My Background Story

47 years old, three teenage kids, one wife, home since 1997: Singapore

After completing my A-levels in Germany, I started on the traditional path in acquiring some skills to earn money.  I did an Industrial Apprenticeship with Siemens.  Then worked, and worked, and worked, and worked some more, moved to Singapore, and continued to work in the same company.

Back in late 2012, I decided that I’d have enough (in all aspects of that word) and declared my 24 years of corporate duty with Siemens (in Germany and in Singapore)—completed—by resigning from my position as Senior Vice-President Finance.

My local Singaporean colleagues declared me outright insane; however, my Expat colleagues congratulated me on that enviable move.

This showed me again the cultural gap between Europe and Asia, regarding attitudes towards work.  By the way, this gap will have a huge impact a few years down the road with regards to which region of the world will be the superior one.

And since 2 years, I have been focusing on Tacomob.

Firstly, I am an Entrepreneur in Financial Self-Defence, trying hard to defend my hard-earned money (from those wild beasts: inflation and taxes) to maintain the buying power.  I do that by putting my assets in asset classes that have proven to outdo inflation in the long run (ETFs, Equities, and Commodities).

wineglass makes it clear ok

I know that this is not the skyline of Singapore.  But still a nice glass.

Secondly, I am a Rational Flâneur.  But what is a rationalist in my view?

Let me use that famous glass analogy to explain:

The optimist says, “The glass is half full.”

The pessimist says, “The glass is half empty.”

The rationalist says, “The glass is twice as big as it needs to be.”

Does it make it clear as glass?

And what is a Flâneur?

It is a French word, meaning stroller or lounger.  For me, it means waking up in the morning and having the majority of my time unplanned and at my disposal.  I have the luxury to be the master of my own time.  I can decide how I  spend my time.

Sometimes, that includes sitting in a café in Singapore’s Orchard Road and just watching the people go by, or cycling at Singapore’s park connectors and just breathing in nature, absorbing nature, admiring the beauty of nature.

I consider myself very fortunate to be able to enjoy that kind of life-style already now and not only when I am 65.

Why do we all have to follow the regular path: go to school, learn a job, work hard and smart in jobs for 30 to 40 years, get tired, retire and then try to enjoy life?

Why not borrow a few years from retirement and bring them forward to mid-life when time with growing up kids is so precious? And then – once the kids stand on their own feet – go back to work and do what you love?

I do share some of the methods that I used to get there under Prosper Slowly.

Have fun exploring my blog and let me know how you feel about it.  Drop me a note.

11 Comments

  1. Hi Andy,

    SMOL blog led me here. I was curious to see what your ME Pte Ltd is about. The first few posts I read did not disappoint me 🙂 I will spend the next couple of days reading more of what you wrote.

    I am pleasantly surprised that you hail from Germany and has made Singapore your new home. I extend this very belated welcome to you.

    Many years ago when I was in Munich, I was thoroughly amazed by how Munich’s trains and buses arrive on time like clockwork. I do not have to wear a watch to know the time because the trains and buses arrive at almost exactly the time they are supposed to arrive. Singaporeans who have not been to Munich will probably think I am exaggerating. You and I will know I am telling the truth. Human engineering at its best and ich bin ein Ingenieur von Beruf. Imagine my surprise when I praised the transport system to an old German engineer in his 60s and he said the trains were even more punctual in the past. I almost feel sorry that you have to put up with our SMRT trains today. It is a national humiliation today. I hope you have a car to drive your parents around when they come down to visit you. I hate to say this but please don’t let them take our crowded trains until the problem is fixed.

    It seems like you are having a great time after you left Siemens taking care of your own business. I wish you many more good years.

    • Hi hyom,

      Thank you for your encouraging comments and your warm welcome to Singapore. I noticed that you are a blogger too and for some time already. Will check your blog out over the next few days. Hmm, I noticed that you had quite a long break from blogging between 2015 and now. I am sure you had your reasons for that.

      Funny that you do bring up the MRT subject and Munich. Just two weeks back I have written to the top management of SMRT to offer them some ideas and help on how they could tackle their “deep-seated cultural issues”. I have not received any reply from them yet. Their secretaries say they are busy in back-to-back meetings. Why me? And how could I be so hao lian to believe that I could help them? Well, what I introduced to them are two mobile phone Apps that work.

      The first one is a proven App called STOPit. It is a powerful, anonymous messaging platform that facilitates the reporting of undesirable behavior at organizations. STOPit also automates the current processes to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of investigations. Their compliance team can follow up directly with employees anonymously to gather more information, while ensuring secure evidence collection and compliance. Excellent to find those few “rotten apples” that they apparently have in their organization.

      The second one is called BEEKEEPER and has been used by – you guessed it – the Munich Verkehrsbetriebe (the company that runs the Munich train and bus system) for a while. It is, in essence, an employee engagement App that connects every single one on the team (especially blue-collar workers who often do not even have an email address). The goal is to keep everyone in the loop and to address our inborn human intrinsic motivators. It is used to inform, inspire, instruct, involve and incent employees to boost employee engagement. Because to get the commuters’ experiences right one has to first get the employee experiences right.

      Yes, I am indeed having a great time with TACOMOB. Thank you for your well-wishes.

      • Hi Andy,

        It is civic-minded of you to take the initiative to introduce solutions to SMRT. I am not surprised they are too busy fire-fighting now to evaluate your suggestions. Hopefully, their back-to-back meetings are focusing on engineering the right solutions and not presenting the best Wayang PR show to placate the angry public. Big companies spend substantial time doing that sort of meaningless wayang show.

        If it were only a few “rotten apples”, the solution would be much easier. Simply fire and replace the few “rotten apples”. However, since the word “culture” was used, I suspect the number of “rotten apples” is much greater. Indeed, offering amnesty to “rotten apples” is a further sign that the number is so large that management cannot simply sack and replace without affecting operations.

        One more thing Singapore can copy from Germany regarding the transport infrastructure. Singapore should build separate pavements for cyclists to ride to keep travelling safe for both cyclists and pedestrians. Instead, LTA has allowed cyclists and PMD (personal mobility devices) to share the same footpath with pedestrians today. This makes pedestrian footpaths dangerous. As a commuter, I strongly feel that our regulator should not compromise safety for the sake of hitting their car-lite objective. While the car-lite goal is desirable, short-cuts should not be taken at the expense of public safety.

        I stopped blogging since 2015 because I have little spare time left after venturing into overseas stocks. So far, I have avoided investing in European stocks because of financial transaction tax. I was hit with financial transaction tax (FTT) for French(0.3%) and Italian (0.1%) stocks which were bought on HKSE and NYSE. London stocks have a 0.5% stamp fee. It is a good thing that German stocks do not have FTT like the others. Unfortunately, the Mittlestand which power Germany’s export machine usually stay private. I believe these companies, even though they are not big, enjoy good profit margins and have strong economic moat in niche markets which protect them from the onslaught of China’s cheap and quality manufacturing. Otherwise, it is hard for the German export engine to keep running strongly given Germany’s high hourly wages.

      • I do agree with those separate pavements, but pedestrians need to understand their purpose. It happened to me so often on the new cycling/pedestrian path parallel to Bishan Park in Ang Mo Kio that people walk on the section that is reserved for cyclists. Even the different colors don’t impress those ignorant walkers. Education and awareness are important too.

        Are you sure? Those small fees should not hold you back from investing in European stocks (or are you a trader?). Either you believe in those stocks that they will outperform Singapore stocks and ignore those small taxes or you don’t. A small tax should not be one of the main decision criteria. Have you tried to invest in overseas markets via ETFs? It is a good vehicle to hedge your stock selection risk by buying entire markets instead. Buy the stack of hay, instead of trying to find the needle in the haystack.

      • Hi Andy,

        That small tax deterred me from getting started in European stocks, particularly when the Asian and U.S markets are keeping me busy enough. Besides, I am not that rich to be everywhere:) Yes, it does look dumb for an investor who is looking for a > 25%-30% gain to sweat over small stuff like 0.2-0.5% transaction tax unless he is a trader out for small and quick gains.

        There are some period when trading is more suitable. There are some period when investing is more suitable. Some stocks are better suited to be traded. Some stocks are better suited to be invested. So, I do not wish to classify myself into categories like trader or investor.

        I prefer to invest in individual stocks, although I agree with you on the logic of investing via ETFs. It is less time-consuming and the risk of making disastrous picks is much lower. That is the advantage of buying the stack rather than finding the needle in the stack. So, why am I still picking individual stocks? Not because I am an over-confident arrogant prick but I’m just doing for the fun of it 🙂 Like a hobby. Most hobbies cost money but in my case, if I get it right and with some luck, I might even make some money from this hobby.

        I enjoyed your post about André Kostolany. I look forward to reading more posts from you with a European-centric perspective.

  2. Hi Andy, good to know you. I am from China, I search the info about Andre Kostolany, I like this man, who is very fun and smart. then I entered your website. And when I saw you comments on Cultural gap between Asia and Europe, it reminds me of my job interview experience. I have quit the job at year 2008 and 2012 and travel around the China for 6 monthes every time. When Chinese manager saw this by my resume, including HK and Taiwan , they doubted that I should be fired or laid off, they didn’t believe A chinese quit job and had travelling. Then I was interviewed by a Swedish guy at a Swedish company, he is quited interested it. most time we talked about travelling, he didn’t intervewed me by asking difficult qeustions,and I got the job, I also work quite well at current job, Actually. Interesting.

    I like you comments on Andre as well ,hope you business goes well.

    Henry

    • Hi Henry,
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment.
      When I was in my corporate life, I was always hiring for attitude. Skills can be trained. Attitude is difficult to change. Either you have the right attitude or you don’t. You see, nowadays in a job different is better than better. So your different life experiences (compared to the average Chinese who follows the herd) gives you a competitive edge.
      All the very best in your job and keep up the curiosity to explore new things and ways through life.

      • Hi Andy,

        Thanks. You posts here are really wonderful, I can get a lot of inspiration form them. I think you are a trditional gentleman, I think I learn a lot from your ideas and your experience. In my life, I just try to be more simple and enjoy the life. I will keep up the curiostiy to explore the meaningful things in my life.

      • Hi Henry,

        Thank you for your kind words. I am happy to hear that my posts are inspiring to you.
        Life could be quite simple, but leading a simple life is never easy.
        Wish you fun in exploring the meaningful things in your life.
        Highly appreciate your feedback.

  3. Please add me to your mailing list.
    Thank you.

    Fong

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