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The curious case of Mr. Tan Kang Hua.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Today's INVEST section in The Sunday Times profiled Mr. Tan Kang Hua, a 27 year old engineer and avid investor who has had more hits than misses in his journey as an investor. 

It was reported that Mr. Tan often dresses shabbily as he does not want to flash his wealth. 

I guess he does not want to attract any attention. I can empathise with this.

However, accepting an interview by our national newspaper and having photos of him and his family published in full color must attract quite a bit of attention. 

Now, everyone who knows him and even people who didn't would know about him and his wealth. 

Curious why he would want to do this.

It was also revealed that his best investment to date was the first property he owned which was a 3 bedroom condo he bought in 2010 when he was 24 and still in university. 

He sold it off last year for a profit of $300,000 which translates to a ROI of 200%. 

Curious how did he manage to get a loan to buy a 3 bedroom condo when he was still in university.

I wonder if Mr. Tan Kang Hua is a reader of ASSI and if he could help satisfy my curiosity. 

Failing this, could anyone help to answer these questions?

Related posts:
1. Retiring a millionaire is not a dream.
2. Making your first million dollars in real estate investment.
3. Excuse me, are you an investor?


lzyData said...

Must be the Bank of Father and Mother :P

Not to be cynical, but I find that we rarely get the full story with these ST columns. They aim to promote people's successes at investing, so the subjects tell them what they want to hear. Actually it would be far more instructive to feature people's failures at personal finance and investing.

AK71 said...

Hi IzyData,

He and his wife stay in his parents' 4 bedroom flat in Pasir Ris. His brother and sister too. There are 9 people in total staying in that flat. I feel it is somewhat overcrowded.

His dad was a blue collar worker and his mom a housewife.

Nothing in the article gave me an impression that he has a Bank of Father and Mother.

Very curious. :)

Here is a blog post which is in the vein you would like to see: From rich to broke?


Tincan said...

Hi AK,

I am equally curious too. Advertising himself in national papers is hardly low profile or "dressing shabbily".

For his parents to part with their hard earned money to bank rolled his investment is highly unthinkable too. At age 24, can make 300k without any help is very impressive but I wondered where the $$$ is from :p


AK71 said...

Hi Tincan,

This just reminded me of a nursery rhyme. "Mary, Mary, so contrary..." :)

I am more curious about his first property bought when he was in university. Was he holding a full time job then? How much was his income? If not, which bank gave him a housing loan?

Don_Jerome said...


Maybe he want to start a mutual fund, and is advertising for investors? ;)

Engineering is a tough line to be in.

bhsh said...

was very curious about the article too, noticed many controversial articles by Sunday Times too, most of the time, Father and Mother banks at work. If in fact he has all that, he should be in a worried state, I'm sure he has stretched the commitments a bit too far and if markets or interest rates goes wrong. Things will start going downhill fast.

Serendib said...

AK, I'd seriously not waste my time on the financial section of the local papers (except certain BT columns). Especially these profiles of investors where the reporter doesnt do much fact-finding of their own and pretty much buys up the subject's story hook, line and sinker!
In this case, there may be nothing to "hide" - perhaps his wife was already working and that's why they could get a loan? We'll never know!

AK71 said...

Hi Jeremy,

You think so? You are an engineer too, aren't you? ;)

AK71 said...

Hi bhsh,

Indeed, if he is leveraging to the max acquiring more properties, I would be worried for him.

There is this general feeling that the levitation act that property prices are doing now will continue indefinitely: Good debt is always good?

AK71 said...

Hi Serendib,

Well, I was enjoying a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast and needed some reading material. ;p

I hardly read The Sunday Times. Maybe, once a month or two. I enjoy The Business Times a bit more.

If Mr. Tan's wife was working then, she must be a high income earner. A $300k capital gain and a ROI of 200% meant they paid $150k already. Assuming $150k is 20% the cost of the condo unit, they would have borrowed $600k.

Based on my experience, to borrow $600k 3 years ago to buy a property, a person's monthly salary must at least be $5k to $5.5k a month. This is well above average for people in their early or mid 20s.

Don_Jerome said...

Haha, yeah, your sharp. I'm educated as one and work for a while as one(actually just internship) when I realized that tough money to make. Now in a less tough line, then again IMHO, anything else is a less tough line, haha ;)

AK71 said...

Hi Jeremy,

Just a lucky guess. ;)

Yes, my engineer friends also told me that life is tough being engineers. It is when they become managers that life gets better.

INVS 2.0 said...

Hi Ak71,

No one can beat the market unless he has insider information which the market lacks, says the Efficient Market Hypothesis. :)

Andy said...

Maybe he strike lottery lolx.

Or he could be a penny stock and/or leverage trading champion.

Personally I had seen people earning a profit of 130k within 5 months using a capital of 90k trading penny stocks. So I think nothing is impossible.

INVS 2.0 said...

Hi Ak71,

It could be a hoax story. I have no "Bank of Father" or "Bank of Mother" too. My savings today are incurred as a result of "skipping lunch everyday" for the whole of primary and secondary school life. Even then, I have NO capability to afford a house by a far far stretch. If he has no parental banks, it is nearly impossible he could amass so much wealth for a overpriced property.

Unless he is an entrepreneur in his school days but that was not reported.

seefei said...

Looking from another angle, this story tells yöu how dangerous property speculation has become. What if that deal wen wrong, Mr Tan could be $300K down before even graduating. Property has bear and bull phase. It is no joke to be caught in a wrong deal especially in a bear market.

AK71 said...

Hi INVS 2.0,

A hoax? In The Straits Times? That would be terrible!

My biggest investment in a blue chip is in SPH. I like to think that I am investing in a company with flawless accountability.

I guess Mr. Tan Kang Hua is not a reader of ASSI and none of my readers know him either since no one has offered to demystify the story for us. :(

AK71 said...

Hi Andy,

Certainly, everything is possible but he would still need to be employed with a regular income before a bank would give him a housing loan. No?

AK71 said...

Hi seefei,

I think very few, if any, would look at the story in the angle you have suggested. If anything, readers would probably feel inspired to buy an investment property after reading the article. ;p

Anonymous said...

oh yah, this section of the sunday times a lot of bullshit wan. I kena one of those irritating spam sms advertising free loan from one of those investor they showcase in the paper. pui.

AK71 said...

Hi cheeky,

I am confused. How did reading the Invest section in The Sunday Times lead to you getting spam sms?

Anonymous said...

ak why u never read properly wan.
One of those investors they showcased actually peddle those cheap loan through spam sms. I know becos i received those sms with the guy's name and contact info listed in the sms.

AK71 said...

Hi cheeky,

Oops, thanks for telling me. I hardly ever read The Sunday Times. I could have missed that.

Well, it would be illegal for that kind of activity to go on from 01 Jan 2014. Yeah!

Recruit Ong said...

wah piang! the State Times also featured that lee song teck from that geneva gold or gold guarantee dunno what... hahahaha! u all so fast forget liao??

State times is just bad... u read it at your own risk is what i say.

AK71 said...

Hi Recruit Ong,

Hmmmm... I guess it is a case of readers beware! Seems like it is not a good thing to be profiled in the Invest section of The Straits Times. :(

kiyamiso said...

I doubt they calculated the ROI accurately. Similarly, there were too much ambiguity in the report. Whether it was intentional or not, it is up to readers to interpret.

AK71 said...

Hi kiyamiso,

Ambiguity indeed. I guess we could look at it positively and think of it as some artistic prose which leaves some room for readers' imagination. ;)

It is a pity that Mr. Tan is not a reader of ASSI or he would be able to help clear the air here. :)

Musicwhiz said...

I think the danger here is in taking that $300,000 gain (however he got it) and ploughing it into another 2 huge loans as well as a brand new car. That, to me, sounds very risky!

AK71 said...

Hi MW,

You have gone further in depth. :)

I am still puzzled by the mechanics of it all. How did he get a housing loan and a big one too as an undergrad? O_o

Jay said...

I agree with many commentators about the quality (or rather the lack thereof) of the invest column of the Sunday ST. I wonder why the Singapore press promotes stories like "I played a bit the stock market and bought a condo and look how rich I am now...". They should rather promote enterpreneurs, people with new ideas and initiative. Also people with sound investment principles and long-term view, such as yourself, AK! ;-)

And I agree with IzyData on the value of hearing stories about failures... As important as the success stories.

AK71 said...

Hi Jay,

Well, I wouldn't go so far as to do any self promotion in the media. Don't want to be a lightning rod. ;)

There will always be differences in opinions and I have seen how vicious things could turn out online.

With the case of Mr. Tan, I am not trying to ridicule, I am just trying to seek clarification. Just a couple of points which I am curious about. :)

Unfortunately, no luck. :(

AK71 said...

An email from a reader:

"With ref to your above mentioned article i hope it is not too late to enlighten you. Everything states in the article is false. The condo was purchased using Mr Tan’s father CPF because Mrs Tan said she doesnt stay in HDB . But after they bought the condo and it TOP, they rented it out to earn money and continued squeezing in the HDB . At that point of time there is no minimum sum. Mrs Tan is currently a secondary school teacher. At that point of time he was still in Uni, and she was either still in NIE or just started teaching. They mentioned they bought a brand new proton Exora which in fact they bought a second hand OPC and converted to a normal car. Pls keep my identity anonymous. Thanks"

AK71 said...

After almost 5 years, I got the answer.

AK71 said...

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