5 Reasons Young Singaporeans Invest in Exchange-Traded Funds

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Investing is a great way of setting up a better future for yourself. Many young people in Singapore are actively looking into different investment options that will allow them to passively grow their hard-earned money. If you’re in the same boat, you’ve probably heard of exchange-traded funds. ETFs are investment funds that are listed and traded on an exchange, much like stocks. Just like mutual funds, ETFs offer pooled investment options to investors. Unlike traditional mutual funds, however, ETFs can be traded throughout the day, not just at the end of the trading day.

Many young professionals look at ETF Singapore trading opportunities because these investment instruments have qualities that complement their lifestyle and financial situation. ETF trading allows investors to enjoy the following:

Relatively Lower Cost

The lack of substantial funding is one of the common barriers that prevent young professionals from checking out various investment channels. Newbie investors in Singapore will be delighted to know that ETFs have lower fees compared to mutual funds, making them more accessible to those who want to gain exposure to different investment channels without spending a lot of money. Additionally, many online brokers who mainly deal with ETFs offer opportunities for commission-free trading, and they even extend this service to investors with small accounts. This is a clear advantage considering that fees and commissions can deduct a significant amount from a beginner investor’s account balance.

Opportunities for Diversification

Because investing in ETFs is more affordable, traders can easily explore the different types of ETFs that they can include in their portfolio. The most popular types of ETFs are stock, commodity, and bond. Stock ETFs are often meant for long-term growth, commodity ETFs refer to raw goods that can be bought or sold like coffee and gold, while bond ETFs provide the investor with regular cash payments. There are also international ETFs for those who want to try their hand at building a diverse portfolio that includes foreign investments, and sector ETFs that allow traders to invest in specific companies belonging to different sectors and industries.

Trading Flexibility

One thing that differentiates ETFs from mutual funds is that the former allows investors to buy and sell throughout the day. Investors don’t need to wait at the end of the day to find out exactly how much they paid for the shares they bought and how much they received for the shares they sold. If a young investor spots a losing investment, for example, they can exit in a snap and preserve their capital. There’s no need to wait until the end of the business day to cut this losing asset from one’s portfolio. In turn, the ease of completing ETF transactions makes a lot of difference when it comes to how one manages their investments.

Different Management Structure

By using ETFs, investors can easily shift from one type of asset to another within the same day or hour. Those who want to trade more actively even have the option of fine-tuning the allocation of assets in their portfolio throughout the day if they so choose—though this strategy is not usually recommended. The bottom line is that ETFs give young investors, particularly those who are not familiar with the intricacies of how exchanges work, room to grow and change up their portfolio management style as they become more acquainted with the trading environment. This, in turn, makes it easy for newbie investors to explore and adopt strategies that will help them grow their money.  

Inclusion of Innovative Products

ETF issuers, in general, are quick to embrace new products and innovations. They’re not ones to shy away from presenting investors with opportunities to invest in up-and-coming sectors. In 2020, many ETF issuers in Singapore were presenting options in the biotech sector, which is expected to draw in a lot of investors this year as biotech companies continue to make strides in developing and rolling out COVID vaccines. Technology is another hot topic among investors, particularly now that many companies are making the transition to remote work setups. The awareness that many ETF issuers are showing when it comes to in-demand sectors continues to attract forward-looking investors of all ages.

Is ETF the Best Option for You?

Take note that just like all investment instruments, an ETF also comes with its drawbacks. It can still be affected by social and economic instability, and depending on the scope of one’s investments, it can still be prone to volatility. Investors who are interested in checking out ETFs would do well to take the time and effort to get to know the limitations that come with this type of investment fund.

If you’re a new trader who’s looking for an affordable means of checking out how the market works, though, investing in ETFs is a great way to do your research. With experience, strategy, and a bit of luck, there’s no stopping you from growing your money using this investment channel.

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Singapore REIT Fundamental Analysis Comparison Table Jan 24 – 2021

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Technical Analysis of FTSE ST REIT Index (FSTAS8670)

FTSE ST Real Estate Investment Trusts (FTSE ST REIT Index) increased from 854.19 to 877.59 (+2.74%) compared to last month update. Currently the Singapore REIT index has started an uptrend after broke the resistance of about 852 and 874.

  • As for now, Short term direction: Up trend. (All 20D, 50D and 200D SMA have started trending up)
  • Immediate Support at 874 (Resistance turned Support)
  • Immediate Resistance at 900, followed by 940.

Previous chart on FTSE ST REIT index can be found in the last post Singapore REIT Fundamental Comparison Table on Dec 20, 2020.

Fundamental Analysis of 40 Singapore REITs

The following is the compilation of 40 Singapore REITs with colour coding of the Distribution Yield, Gearing Ratio and Price to NAV Ratio.

  • Note 1: The Financial Ratio are based on past data and there are lagging indicators.
  • Note 2: This REIT table takes into account the dividend cuts due to COVID-19 outbreak. Yield is calculated trailing twelve months (ttm), therefore REITs with delayed payouts might have lower displayed yields, thus yield displayed might be lower.
  • Note 3: REITs highlighted in blue have been updated with the latest the Q4 2020 business updates.
  • Note 4: Capital Mall Trust has merged with Capitaland Commercial Trust and has became Capitaland Integrated Commercial Trust (C38U). Capitaland Commercial Trust is delisted.

(Source: https://stocks.cafe/kenny/advanced)

Do sign up for the REIT screener at only ~$8.33 per month! (limited time only). Normal price $120 per year.

  • Price/NAV increased to 1.01
    • Increased from 0.98 in December 2020
    • Singapore Overall REIT sector is at about fair value now
  • TTM Distribution Yield increased to 5.45%
    • Increased from 5.30% in December 2020
    • After Q3 earning release (and Q4 earnings release for 6 REITs) after factoring in the dividend cut impact caused by COVID-19).
    • About 22.5% of Singapore REITs (9 out of 40) have distribution yields of above 7%.
    • Do take note that these yield numbers are based on current prices taking into account the delayed distribution/dividend cuts due to COVID-19.
  • Gearing Ratio at 38.19%. 
    • Increased from 37.63% in December 2020
    • In general, Singapore REITs sector gearing ratio is healthy but started to increase due to the reduction of the valuation of portfolios and increase in borrowing.
  • Most overvalued REITs (based on Price/NAV)
    • Keppel DC REIT (Price/NAV = 2.45)
    • Parkway Life (Price/NAV = 2.08)
    • Mapletree Industrial Trust (Price/NAV = 1.70)
    • Mapletree Logistics Trust (Price/NAV = 1.68)
    • Ascendas REIT (Price/NAV = 1.47)
    • No change from December 2020 for top 5 overvalued REITs ranking
  • Most undervalued REITs (based on Price/NAV)
    • Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust (Price/NAV = 0.23)
    • First REIT (Price/NAV = 0.49)
    • Starhill Global REIT (Price/NAV = 0.64)
    • OUE Commercial REIT (Price/NAV = 0.65)
    • ARA Hospitality Trust (Price/NAV = 0.69)
    • BHG REIT (Price/NAV = 0.71)
  • Highest Distribution Yield REITs (ttm)
    • First REIT (16.94%)
    • Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust (12.62%)
    • KepPacOak US REIT (8.75%)
    • Sasseur REIT (7.61%)
    • EC World REIT (7.51%)
    • ARA LOGOS Logistic Trust (7.48%)
    • Reminder that these yield numbers are based on current prices taking into account delayed distribution/dividend cuts due to COVID-19.
    • Some REITs opted for semi-annual reporting and thus no quarterly DPU was announced.
  • Highest Gearing Ratio REITs
    • Eagle Hospitality Trust (65.5%) * Filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection *
    • First REIT (49%)
    • ARA Hospitality Trust (43%)
    • Lippo Malls Retail Trust (42.5%)
    • ESR REIT (41.6%)
    • Suntec REIT (41.5%)
    • Capitaland Integrated Commercial Trust (40.6%)
    • ARA Logos Logistic Trust (40.5%)
    • OUE Commercial REIT (40.3%)
    • Mapletree NAC Trust (40.1%)
  • Total Singapore REIT Market Capitalisation = S$107.2 Billion.
    • Increased from S$103.5 Billion in December 2020.
  • Biggest Market Capitalisation REITs:
    • Capitaland Integrated Commercial Trust ($14.89B)
    • Ascendas REIT ($11.75B)
    • Mapletree Logistics Trust ($8.35B)
    • Mapletree Commercial Trust ($7.23B)
    • Mapletree Industrial Trust ($6.86B)
  • Smallest Market Capitalisation REITs:
    • Eagle Hospitality Trust ($119M)
    • First REIT ($198M)
    • United Hamsphire REIT ($286M)
    • BHG Retail REIT ($301M)
    • ARA Hospitality Trust ($386M)
    • Sabana REIT ($395M)
  • Eagle Hospitality Trust is currently suspended

Disclaimer: The above table is best used for “screening and shortlisting only”. It is NOT for investing (Buy / Sell) decision. To learn how to use the table and make investing decision, Sign up next REIT Investing Workshop here to learn how to choose a fundamentally strong Singapore REIT for long term investing for passive income generation.

Top 20 Performers of the Month (Source: https://stocks.cafe/kenny/advanced)

SG 10 Year & US 10 Year Government Bond Yield

  • SG 10 Year: 1.004%
  • US 10 Year: 1.09%


Fundamentally the whole Singapore REITs is close to fair value now based on simple average on the Price/NAV. Below is the market cap heat map for the past 1 month. We can see from here Hospitality sector is taking a breather after a strong run up on the previous month, and other small & medium cap REITs (e.g. Keppel REIT, Cromwell European REIT, ARA Logos Logistic Trust, BHG Retail REIT, Prime US REIT) which are playing catch up now due to cheap valuation.

(Source: https://stocks.cafe/kenny/overview)

Yield spread (reference to 10 year Singapore government bond of 1.004%) widen slightly from 4.407% to 4.449%. However, the risk premium are still attractive to accumulate Singapore REITs in stages to lock in the current price and long term yield after the recovery. Moving forward, it is expected the increase of DPU due to the recovery of global economy.

Technically the REIT Index broke the resistance and started an uptrend. Current macro factors such as low interest rate environment, aggressive M&A for future DPU growth and recovery of global economic support the bullish breakout.

Note: This above analysis is for my own personal research and it is NOT a buy or sell recommendation. Investors who would like to leverage on my extensive research and years on Singapore REIT investing experience can approach me separately for REIT Portfolio Consultation.

Kenny Loh is a Senior Consultant and REITs Specialist of Singapore’s top Independent Financial Advisor. He helps clients construct diversified portfolios consisting of different asset classes from REITs, Equities, Bonds, ETFs, Unit Trusts, Private Equity, Alternative Investments and Fixed Maturity Funds to achieve an optimal risk adjusted return. Kenny is also a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER, SGX Academy REIT Trainer, Certified IBF Trainer of Associate REIT Investment Advisor (ARIA) and also invited speaker of REITs Symposium and Invest Fair.  You can join my Telegram channel #REITirement – SREIT Singapore REIT Market Update and Retirement related news. https://t.me/REITirement

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Kenny Loh @ Invest 360, the largest regional market outlook event

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Will S-REITs continue to rally? How will the evolving Covid-19 pandemic affect S-REITs?


Organised by ShareInvestor and InvestingNote, this 4-day event contains live content from Key Opinion Leaders and Invited Speakers from the region. There are also first-hand insights and interaction with industry experts, including Kenny Loh, REITs Specialist.



Register for the largest regional market outlook event now!

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