Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Your First Million - Making it in Stocks (Dr Michael Leong)

Written by Dr Michael Leong, this book aims to set readers "rethinking" investment issues. The author himself has an interesting history all of his own, having left the medical field early in his life to join the corporate world, before embarking on entrepreneurism and then finally becoming a private investor. I am reviewing the second edition printed in 2012. The book covers some strategies, principles and also attitudes towards investing, trading and finances in relation to how to lead one's life, with respect to the author's own experiences.

I was initially skeptical as I always am of local books on finance; they tend to skim over or have little value-add. This book is different; it is really good and does cover in detail the local (Singapore) stock market, while at the same time not being so in-depth that it cannot be applied to other markets. There is a very personal voice and it feels as if the author is speaking directly to you when he occasionally brings in his own (painful) experiences. The book can be viewed as an overview of his investment history philosophy and advice to others on how to approach investments. It is not meant to be a transferable blueprint to be used. What I find very good is the fact that the author spares no pain to emphasize the dangers and pitfuls in investing and trading and how to mitigate some of these dangers, for example, either through information in the book such as the purpose of IPOs or through changing one's mindsets to the markets. He may come across as cynical, but I think he is trying to, as realistically as possible, paint a picture of the stock market for all readers.

The information covered is quite varied, covering topics like things to look out for in companies such as NTA, but do not expect a detailed discussions about calculations. This book was never meant to serve that purpose. I have not seen other books, both local or otherwise, cover some of the ideas or information Leong has. He offers also some unorthodox attitudes such as overturning the concept that fundamental investing is safe. Towards the end of the book, he shares some opinions about how to live one's life, financially.

I have not done much justice to his book as I cannot reveal too much detail about the content to show you how good it is. However, suffice to say that I am very satisfied with this book as it has provided fodder for thought. The only flaws I can find are that some content does not seem to be intuitively organised (very minor issue) and that the price is a little high; it would have been perfect value for money $20-26. The book is targeted at all investors, but I feel it is unsuitable for beginners as Leong's discussions seem to require readers to have some rudimentary knowledge of the markets. In my opinion, the book does a good job challenging notions and one's thinking.

Found in NLB: Yes (old edition)
Recommended: Yes