Everything is going to be okay

I am not sure why I want to write these things down. But I seriously have a strong urge to write and share these stubborn feelings. These days I easily get bored. I was used to high-frequent pressured and tight schedule for the last few months. The last two weeks, with its enormous amount of free time, is not very relaxing for me to be honest. Somehow, I got lonely as much as during the time I was studying, if not more.

Anyway, I will adapt to this quickly as entertaining stuff is pretty easy to be found these days. The main topic of this post, however, is something a bit different. As I got a lot of time for myself: sleep a decent amount of time, go to the gym daily, start to eat healthily, etc, I also spent a great deal of time thinking and reflecting. While it is supposed to help me with my future, it was mainly about the past. So here it is. Just a mess of thoughts.

It has been one year. Crazily how quick time flies. I can still remember vividly that day. It was a long inter-continental flight followed by a ride by train from London back to my beloved Glasgow. I spent almost the whole day traveling back to my flat after a well-deserved trip. I was heart-broken, utterly sad, and crazily lonely.

If you have known me well for the last few years (or, even before that), you probably think of me as cheerful, carefree and, hopefully, charming. I think of myself the same way. However, during this time one year ago, I was under a very devasting time of my life. I barely want to do anything except, well, drinking. Right, I think I start to enjoy drinking during those days. If you are really close to me, you probably know the whole story and how miserable I was during the last summer. I am truly truly truly grateful for all the precious friends who have bear with me my whining and comforted me. It meant the world to me.

I don’t want to go into too much detailed of what happened for a good reason.

However, if I can travel back in time and meet myself, the best thing I could say for sure is:”Everything is going to be okay”.

So many times I wish everything to happen in different ways and I should have done these. However, it was meant to be. It cannot be undone. I suppose I have to learn to live with it and, even, be appreciated for what happened. Because, without those devasting time, I could have not become the man I am now. And I like myself now.

So let it be. Because everything is going to be okay.





So what is the next big thing?

Recently, I have just finished one of the most brutal tests in my life. The result is not out yet, and I am not quite sure that I am gonna pass this time. I am at the very anxious and uncertain state right now. Of course, after the first two times, I know it’s not gonna stay in my mind for long and I will busy doing weird shit as usual.

The thing is, this time it is different. Right in the very last 5 minutes in the exam room, when I have already double-checked my already double-checked answer, one very strang thought strikes me. There is high chance that this will be my last time I sit for the CFA exam, this could be it, the true end-game. Don’t get me wrong, I would be so so so so happy if I could pass this time and it would be the pain in the ass to go through another year of study. Plus, I am not absolutely confident in my performance anyway. The answer can go wrong in any part of it, and there is also a high probability that I am not gonna make it. Right now, I am just gonna hope for best and prepare for the worst.

However, if, even it is a very small chance, I pass the exam, what’s next? I have spent a great deal of my time on this journey. It has always been a significant activity for the last three year of my schedule. More importantly, I was really enjoying learning CFA program. What am I gonna learn next when this journey, hopefully, end?

I made a small list of what I wish to do. But just in case I jinx anything, I am not going to start anything before the result is out. For now, I will just relax and enjoy the 10 weeks before the result. The short-term target is probably to improve my fitness, to write this blog again (I truly enjoy writing things down, for no good reason), and to practice my English.

For the longer-term goal, I really wish to learn a new language and a musical instrument. Somehow, I feel like my life has always packed with finance stuff. I want to diversify my daily exposure to a new source of knowledge, different people and non-financial-related activities. Kind of exciting, isn’t it? Now I really want to pass the exam *finger cross*

Everyone needs someone

Is it strange that you start to enjoy doing stuff on your own? Since when did you find it super okay to go to the movie alone? Spending some time alone in a nice cafe also isn’t too bad, is it?

When you get older, somehow you feel lonelier. You start thinking about it and it makes sense. Now, as you get older, your friends from high school or college seem to be different, maybe because they have a very different career from yours. You can feel the distance between you two and the friendship, which once seemed inseparable, is now fragile.

Plus, when you reach twenty-something, you suddenly realize that it is extremely hard to find and make a new friend. Because being close to someone or building a friendship takes time and, when you reach adulthood, you probably don’t have enough time to get to know people the same way as you did in College or Highschool. I guess it was simply more natural to make friends back then. Friends come to you because they, well, want to be friend with you. Things were simple.



The little plan


I am currently in one of the cutest cafes in Hanoi. The weather was surprisingly warm today. The cafe has a very interesting name – The Little Plan. So, I thought it would be a good idea to be here and start writing down my study plan for the last level of CFA program. Turn out, it’s kind of noisy here. Regardless, I still manage to complete my study plan, more complex, more detailed, and, hopefully, more useful.

I have exactly 189 days or 27 weeks until the exam day. I still don’t know why this year CFA Institute decides to move the exam date 3 weeks later than previous years. But, obviously, I don’t mind at all. I am a bit short of time and behind the schedule for studying anyway. For the level I, I spent almost 600 hours on studying. For Level II, I pushed it to 700 hours. That was roughly 2.6 hours every day for 9 months. I am proud at first because of this, but now it just sounds like an inefficient way of learning. If others can make it around 300 hours, I should be able to do the same. That’s why I plan to reduce my study plan down to below 500 hours this time. To be precise, it is 486 hours. However, when I have a full-time job, things will get tougher.

Since I came back to Hanoi, a lot of things have happened. I am glad that things start moving, but also I have a lot of decisions to make very soon. I am very grateful to have friends from all of the places that could give me many suggestions and advice for my situation. I know it is really hard to be sure, but it would be very nice if I can make it to Sai Gon. I mean I love Hanoi, but I need to go. I know I need to go, this way or others.

By the way, I need to find a good cafe that I can come often. This does not seem like the one.

How to value a company, an asset or anything… theoretically

I spent a great deal of my time to learn how to put a price tag on everything. It’s not easy but it is not impossible, either. There are so many methods that experts can use to value or price an asset for their purposes. However, if you try to categorize all of the methods, it would be only three ways to value anything, well, in theory. Sadly, this post will probably not help you much in valuing a stock, I may try to cover that in the future at length. For now, let just focus on the three ways to value an asset.

The first way stresses how the assets were created, let call it the Cost Approach. Now, try to imagine that you want to buy a car, how are you going to determine the car’s fair value? Well, identifying the cost to build the car can be the answer. So, Cost Approach will try to look into every single step of making the car and conclude the total cost to create the car. For example, if all of the materials and parts cost the manufacturer about $1000, the price should not be lower than $1000. We can next try to identify the value of the technology, the uniqueness, and, maybe, the reputation of the manufacturer. Regardless, the Cost Approach focus mainly on how the expenses to create the asset. As you can easily see, this method has one significant disadvantage. It cannot reflect the opinions of the buyers. If the said car now is not popular and none wants to buy it, it will be very unlikely that the car could be sold at $1000.

As the result, the second approach focuses mainly on how the market participants’ opinions on the asset value, let call it Comparison Approach. In this approach, the expert will not try to identify the cost to create the asset, but rather focus on the value of the asset in comparison with other similar assets. Looking back at the previous example, the buyer now will try to compare the car with other cars from other manufacturers. The process of comparison may need some adjustments. For example, if a comparing car lacks an important feature (like GPRS or hybrid energy), its price should be adjusted up (because if it has that feature, its price will be higher). In other words, the price of an asset should not be higher than the average price of all of the similar assets. Otherwise, the buyer could just go ahead and buy one of the other assets. The main problem with Comparison Approach is that not every asset has an adequate collection of peer assets or some types of asset are simply so unique to compare (paintings, special real estate,…).

The last approach is arguably the best approach to value any asset since it focuses on the potential of the asset, let call it Discounted Cash Flow Approach. The name has explained the idea behind the approach. The Discounted Cash Flow Approach will try to identify all of the cash flows that the asset can generate in the future (even in perpetuity). “Cash flow” is not necessarily cash, it could be profit, dividends and any type of earnings that the analyst cares about. Come back to the car example, the buyer now will try to estimate the benefit of owning that car: how much money he or she could make out of the car? How much cost could be saved? If the owner decides to sell the car in 5 years from now, how much should he or she get? Then, when all of the cash flows are identified, the buyer will discount all of this cash flows back to present value and come to the fair value of the car. Now, let take a closer look at Discounted Cash Flow Approach. The process of identifying the cash flows focuses on the potential of the asset and, thus, the concluded value will reflect better the benefits of owning the asset. Also, the discounted rate will reflect the general expectation from the market and the opinions of market participants. It is, as the result, generally considered the best approach to value an asset…in theory.

Do you find something odd about all of the approaches I wrote? It seems like the better the valuation method is, the less we care about the asset itself. We start to care more about the opinions of other people and the benefits of owning the asset because we simply do not want to pay more than what most people agree to pay for the same asset. The valuation process becomes a game of guessing other opinions rather than focus on your own opinions. It is just like a classic example in finance. Imagine you are a judge in a beauty contest and you were asked who YOU think will be the winner. Now, to answer that question, you will not try to figure out who you think is the most beautiful but you will try to determine the lady that most of the judges will find the most beautiful. Thus, despite the question is about you, the answer is more likely from others.



Fun time is over. Get back to work.

Time flies. It has been more than a year since the last time I wrote something on my blog. It was a bit strange to me since the last year was one of the most crucial years of my life so far. All I can find is the draft for Efficient Market Hypothesis, which I planned to finish writing by the end of January.

I spent the last 14 months abroad, working on my master degree. I’ve always believed that one year abroad would change my life. Well, it did but the changes were simply not in the way I thought. I want to write so much about the UK, about studying in Glasgow and all of the great people I met, or about travel. However, I will leave all of that for the other time. Now, I just want to write about my current state.

I prepared so much for the come-back. I planned all of the things I will do when I get back to Hanoi. The plan was fine, my mind and body are just fine (jet lag does not affect me much). However, I simply feel empty and unmotivated. I do not know why but my home is simply not quite the same. Maybe I am different now. I feel like I leave something very important back in Glasgow and I am not sure how I should feel about it. I do not want to brag about the past or complain about the present but, honestly, now I just need a good cup of coffee with someone I could share everything. The problem is this “someone” can only be either one of two people. And, both of them are so far away from me.

Anyway, nothing I could do about that. Now, challenges are coming and they are tough. I got a skype interview with HR executive from a bank in next Tuesday. I had an assignment for a fund application need to be done in one week (which is now only 5 days left). I need to call the HR of my previous firm for my upcoming assessment. Also, CFA level 3 curriculum should be ready for me on Monday, so as my study plan. Things seem to start moving and moving nicely. However, I need to set my mood straight and focus on the prize.

The game is on and I should be ready for it.




One or two random thoughts before the dawn

I have a lot of good habits and skills. Yep, I can confidently say that. One of which is planning skill. Boys, I am good at planning and, a little less excellent, at following a plan. I almost always know what I need to do or start at what place. The thing is I had decided where I want to be in the next few years and the rest is pretty basic, working hard toward it. If I see an opportunity to achieve better, I grab it and adjust my plan with a little higher goal. I feel fine with the fact that I can often find useful things to do, books to read, stuff to learn anytime. I even sometimes call myself positive and visionary. Maybe I really am. The thing is, deep down in my heart, I am scared. I am scared of the possibilities. I am scared of being lost. At those negatively honest moments, I even think that all of my plans are just some kind of defensive ways so that I can feel safe. The problem with the specific plans is that they are amazingly useless against unexpected events. Occasionally, they can turn upside down your entire plan.

Recently, I get myself some alone time. The reason is pretty predictable, my plan does not work out as it is. I have a week off plan, not a big deal. I spent some quality time taking care of myself. However, somehow I still feel so empty inside. It is really strange to me since I always love doing what I am doing right now.

Well, even this post is strange to me because I have never published a post without a clear message.

A glimpse at Brexit

It was a hot summer day in late June of 2016. There was an event that most of the traders and investors observing minutes by minutes, just like a football match. The UK was on a referendum about Leave or Remain in the EU. I will not try to analyse in detail the general picture, I was just trying to show my experience on one of the most important days in 2016. Continue reading “A glimpse at Brexit”

Money laundering and Panama Papers scandal

Just in the other day, when I was having lunch with my dad, he asked me about Panama Paper and told me how confused he was with all of that stuff. I was a bit surprise since this is quite a complicated subject, which I did not expect my dad to be aware of. So, as a finance enthusiast, I tried my best to explain it to my father. I realized that there are a lot of issues around us that we want to know but it’s just too complicated or irrelevant to understand and care about. I have always wanted to do something small but useful for people like my dad, my younger brother, my nephew, or anyone who want to know more about finance. However, I, of course, still need to learn and practice to make it happens.

Continue reading “Money laundering and Panama Papers scandal”