23 years old, and freshly out of National Service, Kelvin Seetoh has already single-handedly hit his half-a-million-dollar mark through investing. We have interviewed this humble and unassuming young man to find out the recipe behind his success, and below are the main takeaways.
1. Being Daring to Take a Different Path
When we were in our early twenties, most of us were probably still quite unsure of where our lives point towards. Many of us may prefer to land a decent degree first, followed by working a stable job, etc., just to be safe.
Kelvin had been awarded a scholarship to pursue a Business degree in Nanyang Technological University (NTU). However, much to many’s surprise, he decided to skip the opportunity by taking up a job opportunity to develop up his investing skills seriously.
“What had initially drawn me to invest was the money. At that time I thought: if I invest my money now, and it compounds, it’ll allow me to achieve my financial freedom sooner,” Kelvin admitted frankly. “But later on I realised that as I started to analyse different companies and industries, I actually found fulfillment and joy in discovering more facts, and knowing what makes one company more successful than others in the same industry, etc. I started to enjoy the process of investing as opposed to just simply looking at investing as a means to grow my personal wealth.”
To Kelvin, he finds it alright to take an unconventional path, given that it is a calculated move and there is real value in what he/she does.
2. A Bold Investment Style Might Work Too
In terms of investing style, Kelvin adopts a strategy that goes against typical advice. Instead of diversifying his portfolio to reduce risks, he keeps his portfolio concentrated. Kelvin then explained with an example: If one were to own only two stocks (that he is most confident about), and split his invested capital equally between them, he would have a better return on his portfolio as compared to having five different stocks that do not perform as well on average.
Many may call this a risky move, but such a strategy has worked well for Kelvin so far, provided that he has devoted a lot of time and energy to research the companies and industries.
3. Everything in Life can be Your Teacher
Aspiring value investors usually look up to Warren Buffett, but Kelvin does not restrict his “mentors” to prominent figures. In fact, he also learns a lot from the ordinary people in his daily life, regardless of whether they are businessmen, waitresses, or cleaners. To him, every interaction with people is an opportunity to learn new things, which he readily applies to his investment practices.
When he meets with company leaders, he will make observations of their management styles and personalities, as well as how they treat their subordinates.
For example, even small things like whether the CEO of the company eats lunch with his ground staff can make a difference, said Kelvin.
“I think this is very important, because this is where the ground staff know that the management is connected to them, and if there is any feedback or operational difficulties, these will reach the management in a short time,” Kelvin explained.
Apart from that, Kelvin is also an avid reader who believes that in order to build a good investment portfolio, one would first need to build up his knowledge. Apart from reading, he has attended the previous Value Investing Summit organised by 8I, which he found to be an eye-opening experience.
Kelvin has recently joined 8I as their business analyst. In a way, the Value Investing Summit had been a life-changing event for him, and it could be the same for you too.