Episode 1: Get to Know Me and Why I Started a Podcast for Expats

Max Keeling

In this first episode, I will be sharing a little bit about myself and explain why I’m launching a podcast for expats, specifically those with $2 to $20 million. I will also outline what some of the future podcasts are going to include to help you feel more confident with your own financial position.

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Connect with us:
Max Keeling: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maxkeeling/
Providend: https://www.facebook.com/Providend


Hello and welcome to the first episode of the Expat Wealth Blueprint podcast, simple approaches for managing personal wealth of $2 to $20 million. I’m your host, Max Keeling. And every week or every episode, I’m going to be sharing with you some tools and tips on how you can manage your own wealth as an expat in Asia. Specifically, for people that have got or aspire to have SGD $2 to $20 million.

So in this episode, I want to explain why I’m launching a podcast for people, specifically, with $2 to $20 million and outline what some of the future podcasts are going to include.

So why $2 to $20 million and what currency? Well, I specialise in helping expat families with about SGD $2 to $20 million. But actually, concept works whether you use USD or GBP. So if you want to wind up with SGD $2 to $20 million or GBP $2 to $20 million, all of these information will be relevant.

So the reason that I’m doing this podcast is I think there’s a lot of information out there for people that want to go down the F.I.R.E route. So Financially Independent, Retire Early (F.I.R.E). So live frugally, save as much as you can, invest and then quit work when you are 40, let’s say. And then live off USD $30,000 for the rest of your life, usually by living in a lower-cost country.

And there are loads of information on the internet about how to start investing if you’ve never invested before. So if you’re very young or you’ve got small amounts, there are loads of information that you could go and look at.

But I don’t think there’s a lot of credible information, independent information, for people that don’t want to retire on that kind of rice and beans concept. Or they don’t want to retire at 40. So typically, these are people that have got good professional careers and they’ve built up wealth and they’re going to have or are going to get into that $2 to $20 million bracket. And typically, a lot of information you read around this, it is quite dismissive to say, “What a nice problem to have. Why do these people need help? It’s all right for them. They’ve got loads. What problems can they have?”

So I think a lot of people and a lot of organisations don’t provide a lot of independent help for this group. So what I mean is if you are in that bracket or you aspire to be in that bracket, then there’s not a lot of independent help. So you end up falling prey to things like private bankers because you’re just about on their radar that level or you end up with the expat financial advisers, which are pretty poor at all levels.

So whether you’ve got $50,000 to invest or $10 million, not all advisers, but we will get into this over the next few episodes, but many of the advisers are not going to be working in your best interest.

So I’m hoping to share with you wisdom from some of the best experts around the world so you can then apply it to your own situation and you can make better decisions with your money, smarter decisions with your money.

I also want to try and interview some of the expats from around Asia, for them to share their experiences on what has worked and what hasn’t. So no matter what level of financial knowledge you’ve got, hopefully, this will help to give you some frameworks. And that’s really why I have called this the Expat Wealth Blueprint.

There are a lot of different ways you can go about investing your money and what you do with it. But if you’re in that $2 to $20 million bracket, there are some simple frameworks you can look at that will help you towards achieving your life goals which at the end of the day this is what it is about. It is about doing the best you can with the money you’ve got to live the kind of life you want. And so if you got a better knowledge of the frameworks, you can always go and find somebody else to do the implementing.

So a bit about me. Why should you even listen to me? So my day job is that I am the Head of Expat Wealth Advisory at a company called Providend. Providend is Singapore’s first and sole Fee-Only Wealth Advisory Firm. It was started 19 years ago by Chris Tan who I’ll get on the podcast at a later date. And he can give some background on why he started that.

But that’s probably not the main reason why you want to listen to me because I often say I am a reluctant financial adviser. Because my background is actually as a chartered accountant and I had a corporate career for 16 years. And I worked for Barclays Investment Bank, moved with them to Singapore and I’ve been in Singapore for the last 10 years.

And I’ve seen how bad the financial adviser space is because I actually signed up with one myself. It’s probably around 2014 and I immediately regretted it. I realised the fees were really high and the portfolio was pretty poor. And I felt pretty stupid because here I was as a chartered accountant, I’m meant to be the numbers guy. My day job is to go and review the numbers and budgets and what was spending money on. And here I had gone and signed up with someone that I probably shouldn’t have.

Compounds on top of that, around the same time, I found a book by a guy called Andrew Hallam. So Andrew Hallam was a teacher at the American School in Singapore. And through using low-cost tracker funds, he built himself a multi-million dollar portfolio and then subsequently retired from teaching in his early to mid-40s. And he has written a few books. His latest one is the Millionaire Expat. The one that I read was The Global Expatriate’s Guide to Investing. So I definitely want to get Andrew on the podcast if I can. If you haven’t checked out his books, it’s an absolute must if you are an expat because he really goes into detail about how you can invest yourself. And I think that is good for people to understand what’s actually involved, even if it is not a lot, for you to get an idea of whether that is something you would want to do yourself or whether you want to involve somebody else.

So anyway, getting back to Andrew’s books. He highlighted how most advisers in Singapore and Hong Kong and Dubai are commission-based and why that’s bad for you. And so I really delved deep into this world. Until 2016, I left Barclays and I started coaching other expats on their finances. I’m trying to show them how they could do it themselves without using an adviser. I was very anti-adviser. And I did that for 2 years. And over that period, I’d probably say 30% to 50% of clients still wanted somebody else to manage their money. And it tended to be especially if they were in their 50s and they were beginning to think about early retirement in the next 5-10 years. Or they had millions. They had millions in the bank.

And so I started to then interview financial advisers on their behalf. I went to London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and interviewed a few advisers and I always came away thinking that I can do a better job myself.

So 2018, I decided to become an adviser. I would help a small number of expat families that have got $1 to $20 million.

So by doing this podcast, I’m really going back to the coaching I was doing. I can’t help everybody but I do want to try and give away as much free information as possible. So people got a better-informed idea of what they can do themselves. So I want to share more about my journey over the podcast, what I’ve done over the last 10 years because I’ve tried everything. I’ve done individual stock picking. I’ve invested in bars and restaurants, which is a story in itself. I’ve tried active and passive funds. And I’ve also seen what clients do. So I want to share what are some of the struggles that clients have had and how have they overcome it? And so hopefully, you can learn from our mistakes, you can learn from our knowledge and you can apply it to yourself and have the best investment experience that you are entitled to.

So what can you expect from future episodes? Well in the next episode I want to cover, “How do you work out how much money you need to retire?” So a lot of people are not quite sure either what’s the target amount of assets that they need to build or if they got a lump sum now, how much will that generate? Or how much can they spend for the rest of their lives knowing that they’re not going to run out of money? So I want to cover some of that piece.

I’ll then go through how you build your own financial plan. Making it very easy so you don’t need to be numbers literate. But I think everybody should have some basic idea of the rules of thumb that you should be using. Just give you a better idea of what your target should be or what you can afford to do.

And then I’ll spend a couple of episodes going through what you should invest in. So what are some of the high-level things you should be aware of? What kind of returns can you expect? How are you going to invest in equities and bonds? And I want to cover on property. Because if you’re British or Australian specifically, people love property. They love buying rental properties. They end up with cash and rental properties. But I think every country is obsessed with property. If you speak to Singaporeans, they also want to buy properties. So is that a credible path to go down if you are looking at a long-term plan.

And then along the way, I will bring in guest speakers, so other people that I’ve met along the way. And maybe get some clients on if they’re happy to come on.

If you’ve got any questions, feel free to email them to me. If there’re any topics that you want to learn about then let me know. And also on the Providend’s website, I think we’re going to have a page that got further reading materials for every episode if you want to go and see stuff.

So I hope you enjoy what we’re going to outline in the first 5 to 10 episodes and you’ll feel a lot more comfortable and confident with your own financial position.

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