Adventure firm owner keeps his money safe

(2012-05-20 01:26:40) 下一個


Straits Times: Sun, May 20

For Mr Andrew Chua, 46, owner of Focus Adventures, Camp Challenge and Outdoor Adventures, enjoying life is part of work.

'I believe in work-life integration. A lot of people work to get money to enjoy life. My philosophy is to work while you enjoy life.'

This is similar to his thinking when it comes to spending money. He will spend only when he can see a return on his investments (ROI).

That's how he views his expenditure on his 60m yacht. He bought it two years ago to charter out, but will use it when it is not being rented.

It's as much a lifestyle choice as an investment as he now lives on board the boat when he is in Singapore.

More than half of his time, though, is spent in Hainan, China, where he is setting up a facility that will run sea sports activities for tourists.

He has already brought Focus Adventures, which offers adventure-learning activities for corporate groups, to Sibu, Batam, Bintan and New Delhi.

Mr Chua, who is single, used to be a Republic of Singapore Air Force pilot.

Q: Are you a spender or saver?

I balance my savings with my spending. And I spend only on things that will give me a return on my investments such as my yacht or a jet ski that I can modify and sell at a higher price.

My crew and I are repairing a yacht for sale.

I don't spend on clothes as I wear a uniform every day. You will see me in a beige company T-shirt, beige pants and brown belt seven days a week.

I also don't spend on drinks, cigarettes and karaoke as these do not give me any return on my investment.

When it comes to charity, I like to help underprivileged children as I want to help them achieve their own ROI.

Q: How much do you charge to your credit cards every month?

I applied for my first Amex card when I was 21. I charge about $5,000 a month to my credit cards.

Credit cards come in handy as I buy a lot of spare parts and gadgets online.

Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?

I have health insurance and I used to invest in shares. But I liquidated almost all my shares to raise cash for my house in 2010.

Right now, my business is giving me the lifestyle that I want. But I plan to invest in one or two properties in the next few years. Then I will have a stable passive income stream for my later years.

I like property as I've always made money from my property investments.

Property is a good hedge against inflation. I used to speculate in property and have bought a few on and off.

Q: Moneywise, what were your growing-up years like?

My mum was a nurse and my father ran a small retail business. They provided for me and my two younger siblings but we were not rich.

I signed on with the armed forces when I was 18 and started to live on my own since then. Enlisting in the military was a good option as I did not have to rely on my parents for money.

Q: How did you get interested in investing?

I became a fully qualified pilot earning about $4,500 a month at the age of 21.

I saved quite a bit as I was staying in the officers' mess where food was provided and so I did not spend much money for three years.

I decided I needed a savings plan. I made up my mind to buy my first property as it would mean that I had to be disciplined and set aside a specific amount of money every month to pay the mortgage.

I borrowed some cash from my parents for the down payment to buy a freehold Flamingo Valley unit that cost $393,000.

I sold it for $680,000 four years later.

Property gives you very good value and is the most stable in terms of your return on investment. You can also get good rental yields here.

If I did not commit to a property, I would probably have spent the money and bought some flashy sports car.

Q: What property do you own?

It's a four-storey terrace house in Sembawang that I bought for $1.95 million in 2010.

I rented out four rooms, which pay for the mortgage, and I keep a small room for myself. I go back once in a while to do the laundry and to make sure everything is in order.

Q: What's the most extravagant thing you have bought?

I bought a sea plane for $80,000 a few years ago. I flew it a couple of times but unfortunately I crashed it. I had to spend another $40,000 to $50,000 to rebuild it.

Q: What's your retirement plan?

I plan to work till I cannot work.

Q: Home is now...

A room in my 60m yacht. I bought it second-hand for $150,000 and spent about $100,000 to do it up. Recently, someone offered to buy it for $350,000.

Q: I drive...

A 2003 C-class Mercedes-Benz.


Q: What is your worst investment to date?

I invested almost $70,000 in shares in China Aviation Oil and I lost $50,000 after news of the firm's financial scandal broke in 2004.

I still have the shares. Hopefully, their value will creep up over time.

Q: What is your best investment to date?

I bought a three-bedroom unit in Poshgrove East in the Katong area back in 2007 for more than $800 per sq ft.

When I received the keys to it in 2009, a property agent asked me whether I wanted to sell it. By then, the price of my unit had gone up by another $200,000, so I said OK.

Source: The Straits Times
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