high barrier of entry from RM1,000 to RM10,000, Versa Invest makes it easy for users to gain exposure to premium global funds.

In this case, the minimum investment amount for Versa Invest is just RM100. This makes it easy to invest in a diversified global portfolio even if you are starting with a small capital.

Access premium funds even with a small capital via Versa Invest
Access premium funds even with a small capital via Versa Invest. (Source: Versa Invest Website)

#4 Hedge against currency fluctuation

Worried about currency fluctuation while investing globally?

To reduce currency risk, Versa Invest uses derivatives such as forward contracts & swaps to manage fluctuations in the exchange rate.

In other words, you can invest with peace of mind knowing that you have minimal exposure to currency fluctuations!

versa invest currency hedge


3 Different Versa Invest portfolios

There are 3 portfolios within Versa Invest for users of different risk preferences.

i. Versa Growth

Versa Growth is crafted for higher returns over the long term – suitable if you have a higher risk tolerance.

For time being, Versa Growth’s portfolio is mainly made up of equities (60%), followed by bonds (38%), and cash (2%).

Through Versa’s back-tested data, Versa Growth recorded an average annual return of 15.7% over the past 3 years.

For your reference, I compare the returns between the stock market (S&P500) relative to Versa Growth from 2019 to 2021 in the table below:

Returns S&P 500 (Total return) Versa Growth (Back-tested return)
2021 28.71% 77%
2020 18.40% 56.3%
2019 31.49% 14.5%

Feel free to find out more about Versa Growth HERE.

[Important] Past returns and back-tested data are NOT indicative of future returns.

Versa Growth Portfolio
Versa Growth Portfolio Holdings as of March 2022 (Source: Versa app)

ii. Versa Moderate

Versa Moderate is designed for users looking for a more stable growth with smaller swings. It is suitable if you desire a more stable (hence less aggressive) returns on your investments.

Versa Moderate portfolio is mainly made up of bonds (67%), followed by equities (32%), and cash (1%).

In Versa’s back-tested data, Versa Moderate recorded an average annual return of 9.1% over the past 3 years.

For your reference, I compare the returns between the stock market (S&P500) relative to Versa Moderate from 2019 to 2021 in the table below:

Returns S&P 500 (Total return) Versa Moderate (Back-tested return)
2021 28.71% 41.3%
2020 18.40% 26%
2019 31.49% 11.3%

Feel free to find out more about Versa Moderate HERE.

[Important] Past returns and back-tested data are NOT indicative of future returns.

Versa Moderate Portfolio
Versa Moderate Portfolio Holdings as of March 2022 (Source: Versa app)

iii. Versa Conservative

Versa Conservative, I believe, is for users with a smaller tolerance for up and down swings. As of this writing, it has not been launched – I’ll be sure to update this section when it is up!


My personal thoughts on Versa Invest

#1 I love the ease to save and invest within the Versa app itself

I think the beauty of innovative financial products is their ability to make users’ financial life easier and seamless.

Through the Versa app, users can save and get rates on par with FD with Versa Cash, while investing for higher returns via Versa Invest.

If you are looking to manage your savings and investments in a place, Versa is a great choice.

And did I mention that I really enjoy the user interface (UI) of the Versa app?

Point of improvement: I hope to see Versa integrate an auto-debit feature where I can automate my investments from Versa Cash to Versa Invest on a periodic (eg. monthly) basis.

Save and Invest with Versa
Manage your savings and investments easily within the Versa app

#2 Can Versa Invest outperform the market in the long run?

Personally, I think it is fresh and bold that Versa Invest is introduced as an investment solution positioned to beat the market.

It shows that the team behind Versa must be confident in Versa Invest to deliver massive value to users. Indeed, the back-tested data from 2019 – 2021 has shown that Versa Invest did outperform the market.

However, can the outperformance be replicated in reality – over a long-term horizon?

I think only time can tell if Versa Invest can withstand the test of time and the market.

Versa Growth return
Versa Growth return (Source: Versa website)

Things you need to know + Risk of investing via Versa Invest

Here are 2 things you need to know before you start using Versa Invest:

  • Versa Invest is not Shariah-compliant.
  • Similar to any form of investment, expect market volatility while investing via Versa Invest.

If you are okay with larger swings in your portfolio, Versa Growth is a good choice.

Meanwhile, if you cannot withstand large swings in your portfolio, it’s best to try out the Versa Moderate portfolio instead.

That said, don't worry as you’ll go through a risk assessment process during registration where you answer a few simple questions – and Versa will suggest the best portfolio for you!

Risk Assessment Quiz on Versa
Risk Assessment Quiz on Versa

Exclusive Versa Invest & Versa Cash Promo Code: LU8ARTEP

Versa Invest Promo Code: LU8ARTEP

In collaboration with Versa, No Money Lah is bringing an exclusive deal for new users that are keen to start saving or investing with Versa!

Use my dedicated Versa referral code – LU8ARTEP, and you will get RM10 credited into your account* when you successfully make a minimum deposit of RM100 or more. That’s an instant 10% return on your investment.

Open Your Versa Account HERE.

Sign Up for a Versa account today!

How to start investing via Versa Invest?

  • New Versa Users: Install the Versa app at Google Playstore or Apple Appstore and create an account.
  • Existing Versa Cash Users: Update your Versa app to the latest version. Then, activate the Versa Invest feature by clicking on the 'Invest Now' button in the app.
sign up for Versa Invest
Activate Versa Invest easily within the Versa app

Sign Up for a Versa account today!


Side Note: Use Versa Cash as a low-risk alternative to Fixed Deposits (FD)!

Are you looking for a savings alternative to Fixed Deposits, or prefer a (very) low-risk approach to store your funds?

If that's the case, you can consider using Versa Cash, which gives you a projected return of 2.40% annually!

Find out more about my review on Versa Cash HERE.


Disclaimers

This article is brought to you in collaboration with Versa. For the most updated info, please visit Versa Invest and Versa Cash's product page. 

This post is produced purely for sharing purposes and should not be taken as a buy/sell recommendation. Past return is not indicative of future performance. Please seek advice from a licensed financial planner before making any financial decisions.


No Money Lah Delayed Gratification

Delayed Gratification

When I was 9, I came across my first most desired ‘big purchase’ as a boy – THE Nintendo Gameboy.

Vividly, I remember stopping by every game store, staring at the super cool Gameboy behind the glass cupboard every time when me and family were out in the mall.

The thing is, my dad didn’t buy me the GameBoy at 9, nor when I was 10 (or 11).

Instead, he made me save for it.

So, everyday for the next few years, I saved up at least 50% (or more) of my daily lunch money of RM2.

Instead of buying the delicious fried chicken and Vitagen like most of my schoolmates would do, I’d just stick with the bread that I brought from home daily.

When my friends were playing the latest Pokemon (it was Pokemon Red, I think), I would sit by their side to watch them play (#envy).

It was definitely not fun.

But by 12, I’ve saved up something close to 200 bucks (if I recall correctly) – which was a huge amount for me as a boy (and enough for the Gameboy, I guess?).

Funnily enough, that was the UPSR year (the ultimate exam for secondary school entrance) – and I managed to get 6As (out of 7).

So finally, after 4 long years, at 12 (towards the end of the year), my dad actually got me the Gameboy as a reward – and I get to keep my hard-earned (big) savings.

4 years is certainly a long wait for me as a kid.

But in hindsight, I think the most valuable thing I’ve gained is the ability to hold on to gratification better since I was a boy.

Not surprisingly, this has helped me a ton in my self-employment and personal finance journey:

  • You don’t start a blog/Youtube channel/business and expect money to start pouring in the next day.
  • You can’t invest for 1 year and expect the dividends to cover your living expenses.
  • And surely, you won’t become a pro by trying to achieve too many things in one go.

As many good things in life come in a compounding manner, there will be a grind in the journey where it seems like nothing is progressing – even when you have put in all your effort (eg. Saving RM1 everyday for a Gameboy, or sitting through a bear market)

So – here’s my personal reflection:

Patience & effort may not always lead us to the most amazing things in life (wealth, health, relationships).

But patience & effort most certainly PRECEDE them to begin with.

 


No Money Lah bear market article

Bear Market: Your Guide to Surviving the Bloodbath

It has not been a good time if you are investing in 2022.

As of Friday (13/5), the US stock market (ie. The S&P500 index) is down by over 16% from all-time highs. Meanwhile, the tech-focused Nasdaq 100 index is down by about 25% from its high.

S&P500 bear market

Personally, my growth-focused Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) portfolio dropped over 14% in the past 3 months.

 

Bear market survival plan: ETF portfolio dropped in value

In addition, a portion of my dividend-focused ETFs in the Freedom Fund has shed about 14% in value so far:

Bear market survival plan: Dividend portfolio dropped in valueSeeing my investments down to this extent is not pleasant, but it is not the end of the world either.

In this post, I want to share with you several important insights on the stock market – and hopefully, this will boost your confidence to stay the course in this long game!

If you like this post, consider subscribing to my FREE weekly newsletter where I'll share all things I learn about personal finance & investment with you!

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#1 A bear market is not forever

Technically, a bear market is described as a market dropping over 20% from the all-time high.

While we are not there yet for the S&P500 index, I think we are close enough for me to call a bear market right now.

I can’t tell for sure how long a bear market will last – but they do come to an end eventually. Let’s take a look at the history:

 

No Money Lah bear market survival guide

Over the 15 bear markets in the past, the average decline was about 30%, where the market generally took under a year to reach the bottom.

The recovery from the bottom? On average, a little more than 1 ½ year.

Best and worst bear market since 1957

  • That said, the last 3 bears recovered relatively quickly.
  • 8 out of the 15 bears recovered within a year.
  • The worst bears were in 1973-1974, 2000-2002, and 2007-2009 which all took more than 4 years to recover.

I’m not certain how this one will play out – but as you can see, the market always recovers.


#2 Win by staying invested for the long term

For the last 95 years (1926 – Feb 2022), the US stock market (S&P500 index) has produced an average of 10 – 11% annually.

In fact, there has never been a 20-year period in the market where it is down on a nominal basis:

US stock market: Probability of seeing gainsIn other words, if you have a long-term time horizon, you are almost certainly going to see gains with your investments.


#3 Why does the market go up in the long run?

Why does the stock market go up in the long run?

One of the biggest reasons is because the economy grows and companies earn more money.

In the 1920s, the earnings per share (EPS) for the S&P 500 was $1.11 while companies paid out $0.78 per share in dividends.

By the end of 2021, those numbers were $197.87 and $60.40 respectively.

Simply put, over the past 90+ years, earnings on the US stock market have grown by 6% annually, while dividends have grown 5% per year.

S&P500 historical EPS (1928 - 2021)
S&P500 historical EPS (1928 - 2021)

When you invest in the stock market, you are investing your money in assets that produce income on your behalf. This means you get to participate in the growth and innovations that come with it.


My Bear Market Survival Guide

If you are feeling miserable from this bear market, hopefully what you’ve read so far can give you a big picture perspective on your investing journey.

Below are 3 things that I’m personally practicing in this bear market:

#1 Stick to a long-term investment routine

Having an investment routine helps especially in times of chaos.

Since I cannot predict when a bear market will end, I will continue sticking to my investment routine (ie. Dollar Cost Average X amount monthly) knowing that I will be buying income-producing assets at a discount.

Remember, the market favors those who stay on course in the long run.

#2 Never invest the money you need in order to gain something you want

This is so important:

Avoid investing in such a way that your ability to put food on the table depends on the returns of your investments in the coming month:

  • We cannot tell when a bear market will end.
  • A new low can go lower!
  • A bear market may lead to a recession - don't use the money you saved up for rainy days to invest!

#3 I will not let my investment performance affect how I look at myself

Your life is not defined by your investments. Neither is net worth because it is a poor definition of success in life.

Reflect and find meaning in your life outside of your portfolio. Eating and living healthier is a good place to start.


Useful Resources & Guide


Disclaimers

This post is produced purely for sharing purposes and should not be taken as a buy/sell recommendation. Past return is not indicative of future performance. Please seek advice from a licensed financial planner before making any financial decisions.


Rakuten Trade US stock trading review

Rakuten Trade US Stock Trading Review: Great for investors, NOPE for traders

In the past, investing in the US stock market via Malaysia-regulated brokers has always been complex and expensive. This caused many investors to opt for overseas brokers to invest in the US market.

However, all this changed when Rakuten Trade launched their much-anticipated US stock trading service in January.

So, is it good?

Right off the bat, I'd say Rakuten Trade is the only local broker that I can actually recommend for Malaysian investors to invest in the US market. HOWEVER, I do not recommend it for active traders.

Intrigued to know why? Wonder if you should use Rakuten Trade to access the US stock market?

Let’s find out in this full review!

Before you proceed, here are some related posts that you might find useful:

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Highlights of Rakuten Trade US Stock Trading

  • Affordable fees (like finally!): Rakuten Trade now allows users to invest in the US market, with commissions from RM7 – RM100. This is the lowest yet among Malaysia-regulated platforms.
  • Invest in the US market easily: Rakuten Trade users get perks such as FREE live datafeed, FREE corporate action handling, and transparent conversion rate while investing in the US market.
  • Other markets soon: Rakuten Trade is planning to offer access to the Hong Kong market starting mid-2022!
  • Room for improvements: No short-selling, no margin trading, no fractional shares (yet), and a lack of order execution feature (eg. Market order) means there is room for improvements for Rakuten Trade.
  • In short, Rakuten Trade is a great option for investors looking to access the US market at an affordable price. That said, active traders may find the lack of certain features restrictive. 

Rakuten Trade US stock trading fees

Let’s start off by addressing the elephant in the room: Is Rakuten Trade’s fee affordable?

For this, it is helpful to know that there are 3 kinds of regulated brokers in Malaysia offering access to overseas market, namely:

  • Traditional investment banks that offer expensive brokerage fees, usually too shy to display their fees transparently on their website. (eg. Maybank)
  • Dedicated brokers trying to disrupt the local brokerage scene with ‘affordable’ fees. Unfortunately, they are still far from affordable especially for investors with small capital. (eg. MIDF Invest, FSMOne)
  • And lastly, we have Rakuten Trade which offers a fee structure that is actually sensible for Malaysian investors to access the US stock market.

Well, just check out the comparison table below between Rakuten Trade, MIDF Invest, FSMOne, and Maybank - and decide for yourself:

Rakuten Trade vs MIDF Invest vs FSMOne vs Maybank fee comparison
Rakuten Trade vs MIDF Invest vs FSMOne vs Maybank fee comparison for US stock trading

Comparing in trading value (RM) side-by-side, this is how much platform fee you’ll be paying using each Malaysia-regulated platform to buy US shares:

Rakuten Trade vs MIDF Invest vs FSMOne vs Maybank fee comparison for US stock trading
Rakuten Trade vs MIDF Invest vs FSMOne vs Maybank fee comparison for US stock trading (by trade value)

As you can see, for most scenarios, Rakuten Trade offers a more flexible and affordable fee structure for investors without incurring heavy commissions.

Personally, I think Rakuten Trade’s fee structure is game-changing among local brokers. Now, investors can access the US stock market via a Malaysia-regulated broker at fraction of a cost, especially for beginner investors with small capital.


Trading experience (Features) 

#1 User-friendly interface

Rakuten Trade built their US stock trading service on top of their existing trading platform. As a long-time user, I think this is good news because Rakuten Trade’s platform is really simple to use.

Either from Rakuten Trade’s website or iSpeed app, you can switch between Malaysia and US markets easily.

Rakuten Trade US Stock Trading
Rakuten Trade user interface is simple to use, be it via website or app.

#2 FREE Live Datafeed

Another plus point with Rakuten Trade is all US stock prices are quoted live (ie. Real-Time) on Rakuten Trade.

For many platforms, you’ll usually have to pay for live data, else you’ll only receive a 15-mins delayed datafeed. This is the case for MIDF Invest, another Malaysia-regulated broker that offers US stock trading. 

MIDF Invest only offer delayed pricing, where you have to pay for real-time datafeed.
MIDF Invest only offers delayed pricing, where you have to pay for real-time datafeed.

Hence, it’s great to see Rakuten Trade offering free live datafeed for users. This means that the price displayed for a stock will always be at-the-moment stock price.

Rakuten Trade offers live datafeed for free
Rakuten Trade offers live datafeed for free

#3 Transparent Currency Conversion Rate

Through Rakuten Trade, you can invest in US stocks directly by using MYR, which will be converted to USD automatically during transactions.

This is a great convenience for Malaysian investors. Reason being, unlike using overseas brokers, you do not have to worry about finding ways to fund your broker in foreign currency.

In addition, you’ll be shown the conversion rate prior to each trade execution. The rate is updated daily, as quoted by Rakuten Trade's foreign exchange provider. As such, everything is transparent and you'll always know what to expect.

Rakuten Trade offers transparent conversion rate for US share trading
Rakuten Trade offers transparent conversion rate for US share trading

#4 No charges for corporate action

Furthermore, just like trading Malaysia stocks, Rakuten Trade handles any corporate action for your US stock investments for FREE.

In other words, you do not have to pay Rakuten Trade in order to receive dividends or execute a right issue (you may have to pay for these on some other platforms).


5 Areas of improvement & why this might not be for active traders

With the launch of US stock trading service, Rakuten Trade is set to disrupt the Malaysia brokerage scene.

That said, I think there are some areas of improvement for Rakuten Trade. Below are 5 key areas that I think Rakuten Trade should strive to improve on to serve users better:

(a) Lack of basic order execution features

One thing that I found lacking while using Rakuten Trade to trade US stocks is the missing of (basic) order execution features such as Market Order. Unfortunately, the only execution option on Rakuten Trade is Limit Order.

  • Market Order is an execution feature that allows investors to buy or sell shares at the immediate best price. As such, it is available in most stock trading platforms that I’ve used in the past (even Rakuten Trade’s own Bursa trading)
  • Limit Order allows investors to line up their orders to buy or sell shares at a specific price or better.

While this may not be a huge issue for most investors, a lack of Market Order execution may turn off some investors that prefer not to wait for their orders to be matched, or day-traders that require immediate market execution. 

I’ve reached out to Rakuten Trade’s team on this matter, and it seems like there is no plan to add execution features like Market Order on their US stock trading service for time being.

Market Order vs Limit Order
Market Order vs Limit Order

(b) Limited stocks to trade (but it's improving!) 

Secondly, despite offering access to the US market, Rakuten Trade does not actually offer all of the stocks listed in the US market.

That said, Rakuten Trade has been gradually adding new US stocks and ETFs since their launch.

As of June 2022, Rakuten Trade offers about 855+ stocks, 6 ADRs & 205+ ETFs listed on the NYSE and Nasdaq exchanges. 

While you may trade the most well-known US stocks (eg. Apple, Tesla, Microsoft) and ETFs (eg. VOO, VTI) tradable on Rakuten Trade, there are some other US stocks that you may not find on Rakuten Trade.

As an example, as a REIT enthusiast, I have no access to stocks like Innovative Industrial Properties Inc (IIPR), which is a bummer.

[Note]: If you have a stock that you want to trade on Rakuten Trade, you can email your request to Rakuten Trade on the matter.

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(c) Cannot store currency in USD 

For time being, it is also not possible to keep our funding in USD on Rakuten Trade. 

Instead, all transactions are automatically converted into their respective currency:

  • When you buy US shares, your capital in MYR will be automatically converted into USD.
  • When you sell your US shares, your sales in USD will be automatically converted back into MYR. 

As I mentioned in the previous section, the transparency in conversion rate is very convenient, especially for long-term investors. But this is a big issue for active traders. 

Why so? 

Simply put, the loss in conversion rate whenever a buy and sell order is being executed. Let me explain:

So, let's say you are an active daytrader. You bought 5 units of Apple shares at $168.40, with an exchange rate of RM4.21050 - 1USD. Your total capital required would be: 

  • 5 units * $168.40/unit * 4.21050 = RM3,545.24 (excluded commissions for simplification)

Rakuten Trade US share trading conversion rate (buy)

Now, let's say Apple's share price hit $169.00 during the day. You decided to sell all 5 units of Apple shares for profit. By selling, your USD is automatically converted back to MYR at a rate of RM4.18050 - 1USD. 

  • 5 units * $169.00/unit * 4.18050 = RM3,532.52 [-RM42.72]

Rakuten Trade US share trading conversion rate (sell)

Instead of making a profit for selling at a higher price ($169.00), you'd actually make a loss of RM42.72 by selling. This is because there is a spread in exchange rate during currency conversion, very much like what you see when you try to exchange for a different currency in a money-changer.

Simply put, daytraders will need to cover for the loss in currency conversion for every trade taken on Rakuten Trade (by aiming for a higher Target Profit). This is not like Tiger Brokers (or most other foreign brokers), where we can hold our funds in multiple currencies. 

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(d) No short selling and margin trading

Short selling and trading with margin are not available on Rakuten Trade too.

Essentially, this means that the only direction that you can execute on Rakuten Trade is for a stock to go up in price. Also, you are only able to trade US stocks with the cash that you have in your Rakuten Trade account without access to margin facilities.

While this may turn off some stock traders, it shouldn’t be an issue for most long-term investors.

Regardless, having all these features will certainly help Rakuten Trade serve the needs of different retail participants in the market.

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(e) No fractional shares

Rakuten Trade also does not offer fractional shares. Fractional share allows investors to buy a portion of a stock that is less than one full share. (eg. Paying $17 to buy 0.1 unit of Apple share instead of 1 full unit of share of $177)

Now, I am certainly nitpicking on this one, because many foreign brokers also do not offer fractional shares. However, I think it’d be amazing if Rakuten Trade can offer fractional shares for fellow Malaysian users.


Who should use Rakuten Trade to trade US stocks?

While imperfect, Rakuten Trade has offered something that all local brokers failed to do: Access to the US stock market at a truly affordable fee via a Malaysia-regulated platform.

In my opinion, Rakuten Trade is a great option if you are:

  • Seeking for a Malaysia-regulated broker to invest in the US stock market.
  • Looking to access the US market at a truly affordable fee.
  • Looking for a user-friendly platform to invest in the US stock market.

At the same time, it may not suit people that are:

  • Active day traders that require market execution (instead of limit order) or more advanced execution features.
  • Traders that need access to margin and the ability to short sell stocks.
  • Investors or traders that want exposure to more exotic stocks which are not within Rakuten Trade’s list of tradable stocks.

In short, unless you are an active trader, chances are you’ll like what Rakuten Trade has to offer.


Rakuten Trade Referral Link for New Users

Rakuten Trade Referral Link

If you are keen to open a Rakuten Trade account, consider using my referral link below! For that, you'll get:

  • 1000 Rakuten Trade (RT) points worth RM10 to offset your brokerage fee.
  • + 150 RT points when you deposit a min. of RM5,000 within 5 days.
  • + 150 RT points when you transfer your shares from other brokers to Rakuten Trade.
  • + 1x brokerage fee rebate when you place your 1st trade within 30 days after your account is activated.

Aside from that, Rakuten Trade users get +1 RT point for every RM2 brokerage paid! Click HERE for the full T&C on RT points

Open a Rakuten Trade Account Today!


Trading perks on Rakuten Trade

As a Rakuten Trade user, there are many perks offered on top of a user-friendly experience:

Use RT points to offset brokerage fee:

RT points are points rewarded to you when you open an account or execute trades on Rakuten Trade.

With these RT points, you can offset your brokerage fee.

Use RT points to offset brokerage fee
Use RT points to offset brokerage fee

 


Summary: Is Rakuten Trade a good platform to invest in the US market?

As a whole, Rakuten Trade has offered Malaysians a game-changing manner to invest in the US stock market via a locally-regulated broker.

An affordable fee structure, user-friendly interface, and transparent conversion rate should convince many investors to forgo the need to open a foreign brokerage account (and experience all the hassle of funding & withdrawals).

Unless you are an active day trader or you require access to less familiar stocks, I am sure you’ll be happy with what Rakuten Trade has to offer.

If you are keen to open a Rakuten Trade account, consider using my referral link below! For that, you'll get:

  • 1000 Rakuten Trade (RT) points worth RM10 to offset your brokerage fee
  • + 150 RT points when you deposit a min. of RM5,000 within 5 days
  • + 150 RT points when you transfer your shares from other brokers to Rakuten Trade
  • + 1x brokerage fee rebate when you place your 1st trade within 30 days after your account is activated.

Aside from that, Rakuten Trade users get +1 RT points for every RM2 brokerage paid!

Open a Rakuten Trade Account Today!


How to sign up to trade US stocks via Rakuten Trade

(A) How to sign up for US stock trading if you are new to Rakuten Trade:

Step 1: Sign up for Cash upfront account

If you are new, you’ll have to sign up for a Rakuten Trade Cash Upfront account.

Consider using my Rakuten Trade referral link by clicking the button below, and you’ll get 1000RT points (RM10) which can be used to offset your brokerage fee! 

Open a Rakuten Trade Account Today!

If you need help, click HERE for my step-by-step guide to open a Rakuten Trade account. 

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Step 2: Get your Rakuten Trade account within 2 working hours

Your Rakuten Trade account will be activated within 2 working hours. 

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Step 3: Log in to your Rakuten Trade account and apply for Foreign Stock Trading

Log in to your Rakuten Trade account either via the website or Rakuten Trade’s iSpeed app. You can locate the Foreign Trading activation button easily within the Rakuten Trade platform.  

Activate Foreign Equity Trading Account on Rakuten Trade

Step 4: Submit your application for US stock trading

Spend 1 minute to share some info required to trade the US stock market. Then, submit your application. 

Activate Foreign Equity Trading Account on Rakuten Trade

Step 5: Your Foreign Trading account will be enabled within 2-3 working days


(B) How to sign up for foreign trading if you are an existing Rakuten Trade user:

If you are an existing Rakuten Trade user, just follow Step 3 to Step 5 above and you’ll be good to go!


Disclaimer:

This post contains affiliate links, which afford No Money Lah a small referral (and in return, support this blog) if you sign up for an account using my referral link.