Behind The Scenes at TFC [Chills 30]

If you have been listening to TFC, the guest for this week’s Chills with TFC should be no stranger to you. He is none other than the Chief Financial Coconut himself: Reggie! This is a special TFC episode as Andrew invites Reggie to reflect on The Financial Coconut journey thus far. How did TFC actually start? What is the production process like? What were some ups and downs in Reggie’s podcasting journey? Why is he handing Chills over to Andrew? Listen to Reggie’s innermost thoughts and reflections in Chills 30!

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podcast Transcript

Andrew: This is a very special episode because the host is going to be interviewed. That’s right, Reggie is taking the hot seat. I’m going to ask him some of the most frequently asked questions from the community. We will also talk about investing, personal finance and podcasting. Let’s find out how this podcast started. Where is it going? I will also get Reggie to spill the beans about some of the guests who’ve been on the show. So stay tuned! 

Expand Full Transcript

Hello. My name is Andrew and welcome to another Chill with TFC session. In this series, we hope to bring on interesting and relevant people to help us learn better from various perspectives. Life is not always about learning from the people you agree with. Different perspectives shape us to be more well-rounded in our thinking. 

So in our pursuit of the life we love while managing our finances as well, our guest for today is the host of Singapore’s first financial literacy podcast, The Financial Coconut. That’s the podcast you’re listening to right now. This podcast first went live in October 2019, and it is now one of the top podcasts in Singapore. My guest today believes that personal finance can be chill, clear and sustainable for all. Let’s welcome Chief Financial Coconut Reggie! 

Reggie: Yes… so weird sitting on this side. 

Andrew: How does it feel to be sitting in the hot seat? Reggie… this is the Reggie episode guys. 

Reggie: It feels weird because usually I’m in command, right? I’m on the side where I’m leading the questions, I’m asking the things and all these people are just… in my hands. Now I’m like hmm… now it feels a little bit weird huh?

Andrew: I would think of this as conversation. It’s still a conversation between both of us. There’s no one leading… 

Reggie: It is, it is. 

Andrew: It is chill. 

Reggie: It is, but you know it just feels weird. I don’t know. There’s a power seat and then there’s the guest’s seat. I’m on the guest seat now which is the more comfortable one. But yeah, it’s just… 

Andrew: I do want our listeners to get to know more about you because TFC is very conversational. If you have been listening… even for just a few episodes, right? You can piece together Reggie as a person, but you have to listen to episodes here and there.

Instead of doing that, I’m just going to give you this episode. All you need is to listen to this episode to know everything there is to know about Reggie. 

Reggie: Yes. Once and for all, get out all the questions, right? Yes, people keep asking me the same questions every interview I go, my goodness. 

Andrew: Exactly, which is why we also asked in the Telegram group like what questions they want to ask Reggie because they have been listening to this voice for how long?

Reggie: It’s been… what, 18 months? First episode was out October 2019? But I first toyed with the idea July 2019. So I have this weird thing… my birthday is on the 1st of July. So this very weird thing that every July, I would think of doing something like “hey, let’s just try something.” it’s a new year. Your life just keeps ticking. I’ll try new things. 

So I toyed with this idea: yeah, let’s start a podcast because I was genuinely very irritated with the gurus. Everybody knows this already by now, but the part that people don’t know is that from July till October, before the first episode was out, I actually recorded 10 episodes and I deleted all of them.

Andrew: In your room?

Reggie: Yeah, on my dining table. 

Microphone. ..You just bought. 

Yes, like the raw input mic… The input jack into your iPhone 6. 

Andrew: So that’s how we started. 

Reggie: Yes. That was how I started. I thought it was so easy, just pick up the microphone and just talk lah, right? Because I was a consumer of podcast, so, I was like “yes, this is an easy thing. Let me just talk.” Turns out it’s a lot tougher than it is. 

Andrew: So you think what’s missing in market and you’d be able to fill the gap. How is it like? Because for me, we all hate our own voice when we first… was that the case for you? 

Reggie: Oh, tell me about it! Tell me about it. I hated it. I had so much trouble editing my own voice. I was like “argh, it’s so weird. Why got weird angmoh (western) accent?” Turns out that it’s like a self protection mechanism that I used to do a lot. When I want to portray a certain look or portray a certain persona, then I’ll use the very angmoh accent. 

But over time, I have come to find my own voice and all that become more comfortable. But during the early days where I’m a one man show and I need to edit, I need to do everything from scratch, that was so painful man. Dude, editing my own voice was like the worst shit ever. The recordings weren’t that difficult. Post-work was really hard. 

So by Episode 30 something, Harry came in and started doing a lot of post. Because of Covid, he lost his job and I was like “hey bro, nothing to do right? I help you invest, you help me do edits.” 

Andrew: Because he’s a pro at sound. 

Reggie: Yes, yes. He did his own study in poly(technic). Audio engineering is no big thing. And I remember him… he told me this one line “hey bro, I never thought the things I learnt in poly will come in handy, especially during a pandemic!” So yeah. It’s good, good stuff that way. Ever since then, yeah, no edits from me. So it makes it a lot simpler, not listening to my own voice.

Andrew: At the start, you had to edit your voice a lot, but now you just give it to someone else and you don’t even have to listen anymore. So that’s your progress in that sense? 

Reggie: Yes. Actually, he scolds me a lot for that. He was like “really? You’re not going to listen to the post?” Because what happens (in) the process is I do the pre, I do the production. So I do the casting call, preparing the questions, actually recording and all that. And then after that, everything is uploaded onto G(oogle) drive and then he would just take it from there and he will post. 

And once it’s post, I never listened to the final cut ever. We just post it out and then all of you will listen. That’s why sometimes, there’ll be some problems here and there. Thank you for all of you to feedback to us, like “hey, this part is a bit weird. There is like this one minute pause here in the middle of nowhere” or “this episode has been cut short.” I was like “eh what’s going on?” 

When all that happens, we actually go back and clean it up and make it the actual final product that we want. But yeah, it’s all part of it and Harry still scolds me sometimes. “You sure you don’t want to listen to the final cut?” I was like “yeah, it’s fine bro. I trust you.” But actually it’s just… I just feel very tired and I don’t want to process the content again.

Andrew: You trust him, that’s one. And you also trust yourself because if you are insecure about your own voice, you will want to listen. 

Reggie: I mean… fair. It’s not so much about the vocal design anymore? It’s really about the content flow because I think for us, we’re not doing audio documentary. We’re not doing comedic, fun kind of thing. We’re doing infotainment kind of thing. So for me, the main thing is about content accuracy. Of course, delivery is all part of it. It helps to get to the person to the end and all that. But yeah, content accuracy is usually what I’m more concerned about than the voice itself.

Andrew: That’s what I like about the TFC podcast. I’m a listener myself. So you mentioned at the start, you hate those fake gurus. So what I like is there’s two ends of the spectrum. One is like motivational rah rah, in terms of finance content, right? “You’re going to be rich! Yes! Yes!” 

Reggie: Oh my god. I hate motivational rah rah. 

Andrew: On the  other end is this deep technical, like in over your head, you don’t understand what’s going on now because there are… 

Reggie: It flies through you.  

Andrew: It flies over you if you can’t understand the content. So I think TFC sits nicely in between. It’s still entertaining and there’s some sort of rah rah in the sense that it is fun and light hearted and chill, but hey, there’s actually content in it, solid content in it.

Reggie: Thank you. I feel so nice. 

Andrew: From a listener’s point of view. I’m giving you feedback. 

Reggie: Yeah, thank you. I’m so happy that when I did a random shout out “hey, we need new hosts” and then you came out. I was like “oh my god, this guy is a professional!” You’re way more professional than all of us in terms of experience in the audio space. So that’s great. Thanks a lot for taking over this segment. 

It’s extremely important. It’s very hard for me to feel comfortable enough to pass the segment on to someone else. So kudos to that. But yes, this part about TFC being unique… I think that’s the interesting part where there is a gap here in terms of smart, intellectual content. We’ve talked to a lot of people and we’ve killed a lot of episodes. 

For all of you that think everything you listen to is the final product… once you join the team, you know the amount of shit that we kill. We pre-call all these guys to try and make sure that they make sense, they have enough depth, but some of them they still fall through the cracks. So when they come in, we record and realize that “hey, this thing has not enough juice. Why do we want to put it out there?” Sometimes we get pressured and I don’t want to name names but we get pressured by blah blah companies… 

Andrew: Forces… 

Reggie: Yeah and all that. So we get pressured and you know one. If you go and listen and then you be like “hey, this episode like not that great”. Yeah, probably we have been pressured to put it up. But yes, that’s the beauty, but that’s also the problem that we face in terms of curating the content, trying to get enough depth and helping all these professionals to speak humans. It’s… that’s a real challenge in my view. 

Andrew: After joining the team, after talking to Reggie, I kind of understand why TFC is the way it is and why I enjoy it so much as a listener. Because there’s a whole stringent process behind all of these podcast episodes. I just joined not for long, but I’m beginning to see how you craft the whole thing based on a vision that you’ve had. 

So what are your plans? Okay, I’m going to be doing this TFC Chill. I’m going to be interviewing people, but you can still get to listen to Reggie share about finance, about investing in the TFC episodes, right? 

Reggie: Yes. So I was to take the monologues for now. Honestly, this part is a little bit painful because I like it. I honestly like what I’m doing. I like that everyone is tuning in weekly and they love it. It’s amazing when all of you drop in our LinkedIn or drop in on Instagram, drop in on Telegram and say “hey, great podcast! Great information, entertaining” and all that. Those things were really the stuff that pushed me and a few of us to keep doing it at first because at first no money one mah this thing. 

Honestly, in the podcast space, if you talk to any other podcasters, maybe other than Ok Let’s Go, we’re probably the only guys getting good projects at this moment in time where banks, insurance, wealth companies are willing to use us and pay us good decent money to at least operate a team.

Everyone else in the podcast space are not getting much revenue. This is my honest anecdotal understanding of the situation. So you go to the Singapore podcast, Spotify, and you see all the top podcasts… we have already talked to most of them. At least the guys that we think have some sort of resonance, we talk to them. We find out their model and all that.

That’s the part about podcasting, so kudos to all you guys to make this possible. That’s great. But yeah, I find that we are at a point where it cannot just be my voice. We have to expand, we have to go further, so great stuff. Andrew is going to take over Chills. Woo! Good stuff. 

So Thursday Chills will be handed over. You may still hear some episodes after this episode airs because some of these are  legacy episodes that we’ve already recorded earlier, but after you have listened to this particular episode, you should be mentally prepared that yes, on Thursdays you will hear more of Andrew and less of me. Eventually, it will be none of me. So that’s kind of what it is. I would still take Tuesday, monologues. I like it but Tuesday monologues actually take a lot of time to study.

Andrew: You got to write out an whole essay, right?. 

Reggie: Yeah. Essentially, you’re writing a blog post. On top of that, you got to record the blog post. So you go and think of all the bloggers, the amount of work that they put into writing a blog post, right? Yes, then I have to do one more layer on top of that, which is to record it. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Reggie: It’s a lot of work there. I will still be doing it. Eventually, I think I’ll fade out also of that, we’ll see. Because at some point, the company needs me to do other things. Once in a while, I can be back. Once a while, I can do some episodes, but yeah.

Andrew: Feel a bit itchy like getting into the groove of interviewing people and getting things out there.

Reggie: Yeah, I know right? That’s probably where it will end up. When I’ve got feel or when somebody really wants me to interview them and all that, I could come back. But eventually, we’ll have to move on from just one voice. We have to have multiple voices and all that. So you will hear me on Coconut Avenue Season Two. I’ll be hosting Season Two until we find someone that understands property, understands investments… I wouldn’t say I understand property, but I think I understand sufficient about investments that I can understand property from a one step in kind of angle… broad understanding of leverage, investments and all that stuff. 

Until we can find someone that understands property and does not have a heavy sales bias, then we will hand over that. But I’ll be taking Season Two. We’re planning Entrepreneurshit Season Two. So you will hear me on the other more focused podcasts. But our main podcast, yeah I will eventually fade out.

Andrew: Big plans! I mean some podcasts, they are personality based and the podcast name is the podcasters name. You cannot go away. 

Reggie: Exactly! I was just talking to my friend the other day. When you do a podcast, there’s two angles. One: you brand it in your own name, your own personality. 你跑不掉 (You cannot run away from it). You cannot change out of this. This has to be it. The other way is you build a brand and then you can change as long as you keep the essence of the show, the vibe, everything like The Finansi Kelapa (The Financial Coconut) or something… anyway, just leads to The Financial Coconut. 

My friends have been telling me “when you’re going to start The Finansi Kelapa?” Soon! If I get good Bahasa speaking hosts that understands personal finance… shout out to anyone that you think you can, drop your name at hello@thefinancialcoconut.com and then we will start The Finansi Kelapa. We can talk and talk everything in Bahasa and focus on our Muslim friends here in the region. That’s great… 

Andrew: What I’m seeing is TFC media network. It’s not just you. You gotta keep growing. That’s what business is like. 

Reggie: Yeah. It’s all part of it, trying to grow and see if we can cover more aspects of personal finance. 

Andrew: Give us a sense of the different programs right now. There’s the property…. just lay it on me.  

Reggie: I know not all of you are listening to every one of them. I get it, standards are varying and all that.

Andrew: Different interests actually. 

Reggie: Different interest is one thing… of course hosting capabilities and all of that. Because when we first started, I really thought everybody can host one. Harry also scold me for this. Anyway, Harry scold me a lot. “Oh 你 (you) never listen to the final product? Everybody else can host? Everybody you think can scale so simple.” 

Andrew: I feel like I like Zheng Jie (Harry) already.

Reggie: But yes. I honestly thought everyone could host when I first started, because I was like “so simple mah, just do it lah.” 

Andrew: Just talk only ah? 

Reggie: Turns out it’s clearly not the case, but because I harboured that mindset, I push a lot of people to host. Some of the listeners and some of my friends, I was like “hey, do you want to host? Do you want to host? Come and host lah. Host a season, host a mini series with us”. You guys probably hear it here and there, some mini seasons and that process helped me to guide a lot of them. I managed to think of how to tell them… how to host better. So that process actually was pretty interesting because now I kinda cracked the code that I can confidently say if I work with someone long enough, I can actually teach them how to host.

But the caveat is long enough. There needs to be some experience gathering and all. But yeah, that was one of the bottleneck, but post bottleneck. We’re getting very good personalities coming in these days, which is amazing. You will hear more on property, Coconut Avenue. You will hear Entrepreneurshit coming… Season Two, I will still be taking that. Pretty popular, quite a lot of people like that one. For all of you who are not entrepreneurs but still kinda enjoy that one, great. There are a lot of learning lessons within The Entrepreneurshit Show. I love it. I love the name. Honestly, advertisers tell us that maybe they don’t want the name, then I was like “then I don’t want you” because the name…

Andrew: It’s on YouTube, right? 

Reggie: Some of these guys, they say “the name, my boss say cannot.” Then never mind, we move on.

Andrew: It’s an auto filtering system, you realized?

Reggie: Yeah. So if you cannot handle that, you cannot handle all the swearing emotions… 

Andrew: All the shit that’s coming on the show. 

Reggie: Yeah, we were talking about it, me and the post team were talking about it. If any show was to carry all that, it would be this show. You already call it The Entrepreneurshit Show, so you must have let them speak lah. Don’t beep (censoring sound). Keep the F words, keep the whatever swearing and keep the emotions, keeping it authentic. Let people experience it and I think that is the beauty, right? 

So Coconut Avenue, Entrepreneurshit… we are rebooting Finding Your (H)edge, amazing. Adrian runs another show. It’s called The Adrian Tan Show. Clearly you cannot run away from that show because it’s The Adrian Tan Show.

Andrew: He signs his name on it. 

Reggie: Yes he already signs his name on it and he has a very cute way of hosting, like a lot of dad jokes. He’s the dad of four kids, so a lot of dad jokes inside. 

Andrew: But you’re known for your dad jokes too. I’ve seen the Telegram group chat.

Reggie: Yeah, you get it but I think he’s like one notch above. Real one, real dad. So through that… 

Andrew: Four kids? 

Reggie: Yeah four kids. Amazing. He told me that they are the same. “Four kids? You can handle ah?” He said “bro, by the time it’s the fourth kid, you no longer care about them…. 

Andrew: They can take care of themselves. 

Reggie: You just need to know that they’re safe and ain’t no shit is going to happen, then you’ll be okay already.” I was like “oh okay. That’s interesting.” So that’s that. 

Andrew: In terms of podcasting, Reggie has done a lot. You also give talks at certain co-working spaces on how to do a good podcast. You sort of train different podcasters, you’ve been through the process. TFC is still… I consider it mainly a podcast platform and of course you have YouTube and all that. But because you are talking about the top podcasts. They have other platforms, they might come from YouTube. Podcast is one of the things that they do. But TFC podcast… main thing. 

Reggie: Yes, yes. It’s our main thing. Cute story: that day, one of the media outlets came and asked me to do an editorial. So we were talking to them about doing an editorial until it comes out. You will know if it comes out. Anyway, I wasn’t the main feature of the editorial, but I was just one of the people that they were gathering information about podcasting and the person was like “so as a veteran podcaster…” I was like “girl, it’s only 18 months.”

Andrew: Podcasting kind of picked up in the year 2020 partly due to Covid and more people go into it. You’ve been there before that. You’re a veteran. 

Reggie: Yeah, veteran! 

Andrew: You’ve been through the trenches. 

Reggie: You early days, early… so that’s literally what she says, “as a veteran podcaster, what advice do you have? Blah, blah, blah.” And then I’m like…

Andrew: Show her your battle scar. 

Reggie: You sure you want to do? For everyone else that’s thinking of doing audio content. It’s a very different ball game altogether. What I tell people is if you think about it, when people do videos, visual content, there’s a lot of animation transition that can save the content. It’s like if Aiken Chia says something weird, right? You can psst and then you will cut through to animation and it will still get your attention. Everybody just have a laugh and it jumps to the next scene. 

Andrew: It flows. 

Reggie: It flows. There are a lot of techniques to play around to keep getting you to listen and stay in and follow through the content. But when all these YouTubers try to do podcasts, they don’t have all this visual animation to support them. Everything is just your audio storytelling abilities: how you narrate, how you tell a story, how you manoeuvre your voice. It’s very naked compared to the YouTube platform. So you see a lot of them, they may do a little bit better in the early days of their podcasts, because they bring in their crew… their followers from YouTube. 

After a while, they stop. After a while, they don’t perform as well because it’s just very different. You cannot use all these quirky animation to help you. You have to be able to tell stories. Fundamentally, it’s a different medium and if you want to be in podcast, then you have to know how to do all these things. You have to be able to story tell, you have to be able to just work with your voice. 

Andrew: Right, because audio is a very intimate medium. Although it’s uploaded and anyone can listen, but you as the listener, it feels like I’m just talking to you directly. 

Reggie: Yeah!

Andrew: In your car, in the gym, in the bus. 

Reggie: I know it’s so weird. When people talk to me these days… like listeners when they talk to me, kudos to you guys, but honestly I find it a bit weird. But never mind, if you continue to come to me with the same energy. When they meet me or when they talk to me or when I reply them with voice messages, they have this “ahhh! (fangirling sound)” I was like… 

Andrew: That’s what I said to you, like “eh, you are the voice. You are really the voice.” But of course it’s you, right?

Reggie: Exactly. So people would be like “ahhh! I know this voice!” You know? 

Andrew: Old friend, old friend. 

Reggie: Yeah they are like old friend like that. So I was like “yeah yeah…” I felt a little bit scared at first. I was like “oh, relax, relax.” But after a while, I just kinda got used to it as this is the reality. So it’s nothing personal against anyone of you listening. Great, thanks for your kind words, your love and all that jazz. It’s all important in helping us get to where we are and all that good stuff. All your feedback, all your questions. They help us generate content. They help us to improve. So keep them coming. That’s great. But yes, I still feel a little bit weird when people say “oh!” I was like “yeah yeah yeah.” Act familiar. 

Andrew: It feels that way from their point of view, because if you’re listening to you. But you don’t know who they are.

Reggie: Exactly! So what you can do is when you talk to me or when you come to me or when we meet face to face, fill me up with information about yourself first. You can like “woo! Oh by the way, let me just fill you in who I am, what do I do…” Give me a 2-5 minute short intro to give me some background on who I’m talking to before you get so excited to try and talk to me. So I’m not against talking to you, but you wanna kinda make me feel more at ease. Also, you ease me in with a lot of these things. 

Andrew: Yeah. So here’s a frequently asked question. A grand total of 1269 people have asked: why not YouTube? 

Reggie: Wait, got so many people ask? 

Andrew: Based on estimation. Everyone is asking “Doing podcasts, that’s great. Why don’t you just transport it over to Youtube? 

Reggie: At first, when I did podcast… firstly, I was struggling with a little bit of self image issues. So that was one part. I used to be a lot slimmer, I had more hair. I went through hair loss. I gained weight and all the post traumatic kind of stuff, which I probably talked about through the podcast a little bit, like my post scam journey and all that. But I didn’t talk about the personal image problems. 

Till date, I am a little bit better, more confident, or at least more accepting. I wouldn’t say “wah 很漂亮 (very beautiful)”. I’m not lying to myself but the reality is I feel more accepting of my current reality. So that’s one part. But the other part is, it’s actually very difficult to do education content on video. We’ve done it. We’ve done Entrepreneurshit, everything on video and I realized that I ended up spending more bandwidth trying to communicate with you on video then trying to educate you about the topic.

It’s so much more actual work and I just feel like “is that me too?’ I don’t know. It will probably get us more views. It will probably get us a bigger reach in a shorter period of time and all that. So that’s great. But for me, production process is very different. It’s actually a lot more different. It’s not like a lot more work. It’s a different set of work. So that’s the part and yeah. We are testing. I’m telling everybody, we are testing. We’re getting more open with doing video content and all. But honestly, I would rather do podcasts where I don’t need to look at camera. I can be looking at the script and then focusing on talking to you guys and all that instead of spending a lot of time trying to interact with the camera and all that. Because there’s some sort of expectations to it.

Andrew: Yeah. It feels like podcasts as a medium speaks to you. Kind of pun intended… yeah. It is your thing. 

Reggie: I think everybody on the team has a bit of dad joke. Trace level of dad jokes in the team, but yes.

Andrew: But it speaks to you, you feel for it, it feels like it’s a medium that can translate your ideas across better.

Reggie: Yes, I like it more, honestly. I listen to a lot of podcasts these days, a lot less YouTube. I don’t watch a lot of videos. I think video very cheat… after I produced some of the videos, I know some of the hacks around some of these things. So I feel like… yeah, podcasts is my thing. I like it, from an audio perspective.

Andrew: Since you are gonna hand over Chills with TFC with me, I’m going to ask you some questions about Chills, about the people that you have spoken to. Top of your mind, which interview did you like? You can list a few. 

Reggie: Wow. 

Andrew: Or like most memorable. 

Reggie: Memorable huh? I can name drop, I think it’s okay. 

Andrew: Yeah, you have spoken to them. 

Reggie: I spoke to a lot of people. I’m sure by now you guys have heard a lot. One very memorable one was the one with Chuin Ting from MoneyOwl. She’s very cute, very motherly and everything you can think of a very motherly individual. I think she’s pretty interesting in a sense that she wasn’t traditionally financially trained. She was like history student. She did… I think Mandarin was one of her main major. So she did quite a long path before she come into finance. So she’s not as rigid. But the interview was very cute because she was the first interviewee that came in with a stack of papers. 

Andrew: All ready. 

Reggie: All ready! I had all the questions. We send out questions, we do pre calls. By the way, if all of you didn’t know, we do a lot of prep work before we go into the calls, not like a lot of other podcasts interviews… 

Andrew: Wing it. 

Reggie: They just wing it. That’s why all jiak sai one (eat shit). But anyway, okay… shout out to every other podcaster that’s listening. Do your prep work. This is my best advice for you. Stop thinking that you can wing it. It’s extremely difficult. Anyway, so she had a lot of papers, you know? I think at least like what, 30, 40 pages worth. I felt like it was about to land on the table and go boom! You know, like that kind of heavy weight. 

It was so cute because I think she’s not as confident in terms of doing podcast interview and all that. So she was reading and she was like “oh yeah, there’s this thing. Oh yeah, there’s this thing.” She wants to share a lot and all that, but it was honestly not very easy interviewing in such a format because when people come in with so much, they really want to say it all and then you cannot manoeuvre through the TFC format. Because by now, when you listen to TFC, you know that it’s a very conversational thing.

Andrew: You got to flow with it. 

Reggie: Yeah, we got to flow with it, but she actively kinda pull me back… “oh yah, I want to add these. Oh yah, I want to say that”. So I was like “aiya, alamak” but it’s quite cute. I respect her for the kind of dedication that she put into doing the content. But it was quite freaky when I first saw the amount of paper.

Andrew: She really wants to share but because it’s your job to distill it into content that I can take away.

Reggie:  Yes. 

Andrew: Not like drop everything on me, such that I don’t know what to expect from this episode. 

Reggie: Exactly, exactly. So that’s the part essentially, trying to manage the depth of the content and the production value in terms of entertainment value. That was a difficult episode. In terms of a very exciting episode, I think the one with Freddy was pretty fun, from Stashaway. Yeah. It was just one episode that we did with him for market outlook for 2020, or was it 2021? 2021 I think. Market outlook, what’s going forward and all that. He was telling a lot of things and I was like digging further and I can tell he don’t even wanna tell me more, but I just asked again, you know?

When a lot of these guys… because this is their bread and butter, they don’t want to tell everybody what’s going on, but hello, we already come here. We want to ask, we want to get to know the real deal. 

Andrew: I told you before, I’m reminded of one or two episodes where you really want to dig, but the guest has his or her reservations. I can feel it, I was like “come on, just say it man!” 

Reggie: Yah yah yah! Exactly!

Andrew: “Answer the question!”

Reggie: Exactly. So I think Freddy was the guy that after I dug deeper, he gave in…. like “ok lah, just do this.” You’re like “you know you can do this.” So listen to the episode with Freddy. That will help you a lot to get a little bit of sensing about what we were trying to say… when you dig deeper, then all these guests don’t want to tell you, but he kind of caved in. So that was fun. Yeah. 

Andrew: So if Reggie didn’t name drop you, it doesn’t… he is just giving examples. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t like your interview. On that note, which interview did you not like? Or it was like really tough, it didn’t go to where you were expecting it to? 

Reggie: Oh… okay. Oh. Wah wah. 

Andrew: Hot seat. 

Reggie: Wah wah wah… I don’t know how to reply! 

Andrew: You can make it a bit vague. 

Reggie: Yeah I’m definitely going to go very vague on this. So there are many other episodes that you guys don’t hear. It’s all stuck in the rubbish bin… anyway in content, we have this thing called filler episodes that is not good enough to be lined up on schedule, but not shit enough to be thrown away.

They kinda stay around in the ecosystem and when we feel like we are stuck on schedule or something happened, we will post it up. That’s those kind of filler episodes and there’s all these things that get cut. They get totally thrown out because it’s just… it’s bad. 

So aside from this stuff… that means that everyone else that you hear live already considered quite a lot better than these things based on the guys that I’ve interviewed on the live… you know what I mean? So you’ve already heard them, it’s already up there. It’s already on the podcast feed. You heard them. There’s this one particular interview that I really hated. It’s one of the shortest. If you go and scroll through, you will know which one. I’m not going to name names, but it’s one of the shortest. 

And honestly, in the feedback that we get from you guys, we get an NPS score, right? We always ask you to write the scores and those things are important. The NPS score for that was one of the shittiest and I was like yay, because that means you guys know. When I think it’s not good and you guys think is not good, that means we are aligned. So that’s great. 

But it was horrendous because the person does not have enough depth and sometimes it happens and I felt I was wasting time. That’s the worst part. I felt that I waste my energy, waste my time. Why are we doing this… waste our audience’s time. So I try very hard but by the 30 minute mark, I give up. I’ve never gave up on an interview ever. I always try to squeeze until one hour and then if we could find some sort of narrative, we will cut something out. 

But I actually gave up and say “okay, enough. Thanks. Good.” The main thing is I wasn’t getting enough juice and the guy made me feel like he does not know enough. So, yeah… Big company, reputable institution. Those are the things that people fall through, right?

A lot of people, when they interview others, they want to look for big names. They want to look for big organizations and then they want to get all these supposedly A-listers to come in and talk. But when you interview A-listers, they tend to say the same shit again and again. If you interview guys from the big names, sometimes this is what you get. You’d be surprised the amount of good content that come out from people that are not very famous or run a small little blog on the side. These guys are amazing, right? So it is what it is.

Andrew: So there’s a whole editorial process happening here at TFC and who doesn’t want to post an episode that you have done? I mean you’ve already done the interview, prep work, one hour recording and in the end you have to scrap it. Some people would think “I would just post it, it’s just another episode.” But what Reggie does is that he just kill it. 

Reggie: We kill. To me, this is a classic lesson in opportunity cost and classic lesson in sunk cost. This is a classic lesson in sunk cost. You must remember this: don’t over invest just because you think you’ve already invested. So every step of the way, we are making what we call calculated choices, right? Calculated risk. So when I first do casting call with the person, I was like “okay… sounds like can ah. Good enough?” We come back to some questions and we prep some questions. Then we record… okay, sounds like it’s fine. We record. 

As we record we realize… maybe cannot. If it cannot, then why do I want to push it through the post process which is additional 4 hour of professional work. And then we do transcribing, which we do another 2-3 hours of professional work and then we have to line it up on the schedule and affect our ratings if it’s not good. So if you think about it, there’s a really a sunk cost in pre and production. Why do you want to continue investing if you know it’s not going to be good? 

So to me, there are some baselines and if it’s not good, we cut lor. We kill lah. Can cut, we cut. Can save, we save. Cannot save, kill. Yeah, that’s my baseline. 

Andrew: So sunk cost. That’s a term in economics. 

Reggie: Yeah. 

Andrew: So I think it’s a good place to segue into finance and investing, since we are a finance podcast, right? I’m going to ask you some finance questions. So first question in the finance category: are you on FIRE? It stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early.

Reggie: Honestly, I think I can. Not here in Singapore, but I can. At this moment in time, I can FIRE in Subang, my newfound favourite place. I know I keep selling Subang. One day, don’t be surprised if I start the Singapore Subang Association or something, trying to get all you Singaporeans to come here to live in the suburbs. Don’t be surprised. 

I’ve tried living in the outskirts of Bangkok for a few months. I’ve also tried living in Vietnam for a few months and I can. I don’t really need to do extra work. I just need to manage my investments a little bit, be a little bit more active with the way I do things and yeah, it’s kinda where it is. 

I think the FIRE episode just went out and in that episode, I talk about this idea of… if you’re FIRE-ing in a Singapore setting, then generally it means that you are not very into the whole city living, fast pace, professional way of life. There are other ways of life for everybody that don’t recognize. Like in Japan, artisan is a very big way of life. You can be very good at a craft and you can live an artisan life. Small little shops, small little thing that you do and you may not be super-wealthy, but people recognize your work and you have a loyal following, right? So the artisan way of life. 

In other parts, you can live the suburb way of life. So suburbs are very interesting way of life because the community is a lot more knitted. Because it’s smaller, everybody kinda knows each other. You don’t see a lot of fast paced development, but a lot of small little things that go around and that’s an interesting way of life.

Of course, if you want to live the farmer way of life, you can also do that. Or you just want to travel around… there are also many, many different ways to live. So my base idea for a lot of Singaporeans is if you want to FIRE, ask yourself: do you really want to FIRE into a city life? Maybe it’s not your thing. So if city life is not your thing, then you’re trying to FIRE into something else, another way of life. Then actually you don’t need that much. If we put it in context, it means you don’t need to live here and you may not want to live here to be exact. 

Andrew: How did you get to this level of FIRE that you’re at? Can you take us through the process before TFC? The highlights? 

Reggie: So I’ve tried doing businesses for a long time and I failed… this is like my best venture so far. I didn’t really make a lot of money doing businesses. But I worked for my friends in between and after that. So when I was working for my friends, I actually made good money because I was so thrifty. I don’t spend much. So of course, the episode on impulse buying is going out also. So that’s the part where you will get a real clear idea of why I don’t spend a lot. Because I don’t really have a lot of impulses and I’ve worked through a lot of them. So I don’t spend a lot right now.

You think about it. If you make about $5k a month… $5k a month, a year is $60 000? I barely spend $1K a month, so I can net net about $30 000+? 

Andrew: More than that. 

Reggie: Do that for five years. Do that for three or five years and then you invest. Because I pick stocks, I don’t know if I should say my performance, but my performance… definitely until now, it’s hovering at 30+% a year. But it’s until now. I do a bit of options. Things are a little bit tricky on how I do it. So if you just calculate, $30 000 a year, 30%, you know you count a few years… yeah. I am at the mid low six figures net asset value at this moment of time, which is definitely not enough to even buy a HDB here, but way more sufficient to live in the region.

Andrew: Subang. 

Reggie: Subang is amazing okay? 400 000RM, you can get a terrace. Yeah. So that’s kinda my base case. So if you want to talk about whether I can FIRE here in Singapore, of course I cannot. But if… can I FIRE in Bali, can I FIRE in Chiang Mai? Can I FIRE even in Kaohsiung or something, not city centre? I can. I have more than enough to do that. My burn rate is very low. My investments continue to compound and I have all these opportunity upside like doing the podcast all that. So I was like yay, okay. So I can. If you ask me, I can.

Andrew: Talking about your portfolio… because people in the Telegram group, sometimes they ask you for your portfolio and actually Reggie answers them. You DM them directly. So maybe you want to set the record here. You can give percentages. You can… however comfortable you are with sharing this. As of now, Reggie’s portfolio is this: ___. 

Reggie: Okay, no recommendations. Everything is for educational purposes. Please do your due diligence… all these caveats must say, it’s important. I’m building a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) portfolio at this moment in time because I want to fade out of… very active or semi active options trading and all. So I am at 10% REIT, growing that part, and 90% US, China. I only get ADR… US ADR, American Depositary Shares, which are like Chinese companies listed in US.

Andrew: How much China? How much US? 

Reggie: 20% China. 20%… no, maybe 30. I’m quite long on Alibaba 

Andrew: Alibaba… I’m just guessing. I don’t know.

Reggie: It’s at a cheap rate now. Oh, wait, not recommending, but we’ve talked about this on a lot of different podcasts by now. So yeah, that’s kinda my base case, but although I do all these things, I always tell the listeners don’t do it because it’s just so much more work. I think a lot of people don’t understand the amount of work that goes into it. 

I honestly think a lot of people that are listening, there’s a subset of people, maybe like 5-10% of people who really want to be very proficient with personal finance and they will want to learn these things, which are great. Amazing. If you really want to do that, you’re willing to dedicate your life and all that, okay, you can learn. We can share with you more, you can sign up for our programs and all that. 

The beauty of programs is they’re very structured. It gives me a basis to teach because I just cannot hold your hand through everything. I don’t have the bandwidth at this moment in time. So that’s that. But I honestly think about 90% of the listeners don’t want to learn all these things. They’re not interested to be so tactical about things. They just want to make sure that their finances are in check and be updated about what’s going on, what’s happening out there and that’s all. So I do think that most of our audience are like that and in that base idea, I recommend people not to do too crazy things. 

Andrew: So you are pretty much active investing cause you even do options, but now you’re trying to move towards REITs so that you can be a bit more hands off. Not totally yet because you haven’t reached that stage but you want to let it be passive. 

Reggie: I am a little bit more active than what people will think I am, because I always talk about the passive strategy and all that. Because to me… that passive strategy, very good mah. You have some capital, just do this. Live your life, guys. Just go and do your thing. But yeah, I’m definitely a little bit more active than what people would perceive me to be. 

Andrew: So another question from the Telegram group… the Telegram group is where we chill and ask questions. Actually whenever I see your answers, it’s an essay on its own. You really answer it in depth. So there’s this question: are you an agent? 

Reggie: That one no need to answer in depth. No. 

Andrew: No conflict of interest. 

Reggie: Yes. Honestly guys, let me put it to you this way. When I first started doing this podcast, my main thing that I really hated was all these fake gurus. I didn’t like them. I think that they are stroking unnecessary anxiety and all now. As I dug deeper, I kinda understand why people don’t like agents also. Because agents have a lot of sales bias and they have a lot of sale-sy techniques that are very uncomfortable and they also force people to grapple with very uncomfortable things like death, risk, all these things. 

And that’s why over here, we try very hard to give you all these frameworks so that you can learn sufficient, not to DIY, but to learn sufficient so that when you talk to the financial professionals, you’re not like this idiot that they push you around. So you learn a little bit about risks. You learn a little bit about the different products and all that stuff. So that’s great. 

But I make it a point that none of my host will be an agent. So nobody on the team, nobody in hosting, in the producer role, editorial… will be any agent. Because to me, I don’t want people to feel like “You all got sales bias a not?” And honestly, I’ve talked to a lot of these agents and there are good ones. I would say minority. This is my word, I put it out there. I think they are the minority, the good ones. Every one of you can come and challenge me. You’ll probably lose. 

So from a podcaster standpoint, I am just a retail podcaster talking to retail people. I think I know more than you. For a lot of these agents, I think I know more than you. You can sit down and listen to my podcast. 

Andrew: We should do an episode on that. Agents vs Reggie. 

Reggie: Eh it’s okay, it’s okay… Why am I saying that? Because it means that if you are a professional, then you got to buck up. You got to do more. You got to be better, and I think you can. I think if you put in the hard work, you can. But how many people put in the hard work? Most people put in the hard work in understanding their product, which is, I would say a bit passé already.

These days, if you really want to be a very holistic financial agent or financial planner or if you want to call yourself a financial advisor, you must understand the broad market. You must understand how finances… you must understand the economics. You must understand all of these major forces, which most of them don’t. But there are subset of people which are great.

I talked to them and I know that they know. But sad to say, it’s still a long way to helping this market mature, but I don’t hate agents. I just generally don’t like people that are not proficient at what they do. Yes. So that’s why I get turned off by all these people that come and talk and then I was like “hey, this guy don’t even know his shit?” So I generally get turned off by people that are not proficient. It’s not unique to agents. Simple story. I’m not an agent.

Andrew: We are not agents, but we could be secret agents 🤓 I thought it was a simple question, but you gave a very in-depth answer and that’s what Reggie does with every question it comes into the Telegram group. It’s a very vibrant community. Feel free to join the group, check us out at thefinancialcoconut.com. You can join the Telegram group and we can have a good talk over there. 

Reggie: Have a good time, yes. Sometimes there will be a bit of blabber here and there, but generally is… okay. Let me just share why I think there’s a need for well caveated replies. There are too many people online… they are not giving you bad advice. They’re not telling you false news or things that are baseless, but they don’t contextualize and they have a lot of backstory that you don’t know. So they have a lot of biases and lots of caveats in their heads, and you probably have a lot caveats and biases in your head also when you asked the question. 

So I have reached a level where when you asked me this question, I can see the three questions behind that question. This is my profession, right? When I know what are your questions behind it… when the person ask me “hey, am I an agent?” Actually, they’re not interested whether I’m an agent. They are interested in whether I have a sales bias. 

Andrew: Your position and your stand. 

Reggie: Exactly. Whether can my views be trusted? Do I secretly want to sell them something? It’s about trust, it’s about understanding. It’s not so much about whether I’m an agent. So when I can see past those things, I like to answer those questions at the same time. To me, that gives the listeners a more rounded understanding of actually what they truly want to ask. Yeah, that’s my base case. 

Andrew: So we have a community there and there’s also the members backend. You want to talk about it? 

Reggie: Yeah must join, okay? Support us, it’s important because we’re growing. Advertisers are talking to us and all. Podcasting is a very young space, and also advertisers come and go. Maybe there’s a trend now… podcasts. So more and more of them are open to it, but going forward, you never know what’s going to happen. So to keep this platform long lasting and to keep the podcast network thriving and growing, we have to do it from a unity standpoint.

So I do think that having a members backend where everybody contribute monthly helps to support the podcast. So we give you premium podcast and all that good jazz. I have already marketed it enough, but I want to let everybody know that we’re doing it to achieve self sustenance so that we don’t need to actively talk to advertisers and we can just focus on the community.

So if you love the podcast and you want to empower us to do more for you… ultimately it’s a mutual gain. The organization keeps growing, you keep learning more stuff. We can keep doing this without giving too much bother into all these advertisers and all that. So that’s great! If that is what you think is something that you want to support, then support! Because I do think Singaporeans are growing in terms of being more open to supporting this kind of subscription. In the past, no lah everything must free one. 

Andrew: Yeah. Why are you charging me? 

Reggie: Yah, why you charge me high? You hide behind paywalls… Dude, I do paywall because I need to survive, because the podcast network needs to grow. So thank you all who have supported us so far. It’s amazing, but for all of you that are still on the fence, you may not want the stock content. You may not want the forum discussion and all that. Okay, maybe that’s not your thing, but at the core, if you love the podcast, you love the network, you want to empower us to do more for you, then yeah. Join the members backend.

Andrew: There are still going to be free content, but you want a more in-depth discussion. You want to be part of a community. Support each other, support TFC. You can join the members backend. 

Reggie: Yes. Yes, please. To me, it’s the main thing. Yeah. 

Andrew: All right. So we’ve come to this part. If you have been listening to TFC for a while. You know that Reggie always ask his guests three questions. Reggie, what is one core life principle that you hold closely to? 

Reggie: I never knew that I will one day be on this side of the discussion. One of the core principles that I hold close to is what people are commonly calling it these days: the growth mindset. Back then before the growth mindset was a name, it was just a combination of two things, which is you never try, you never know, and keep tinkering. That means keep testing, keep playing around and keep trying. So those were my base ideas. 

I don’t know where I had this idea, but someone somewhere, probably in my childhood told me this: you never try, you will never know, and  I’ve held onto that since forever. When I cycle, when I go around, when I hike, I always like to take the path that nobody is walking. Sometimes I get into a shit show and aiya… u turn lah. 

Andrew: There is a reason why nobody takes that path. 

Reggie: Yeah. It’s like “oh it leads to (the) cliff huh? Okay, okay. Let’s go back.” There’s a reason why sometimes those things happen. But many a times I’ve also experienced that the surprise that actually there’s another way to do this and there’s another way to see this thing. So all in all, I believe in the growth mindset, I believe in the idea of trying and learning and exploring and because of that, to me, personal finance is just a process of empowering yourself financially to keep trying and keep testing. 

I’m not a big proponent of, trying to over plan or over structure because to me, life keeps changing. So that is a core life principle that I have and I hope you can really give this a consideration because I think too many Singaporeans want things too swee swee (perfect) already, like everything must be in this square, it must be beautiful and all. So to me, that is a Singaporean problem.

Andrew: Second question. What is a piece of financial advice that you think should be propagated more? 

Reggie: Wow. There are so many… I mean, we run a podcast for a reason. 

Andrew: We have been talking about different advice. 

Reggie: Yeah we have been talking about all different things, but there’s this one thing I think at this moment in time, I feel like people should talk more about, and that is the idea of debt. Being comfortable with debt. Too many people are very uncertain… very uncomfortable with debt, very afraid of bankruptcy. By the way, for whoever that thinks bankruptcy is a bad thing, let me put it to you this way. Bankruptcy is a protection mechanism… is when you over leverage, you take on too much loan, all the shit happened already, instead of having the banks come and shove down you, there’s this bankruptcy mechanism to protect you and have a orderly fashion of liquidating whatever you have. 

So actually bankrupt, right? It’s not a beautiful thing, but it’s not a bad thing and it’s a process to actually protect you because you already take on this loan. You don’t get bankrupt for whim and fancy and all the weird reasons. All that being said, I think people need to be comfortable with the idea of having debt in their name and understand what are the kind of interest rates that are comfortable, that are okay, that are good, you can handle it… what interest rates are not, what is a comfortable debt level that one should have? I think we’ve talked about this pretty extensively and we have a lot of guests that come on to talk about mortgages, talk about different stuff.

I will not repeat them, but the core idea is don’t be afraid of debt. Some debt are big no-no: credit cards, very high interest, but don’t be in a rush to pay down all your debt. In this capitalistic society, if you know how to shepherd your capital, you can actually make quite good profits that can outsize even your debt repayments. So don’t be afraid of it. 

Andrew: Okay, third question. Which part of your life are you giving additional focus to right now? 

Reggie: Now it’s TFC lor. Everything is about the podcast. My goal for this year is to make this a sustainable venture. That means we have good clientele, good accounts, a good team and all that. I’m just focusing on this. Yes. 

Andrew: Additional question for you. Because you asked every guest this question, you’ve heard so many answers. Did it inform the way you think about these questions, and did you take away anything from asking so many people?

Reggie: How about I give you why I ask these questions? At first, we didn’t ask these questions. I’ve decided to ask these questions because I want to humanize these guys. I think too many people… when they listen to the podcast or when they listen to a lot of these people, they feel like all these finance people, everyday money money, only care about numbers. I mean, it’s their job. It’s their career. If you are a designer and you don’t care about colours then you are weird lah. 

So if you’re in finance, then you should care about numbers. But actually, they’re humans. They care about other things. They care about other aspects of their life. They care about personal development. They care about achieving different things. It’s not just about money. So to me, that was why I started asking them because I wanted everyone to realize that hey, they’re humans also. 

In that sense, I want you to know that while you’re supporting the podcast, while you’re listening to the podcast, it’s not all about optimizing, not all about making more, not all about highest yield. 

Andrew: It’s not all about the money, money, money… 

Reggie: Okay, dad jokes, dad jokes! 

Andrew: There should be a sound effect for that. 

Reggie: That should be a criteria. If you want to host TFC, must have dad jokes level. 

Andrew: But I appreciated these questions. Many of them talked about family when you asked about the additional focus questions. What is one core life prinicple… a few of them talk about growth, but there are a few interesting answers as well. It makes me think about these questions myself. How would I answer them? So I appreciate you asking those questions actually. 

Reggie: Now you can continue asking these questions to every other guest. 

Andrew: It’s a good Chill tradition. Yeah. All right. With that… 

Reggie: We’ve come to the end. So nice. 

Andrew: I’ll let you wrap it up. 

Reggie: Yeah. Ah, this is a tough interview. I do all the tough part then I still got to wrap it up? But yes, I think this episode was needed to hand over everything to Andrew and for me to wrap up my journey on Chills with all of you. It’s definitely hard to say “oh, you know, you’ve built this but then because you want to go further, you have to stop doing this.”

I don’t know if you guys listened to Gimlet, but when you listened to Gimlet, Alex was crying when he… so Alex was the main guy that started Gimlet podcast and he was crying when his investor tell him “you need to stop doing podcasts and you got to stop hosting.” Yeah. I’m not… I’m probably not as emotional because he did it for 20 years. Okay. He did an All-American… 

Andrew: Reggie’s still around by the way. 

Reggie: Yeah, yeah. I’m still around. Maybe one day, when that happens, it’ll happen. But it’s definitely emotional to hand over, but it’s needed. So with that, I think you guys are in good hands. Andrew is professional and our vibes are pretty consistent, consistent with the brand.

We talked to other professionals, but the vibe different. They cannot keep that thing going. So I must have dad joke. I think you guys are in good hands. He will continue to ask very good questions and we will continue to keep the whole Chills with TFC vibes. Help him along. If you have anything that you want to feedback, go to Telegram group, DM him, Andrew Zhan. Z-H-A-N. You can find him on LinkedIn and all that and yeah, I think we can continue to make this bigger. 

Andrew: Thank you! 

Reggie: Thank you. 

Andrew: I hope you learnt something useful today and I truly appreciate that you took the time off to better your life with The Financial Coconut. Knowledge is that much more powerful and interesting when shared, debated and discussed. Join our community Telegram group, follow us on our socials, sign up for our weekly newsletter. Everything is in the description. If you love us and want to help us grow, definitely share the podcast with your friends and on your socials. 

Sign up for our members backend for more investment related content, live discussions, curated content, and most importantly, your commitment to us is a step forward for us to continue creating great content focused on you rather than advertisers. 

For more information, check out thefinancialcoconut.com. With that have a great day ahead. Stay tuned next week and remember: personal finance can be chill, clear and sustainable for all. .

 

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