You’ve heard this investment advice before: buy undervalued stocks, purchase STI ETF regularly. Tada! After 20 years, you will have enough money for your retirement. This story, if you ever believed, is more fantasy than reality.

The truth is, a successful investment is challenging, especially when it is associated with your retirement.  This is because we are all human beings, and we always make emotional decisions without a rational analysis.

Take the recent stock market volatility as an example, it had a roller coaster ride, how many of you stay invested without feeling the chill at the back?

With a decade of wealth management experiences, I summarize the 3 inner challenges that you must face when investing for retirement. If you can overcome these 3 “In”s, you have won half of the battle.


The old adage “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” certainly applies to be invest-ready, but have you make that critical first step?

Many people, including those who work in the financial industry, have spent hundreds of hours reading financial news, books and blogs, attending courses, and they have yet put a single dime into the investment market. Their reason?

“I have to know the market before I invest.”

Think about it, when you set off for work every morning, you may have to walk through heavy rain or be stuck in a traffic jam, but you always reach your office, right? Do you need to wait for all the traffic lights to turn green before leaving your house, or do you set off and deal with the traffic while travelling to your destination?

Here is my point, working towards retirement is a daunting task, the destination is what you need to be sure about, not the first step. Your first step may be right or wrong, it doesn’t really matter, you just have to deal with it.

The volatility and uncertainty of investment markets are always there, but you can always survive it through hypnosis.

But one thing is sure, if you let inertia take charge, you will run out of the time of investing for retirement. Because the market doesn’t care about when you retire, it moves on.

The best way to overcome the investment procrastination is to have a plan, and I have laid out the step-by-step guide here for you.

  1. Get real about your retirement needs and start early
  2. Know how much you need
  3. Invest for the future, not in the future
  4. Expect the unexpected

Click here to read the complete guide.


Just start investing is not enough. You must beware of the inefficiency lurking within your investment portfolio.

In the course of portfolio management for my clients, I have reviewed many portfolios. Most of the investments are not even a portfolio, but a list of securities purchased over the years. The common two mistakes about these portfolios are

  1. Over-concentration: most people will invest more in what has made money for them. For example, if a person made a fortune by cashing out his property, he will reinvest all the proceeds into another one. If a person has received a good income from certain stocks, they will keep on buying the same stock. The problem is that no good investment lasts forever. When the tide changes, you will find yourself swimming naked.
  2. Sold the winners and kept the losers: if your investment made 10%, would you worry that you will lose the profit if you don’t sell it? If you just find out that your investment lost 30%, would you cut the loss, or will you hope the price will come back and you can at least break even in the future? How about 50% loss?

These inefficiencies are not only an investment problem but also a time problem. Because when you invest for your retirement, you have a defined time horizon. A permanent loss of capital or opportunity cost due to the holding of losing positions will only push your desired retirement age further.

The best way to deal with this is by forming a systematic investment strategy. Ask yourself, “why did I buy this stock or fund in the first place? Do my rationales still hold today?”

Any investment idea should either

  • Reduce the investment risk of the portfolio OR
  • Increase the mean return of the portfolio

My approach to this is through momentum investing, you can read more about my investment methodology here.


Did your investment make you lose your sleep at night? Have you ever lost faith in your investment which you were very confident to start with?

Because investing for retirement is such a long-haul process, you can’t gamble your way out. The world is changing at a lightning speed and the traditional buy and hold strategy no longer works.

What you need is not a permanent portfolio, but an investment philosophy which is congruent to your risk profiles and aligned with the economic climate to reap maximum rewards.

The solution is to formulate a strategy so that you have a compass for your future. When the journey gets tough from time to time, you will stay on track.

If you don’t want to face these challenges by yourself or you don’t know where to start, seek the help of a financial adviser who specializes in retirement investment planning. You can submit the request using the online form below.

Let’s recap…

Now you know the 3 enemies you must face when it comes to investing for retirement: Inaction, Inefficiency and Incongruity.

You only have one retirement, so make sure you are serious about it. If you find what I talked about making sense, share this article by clicking the share button below.

About the Author

Ivan Guan is the author of the popular book "FIRE Your Retirement". He is an independent financial adviser with more than a decade of knowledge and experience in providing financial advisory services to both individuals and businesses. He specializes in investment planning and portfolio management for early retirement. His blog provides practical financial tips, strategies and resources to help people achieve financial freedom. Follow his Telegram Channel to join the FIRE community.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This does not reflect the official position of any agency, organization, employer or company. Refer to full disclaimers here.

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