Ever wondered how a successful entrepreneur got to where he is today? The staple for success stories (that most of us are familiar with) usually begin with exceptional grades in school. But what if you are not like the rest of such cookie-cutter success stories?
Over the weekend, a few of us from the team committed both days to MAPIC – the Mencius Advanced Property Investment Course (MAPIC). Dubbed as a comprehensive, balanced and highly practical programme, it’s something we can definitely vouch for after going through the initial 2-day session. Over the span of the 2 days, we were exposed to many creative methods on investing in property, from acquiring various forms of real estate, managing them as well as crafting the exit strategy.
And if 2 days are not enough for you, you’d be glad to know that there are currently over 40 value-added classes being offered on rotation. These classes range from anything related to the property cycle, be it practical application methods on analysing real properties as case studies or even other property related services such as conveyancing or even the practice of designing and constructing buildings.
So, what does this have to do with success stories, you might be wondering? The man behind the MAPIC programme is none other than Dr Patrick Liew, whose rag-to-riches story is an awe-inspiring one. From someone who was diagnosed with ADHD and found it impossible to concentrate in class, he is now a PhD holder. He was also involved in listing 3 different companies till date – as founder and major shareholder of Success Resources which was listed on the ASX; as CEO and chairman of HSR Global Ltd listed on the SGX; and as regional CEO of a strategic advisory firm that was listed on NYSE.
With such a track record, it is no wonder he has bagged many accolades over the years. Despite his busy schedule, he still makes it a point to partake in humanitarian and charity work, regularly organising social missions.
We had a chance to catch him for a short Q&A session, and here’s how the conversation went:
1. Can you tell us more about yourself, and how you got to where you are today?
I’m grateful and thankful for Singapore, a country that had to go through a difficult birth and was almost stillborn. Through these challenging but glorious years, it has grown to be widely admired and a model to many developing countries. I’m especially thankful for three gifts that Singapore has provided to me and many others.
First, Singapore is a land of dreams. I was born in poverty and grew up under difficult circumstances. While I was growing up, I did not remember having any toys. Many of my clothing were hand-me-downs. I did not even have a proper bed of my own until I was 21. Every evening, I had to retrieve a 3cm thick woven straw mat from a cupboard, lay it on the floor, and spent the night on it.
At a young age, I had to do part-time work, including helping to run a dinky little stall at Sungei Road to earn extra pocket money, and to stay alive. Despite all the challenges along the way, I’ve never felt like I was in need. I have never felt I needed anything more to feel secure and happy.
When I started working, I did not have an academic degree. Thankfully, Singapore is a land of equal opportunity and endless possibilities. I was regularly promoted with substantial jumps in my salary and became a manager at a young age. I concluded my working career as the CEO of the region for a multinational company.
Singapore is a land where anyone can dream of all possibilities. A land with all the building blocks to turn possibilities into realities. That’s why I had the courage to launch myself into the world of entrepreneurship and investment, and persevere through a long and arduous journey to find my place under the sun. Singapore helps to keep the fire of my dream burning within me!
Through it all, I was given the opportunity and resources to complete a tertiary education, including the coursework for a bachelor degree, two masters and a doctorate degree.
2. When did your career in the real estate industry begin?
In the past twelve months, I have travelled to more than ten countries. And thanks to the Internet, I continue to live a purposeful, productive, and fulfilling life.
As one of the original “kampung” (village) boy who grew up in poverty, I would never imagine that one day I would be able to travel all over the ground and enjoy meaningful, exciting and fulfilling work.
Despite growing up in one of the toughest neighbourhoods and going through immense challenges, I was able to receive a decent education.
My life in the working world started when I ran a dingy stall, selling jeans and t-shirts at the now defunct Sungei Road flea market. It was at Sungei Road that I first started to hone my entrepreneurial and investment skills and began to develop what I call the Investpreneur or Entrevestor wealth-creation model.
As an employee, I was able to rise from the lowest rung of the corporate ladder to become the CEO of the region for a multinational company.
Then, I took the dive and started on my investpreneurial journey.
Since then, I’ve been involved in taking three companies public in three different securities exchanges and in three different countries. I had the opportunity to run a global business and have experienced many great moments in life.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to help start at least six charity centres and participated in many humanitarian and philanthropic initiatives.
Today, I enjoy the freedom to pursue the best of life. My heart is still burning with passion to dream big dreams and challenge the impossible. Everything said and done, I’ve always said that you can take me out of the “kampung” but you can’t take the “kampung” out from me.
For all that has happened in my life, I know that I’ve been blessed. I’m thankful for all the help, support, honour and opportunities that were given to me.
Therefore, I have chosen to live simply and give back as much as I can as a way of paying backward and forward.
For all the blessings in my life, I’m eternally grateful to God, my family, and all the wonderful friends, associates and strangers who have supported me one way or another on my journey.
3. What are some of the milestones you have reached on a personal level?
Gratefulness is the foundation for living a life of happiness and well-being. As part of my regular activities, I count my blessings and lift myself up through gratefulness and thankfulness.
Let me share some of these blessings with you.
I’m grateful that I was born in a poor family. It grounded me to the realities of life.
I’m grateful that I was blessed with ADHD. It inspired me to cope with this and many other setbacks to become a stronger and more resilient person.
I’m grateful that I did not excel in my studies. It empowered me to connect with ordinary people.
I’m grateful my parents could not afford to support me to complete a university education. It compelled me to learn throughout my life and even complete a doctoral degree.
I’m grateful that I’m not smart and so I worked harder in the workplace. Working hard helped me to rise through rank and file to become executive chairman of an MNC.
I’m grateful that I failed badly when I first became an entrepreneur. It helped me develop a never-give-up spirit.
I’m grateful that at the peak of my business, I crashed and lost everything. It forced me to redesign the business model and eventually listed the company on Singapore Exchange.
I’m grateful that I went through a few near-death experiences. They helped me value life and motivate me to live life to the fullest.
I’m grateful that I was once kidnapped. It awoken me to realise that what matters in life are our Creator and the people and environment around me.
I’m grateful that I went through many painful experiences. It enlightened me to understand and reach out to the last, the least, lonely and the lost.
I’m grateful for my life. It helped me to chase after the next dream and enjoy every moment in the journey towards fulfilling the dream.
I’m grateful to God. Without Him, I can’t have achieved anything.
4. How would you describe the market today?
The government has announced yet another round of cooling measures that increased the Additional Buyers Stamp Duty and tightened loan-to-value (LTV) limits on residential property purchases.
How then, should you respond?
As a result, many buyers rushed to some show flats last night to book their units before midnight. If you study the private residential property cycle, the previous peak was in February 2013.
Then the market started to go south. However in November 2016, the market started to rise. From the end of 2017, the market started to rise steeply, mainly due to marketing drivers, pent-up demands, and property sentiments.
Sentiments can drive the property market stronger than demand and supply forces – but only on a short term basis. Realities will soon hit home. The writing is on the wall. For political currency’s sake, the ruling government will never allow a runaway market.
From a socioeconomic perspective, the ruling government wants the market to grow in tandem with the economy.
The current perception is that a house is generally a place to stay and not an asset to bet on for higher than reasonable returns.
The property market is currently oversupplied and the rental market is still soft.
In the mid to long term, supply and demand factors will hit home. The number of units that are potentially available for sale may weigh on the current over-supplied market for about four years.
The big elephant in the property room is the rising interest rates. Many property buyers have not factored in this possibility.
Buyers think they can save on the additional 5% of ABSD. That’s dwelling on the expense side without due consideration for final returns.
Developers have been known to discount prices to drive sales, compensate for increased ABSD, and beat Qualifying Certificate charges. Buyers rushing in may end up being left in the cold. These are buyers who allow their emotions to take over, and they may end up being hurt.
It has happened before and it will happen again.
Meanwhile, there are property gems in the secondary market that are a better buy than many new launches. There’ll be a growing number of desperate sellers when they try to rent out their properties in an oversupplied market. Also, astute investors may get better returns from selected overseas property markets without all the unpredictable heartaches, worries and concerns.
As I have always taught in class, the age-old principles still apply.
Invest with your head and not with your heart.
Fall in love with the numbers and not with the properties.
Profit is not above the additional expenses that are incurred as a result of the cooling measures. It is about whether the property investor can acquire an under-priced or undervalued property that can generate stable, secure and sustainable capital and rental gains despite having to incur the additional expenses.
In this regard, as a result of the uncertainty in the property market, there will be more desperate sellers and less competition to pursue good buys. In addition, there are also property gems that can be found in the industrial, commercial and overseas property markets
5. What do you do in your free time?
Reading, interaction, finding solutions for socioeconomic problems, helping in charity organisations, going to the gym.
6. What is one interesting fact about yourself that people don’t usually know?
I was blessed with “ADHD” and had to repeat one year in my formal educational process.
Yet, I fulfilled my lifelong dream to eventually earn a doctorate degree despite the fact that many people believe that ADHD-blessed persons can never study and pass their exams.
I was a serial business failure, but I eventually helped to list three different companies in three different securities exchanges in their respective countries.
Dr Patrick Liew has kindly agreed to give readers of Property Quotient an exclusive 3-hour seminar to help kickstart your property investment journey. Pick up the tools of the trade, such as:
- How to identify undervalued, under-appreciated properties that you can easily turn hands for profit
- How to minimise risks without cutting into your profits
- How to invest in a property with minimum money down
- How to invest in properties which gives not only capital appreciation, but also high rental yields? (i.e. 8% to 12%)
This exclusive sharing session will be happening on Thursday, 12 September 2019, at 7pm.
Limited seats available! Secure your seat by signing up here today.