Permanent Portfolio – How to Implement It In Singapore

A few readers have shown interest in constructing their permanent portfolio. Since most of the information about permanent portfolio are based in the US, there is a need for Singaporeans to use other financial products that are tailored to our needs. During the interview with Craig Rowland, he highlighted that permanent portfolio is designed to work in your own country, so as not to assume the currency risk. To recap, the permanent portfolio consists of four components with equal weightage: Stocks, Bonds, Cash and Gold. Stocks Singaporeans can consider the STI ETF listed on SGX to form the stocks component in their portfolio. It is denominated in SGD but it is focused on Singapore and a few regional companies. It does not have the diversification of international stocks like the Vanguard Total World Stock Index Fund. I would say that the stock market is pretty much correlated despite of geographical location. If you are comfortable focusing on Singapore, you can stick with STI ETF. Alternatively, you can divide the stock component into STI ETF and VT, to take the advantages of both funds.
ETF Straits Times Index ETF (ES3) Straits Times Index SingTelDBSOCBCUOBJardi ne MathesonKepCorp Hong Kong Land Vanguard Total World Stock Index Fund (VT) FTSE Global All CAP Index AppleExxon MobilMicrosoftIBMRoy al Dutch ShellGeneral Electric

Tracked Index Top ten holdings(as of May/Jun 12)

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F&N Wilmar Jardine Strategic

Chevron AT&T Nestle Wal-Mart

Exchange Fund Cost Denomination

SGX 0.3% SGD

NYSE 0.25% USD

Bonds Singapore is one of the countries in the world with little or no debt. With a triple A rating from many credit rating agencies, Singapore Government Securities (SGS) Bonds can be considered the safest securities in the world. Since 8 July 2011, we can buy and sell SGS bonds over SGX through our brokers, and store the securities in our Central Depository Account. This is convenient for you to rebalance your portfolio when required. For the purpose of permanent portfolio, you should buy the longest duration bond available in the market. Currently, there is a 30-year bond that will expire in 1 Apr 2042 –see the list of SGS bonds. Alternatively, you can buy ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund listed on SGX. It buy and hold SGS Bonds as well as bonds issued by statutory boards such as HDB and LTA. I would think that the fund cost of 0.2% is unnecessary considering it is so easy to buy and sell SGS bonds over the exchange.
SGS Bonds Tracked Index Nil ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund iBoxx ABF Singapore Bond Index SGX 0.2%

Exchange Fund Cost

SGX Nil

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Denomination

SGD

SGD

Cash There are a few options to keep this component of your portfolio liquid. First, put the money in a savings account. Of course, the interest earned will be miserable. Second, put money in short term fixed deposit or short term SGS bonds (less than a year). But the money would be locked during the period of deposit. Third, put in POEMS Cash Management Account (basically your idle money in your POEMS brokerage account will be automatically invested in Phillip Money Market Fund). This is the most convenient as you can re-balance (buy and sell stocks/bonds/gold) in your brokerage account without the need to shift money around. However, it does charge a management fee of 0.45%. Currently, my preference is to stick to option 3 in favour of convenience.
Bank Savings Deposits Tracked Index Nil Fixed Deposits/Short term bonds Nil Phillip Money Market Fund No index but put money in short term saving deposits and government debt securities. Phillip Brokerage Account 0.45% SGD

Where to transact? Fund Cost Denomination

Banks

Banks for Fixed Deposits and SGX for bonds Nil SGD

Nil SGD

Gold If you have a large portfolio, it would make sense to buy gold bullions. This is because it is very difficult to re-balance the portfolio since you cannot cut
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part of the bullion to sell it. I would recommend gold ETF for starters. One can buy the SPDR Gold ETF listed in SGX. This is the same fund listed in NYSE. Personally, I would prefer to buy iShares Gold ETF listed on NYSE as it charges a lower management fee.
SPDR Gold ETF Exchange Fund Cost Denomination SGX 0.4% USD iShares Gold ETF NYSE 0.22% USD

Conclusion It is possible to construct a low cost permanent portfolio using financial products listed on SGX and a Phillip Cash Management Account.
Weightage Stocks Bonds Cash Gold 25% 25% 25% 25% Product STI ETF SGS Bonds Phillip Money Market Fund SPDR Gold ETF Cost 0.3% Nil 0.45% 0.4%

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