Dr Wealth’s Alvin Chow: ‘I Turned My Passion Into a Mission’
“Alvin, what do you want in life?” he asked.
I was quick to reply, “Financial Freedom.”
“What are you going to do after you have achieved Financial Freedom?” he pressed further.
“Travel the world!” I quipped.
“And what are you going to do after you have done that?”
I was at a loss for words and could not find an answer within myself. Dennis Ng, one of my very first mentors who is an investment expert, went on to explain that financial freedom is but a means to an end.
I wasn’t born a genius stock market operator, but I’ve always loved investing in stocks and my passion for it began during my university days.
Wanting to understand the ins and outs, I immersed myself into the world of investing and paid a lot of ‘school fees’ to learn the craft. Friday evenings were spent at Borders at Wheelock Place where I browsed and read books on the subject into the wee hours.
Once I dutifully completed my studies, the subsequent bond from the Air Force kept me grounded from my youthful idealism. In hindsight, it allowed me to learn about the real world and also provided me with a decent salary, much of which I saved up for my investment capital.
For years I reflected and pondered over my conversation with Dennis, in search of finding my purpose in life. My bond was fast coming to an end and I was faced with two options: either continue to advance my career by accepting a promotion that was dangled in front of me, or resign and step into the unknown.
The logical choice would be to stay on as being in the military offered greater financial security and I wouldn’t have to worry about my next paycheck. However, on the flip side, I wouldn’t have known what other experiences lay ahead of me if I did not step out of my comfort zone. Not wanting to grow old with regret, I took a leap of faith and quit my job.
From that moment on, I was in control of my life.
Despite the liberating feeling of being ‘free’, I knew that I wanted to continue investing in stocks and share what I enjoyed doing the most with others. With a few friends, we started Dr Wealth without a business plan. It was a risky move, but I followed my heart in pursuit of something more fulfilling. It was then that I realised what Dennis’ words truly meant. Till today, I’m very grateful to him for teaching me the most important lesson in life.
Initially, I ran the company with nothing but passion. However, as the company grew, so did the team as well as the roles and responsibilities. The stakes are higher when your employees’ livelihood depends on the success of the business and when you have to uphold your reputation to customers who’ve signed up courses hoping to learn from credible trainers.
From my interactions with our students, I encountered many instances of how a lack of investment knowledge can cause them to chase returns and overlook the downside of taking such risks. Others fell prey to scammers who promised them the sky, but at the end of the day, made off with their hard-earned retirement egg nest. I also saw how minority shareholders ended up drawing the short straw when companies and the management made self-serving decisions, and how some representatives in the financial industry were peddling products to meet their sales target without any regard for the wellbeing of their clients.
All these experiences have made me aware that many people lack the financial literacy to make sound choices. Singapore is a capitalistic society. Undeniably, money will always remain as the foremost concern for many Singaporeans due to rising costs and inflation. And without adequate long-term financial planning, one lives in constant worry. In light of that, our mission is to help Singaporeans alleviate their financial worries by teaching and empowering them to make smarter and better decisions, so that they lead happier and stress-free lives.
In the process of chasing financial freedom, I discovered that helping others achieve financial freedom instead was much more invaluable and I hope that others can turn their passion into something bigger than themselves.