Straits Times: Sun, Feb 26
Posing for pictures is a piece of cake for socialite Sharel Ho, 38. After all, she has appeared often in the media and was the sexy cover girl for the February issue of Designare magazine here.
Mrs Ho also attends three to five charity balls a year, which allow her to dress up and have fun while doing good. She donates at least $10,000 to various charities every year as she believes in giving back to society, she says.
But the managing director of DeFred Jewellers tells you she is not a glamour puss who just sits pretty and clings to her material possessions. When her family moved into a new but smaller home a few months ago, she gave away more than 200 pieces of clothing, including evening gowns, to her sisters and staff.
Mrs Ho taught herself technical trading a few years ago, and has paid her dues - losing an amount equivalent to the price of a Porsche. She now says: 'Never trade on hope. Trade only on what you know. Think like an investor and execute like a surgeon.'
The new Singapore citizen, who was born in Ipoh, is married to the owner of DeFred Jewellers, Mr Fred Ho, who is in his 50s. They have two daughters, Khai Lie, 12, and Khai Ling, eight.
Q: Are you a spender or saver?
I'm a wise spender. I know how to pamper myself and do things that make myself happy and buy things that I like, as life is fragile.
We only live once, so we should live life to the fullest. Of course, we have to put aside some savings for a rainy day.
I save or invest 30 per cent of my monthly income, and spend the rest on myself. The personal expenses include monthly facials, massage sessions, fashion items and my thrice- weekly horse-riding sessions. I love buying clothes - I buy something for myself every week. It's retail therapy.
I also tailor-make my gowns, which I will wear twice at most. They can cost $1,000 to $4,000 each. The most expensive piece of clothing I have ever bought cost me $8,000. I won't pay more than $10,000 for a gown since I will wear it only once or twice.
I am very flexible. Nothing is permanent so you have to learn to let go. If I have more money, I will buy more. If I have less, I will buy less. I can be pampered but I can also take hardship.
Q: How much do you charge to your credit cards every month?
I charge $3,000 to $10,000 to my credit cards every month. It can be slightly more if I am travelling or there are special occasions that month.
Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?
I invest in properties and stocks. I like blue chips and commodity stocks. And I have bought insurance for my two children to cover their education needs.
If you keep money in the bank, the money will depreciate due to inflation.
We used to live in a 6,600 sq ft penthouse in Stevens Road. The balcony alone is 1,600 sq ft. It has been vacant for eight months because I haven't had time to put it on the market. But I plan to sell or lease it.
I have been buying properties in Malaysia and have sold two residential units in Mont Kiara and one shop lot in Plaza Damas, both in Kuala Lumpur, in the past two years. I made slightly more than RM1 million (S$417,000) from the sales.
Property prices here have gone up too much. When you buy to invest, there's no room for prices to rise.
Q: Moneywise, what were your growing-up years like?
I am the youngest child in a family of six. My late father worked in a logistics company and my mother is a housewife.
I grew up in Ipoh. My parents taught us to value and appreciate what we have. They taught us kids to work hard for what we want in life, and that everything we do in life involves effort, commitment and focus.
Q: How did you get interested in investing?
About four years ago, I picked up a book on technical trading and enjoyed it. I'm a chartist and like to read books on investments so I can learn from experienced traders like Warren Buffett. Trading has turned me into a different person. It has trained me to be sharper and more alert. A trader must be prudent, calm, patient and disciplined.
Playing the stock market is all about pyschology. You cannot buy every day. You can buy only at certain times.
Investing in the stock market is also about keeping in touch with what's happening in the world and in the global economy.
You cannot depend only on your husband. Women must make themselves useful to their husbands, and not just cook and take care of the children. You have to be intelligent and know what's happening around the world. You cannot just be pretty. I help my husband take care of the front end of business while he focuses on the back end.
Q: What properties do you own?
I have a condominium unit at MK11 in Mont Kiara in Kuala Lumpur which I bought on my own for more than RM2 million. I just collected the keys.
I co-own a $2.8 million condo unit at Sky@eleven with my husband. Both properties were bought three years ago and are close to 3,000 sq ft in size. We have also reserved three units at our project The Marina View in Johor Baru.
Q: What's the most extravagant thing you have bought?
I would say it's my wardrobe and a diamond ring I bought for $15,000 when I was 22. I stopped buying jewellery after I met Fred as he gives me at least one piece of diamond jewellery every year.
Q: What's your retirement plan?
I plan to be financially independent before the age of 50, and live on rental income from my properties.
Q: Home is now...
A condo unit at Sky@eleven. As my children like the swimming pools very much, we made it our new home.
I want my kids to mix around with other people. My old place was in a 12-unit development.
Q: I am driven in...
A white BMW 7 series.
Mrs Ho was born in Ipoh and is a new Singapore Citizen.
WORST AND BEST BETS
Q: What's your worst investment to date?
This is my investment in Yanlord and Yangzijiang shares. It was a very painful and expensive lesson but making mistakes is part and parcel of learning.
I bought more than 100 lots of Yanlord shares at $2.20 a share about three to four years ago, and I let go of the shares at $1.50 a share in the middle of last year. I wanted to short it but I was so busy with my apartment, I had no time to do it.
And early last year, I bought more than 100 lots of Yangzijiang at $1.80 a share, and set my stop-loss target at $1.65, but I did not follow it. The price then fell to $1.55 a share, and eventually to 90 cents a share when I sold it last November.
My broker called me to advise me to cut my losses when I was very busy with my house renovations, and I just said 'okay'.
After this incident, I feel it is better to trade online as no emotions are involved.
When you have a broker, he might advise you not to cut losses too early. You have to make your own decisions. Don't depend on your broker and don't blame him. Take action only when you are calm as fear makes you dumb.
You must also be very disciplined. Stop-loss levels should be set at between 5 per cent and 15 per cent of the stock value.
I lost half of my capital, or the equivalent of one Porsche, because I did not set a stop-loss level for Yanlord shares and I did not heed the stop-loss level for Yangzijiang shares.
Q: What's your best investment to date?
My husband and I bought a a piece of freehold land for several million ringgit in Johor Baru in 1997. Right now, we are developing a high-end 284-unit luxury condominium The Marina View that offers a sea view and faces Singapore.
We soft-launched it recently at $300 per sq ft to $380 per sq ft and have sold half of it.
Source: The Straits Times