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Long Thesis - Progyny - 100% upside - High-growth, profitable company is the only differentiated provider in a large, growing, and underserved market. PGNY’s high-touch, seamless offering helps them stand out against large insurance carriers.

Link to my research report on PGNY
High-growth, profitable company is the only differentiated provider in a large, growing, and underserved market. PGNY’s high-touch, seamless offering helps them stand out against large insurance carriers. Covid-19 has shown the importance of benefits for employees and will continue to be the key differentiator for those thinking of changing jobs. According to RMANJ (Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey), 68% of people would switch jobs for fertility benefits.
For employers, Progyny reduces costs by including the latest cutting-edge technology in one packaged price, thereby lowering the risk of multiples and increasing the likelihood of pregnancy, keeping employees happy with an integrated, data-driven, concierge service partnering with a selective group of fertility doctors.
Upside potential is 2x current price in the next 18 months.
Progyny Inc. (Nasdaq: PGNY), “PGNY” or the “Company”, based in New York, NY, is the leading independent fertility and family building benefits manager. Progyny serves as a value-add benefits manager sold to employers who want to improve their benefits coverage and retain and attract the best employees. Progyny offers a comprehensive solution and is truly disrupting the fertility industry.
There is no standard fertility cycle, but the below is a good approximation of possible workflows:
  1. Patient is referred to fertility center for evaluation for Assisted Reproductive Technology (“ART”) procedures, including in-vitro fertilization (“IVF “) and intrauterine insemination (“IUI”). Both can be aided by pharmaceuticals that stimulate egg production in the female patient. IVF involves the fertilization of the egg and sperm in the lab, while IUI is direct injection of the sperm sample into the uterus. Often, IUI is done first as it is less expensive. As success rates of IVF have increased, IUI utilization will likely fall.
  2. Sperm washing is the separation of the sperm from the semen sample for embryo creation, and it enhances the freezing capacity of the sperm. Typically, a wash solution is added to the sample and then a centrifuge is used to undergo separation. This is done in both IUI and IVF.
  3. Some OB/GYN platforms are pursuing vertical integration and offering fertility services directly. The OB would need to be credentialed at the lab / procedure center.
  4. Specialty pharmacy arranges delivery of temperature sensitive Rx. Drug regimens include ovarian stimulation to increase the number of eggs or hormone manipulation to better time fertility cycles, among others.
  5. Oocyte retrieval / aspiration is done under deep-sedation anesthesia in a procedure room, typically in the attached IVF lab. Transfer cycle implantation is done using ultrasound guidance without anesthesia. (Anecdotally, we have been told that only REIs can perform an egg retrieval. We have not been able to validate this).
  6. Many clinics house frozen embryos on-site, while some clinics contract with 3rd parties to manage the process. During an IVF cycle, embryos are created from all available eggs. Single-embryo transfer (“SET”) is becoming the norm, which means that multiple embryos are then cryopreserved to use in the future. A fertility preservation cycle ends here with a female storing eggs for long-term usage (e.g. a woman in her young 20s deciding to freeze her eggs for starting a family later).
  7. Common nomenclature refers to an IVF cycle or an IVF cycle with Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (“ICSI”). From a technical perspective, ICSI and IVF are different forms of embryo fertilization within an ART cycle.
  8. ART clinics are frequently offering ancillary services such as embryo / egg adoption or surrogacy services. More frequently, there are independent companies that help with the adoption process and finding surrogates.
  9. ART procedures are broken into two different types of cycles: a banking cycle is the process by which eggs are gathered, embryos are created and then transferred to cryopreservation. A transfer cycle is typically the transfer of a thawed embryo to the female for potential pregnancy. If a pregnancy does not occur, another transfer cycle ensues. Many REIs are moving towards a banking cycle, freezing all embryos, then transfer cycles until embryos are exhausted or a birth occurs. If a birth occurs with the first embryo, patients can keep their embryos for future pregnancy attempts, donate the embryos to a donation center, or request the destruction of the embryos.
The Company started as Auxogen Biosciences, an egg-freezing provider before changing business models to focus on providing a full-range of fertility benefits. In 2016, they launched with their first 5 employer clients and 110,000 members. As of June 30, 2020, the Company provided benefits to 134 employers and ~2.2 million members, year over year growth of 63%. 134 employers is less than 2% of the total addressable market of “approximately 8,000 self-insured employers in the United States (excluding quasi-governmental entities, such as universities and school systems, and labor unions) who have a minimum of 1,000 employees and represent approximately 69 million potential covered lives in total. Our current member base of 2.1 million represents only 3% of our total market opportunity.”
The utilization rate for all Progyny members was less than 1% in 2019, offering significant leverageable upside as the topic of fertility becomes less taboo.
Fertility has historically been a process fraught one-sided knowledge, even more so than the typical physician procedure. Despite the increased availability of information on the internet, women who undergo fertility treatments have often described the experience as “byzantine” and “chaotic”. Outdated treatment models without the latest technology (or the latest tech offered as expensive a la carte options) continue to be the norm at traditional insurance providers as well as clinics that do not accept insurance. Progyny’s differentiated approach, including a high-touch concierge level of service for patients and data-driven decision making at the clinical level, has led to an NPS of 72 for fertility benefits and 80 for the integrated, optional pharmacy benefit.
Typically, fertility benefits offered by large insurance carriers are add-ons to existing coverage subject to a lifetime maximum while simultaneously requiring physicians to try IUI 3 – 6 times before authorizing IVF. The success rate of IUI, also known as artificial insemination, is typically less than 10%, even when performed with medication. As mentioned in Progyny’s IPO “A patient with mandated fertility step therapy protocol may be required to undergo three to six cycles of IUI, which has an average success rate range of 5% to 15%, takes place over three to six months and can cost up to $4,000 per cycle (or an aggregate of approximately $12,000 to $24,000), according to FertilityIQ. Multiple rounds of mandated IUI is likely to exhaust the patient's lifetime dollar maximum fertility benefits and waste valuable time before more effective IVF treatment can be begun.”
Success Rates for IVF
IVF success rates vary greatly by age but were 49% on average for women younger than 35. The graph below shows success rates by all clinics by age group for those that did at least 10 cycles in the specific age group. As an example, for those in the ages 35 – 37, out of 456 available clinics, 425 performed at least 10 cycles with a median success rate of 39.7%.
Progyny’s Smart Cycle is the proprietary method the company has chosen as a “currency” for fertility benefits. As opposed to a traditional fee-for-service model with step-up methods, employers may choose to provide between 2 and unlimited Smart Cycles to employees. This enables employees to choose the provider’s best method. Included in the Smart Cycle, and another indicator of the Company’s forward-thinking methodology, are treatment options that deliver better outcomes (PGS, ICSI, multiple embryo freezing with future implantations).
As detailed in the chart above, a patient could undergo an IVF cycle that freezes all embryos (3/4 of a Smart Cycle), then transfer 5 frozen embryos (1/4 cycle each; each transfer would occur at peak ovulation, which would take at least 5 months) and use only 2 Smart Cycles. Alternatively, if the patient froze all embryos and got pregnant on the first embryo transfer, they would only use one cycle.
Before advances in vitrification (freezing), patients could not be sure that an embryo created in the lab and frozen for later use would be viable, so using only one embryo at a time seemed wasteful. Now, as freezing technology has advanced, undergoing one pharmaceutical regime, one oocyte collection procedure, creating as many embryos as possible, and then transferring one embryo back into the uterus while freezing the rest provides the highest ROI. If the first transferred embryo fails to implant or otherwise does not lead to a baby, the patient can simply thaw the next embryo and try implantation again next month.
Included in each Smart Cycle is pre-implantation genetic sequencing (“PGS”) on all available embryos and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (“ICSI”). PGS uses next-generation sequencing technology to determine the viability and sex of the embryo while ICSI is a process whereby a sperm is directly inserted into the egg to start fertilization, rather than allowing the sperm to penetrate the egg naturally. ICSI has a slightly higher rate of successful fertilization (as opposed to simply leaving the egg and sperm in the petri dish).
Because Progyny’s experience is denominated in cycles of care, not simply dollars, patients and doctors can focus on what procedures offer the best return. 30% of the Company’s existing network of doctors do not accept insurance of any kind, other than Progyny, which speaks to the value that is provided to doctors and employers.
For patients not looking to get pregnant, Progyny offers egg freezing as well. Progyny started as an egg-freezing manager, which allows a woman to preserve her fertility and manage her biological clock. As mentioned previously, pregnancy outcomes vary significantly and align closely with the age of the egg. Egg freezing is designed to allow a woman to save her younger eggs until she is ready to start a family. From an employer’s perspective, keeping younger women in the work force for longer is a cost savings. Vitrification technology has improved significantly since “Freeze your eggs, Free Your Career” was the headline on Bloomberg Businesweek in 2014, but we still don’t yet know the pregnancy rates for women who froze their eggs 5 years ago, but early results are promising and on par with IVF rates for women of similar ages now.
From a female perspective, the egg freezing process is not an easy one. The patient is still required to inject themselves with stimulation drugs and the egg retrieval process is the same as in the IVF process (under sedation). The same number of days out of work are required. Using the SmartCycle benefit above as an example, the egg freezing process would require ½ of a Smart Cycle. The annual payment required to the clinic is typically included in the benefits package but may require out-of-pocket expenses covered by the employee.
Contrary to popular belief, IVF pregnancies do not have a higher rate of multiples (twins, triplets, etc.), rather in order to reduce out of pocket costs, REIs have transferred multiple embryos to the patient, in the hopes of achieving a pregnancy. If you have struggled for years to get pregnant, and the doctor is suggesting that transferring 3 embryos at once is your best chance at success, you are unlikely to complain, nor are you likely to selectively eliminate an implanted embryo because you now have twins. There are several factors that are making it more likely / acceptable to transfer one embryo at a time, enabling Progyny’s success.
From the Company: “According to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology that analyzed the total costs of care over 400,000 deliveries between 2005 and 2010, as adjusted for inflation, the maternity and perinatal healthcare costs attributable to a set of twins are approximately $150,000 on average, more than four times the comparable costs attributable to singleton births of approximately $35,000, and often exceed this average. In the case of triplets, the costs escalate significantly and average $560,000, sometimes extending upwards of $1.0 million.”
“Progyny's selective network of high-quality fertility specialists consistently demonstrate a strong adherence to best practices with a substantially higher single embryo transfer rate. As a result, our members experience significantly fewer pregnancies with multiples (e.g., twins or triplets). Multiples are associated with a higher probability of adverse medical conditions for the mother and babies, and as a byproduct, significantly escalate the costs for employers. Our IVF multiples rate is 3.6% compared to the national average of 16.1%. A lower multiples rate is the primary means to achieving lower high-risk maternity and NICU expenses for our clients.”
An educated and supported patient leads to better outcomes. Each patient gets a patient care advocate who interacts with a patient, on average, 15x during their usage of fertility benefits - before treatment, during treatment and post-pregnancy. The Company provides phone-based clinical education and support seven days a week and the Company’s proprietary “UnPack It” call allows patients to speak to a licensed pharmacy clinician who describes the medications included in the package (which contains an average of 20 items per cycle), provides instruction on proper medication administration, and ensures that cycles start on time. The Company’s single medication authorization and delivery led to no missed or delayed cycles in 2018.
Previous conference calls have made note of the fact that the Company would like to purchase their own specialty pharmacy and own every aspect of that interaction, which should provide a lift to gross margins. This would allow PGNY to manage both the medication and the treatment, leading to decreased cost of fertility drugs. Under larger carrier programs, carriers manage access to treatment, but PBM manages access to medications, which can lead to a delay in cycle commencement.
Progyny Rx can only be added to the Progyny fertility benefits solution (not offered without subscription to base fertility benefits) and offers patients a potentially lower cost fertility drug benefit, while streamlining what is often a frustrating part of the consumer experience. The Progyny Rx solution reduces dispensing and delivery times and eliminates the possibility that a cycle does not start on time due to a specialty pharmacy not delivering medication. Progyny bills employers for fertility medication as it is dispensed in accordance with the individual Smart Cycle contract. Progyny Rx was introduced in 2018 and represented only 5% of total revenue in 2018. By June 30, 2020, Progyny Rx represented 28% of total revenue and increased 15% y/y. The growth rate should slow and move more in line with the fertility benefits solution as the existing customer base adds it to their package.
Progyny Rx can save employers 5% on spend for typical carrier fertility benefits or 21% of the drug spend. Prior authorization is not required, and the pre-screened network of specialty pharmacies can deliver within 48 hours. Additionally, PGNY has 1-year contracts, as opposed to 3 – 5 years like standard PBMs, but with guaranteed minimums, allowing them to purchase at discounts and pass part of the savings on to employers – another reason the attachment rate is so high.
Large, Underpenetrated Addressable Market
Total cycle counts are increasing (below, in 000s), including both freezing cycles and intended-pregnancy cycles. Acceleration in cycle volume is likely driven by a declining birth rate as women wait later in life to start a family, resulting in reduced fertility, as well as the number of non-traditional (LGBT and single parents). Conservatively, we believe cycles can double in the next 8 years, a 7% CAGR.
Progyny believes its addressable market is the $6.7B spent on infertility treatments in 2017, but these numbers could easily understate the available market and potential patients as over 50% of people in the US who are diagnosed as infertile do not seek treatment. Additionally, according to the Company, 35% of its covered universe did not previously have fertility benefits in place previously, meaning there is a growing population of people who are now considering their fertility options. According to Willis Towers, Watson, ~ 55% of employers offered fertility benefits in 2018.
A quick review of CDC stats and FertilityIQ shows a significant disparity in outcomes and emotions for those who are seeking treatment. While technology in the embryo lab is improving rapidly and success rates between clinics should be converging, there continue to be significant outliers. Clinics that follow what are now generally accepted procedures (follicle stimulating hormones, a 5-day incubation period and PGS to determine embryo viability) have seen success rates of at least 40%. There continue to be several providers that offer a mini-IVF cycle or natural IVF cycle. Designed to appeal to cost conscious cash payors, the on average $5,000 costs, is simply IVF without prescription drugs or any add-ons such as PGS. However, the success rates are on par with IUI and there is an abundance of patients over 40 using the service, where the success rates are already low. Additionally, success stories at these clinics frequently align with what is perceived as the worst parts of the process:
One clinic offering a natural cycle IVF has a rating at FertilityIQ of ~8.0 with 60% of people strongly recommending it. This clinic performed 2,000 cycles in 2018 (the most recently available data from the CDC), making it one of the top 10 most active fertility center in the US. Their success rate for women under 35 was 23%, as opposed to the national average of 50% for all clinics. For women over 43, the average success rate for the most active 40 clinics in this demographic was 5.0% this clinics success rate was 0.4%. The lower success rate is likely due to the lack of pre-cycle drugs and PGS, but the success rate and the average rating is hard to understand. Part of this could be to the customer service provided by the clinic, or the perceived benefit of having to go into the office less often for check-ups when not doing a medication driven cycle.
Reviews from other clinics with high average customer ratings, but low success rates include:
- “start of a journey that consisted of multiple IUI’s with numerous medications, but they were not successful.”
- After an IVF retrieval, the couple had two viable embryos, both were transferred the next month”
- “The couple started with a series of IUI treatments, three in total that were not successful.”
- “After a fresh transfer of two embryos, again another unsuccessful cycle”.
- “He suggested transferring 2 due to higher implantation rates, but there is increased rate of twins “
Progyny’s comps have typically been other high-growth companies that went public in the last two years: 1Life Healthcare (ONEM), Accolade (ACCD), Health Catalyst (HCAT), Health Equity (HQY), Livongo (LVGO), Phreesia (PHR), as well as Teladoc (TDOC). Despite revenue growth that outpaces these companies, PGNY’s revenue multiple of 4.4x 2021E revenue is a 40% discount to the peer group median. PNGY’s lower gross margin is likely limiting the multiple. However, Progyny is the one of the few profitable companies in this group and the only one with realistic EBTIDA margins. SG&A leverage is the most likely driver of increased EBITDA and can be achieved by utilizing data to improve clinical outcomes in the future, but primarily by increased productive of the sales reps, including larger employer wins and larger employee utilization.
Perhaps the best direct comp is Bright Horizons (BFAM). BFAM offers childcare as a healthcare benefit where employees can use pre-tax dollars to pay for childcare. BFAM offers both onsite childcare centers built to the employer’s specification (owned by the employer and operated by BFAM), as well as shared-site locations that are open to the public and back-up sitter services. Currently, PGNY is trading at 4.4x 2021E Revenue, in-line with BFAM’s 4.3x multiple. I would argue that PGNY should trade significantly higher given the asset-lite business model and higher ROIC.
Recent Results
Post Covid-19, fertility treatments came back faster than anticipated, combined with disciplined operations, PGNY drove revenue and EBITDA above 2Q2020 consensus estimates. Utilization is still below historical levels, but management’s visibility led to excellent FY21 revenue estimates (consensus is around $555M, a y/y increase of 62%.
2Q2020 revenue increased 15% to $64.6M, and EBITDA increased 18% to $6.5M, primarily driven by SBC as the 15% revenue was not enough to leverage the additional G&A people hired in the last 18 months. The end of the quarter as fertility docs opened their offices back up for remote visits saw better operating margin.
Despite the shutdown in fertility clinics during COVID-19, Progyny was able to successfully add several clients.
“The significant majority of the clinics in our network chose to adhere to ASRMs guidelines, and our volume of fertility treatments and dispensing of the related medications declined significantly over the latter part of the quarter. . . Through the end of March and into the first half of April, we saw significant reductions in the utilization of the benefit by our members down to as low as 15%, when compared to the early part of Q1 were 15% of what we consider to be normal levels. In April, the New York Department of Health declared that fertility is an essential health service and stated that clinics have the authority to treat their patients and perform procedures during the pandemic. Then on April 24, ASRM updated its guidelines which were reaffirmed on May 11, advising that practices could reopen for all procedures so long as it could be done in a measured way that is safe for patients and staff.”
Revenue increased by $33.8 million, 72% in 1Q2020. This increase is primarily due to a $19.0 million, or 47% increase, in revenue from fertility benefits. Additionally, the Company experienced a $14.8 million or 216% increase in revenue from specialty pharmacy. Revenue growth was due to the increase in the number of clients and covered lives. Progyny Rx revenue growth outpaced the fertility benefits revenue since Progyny Rx went live with only a select number of clients on January 1, 2018 and has continued to add both new and existing fertility benefit solution clients since its initial launch.
The only true competition is the large insurance companies, but, as mentioned previously, they are not delivering care the same way. WINFertility is the largest manager of fertility insurance benefits on behalf of Anthem, Aetna and Cigna and are not directly involved in the delivery of care. Carrot is a Silicon Valley startup that recently raised $24M in a Series B with several brand name customers (StitchFix, Slack) where they focus on negotiating discounts at fertility clinics for their customers, who then use after-tax dollars from their employers.
Risks to Thesis
Though there is risk a large carrier may switch to a model similar to Progyny’s, I believe it is unlikely given the established relationships with REIs at the clinic level, the difficulty of managing a more selective network of providers, and the lack of
interest shown previously in eliminating the IUI. It is more likely a carrier would acquire Progyny first.
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The Race Car Wheel: Wheeling S&P Index Futures

So I recently discovered index futures options. Naturally, this got me thinking.
So we're all on the same page here, the S&P 500 e-mini index futures contract (/ES) is a cash-settled futures contract tracking the S&P 500 index, and trades at a notional value of $50 per index point (close today was 3267.75 x $50 = $163,387.50), 22.5 hours per day, 5 days per week. Being a highly leveraged product, your initial margin requirement is only $6600 and maintenance margin is $6000, so you're looking at roughly 27X leverage. Spicy.
Now, here's where things get interesting. There are /ES index futures options (FOP) contracts that expire three times per week (M, W, F). Calls and puts, the usual. Each /ES FOP contract covers the price action on one (not 100) /ES contracts, so that's pretty straight-forward.
Premiums are good, IV is very high, and liquidity is good. At the money /ES FOPs expiring two days later (W on M, F on W, M on F) are pretty consistently 15-25 points (x$50 = $750-$1250 in premium).
/ES futures are cash settled and /ES FOPs are cash futures contract settled; no dividends, and best of all, taxed at a rate of 60% short term gains, 40% long term gains even if your trade lasts seconds. (
So, ladies, gentlemen, I present to you, the wheel. But like, a race car wheel.
So how well does this work? Market's been pretty flat, and I've done this consistently for the last 6 weeks. Currently my total realized proceeds are ~$12000 on a single /ES-FOP pair wheel.
Risk: See March.
WARNING: This is playing with live rounds, and there is $160K at risk. You may find yourself holding an ES contract for a long time if we see another economic disaster, or an extension of this one. Prepare yourselves, and make sure you know what you're getting into before joining me on this coke-fueled theta gang adventure.
With that in mind, I'm making a trading bot to automate this lol.
submitted by arctic_bull to thetagang [link] [comments]

How to not get ruined with Options - Part 3a of 4 - Simple Strategies

Post 1: Basics: CALL, PUT, exercise, ITM, ATM, OTM
Post 2: Basics: Buying and Selling, the Greeks
Post 3a: Simple Strategies
Post 3b: Advanced Strategies
Post 4a: Example of trades (short puts, covered calls, and verticals)
Post 4b: Example of trades (calendars and hedges)
Ok. So I lied. This post was getting way too long, so I had to split in two (3a and 3b)
In the previous posts 1 and 2, I explained how to buy and sell options, and how their price is calculated and evolves over time depending on the share price, volatility, and days to expiration.
In this post 3a (and the next 3b), I am going to explain in more detail how and when you can use multiple contracts together to create more profitable trades in various market conditions.
Just a reminder of the building blocks:
You expect that, by expiration, the stock price will …
... go up more than the premium you paid → Buy a call
… go down more than the premium you paid → Buy a put
... not go up more than the premium you got paid → Sell a call
... not go down more than the premium you got paid → Sell a put
Buying Straight Calls:
But why would you buy calls to begin with? Why not just buy the underlying shares? Conversely, why would you buy puts? Why not just short the underlying shares?
Let’s take long shares and long calls as an example, but this applies with puts as well.
If you were to buy 100 shares of the company ABC currently trading at $20. You would have to spend $2000. Now imagine that the share price goes up to $25, you would now have $2500 worth of shares. Or a 25% profit.
If you were convinced that the price would go up, you could instead buy call options ATM or OTM. For example, an ATM call with a strike of $20 might be worth $2 per share, so $200 per contract. You buy 10 contracts for $2000, so the same cost as buying 100 shares. Except that this time, if the share price hits $25 at expiration, each contract is now worth $500, and you now have $5000, for a $3000 gain, or a 150% profit. You could even have bought an OTM call with a strike of $22.50 for a lower premium and an even higher profit.
But it is fairly obvious that this method of buying calls is a good way to lose money quickly. When you own shares, the price goes up and down, but as long as the company does not get bankrupt or never recovers, you will always have your shares. Sometimes you just have to be very patient for the shares to come back (buying an index ETF increases your chances there). But by buying $2000 worth of calls, if you are wrong on the direction, the amplitude, or the time, those options become worthless, and it’s a 100% loss, which rarely happens when you buy shares.
Now, you could buy only one contract for $200. Except for the premium that you paid, you would have a similar profit curve as buying the shares outright. You have the advantage though that if the stock price dropped to $15, instead of losing $500 by owning the shares, you would only lose the $200 you paid for the premium. However, if you lose these $200 the first month, what about the next month? Are you going to bet $200 again, and again… You can see that buying calls outright is not scalable long term. You need a very strong conviction over a specific period of time.
How to buy cheaper shares? Sell Cash Covered Put.
Let’s continue on the example above with the company ABC trading at $20. You may think that it is a bit expensive, and you consider that $18 is a more acceptable price for you to own that company.
You could sell a put ATM with a $20 strike, for $2. Your break-even point would be $18, i.e. you would start losing money if the share price dropped below $18. But also remember that if you did buy the shares outright, you would have lost more money in case of a price drop, because you did not get a premium to offset that loss. If the price stays above $20, your return for the month will be 11% ($200 / $1800).
Note that in this example, we picked the ATM strike of $20, but you could have picked a lower strike for your short put, like an OTM strike of $17.50. Sure, the premium would be lower, maybe $1 per share, but your break-even point would drop from $18 to $16.50 (only 6% return then per month, not too shabby).
The option trade will usually be written like this:
SELL -1 ABC 100 17 JUL 20 17.5 PUT @ 1.00
This means we sold 1 PUT on ABC, 100 shares per contract, the expiration date is July 17, 2020, and the strike is $17.5, and we sold it for $1 per share (so $100 credit minus fees).
With your $20 short put, you will get assigned the shares if the price drops below $20 and you keep it until expiration, however, you will have paid them the equivalent of $18 each (we’ll actually talk more about the assignment later). If your short put expires worthless, you keep the premium, and you may decide to redo the same trade again. The share price may have gone up so much that the new ATM strike does not make you comfortable, and that’s fine as you were not willing to spend more than $18 per share, to begin with, anyway. You will have to wait for some better conditions.
This strategy is called a cash covered put. In a taxable account, depending on your broker, you can have it on margin with no cash needed (you will need to have some other positions to provide the buying power). Beware that if you don’t have the cash to cover the shares, it is adding some leverage to your overall position. Make sure you account for all your potential risks at all times. The nice thing about this position is that as long as you are not assigned, you don’t actually need to borrow some money, it won’t cost you anything. In an IRA account, you will need to have the cash available for the assignment (remember in this example, you only need $1800, plus trading fees).
Let’s roll!
Now one month later, the share price is between $18 and $22, there are few days of expiration left, and you don’t want to be assigned, but you want to continue the same process for next month. You could close the current position, and reopen a new short put, or you could in one single transaction buy back your current short put, and sell another put for next month. Doing one trade instead of two is usually cheaper because you reduce the slippage cost. The closing of the old position and re-opening of a new short position for the next expiration is called rolling the short option (from month to month, but you can also do this with weekly options).
The croll can be done a week or even a few days before expiration. Remember to avoid expiration days, and be careful being short an option on ex-dividend dates. When you roll month to month with the same strike, for most cases, you will get some money out of it. However, the farther your strike is from the current share price, the less additional premium you will get (due to the lower extrinsic value on the new option), and it can end up being close to $0. At that point, given the risk incurred, you may prefer to close the trade altogether or just be assigned. During the roll, depending on if the share price moved a bit, you can adjust the roll up or down. For example, you buy back your short put at $18, and you sell a new short put at $17 or $19, or whatever value makes the most sense.
Now, let’s say that the share price finally dropped below $20, and you decided not to roll, or it dropped so much that the roll would not make sense. You ended up getting your shares assigned at a strike price of $18 per share. Note that the assigned share may have a current price much lower than $18 though. If that’s the case, remember that you earned more money than if you bought the shares outright at $20 (at least, you got to keep the $2 premium). And if you rolled multiple times, every premium that you got is additional money in your account.
Want to sell at a premium? Sell Covered Calls.
You could decide to hold onto the shares that you got at a discount, or you may decide that the stock price is going to go sideways, and you are fine collecting more theta. For example, you could sell a call at a strike of $20, for example for $1 (as it is OTM now given the stock price dropped).
SELL -1 ABC 100 17 JUL 20 20 CALL @ 1.00
When close to the expiration time, you can either roll your calls again, the same way that you rolled your puts, as much as you can, or just get assigned if the share price went up. As you get assigned, your shares are called away, and you receive $2000 from the 100 shares at $20 each. Except that you accumulated more money due to all the premiums you got along the way.
This sequence of the short put, roll, roll, roll, assignment, the short call, roll, roll, roll, is called the wheel.
It is a great strategy to use when the market is trading sideways and volatility is high (like currently). It is a low-risk trade provided that the share you pick is not a risky one (pick a market ETF to start) perfect to get create some income with options. There are two drawbacks though:
You will have to be patient for the share to go back up, but often you can end up with many shares at a loss if the market has been tanking. As a rule of thumb, if I get assigned, I never ever sell a call below my assignment strike minus the premium. In case the market jumps back up, I can get back to my original position, with an additional premium on the way. Market and shares can drop like a stone and bounce back up very quickly (you remember this March and April?), and you really don’t want to lock a loss.
Here is a very quick example of something to not do: Assigned at $18, current price is $15, sell a call at $16 for $1, share goes back up to $22. I get assigned at $16. In summary, I bought a share at $18, and sold it at $17 ($16 + $1 premium), I lost $1 between the two assignments. That’s bad.
You will have to find some other companies to do the wheel on. If it softens the blow a bit, your retirement account may be purely long, so you’ll not have totally missed the upside anyway.
A short put is a bullish position. A short call is a bearish position. Alternating between the two gives you a strategy looking for a reversion to the mean. Both of these positions are positive theta, and negative vega (see part 2).
Now that I explained the advantage of the long calls and puts, and how to use short calls and puts, we can explore a combination of both.
Most option beginners are going to use long calls (or even puts). They are going to gain some money here and there, but for most parts, they will lose money. It is worse if they profited a bit at the beginning, they became confident, bet a bigger amount, and ended up losing a lot. They either buy too much (50% of my account on this call trade that can’t fail), too high of a volatility (got to buy those NKLA calls or puts), or too short / too long of an expiration (I don’t want to lose theta, or I overspent on theta).
As we discussed earlier, a straight long call or put is one of the worst positions to be in. You are significantly negative theta and positive vega. But if you take a step back, you will realize that not accounting for the premium, buying a call gives you the upside of stock up to the infinity (and buying a put gives you the upside of the stock going to $0). But in reality, you rarely are betting that the stock will go to infinity (or to $0). You are often just betting that the stock will go up (or down) by X%. Although the stock could go up (or down) by more than X%, you intuitively understand that there is a smaller chance for this to happen. Options are giving you leverage already, you don’t need to target even more gain.
More importantly, you probably should not pay for a profit/risk profile that you don’t think is going to happen.
Enter verticals. It is a combination of long and short calls (or puts). Say, the company ABC trades at $20, you want to take a bullish position, and the ATM call is $2. You probably would be happy if the stock reaches $25, and you don’t think that it will go much higher than that.
You can buy a $20 call for $2, and sell a $25 call for $0.65. You will get the upside from $20 to $25, and you let someone else take the $25 to infinity range (highly improbable). The cost is $1.35 per share ($2.00 - $0.65).
BUY +1 VERTICAL ABC 100 17 JUL 20 20/25 CALL @ 1.35
This position is interesting for multiple reasons. First, you still get the most probable range for profitability ($20 to $25). Your cost is $1.35 so 33% cheaper than the long call, and your max profit is $5 - $1.35 = $3.65. So your max gain is 270% of the risked amount, and this is for only a 25% increase in the stock price. This is really good already. You reduced your dependency on theta and vega, because the short side of the vertical is reducing your long side’s. You let someone else pay for it.
Another advantage is that it limits your max profit, and it is not a bad thing. Why is it a good thing? Because it is too easy to be greedy and always wanting and hoping for more profit. The share reached $25. What about $30? It reached $30, what about $35? Dang it dropped back to $20, I should have sold everything at the top, now my call expires worthless. But with a vertical, you know the max gain, and you paid a premium for an exact profit/risk profile. As soon as you enter the vertical, you could enter a close order at 90% of the max value (buy at $1.35, sell at $4.50), good till to cancel, and you hope that the trade will eventually be executed. It can only hit 100% profit at expiration, so you have to target a bit less to get out as soon as you can once you have a good enough profit. This way you lock your profit, and you have no risk anymore in case the market drops afterwards.
These verticals (also called spreads) can be bullish or bearish and constructed as debit (you pay some money) or credit (you get paid some money). The debit or credit versions are equivalent, the credit version has a bit of a higher chance to get assigned sooner, but as long as you check the extrinsic value, ex-dividend date, and are not too deep ITM you will be fine. I personally prefer getting paid some money, I like having a bigger balance and never have to pay for margin. :)
Here are the 4 trades for a $20 share price:
CALL BUY 20 ATM / SELL 25 OTM - Bullish spread - Debit
CALL BUY 25 OTM / SELL 20 ATM - Bearish spread - Credit
PUT BUY 20 ATM / SELL 25 ITM - Bullish spread - Credit
PUT BUY 25 ITM / SELL 20 ATM - Bearish spread - Debit
Because both bullish trades are equivalent, you will notice that they both have the same profit/risk profile (despite having different debit and credit prices due to the OTM/ITM differences). Same for the bearish trades. Remember that the cost of an ITM option is greater than ATM, which in turn is greater than an OTM. And that relationship is what makes a vertical a credit or a debit.
I understand that it can be a lot to take in. Let’s take a step back here. I picked a $20/$25 vertical, but with the share price at $20, I could have a similar $5 spread with $15/$20 (with the same 4 constructs). Or instead of 1 vertical $20/$25, I could have bought 5 verticals $20/$21. This is a $5 range as well, except that it has a higher probability for the share to be above $21. However, it also means that the spread will be more expensive (you’ll have to play with your broker tool to understand this better), and it also increases the trading fees and potentially overall slippage, as you have 5 times more contracts. Or you could even decide to pick OTM $25/$30, which would be even cheaper. In this case, you don’t need the share to reach $30 to get a lot of profit. The contracts will be much cheaper (for example, like $0.40 per share), and if the share price goes up to $25 quickly long before expiration, the vertical could be worth $1.00, and you would have 150% of profit without the share having to reach $30.
If you decide to trade these verticals the first few times, look a lot at the numbers before you trade to make sure you are not making a mistake. With a debit vertical, the most you can lose per contract is the premium you paid. With a credit vertical, the most you can lose is the difference between your strikes, minus the premium you received.
One last but important note about verticals:
If your short side is too deep ITM, you may be assigned. It happens. If you bought some vertical with a high strike value, for example:
SELL +20 VERTICAL SPY 100 17 JUL 20 350/351 PUT @ 0.95
Here, not accounting for trading fees and slippage, you paid $0.95 per share for 20 contracts that will be worth $1 per share if SPY is less than $350 by mid-July, which is pretty certain. That’s a 5% return in 4 weeks (in reality, the trading fees are going to reduce most of that). Your actual risk on this trade is $1900 (20 contracts * 100 shares * $0.95) plus trading fees. That’s a small trade, however the underlying instrument you are controlling is much more than that.
Let’s see this in more detail: You enter the trade with a $1900 potential max loss, and you get assigned on the short put side (strike of $350) after a few weeks. Someone paid expensive puts and exercised 20 puts with a strike of $350 on their existing SPY shares (2000 of them, 20 contracts * 100 shares). You will suddenly receive 2000 shares on your account, that you paid $350 each. Thus your balance is going to show -$700,000 (you have 2000 shares to balance that).
If that happens to you: DON’T PANIC. BREATHE. YOU ARE FINE.
You owe $700k to your broker, but you have roughly the same amount in shares anyway. You are STILL protected by your long $351 puts. If the share price goes up by $1, you gain $2000 from the shares, but your long $351 put will lose $2000. Nothing changed. If the share price goes down by $1, you lose $2000 from the shares, but your long $350 put will gain $2000. Nothing changed. Just close your position nicely by selling your shares first, and just after selling your puts. Some brokers can do that in one single trade (put based covered stock). Don’t let the panic set in. Remember that you are hedged. Don’t forget about the slippage, don’t let the market makers take advantage of your panic. Worst case scenario, if you use a quality broker with good customer service, call them, and they will close your position for you, especially if this happens in an IRA.
The reason I am insisting so much on this is because of last week’s event. Yes, the RH platform may have shown incorrect numbers for a while, but before you trade options you need to understand the various edge cases. Again if this happens to you, don’t panic, breathe, and please be safe.
This concludes my post 3a. We talked about the trade-offs between buying shares, buying calls instead, selling puts to get some premium to buy some shares at a cheaper price, rolling your short puts, getting your puts assigned, selling calls to get some additional money in sideways markets, rolling your short calls, having your calls assigned too. We talked about the wheel, being this whole sequence spanning multiple months. After that, we discussed the concept of verticals, with bullish and bearish spreads that can be either built as a debit or a credit.
And if there is one thing you need to learn from this, avoid buying straight calls or puts but use verticals instead, especially if the volatility is very high. And do not ever sell naked calls, again use verticals.
The next post will explain more advanced and interesting option strategies.
Post 1: Basics: CALL, PUT, exercise, ITM, ATM, OTM
Post 2: Basics: Buying and Selling, the greeks
Post 3a: Simple Strategies
Post 3b: Advanced Strategies
Post 4a: Example of trades (short puts, covered calls, and verticals)
Post 4b: Example of trades (calendars and hedges)
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Singapore is a Meritocracy* [EXTRA LONG POST]

Singapore is a Meritocracy* [EXTRA LONG POST]
Edit: Thank you for all the comments and chat messages! I'm trying to go through each one. Writing thoughtful comments in the midst of having a full-time job is HARD WORK. I think I've missed a few questions, drop me a message if you're interested in continuing a discussion, I'm open to listening! There has been a lot of good comments, a few with great perspectives, and now I have a whole lot of things to read up on.
Now that the 2020 General Election is firmly in our rear-view mirror, there is something that I have been meaning to write about: institutionalized racism affecting the minorities, especially the Malays, in Singapore. If you are groaning at this thinking you have been misled by this post’s title, I assure you that by the end of this post you will understand the caveat behind the above-mentioned title. I plead for a little of your time and patience.
We have seen many discussions online about majority privilege and systemic racism impacting the minorities. Many of you may have even participated in some of these discussions. I will not try to explain those terms for they have already been repeatedly debated to death. What this post aims to achieve is to bring to light Singapore’s history and government policies that have either benefited the majority race or kneecapped the minority race. Or both.
Why am I doing this?
It is frustrating to see some Singaporeans fully buying into the narrative that Singapore is a truly meritocratic society; that the government’s policies do not discriminate against minorities, or if a Singaporean worked hard enough he or she will succeed (whatever the definition of success is), or that we have anti-discriminatory laws that protect the minorities. Some even claim that the Malays enjoy special privileges due to Section 152 of the Constitution describing the special position of Malays, and that the Malays are blessed with free education in Singapore.
Section 152, “Special Position”, free education for all Malays?
Minorities and special position of Malays
152.—(1) It shall be the responsibility of the Government constantly to care for the interests of the racial and religious minorities in Singapore.
(2) The Government shall exercise its functions in such manner as to recognise the special position of the Malays, who are the indigenous people of Singapore, and accordingly it shall be the responsibility of the Government to protect, safeguard, support, foster and promote their political, educational, religious, economic, social and cultural interests and the Malay language.
The oft-mentioned Section 152 of the Constitution was an administrative continuation of previously existing colonial policy towards the Malays [Col: 126]. Regardless of the “special position” of the Malays, the only form of assistance rendered to the Malays was the policy of free education for all Malay students. This minimal approach of the government did little to improve the educational and socio-economic standing of the Malays as revealed by the 1980 national census. The free tertiary education policy was ultimately removed in 1990, despite opposition from Malays who questioned the constitutionality of its removal [col: 126].
With free education for all Malays, why haven’t their socio-economic and educational standings improved?
There are many factors to look at, and the issue goes way back to the colonial era so that’s where we shall start. The colonial administrators of Singapore, in their pursuit of capitalistic gains, had little use for the native inhabitants. The natives who were already living off their own land had no desire to work for the British as labourers. The British saw this unwillingness to work for them as indolence, and ascribed many other negative cultural stereotypes to the locals [pdf]. Nailing home the capitalistic intent of colonial presence in Singapore, the British Director of Education R. O. Winstedt explained their policy for education for the natives in 1920 [pg. 2]:
"The aim of the government is not to turn out a few well-educated youths, nor a number of less well-educated boys; rather it is to improve the bulk of the people, and to make the son of a fisherman or a peasant a more intelligent fisherman or peasant than his father had been, and a man whose education will enable him to understand how his lot in life fits in with the scheme of life around him".
And in 1915, a British resident revealed the colonial attitude towards education [pg. 3]:
"The great object of education is to train a man to make a living.... you can teach Malays so that they do not lose their skill and craft in fishing and jungle work. Teach them the dignity of manual labour, so that they do not all become krannies (clerks) and I am sure you will not have the trouble which has arisen in India through over education"
The type and quality of education that the British set up for the native inhabitants show that they had no intentions to empower the locals with skills for a new economy. The education provided, while free, was to make sure the locals were kept out of trouble for the British, and remain subservient to the colonial causes. Further impeding the socio-economic status of Malays, the British actively discouraged Malays in switching from agricultural production to more lucrative cash crops, preventing the building of wealth among the Malay communities (Shahruddin Ma’arof, 1988: 51). In contrast to the British suppression of the buildup of Malay wealth and provision of vernacular education, Chinese businessmen, clan associations and Christian missionaries established Chinese schools where students were taught skills like letter-writing and the use of the abacus. By the turn of the 20th century, the curriculum in these Chinese-language schools expanded to include arithmetic, science, history and geography while Malay-language schools under Winstedt’s educational policies focused on vernacular subjects such as basket-weaving.
So, when Singapore attained self-governance, did things get better?
Discontent with the education system and social inequalities was already a big issue in the mid 1950s that the parties that contested for the Legislative Assembly championed for reforms to social issues like better education systems, housing subsidies and workers rights.
The People’s Action Party (PAP) won the 1959 Legislative Assembly general elections by running on a rather progressive platform of low-cost housing, improvement of employment opportunities for locals and a stronger education. They also campaigned for abolishing the inequality of wealth in their election manifesto (Petir, 1958: 2), with PAP chairman Dr Toh Chin Chye expressing his disgust at seeing “so many of our people reduced to living like animals because under the present social and economic system, the good things of life are for the ruthless few, those who believe that the poor and the humble are despicable failures.”
With the PAP in power, assurances were made to Singaporeans that no community would be left behind. In 1965, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew promised aid specifically to help raise the economic and education levels of the Malays. In 1967 during a mass rally at Geylang Serai, PM Lee again promised that “the Government with the support of the non-Malays are prepared to concentrate more than the average share of our resources on our Malay citizens [pdf].” He emphasized the importance of lifting all sections of the community to an even footing, reasoning that “if one section of the community were to lag behind it would harm the unity and integrity of the nation” (Bedlington, 1974: 289).
Despite these promises to help the minorities narrow the inequality gap, very little was done to realize it. Instead, the government took a ruthless approach towards economic growth, sparing no expense. Deputy Prime Minister Goh Keng Swee explained the government’s main concern was “to generate fast economic growth by any and every possible means. . . . If unequal distribution of income induced greater savings and investment . . . then this must be accepted as the price of fighting unemployment.” (Goh, 1972: 275)
By the late 1970s, a strong shift in parents’ preference towards an English-medium education for their children had resulted in a rapid decline in the number of vernacular schools.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, there was a shift of parents’ preference towards educating their child in the English stream. This shift, together with a period of minimal intervention in terms of educational policy and assistance to the minorities by the government, caused the number of enrolments in vernacular schools to rapidly decline. The socio-economic gap also widened between the Malays and Chinese, as the Chinese community enjoyed greater occupational mobility relative to the minorities. This can be seen in the shift in the lower manual occupation category, from a relatively equal proportion in 1957 to a 10 percent difference in 1980 [Table A]. In 1980, the average Malay household income was only 73.8 percent of the average Chinese household income. The income gap widened considerably by 1990, where the average Malay household income dropped to 69.8 percent of the average Chinese household income [Table B] (Rahim, 1998: 19-22). Decades after the lofty promises were made by the government, the Malay community’s slide into marginality continued.
Table A

Table B
Wait, the gap got bigger? Did the government do anything?
In 1979, Education Minister Dr Goh Keng Swee with the Education Study Team released a report on the Ministry of Education, more widely known as the Goh Report. The team was made up of 13 members, most of them systems analysts and economists, and none of whom ‘possess much knowledge or expertise on education’ (Goh Report, 1979: 1). The all-Chinese team excluded social scientists and educationalists, as the Education Minister had little regard for their expertise (Rahim, 1998: 121). The Goh Report made recommendations for radical changes to the educational system, recommendations which then became the basis of the New Education System (NES).
During a time when Tamil, Malay and Chinese schools were getting closed down due to declining enrolment numbers due to the popularity of English medium ones, the Special Assistance Plan (SAP) was introduced in 1978 to preserve and develop nine Chinese schools into bilingual (Mandarin and English) schools while retaining the values and traditions of a Chinese school. As part of the NES, these schools were to be the only ones to offer the Special course which the top 10 percent scorers of the PSLE are eligible to opt for. With these schools getting more resources, better facilities and the best teachers, the SAP contradicts the multi-racial principle of giving equal treatment to the non-English language streams. This exclusivity and the elite status of SAP schools affords its students better opportunities and advantages that are virtually out of reach for many minorities in Singapore. Effectively, the SAP is an institutionalized form of ethnic/cultural favouritism (Rahim, 1998: 130)
The NES also introduced early streaming for students which further exacerbated existing inequalities. Despite primary school education being free for all Singaporeans, families with better financial means have a huge advantage in preparing their child for streaming through additional tuition and better preschool choices#. (Barr & Low, 2005: 177) As we have seen from the disparity in household incomes between the Chinese and Malays, early streaming served to widen the gap between the haves and have-nots. The have-nots, more often than not, find themselves in the lower streams, trapped with very limited options providing upward social mobility. They will have to face an insurmountable task to lift themselves and their future generations out of their current predicament.
In 1982, the PAP slogan “a more just and equal society” was quietly dropped from the party’s constitution. This signaled an end to the socialist ideals that the party built its identity upon.
Why? It can’t be that the government favours one race over another...can it?
Examining the PAP leadership’s attitude towards the different cultures and ethnicities is key to understanding what the government values and how these values shaped its policies. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, as quoted in the Goh Report, extolled the values of East Asian philosophies: "The greatest value in the teaching and learning of Chinese is in the transmission of the norms of social or moral behaviour. This means principally Confucianist beliefs and ideas, of man [sic], society and the state" (Goh, 1979: v). The government’s championing of SAP schools and ‘Chinese values’ is also complemented by the launch of ‘Speak Mandarin Campaign’ in 1979.
In 1991, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong espoused similar values as his predecessor, praising the virtues of ‘Confucian dynamism’ and claiming that Singapore would not be able to thrive and prosper without the Confucian core values of thrift, hard work and group cohesion. The fear of erosion of the Chinese cultural identity was never matched with a similar concern for the erosion of minority cultural identities, where the minorities were “expected to submit to a form of partial or incomplete assimilation into a Chinese-generated, Chinese-dominated society.#” (Barr & Low, 2005: 167)
On top of favouring Chinese cultural values and identities, the PAP leadership associated the cultures of the minorities with negative connotations. Speaking about a Malay who did well in business, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew described the man as “acting just like a Chinese. You know, he’s bouncing around, running around, to-ing and fro-ing. In the old culture, he would not be doing that” (Han, et al., 1998: 184). In a Straits Times article on 26 June 1992, SM Lee also implied that the Chinese are inherently better at Maths, and that "If you pretend that the problem does not exist, and that in fact (the Malays) can score as well as the Chinese in Maths, then you have created yourself an enormous myth which you will be stuck with.+"
These attitudes from the ruling elite translated into more policies that preserved the advantage of the majority. When faced with the “pressing national problem”* of a declining birth-rate of the Chinese, the government took steps to ensure Chinese numerical dominance in Singapore. The Singapore government encouraged the immigration of skilled workers from countries like Hong Kong, Korea, and Macau, countries which were accorded the status of ‘traditional sources’ of foreign labour (Rahim, 1998: 72). Meanwhile, showing the government’s preference and/or dislike for specific groups of people, Malaysian Malays faced great difficulty in getting work permits. (“‘Harder’ for bumiputras to get S’pore work permits.+”, The Straits Times, 7 Mar 1991)
Another policy which worked to preserve the advantage of the majority was the urban resettlement programmes of the 1960s and 1970s. This resulted in the dissolution of the Malay electoral strongholds in the east, undermining the organic growth of Malay political grassroots. When it became apparent in the 1980s that the Malays were moving back to the traditional Malay residential areas, an ethnic residential quota, labelled the Ethnic Integration Policy, was implemented. The rationale behind the quota was to ensure a balanced racial mix, purportedly for racial harmony. However, this rationale does not stand up to scrutiny in the face of numerous academic studies on interethnic urban attitudes and relations**. Another consequence of the policy is the reinforcement of racial segregation when taking into account the income disparity between the races. Underlining the weakness of the government’s reasoning, constituencies like Hougang were allowed to remain Chinese residential enclaves despite its population being approximately 80 percent Chinese. (Rahim, 1998: 73-77)
Perhaps the most controversial policy introduced was the Graduate Mothers Scheme. It was introduced in 1983 to reverse the trend of falling fertility rates of graduate women versus the rising birth-rate of non-graduate women***. In a push to encourage graduate mothers to get married and have children, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Goh Keng Swee unveiled a suite of incentives; all-expenses paid love-boat cruises for eligible graduate singles in the civil service, a computer dating service, fiscal incentives, and special admissions to National University of Singapore (NUS) to even out the male-female student ratio#. At the other end of the spectrum, lesser-educated women were encouraged to have smaller families in a scheme called the Small Family Incentive Scheme. This was achieved by paying out a housing grant worth S$10,000 to women who were able to meet the following set of conditions: be below 30 years of age, have two or less children, educational level not beyond secondary school, have a household income totalling not more than S$1,500 and willing to be sterilized#.
Based on the average household income statistics, a simple deduction could be made that those eligible for the sterilization programme were disproportionately from the minority communities.
Isn’t that eugenics?
Yes. Singapore had a government-established Eugenics Board.
The graduate mothers and sterilization programmes were greatly unpopular and were ultimately abandoned or modified after the PAP’s mandate took a 12.9 percent hit in the 1984 general election. However that did not mean that eugenics stopped being an influence in policy-making.
In his 1983 National Day address, PM Lee stated that when it comes to intelligence, “80 per cent is nature, or inherited, and 20 per cent the differences from different environments and upbringing.” This is telling of the role that eugenics, biological determinist and cultural deficit theories played in the formation of PAP policies.
To further safeguard Singapore from “genetic pollution” (Rahim, 1998: 55, Tremewan, 1994: 113), the Ministry of Labour in 1984 issued a marriage restriction between work permit holders and Singaporeans. The work permit holder would have his work permit cancelled, be deported and be permanently barred from re-entering Singapore if he were to marry a Singaporean or permanent resident without obtaining prior approval. Approval from the Commissioner for Employment would only be given if the work permit holder possesses skills and qualifications of value to Singapore.
Doesn’t sound to me like the government targets any particular race with its policies.
Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 1987 rationalized that certain posts in the Singapore Armed Forces had been closed to Malays for "national security" reasons. He claimed that this policy was implemented to avoid placing Malays in an awkward position when loyalty to nation and religion came into conflict. PM Lee also added that the Malays behaved more as Malay Muslims than as loyal Singaporeans. PM Lee and DPM Lee’s statements finally made explicit what many suspected to have been an implicit rule. It could be observed that, despite being overrepresented in the civil service, Malays tend to stay in the lower-to-middle rungs of organizations like the SAF. It is also noteworthy that, to date, no Malay has held important Cabinet portfolios such as Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Minister of Trade and Industry.
The conflation of loyalty to the country with approval of the ruling party proved to be patently flawed, as studies by the Institute of Policy Studies (ST, 30 Sept 1990: 22; IPS, 2010) indicate that Singaporean Malays showed a stronger sense of national pride and identification compared to the other major ethnic groups. The study also found that Citizen-Nation Psychological Ties (CNP) scores, that is, national loyalty, weakens with: higher socio-economic status, Chinese, youth, and political alienation. Even when the Malays have been historically disenfranchised, they were found to be proud to be Singaporeans, loyal to Singapore and more willing to sacrifice for the nation than the other ethnic groups.
Additionally, Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong threatened to withhold aid to the Malay self-help organization Mendaki in 1988. The threat was issued over an incident during election night where several Malays in a crowd of Workers Party supporters had jeered at PM Goh at a vote counting centre. It became apparent from this incident that any aid offered by the government was tied to loyalty to the PAP instead of it being the duty of the government to serve Singaporeans regardless of party affiliation^^.
There have always been Malay PAP Members of Parliament (MP), did they not help fight for these issues?
The Malay PAP MPs are in the unique position of having to represent not only people of their constituents but also the rest of the Malay Singaporeans while toeing the party line. With many of the government policies being unhelpful towards the Malays, it is near impossible to fulfill this role satisfactorily. PAP MPs Ahmad Haleem (Telok Blangah) and Sha’ari Tadin (Kampong Chai Chee, Bedok) were both made to enjoy early retirements from their political careers for bringing up “sensitive” issues of the Malay community^^^. This set the tone for future PAP Malay MPs to remain unquestioningly in step with the leadership, regardless of their personal agreement, in order to have a long career within the party. Today, Malay PAP MPs have continued with the trend of parroting PAP policies that ran against the interests of the Malay/Muslim community (e.g. Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim with regards to the tudung issue).
What about the Mendaki and the Tertiary Tuition Fee Subsidy (TTFS)?
The policy providing free education for all Malays was ended in 1990 despite opposition from the Malays and the opposition party[Col: 126]. In its place, Mendaki introduced TTFS in 1991 to subsidise the cost of tertiary education in local institutions for those living in low household income. Due to the long history of marginalization and the widening of the inequality gap, the number of Malays who were able to make it to tertiary education institutions, especially in local universities, have been disproportionately low compared to the other ethnic groups. As such, the number of students able to benefit from this subsidy is even lower.
It was only recently, 20 years after the introduction of the subsidy, that the criteria for eligibility underwent revision. The revision takes into account the size of the family of the applicant, allowing for more Malay students to benefit from it. However, this subsidy is only one measure in an attempt to ensure that Malays students who were able to qualify for tertiary education are able to do so. Short of totally ditching streaming, more care, thought and resources are needed to lift the quality and accessibility of education for the Malays, especially in the early years of a child’s education.
So what needs to happen now?
Singaporeans, especially politicians, need to move on from making assertions similar to what PM Lee had made in 1987, that the "problem is psychological . . . if they try hard enough and long enough, then the education gap between them and the Chinese, or them and the Indians, would close. . . . Progress or achievement depends on ability and effort." It is important for Singaporeans to recognize the nearly Sisyphean task faced by marginalized communities in improving their socio-economic standing. Handicapped right from the start, their perceived failures in our “meritocratic” society should not be judged as an indictment of their efforts, but influenced in no small measure by the failings of the state in dragging their feet to take action. As a community, Singaporeans need to actively combat negative stereotyping, and move away from policies that were rooted in eugenics. Government intervention into ensuring unbiased, fair hiring practices would also help in raising the standing of the marginalized minorities. It would be impossible for Singapore to live up to its multiracial, meritocratic ideals without making fundamental changes to the above mentioned policies.
# Academic journal behind a paywall. Most tertiary institutions should have partnerships with these journals, so you are likely able view them if you have a student email address.
+ Online scan of the article is unavailable
\* The declining birth-rate of the Chinese was one of three pressing national problems, according to PM Lee in a National Day rally speech in 1988; the others being education and the growing number of unmarried graduates [at approx 29 mins].
\* From Lily Zubaidah Rahim’s* The Singapore Dilemma (1998: 76-77): Rabushka’s (Rabushka, Alvin (1971), ‘Integration in Urban Malaya: Ethnic Attitudes Among Malays and Chinese’, 91-107) study found that it was common for people living in ethnically homogeneous areas to adopt favourable attitudes towards other ethnic groups. People who resided in ethnically mixed areas but did not mix with other ethnic groups were also found to hold negative attitudes towards others. He postulated that physical proximity coupled with superficial interaction across ethnic lines may in fact lead to heightened contempt for other ethnic groups. Urban studies (Fischer, Claude (1976), The Urban Experiment*) have similarly found that close physical distance of different ethnic groups does not necessarily result in narrowing the social distance between the communities. Indeed, physical ethnic proximity in large cities may well engender mutual revulsion and a heightening of ethnocentrism. These research findings have been corroborated by several Singaporean studies (Hassan, Riaz (1977),* ‘Families in Flats: A Study of Low Income Families in Public Housing’; Lai, Ah Eng (1995), ‘Meanings of Multiethnicity: A Case Study of Ethnicity and Ethnic Relations in Singapore’) which have found interethnic relations in the ethnically integrated public housing flats to be relatively superficial.
\** In the same article, PM Lee drew a straight line connecting the Malays with lower educational levels in this line of rhetoric questioning: “Why is the birth rate between the Malays, and the Chinese and Indians so different? Because the educational levels achieved are also different.”*
^ The stronger representation of Malays in civil service and Western multinational corporations was likely due to the difficulty in seeking employment in local firms. Prevalence of negative stereotyping of Malays meant that a Malay job applicant has to be much better qualified to be considered for a job in a local firm (Rahim, 1998: 25). A recent study into this phenomenon can be found here#.
^^ The PAP’s quid pro quo policy was put under the spotlight again in 2011, when PM Lee made it clear that the government’s neighbourhood upgrading programmes prioritised PAP wards over opposition wards.
^^^ PAP MP Ahmad Haleem raised the “sensitive” issue of the government’s exclusionary policy towards Malays in National Service, which adversely affected socio-economic standing of the Malay community [Col: 144]. PAP MP Sha’ari Tadin was actively involved in Malay community organizations and helped to organize a 1971 seminar on Malay participation in national development (Rahim, 1998: 90).
Recommended Reading:
The Myth of the Lazy Native: A study of the image of the Malays, Filipinos and Javanese from the 16th to the 20th century and its function in the ideology of colonial capitalism [pdf].
The Singapore Dilemma: The Political and Educational Marginality of the Malay Community.
Eugenics on the rise: A report from Singapore#.
Assimilation as multiracialism: The case of Singapore’s Malay#.
Racism and the Pinkerton syndrome in Singapore: effects of race on hiring decisions#.
Bedlington, Stanley (1974), The Singapore Malay Community: The Politics of State Integration, Ph.D. thesis, Cornell University.
Chew, Peter K.H. (2008), Racism in Singapore: A Review and Recommendations for Future Research, James Cook University, Singapore.
Fook Kwang Han, Warren Fernandez, Sumiko Tan (1998) Lee Kuan Yew, the Man and His Ideas, Singapore Press Holding.
Goh, Keng Swee (1972), The Economics of Modernization and Other Essays, Singapore: Asia Pacific Press.
Michael D. Barr & Jevon Low (2005) Assimilation as multiracialism: The case of Singapore's Malays, Asian Ethnicity, 6:3, 161-182, DOI: 10.1080/14631360500226606
Rahim, Lily Z. (1998), The Singapore Dilemma: The political and educational marginality of the Malay community, Kuala Lumpur, Oxford University Press.
Shaharuddin Ma’aruf (1988), Malay Ideas on Development: From Feudal Lord to Capitalist, Times Book International, Singapore.
Tremewan, Christopher (1994), The Political Economy of Social Control in Singapore, London, Macmillan.
submitted by cherenkov_blue to singapore [link] [comments]

Rey Rivera, Foul Play, Murder, note is a code

Not claiming to be an expert on anything.
My opinion: Rey Rivera did not commit suicide, foul play was involved, and his note may be a code trying to implicate those who may be involved.
I believe there is much more circumstantial and direct evidence that points towards a homicide rather than a suicide. I try to give credit where it is due and if I am repeating things that have already been posted, I apologize.
Please, since it has already been discussed so much in many other posts, if you are going to insist on speculating about his mental state on this post too, include a diagnostic criteria for the condition/diagnosis you are claiming and evidence of how Rey fits each criteria. You cannot make conclusions on anyone's mental state simply based off reading a book, articles and Netflix. Either Stansberry’s crisis management team has people on Reddit, or a very large amount of people believe they became overnight experts in mental health. Neither of these will hold up in court. Unless you are a psychiatrist or psychologist, you are not qualified to make assumptions about his mental health that would be permissible as evidence in a court of law so let's leave that to them.
I believe there were real reasons behind Rey’s paranoia, and I believe the note is code for the corruption he was dragged into. The note has been hypothesized to be a coded message or a tone reel for a movie, there is no evidence to prove it was or wasn't that, vs. being considered ramblings during a psychotic break as others have speculated (there is no direct evidence to support this). There is also no evidence to prove that it wasn’t planted there, considering he had two attempted break-ins at his house right before his death and the house was left vacant for hours after his death until Allison returned back to Baltimore. My opinion is that Rey wrote it as a coded message in the form of a tone reel since he was a writer and filmmaker first and I’ll state what I believe to be proof of this below.
Facts :
  1. He had 2 recent alarms triggered at his house the days before his death which could have been possible break-in attempts
  2. Someone form the Stansberry & Associates building was the last person reported to talk to him before his death. He worked for a very shady company (some evidence at the bottom of this post), that placed a call to him around 6:30pm the night he went missing, causing him to run out of his house.
Both of the facts above warranted a better investigation by the Baltimore Police Department that did not happen. The last reported person to talk to a victim is often the first POI to investigative authorities. to him was someone that called him around 6:30 from the Stansberry and Associates building.
  1. Before this, the last reported person to talk to him at 4pm stated nothing out of the usual with Rey AND that he was intent on renting video equipment to complete a work deadline for that very weekend. This does not sound like someone planning to commit suicide to me. This man was cited in news articles and talked to the police right after Rey's death too.
  2. Rey’s death is currently classified as a homicide
  3. Stansberry and Associates either put a gag order on the company (and a recent memo released stating they didnt is a lie) OR all Stansberry and Agora employees were instructed to not talk to anyone about Rey’s death as proven and reported by law enforcement, many reporters, family members, and the author of the book An Unexplained Death when they received that answer while attempting to reach out to the company and to Porter.
  4. Stansberry & Associates hired a Crisis management team for the firm 6 months ago after their cease and desist letter aimed at stopping the airing of the Netflix documentary regarding Rey's death did not work.
  5. There were 0 witnesses that saw Rey enter or in the building previously known as the Belvedere that night, which law enforcement reported he frequented. You would have thought at least one employee or concierge for the condominium would have seen him come in if he did jump from there, considering it is part of their job to greet and provide assistance to those entering.
? looking to confirm: There were no signs of Rey's shirt being torn when his body was found.
  1. The coroner also reported the cause of death as undetermined and could not conclude it was a suicide. We should start another post to discuss the autopsy results in detail.
  2. The FBI report on the note states that overall themes and language are “consistent with someone who suffers from a delusional disorder” It describes delusional disorders, how they are relatively rare affecting 24-30 out of every 100,000 people and that the onset is relatively late with average age being 40-49. It does not appear that they looked into connections it had to any code, or that they knew what a tone reel was.
The report also states “BAU is unable to confirm the identity of the author of the letter without further analysis.” There is then a full page of “Investigative Suggestions" for the BPD to investigate: (There is also question as to what, if any, from that list of suggestions was actually investigated after the report.)
* BAU suggests [redacted] several meetings/interviews. [full sentence redacted]. The purpose of these interviews to develop additional leads…[>2 lines redacted]. As mentioned by BPD, [redacted]. These interviews should take place in a non-threatening environment. [2 lines redacted] In an effort to generate further leads, investigators should carefully review [2 lines redacted]. Rivera’s family members (brothers, sisters, parents) should also be re-interviewed regarding his health. (per the Netflix documentary, we know the family does not believe he was suffering from mental delusions.)
* BAU recommends [>3 lines redacted]. FBI Baltimore may be able to assist BPD…[>3 lines redacted].* BAU recommends determining [redacted].* BAU recommends requesting forensic testing [redacted]. BAU understands that [redacted] during the investigation [> 2 lines redacted]. BPD should also determine [redacted]. * BAU recommends requesting forensic analysis of the computer printer where the letter was found. [>3 lines redacted]. FBI Baltimore’s Computer Analysis Response Team can assist with the analysis of Rivera’s computer [>3 lines redacted]. * BAU offered to [redacted]. It is recommended that BPD provide BAU with [redacted]. * BAU recommends that BPD [>2lines redacted].
Things being used to defend this deteriorating mental health theory are:
  1. his wife noticed him paranoid and stressed the weeks leading up to his death.
  2. The note that he allegedly left - more details below at 2a
  1. Recent Researching of Freemasons
1a. paranoia - Rey had real reasons behind his paranoia. Rey Rivera was working for a shady financial firm and making millions of dollars. These firms are notorious for having connections to powerful underground criminals. He was hired by this firm to “clean up their image” and write the Rebound Report one year after the SEC had filed a complaint against Stansberry & Associates for giving false advice on stocks that later tanked. So, a filmmaker with no finance experience was hired to write about suggesting cheap stocks that were supposedly going to make a quick turnaround. People were angry and had lost millions of dollars after the SEC filing. There is an article about the exact details below. Additionally, Rey's friend who also worked for Agora - Hickling- had died just a couple months before Rey’s death allegedly in a car accident in Zambia. Rey had two tripped alarms in his house (suggesting attempted break-ins) in the nights leading up to his death. He had valid reasons to be paranoid. There were valid reasons for people to be after him, and there were valid reasons for him to be concerned and protective of his wife as many times these criminals will come after the person closest to them instead of the individual themself.
2a. The note- Many film creators have said the note looks not similar, but exactly like a tone reel. Also hypothesized are that it could have been a code for something or that it could have also been planted there, since there were 2 tripped alarms at his house. Many who have attempted to piece together the note from screenshots also point out that there are multiple versions of it, suggesting that if he did write it, it was written over a longer period of time than a day. In my opinion, all these theories have the same validity/amount of evidence as the delusional theory.
Some theories and opinions on the note: many made by Reddit users under the google doc that TrueCrime Pyrex started (
According to sectors, however, prospered as a result of the attacks. Certain technology companies, as well as defense and weaponry contractors, saw prices for their shares increase substantially... Stock prices also spiked upward for communications and pharmaceutical firms. On the nation's options exchanges, including the Chicago Board Options Exchange (the world's largest), put and call volume increased correspondingly. Put options, which allow an investor to profit if a specific stock declines in price, were purchased in large numbers on airline, banking, and insurance shares.

3a. Freemasons. The act alone of researching Freemasons does not indicate a psychotic state. In the book, An Unexplained Death, Mikita Brottman writes:
"Stein learns from a Master Mason that Fred Bealefield, who was the chief of detectives during the Rivera case and later police commissioner, is also a Master Mason. This news does not surprise me. Many policemen are members of the Freemasons; it does not make either the police of the Freemasons especially sinister. I often invite Master Masons to speak to my classes about the history of their organization, which I have come to see as a benevolent fraternal charity with an archaic structure and hierarchy, not a malevolent force running the universe, or even the city. In other words, I think the Masonic angle is a red herring. I believe Rey's interest in the group was part of his research for something new he was writing."
Per those close to Rey, their theory is that has something to do with the Rebound Report, and the fact that the company had just come out of being fined 1.x millions dollars for misleading investors. (Also The Rebound Report may not have been accurate?) I believe looking into these reports would provide further information. Also mentioned, If Rey were to go meet someone at the condominium he allegedly jumped from, he would not have worn flip-flops and track pants. He was going to go see someone he knew.
Circumstantial and direct indicators of foul play/cover-up:
- In An Unexplained Death, Mikita Brottman writes:
'An anonymous comment on an article about the case by Stephen Janis posted at the Baltimore Examiner website puts this theory in a nutshell. "Rey was a very inquisitive man, a truth-seeker. He had information that threatened something larger than himself and was murdered for it." '
'Others have suggested that Rey's death may have been connected to developments in Nicaragua, where Agora owns a large stretch of coastline. Those who have studied the case often refer to "Nicaragua" in cryptic terms.'
"Bizarre is also how Allison Rivera describe the obstacles she encountered trying to help police search for clues. Confident that her husband’s death was foul play, she hired a private detective who accompanied her to The Belvedere to review the video surveillance. But Allison soon discovered that the surveillance system malfunctioned on the day her husband disappeared. “Somebody put 'protect' on the day of the 15th that consumed about 85 percent of the hard drive,” she recalled learning. “Somebody hit 'protect' on the system; there is button on the key board in the concierge areas, and there is a computer in the back.” The timing of the erasure is troubling, Allison said.“If it was on May 1, that's an accident but if it's on May 15, that is a totally different story.”An employee of the former hotel who has knowledge of the camera system but asked to remain anonymous could not confirm Allison's allegations. The employee said that police had confiscated the hard drives."
Below here are a few news article links and old posts from disgruntled investors regarding the shady practices of Agora and possible motives for killing. Many article links have since been removed from the internet. Please bear in mind I am not citing below things as facts, although many have since proven to be. I find it interesting and possibly relevant to Rey Rivera's death
From the desk of Porter Stansberry:
When my best friend, Rey Rivera, disappeared last year, we had to find his car (and then his .... Porter Stansberry Baltimore, Maryland December 21, 2006 ...
Porter Comments:'The Baltimore sheriff is after me…'-Porter Stansberry

If I ever had any doubts whatsoever about your corruption and cover up and disinformation propaganda re 9/11…your promotion of Agora Inc.'s stock fraudster and murder suspect,(in the case of his 'friend' Rey Rivera of Agora Inc Rebound Report fraud,etc.),has ended all that. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were also part of Agora Inc.'s fraud that helped send the housing market and government subsidized housing loans crashing as well.Also when it did ex SEC Chairman Christopher 'WMDS' Cox lied about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shares being 'naked shorted',a term that can be tracked back to Agora Inc.'s and National Taxpayers Union founder James Dale Davidson himself. Both Stansberry, Davidson and Agora scumbag Bill Bonner have a UK connection and their association with with the U.K.'s Lord or Lard William Rees-Mogg guarantees a Rothschild connection…I no longer have any doubt even an idiot such as yourself, with your far right women's rights denier Ron Paul connections, that you know you are in cahoots with the CIA because his and your pals at Agora Inc have CIA and George Tenet connections…Sincerely, Tony Ryals
Corrupt SEC attorney Karen Martinez who along with SEC attorney Brent Baker removed all charges against Stansberry and James Dale Davidson regarding their illegal pumps and dumps of biotech penny stock frauds **Endovasc and Genemax in 2003 tries to blame or insinuate the probable murder of Rey Rivera was done by defrauded investors such as myself mno doubt.**And I myself suspect that Stansberry's and Lila Rajiva's invitation to me to visit his office in 2005 was either as a set up or to murder me as well .Shortly after removal of all charges against James Dale Davidson and Porter Stansberry regarding their promotion of worthless Endovasc and Genmax shares Brent Baker 'retired' from his SEC job and was rewarded or bribed by Patrick Byrne of and himself began to openly promote the lie that Overstock shares were like the other penny stocks a victim of 'naked shorting' or naked short selling by some unknown entity. Byrne even claimed it was a or the 'Sith Lord' !
Davidson's NAANSS or National Association Against Naked Short Selling' was disapeared from the internet in 2005 and replaced with NCANS or National Coalition Against Naked Shorting with a number of lieing websites claiming a huge amount of stock frauds were really victims of 'naked shorting' ! In 2008 even the ex SEC Chairman lied on the sec.goc website about Fannie Mae,Freddie Mac,AIG,UBS and even Goldman Sachs shares collpsed in value due to 'naked short selling' ! -Tony Ryals
Missing Baltimore Man Getting National Attention - wjz.com23 May 2006 ... It's been a week since a Northeast Baltimore man was last seen, and police say there is still no sign of 32-year old Rey Rivera.
Suicide Or Murder? Evidence Reviewed - Baltimore, Maryland News ...BALTIMORE -- The mystery behind a Baltimore businessman who fell to his ...
Man found dead at Belvedere worked at company that had SEC complaint By: Stephen Janis 06/01/06 2:00 AM Examiner Staff Writer
Karen Martinez, one of the SEC attorneys who filed the complaint against Stansberry, said investors who paid for the tip are angry. "Many investors testified in discovery that they lost substantial amounts of money based on the investment advice of the company," Martinez said. "Investors said they were very unhappy," she added.
An official speaking on behalf of Stansberry Associates said they had no comment on the SEC complaint. Martinez said Stansberry denied the allegations in court and that the case was pending, awaiting the judge?s decision, she said.
Who killed Rey Rivera? | What's Inside Our Brains6 Feb 2010 ... suicide of Rey Rivera, whose body was found on a roof of the Belvedere building in Mt. Vernon in 2006. As I recall from the original ...
LAND OF THE UNSOLVED - The last days of Rey Rivera10 Aug 2009 ... But the patch over the bituminous paving atop a second-floor office at The Belvedere hides a secret the widow of filmaker Rey Rivera thinks ...
Working links:
Baltimore Crime: Rey Rivera10 Aug 2009 ... can see Rey Rivera's 'friend' and employer Porter Stansberry invited me to visit Agora Inc. and Baltimore in 2005. ...
“I briefly quote and provide link from Bill Bonner's Baltimore co-author Lila Rajiva herself who wrote an article about her employers' Goldcor connection and the strange 'suicide' of Goldcor President Richard Brown who was found with a bullet in his head in November 1991 as Goldcor began to unravel. …link no longer works either In Baltimore:Agora Inc.,Rey Rivera,Porter Stansberry,James Dale Davidson,Bill Bonner “This post has to do with the mysterious death of Agora Inc employee Rey Rivera in 2006 who was committing stock fraud for his own personal gain and more so for the profits of his bosses at Agora Inc that included his evil 'friend' of years past,Porter Stansberry, as well as Bill Bonner,James Dale Davidson and the evil Lord William Rees-Mogg of UK who founded or who have been behind Agora Inc stock fraud and money laundering operation for decades. .”
submitted by BoriOno to UnsolvedMysteries [link] [comments]

What I Preferred in Bloodstained to Hollow Knight

I beat Bloodstained recently, and because this forum seems to think Hollow Knight is the greatest game ever while Bloodstained sucks I decided to go against the grain a bit and create a different discussion. Granted, overall I think Hollow Knight is better, but that's doesn't mean it's better on every aspect. Now, I found Bloodstained and Hollow Knight essentially took opposite approaches to building large Metroidvanias (in summary, Bloodstained gets it's complexity by filling out large continuums with quantitative variations, while Hollow Knight gets it through combinatorics by giving unique behavior to simple things which then synergize), so I don't think it's necessarily fair to compare them, but I'm going to do it anyway. This post is very long as I've found a lot to talk about, so I don't recommend reading the whole thing. Each paragraph is one aspect, you should be able to get what it is just from reading the first sentence, the rest of the paragraph is just an argument as to why I found that aspect to be better if you care to read it. I'll post the list of all the aspects in the concluding paragraph. With that being said, here it goes.
First, I prefer Bloodstain's save/death system over Hollow Knight's. While autosaving is convenient, I honestly prefer manual saving as I like having control over those cases where you don't want to overwrite your savefile. In Hollow Knight's case, it's clear that they implement autosaving specifically to prevent you from doing that, as otherwise their death mechanic wouldn't work, and it makes certain choices permanent. It really says something about how brutal Hollow Knight's death mechanic is that it would be preferable for the game to just end and have to be reloaded from a save point. In addition to being brutal, I find such a mechanic to be a poor fit for Metroidvania's, as forcing the player to go to the same destination to recover discourages exploration or trying different routes when a particular ones proves too hard. The logistics of the whole thing are also pretty iffy, both with the shade mechanic and with autosaving and returning to a save point on quitting, and both can be exploited in ways that feel to defy the logic of the game. The thing I like the most about Bloodstain's save system is that it has lots of slots you can branch out into, which I like using to save before boss fights in case I want to refight them. Hollow Knight's Hall of Gods is much more convenient, but it still fails to capture all such fights that a player might want to reattempt with a different strategy (the big one being the Pale Lurker), and not all the fights it does have are quite the same as the original (Uumuu in particular feels like a completely different fight), so it does not make having such a feature be obsolete. Even when bosses are available unchanged in the house of gods though, the fact that the Hall of Gods can't even be unlocked until midgame needs to be considered, while save branching can be done immediately after the boss is fought. Finally, even though Hollow Knight has autosaving, it still has save points, and Bloodstained does a much a better job at placing save point in desirable locations. In particular, Bloodstained always has a save point before a boss, while there is some frustrating exceptions in Hollow Knight.
Next, I prefer Bloodstain's map system. It's simple, but effective, and in terms of functionality has most of the features of Hollow Knight's, with essential features like save points and NPCs being marked in one way or another, and personal markers are given as well. Hollow Knight's maps are certainly prettier, but that doesn't necessarily make them more useful. They have a couple advantages with the colored regions and drawn out landmarks, but are also frustrating in other ways, such as with the limited markers, and the fact you need to buy everything first. The biggest issue though is the fact that maps must be bought before they can be used. This wouldn't be a bad idea by itself, but in practice it isn't used particularly well, as the map is often either is often either hid so near the entrance that they might as well start with it, or being hidden so late that they needs to frustratingly memorize the area before getting to it. The fact they cost geo is little more than a nuisance, as they don't cost enough for the player to ever be worth passing them up for now, but it's still often enough to just waste time grinding until enough geo is gathered to buy them. The problems with the map system are exacerbated by the shade mechanic, as a map is needed to track down the shade. This further discourages exploration, as it encourages someone to either just map a beeline towards the map while ignoring everything else, or just avoid areas entirely that they don't have the map for. Fog Canyon in particular was frustrating, as the map in positioned in such a place to actively discourage exploring the region until the player gets the shade cloak, but the area was designed to be cleared with either the shade cloak or Isma's tear, and the map can actually be picked up pretty easily picked up with the latter if the player wasn't discouraged from exploring by the tease combined with frustrating game mechanics.
Bloodstained did a much better job at handling money than Hollow Knight. I never found myself having to grind for money in Bloodstained, but I did in the early game for Hollow Knight. The biggest issue with currency in Hollow Knight though is in the late game, which is that geo becomes absolutely useless once everything is bought. There is one stock that never exhausts, the rancid eggs, but these become all but useless after everything else is bought out as the only use for rancid eggs is recovering the player's shade, where the primary purpose for doing such is just to recover geo. The only other reason would be to fix the soul gage, but in most cases it would probably be faster to just kill yourself than to return to Confessor Jiji in order to fetch the shade. This issue is amplified in Steel Soul mode, where geo will likely accumulate to a greater extent due to not being lost on death, rancid eggs can no longer be bought, and the end game geo sinks are useless as they only prevent an effect that occurs on death. The one other replenishable stock, fixing the fragile charms, can't be restored either as the charms only break on death. This is not an issue as Bloodstained. Not only is it much harder to pay for everything, and consumable items ensure that there will always be practical stock remaining, but there is uses for money other than buying items, namely the gold bullet spell and the gold power ring.
While charms can slightly modify the attack in Hollow Knight, the overall form remains the same, with the same nail attacks and the same spells. Meanwhile, by changing up weapons and spell shards, several different modes of combat are possible in Bloodstained. For example, one spell I enjoyed using in Bloodstained is Plume Parma, which launches a flying pig that bounces around the arena, and it's fun challenge to work on the geometry of arenas and boss patterns to figure out where to launch the pig so it hits the boss the maximum number of times before it pops. Hollow Knight has nothing comparable. As far as actual weapons go, boots encourage completely different fighting styles than swords or guns do. The fact there are different attack types as well also mixes stuff up in Bloodstained by more explicitly encouraging different builds. With that said, I did find Hollow Knight to have much better synergy between charms than any items in Bloodstained did, the limitation is just in modes of combat.
I found the traversal items to be much more interesting in Bloodstained. Hollow Knight's are pretty generic, with the most interesting one being super-dash, which is kinda annoying. Bloodstained had three more interesting traversal abilities with reflector ray, invert, and dimension shift. I do have to say the Hollow Knight did a much better job at actually putting it's traversal abilities to use, but even then I do think Bloodstained had a much more useful invert mechanic than most games where something similar can be done. Even with some of the more generic abilities Bloodstained had more interesting traversals. The best example of this is with how they handle water, where all Hollow Knight's traversal does is make some more water swimmable on the surface, while Bloodstained has two different traversal abilities for water, each allowing different ways to explore it in 2d space.
One thing that always frustrated me in Hollow Knight is how little of a difference upgrades in the game actually made. The clincher is the fact that once you get ALL mask upgrades and vessel fragments, you're still not even twice as powerful as you were at the start of the game. This difference is even more marginal when you consider how easy it is to heal and recover soul in this game, so in practice you have much more soul and life available then the meters indicate. On the other hand, if you do get pushed to the edge (which is the only point where health upgrades make a different anyway) and recover, then the effect is amplified as you could recover more than one mask after you otherwise would have died. For what they are worth, it annoys me that there are much easier method to continue pushing life past the limit, such as by farming lifeblood, making there be little incentive to actually track down any upgrades. This is one area where Hollow Knight's emphasis on the discrete works against it, as complete sets are needed before mask shards or vessel fragments, while any individual health or magic upgrade in Bloodstained makes a difference, even if it's so small that it's only situational. What really makes this bad is exactly how the upgrades are obtained. In short, I've found that for both masks shards and vessels fragments there is one that is extremely hard to get, a few that are fairly challenging, and most are a matter of going to the right place. As a result, there is little incentive to tackle the fairly challenging ones unless one is also confident that they can get the extremely challenging one as otherwise they won't amount to anything once all the easy shards and fragments are picked up, collapsing challenges with rewards of varying levels of difficulty into one.
Unlike the masks, the fully upgraded nail is significantly more powerful the original nail. I don't like the way I paced the upgrades though. Each nail upgrade adds a constant amount of damage to the nail which is slightly less damage than the starting nail. This is fine, though the practical effect is somewhat sporadic due to most enemies having so few hit-points that the ratio between the previous number of hits it took to kill an enemy to the new number of hits is often quite different from the ratio between the previous amount of damage the nail did to the new amount of damage. It would be more consistent against bosses, if it wasn't for the fact that many bosses are giving more hits as the nail is upgraded so the effect is nerfed. Even worse, spells don't become more powerful, so a boss can actually become HARDER when thought with more powerful nail. While not a boss, I noticed this effect with the shade, which was quite annoying. With those aside, the issue comes from the fact the requires for upgrading the weapon are not constant, but instead increase linearly. By itself this would be reasonable as it would be expected for their be a greater requirement to get a constant improvement later on to reflect the increasing difficulty of the game, but the issue comes from the fact that the upgrade requirement is from a rare item, of which each is required to get the final upgrade. As result, the difficulty of upgrading the item increases superlinearly, not linearly. To explain why, I'll use this example of completing a set of trading cards by buying random cards. Say there are twelve possible cards that could be randomly gotten, there is six in the set you're trying to complete, and the package contains one card. With the first package, you have a 1/2 chance of getting a card in the set, and thus getting one card closer to complete set. Once you have 5/6 cards in the set though, you only have 1/12 chance of getting one card closer to completing the set as you need the specific one that you are missing, not just any card in the set. You can't apply the same calculations to Hollow Knight as obtaining the ore isn't random, it's gotten by performing certain tasks, but similar reasoning applies. The issue isn't just that it's superlinear though, but the exact values are poorly balanced. To get the first nail upgrade, you need zero pale ore, while the final upgrade needs three pale ore, which is half the total pale ore. As a result, it's strictly harder to get the final nail upgrade than to get ALL the nail upgrades before it, but the proportional effect isn't anywhere close to what you get for ANY of the upgrades before it. This lack of marginal improvement is then exacerbated by the fact that some pale ore is much easier to get than others (easiest is basically just found on the wayside on a route you have to go down anyway, hardest requires completing the second of three gauntlets), so of course the easy to find ones are all going to found before the hard ones. The reward to effort ratio is just completely out of wack for the final nail level, and I find that it just added one more nail level and four more ore it could have been much more reasonable without changing the overall system. Meanwhile, Bloodstained does damage upgrades completely differently. Frankly I don't know how Bloodstained scales damage other than it being much more complicated, but in practice I found it to be much better paced than it was in Hollow Knight. There is an issue where occasionally you randomly got a weapon that's much more powerful than the weapons you should have at that point so until you get to the next stage most weapons you pick up are useful, but overall I found it to be much better.
Bloodstained has much more interesting alternative game modes than Hollow Knight does. First off, it has different difficulty settings, which Hollow Knight just lacks. If we consider Hollow Knight's alternative game modes, none of them actually add any functionality. Steel Soul mode technically adds a single new feature in the form of Steel Soul Jinn, but as all she does is convert eggs to geo, which is not particularly useful for the reasons explained in the section on money. The fact the save file deletes on death doesn't actually add functionality as a player could impose this challenge on themselves by choosing to manually delete their save file on death, all it does is automate the process. I guess you could consider the achievements associated with the mode as an added feature, but those are spoiled by the fact you can save you run by just quitting before death, meaning you can play as if you only have one less hit, and can't do any shade-jumping exploits. The other mode is Godseeker mode, which is it's answer to Boss Rush mode. It sounds like a good idea, but it's pretty terrible in practice because you can already do all of Godhome in the main game, and all Godseeker mode is just Godhome and nothing but Godhome. I see two potential uses for this mode, the first is that in Godseeker mode you're fulling upgraded so it can be done to get around having to get all the upgrades yourself, and the second is that Godhome is a pain to get to to and get out of, so just opening a second save file can be done instead for convenience sake. The problem is, it's so hard to unlock Godseeker mode that by the point you've gotten there you've probably already done every else, so you don't need to unlock any upgrades, and you can just set around in Godhome while you try to clear it in the main game as you don't actually need to leave. As it is I still haven't cleared the third pantheon, but the only upgrade I'm missing is the fourth level Grimm charm, which I frankly don't find to be worth beating either Nightmare Grimm or the third Pantheon for. The fact the Hall of Gods is almost filled in Godseeker mode means it could be used to fight the handful of bosses (Pure Vessel, Winged Nosk, and the Sisters of Battle) that still need to be unlocked in Godhome if you're unable to clear the fourth Pantheon, and it can be used to fight Grey Prince Zote if you let the real one die, but that's not much. Bloodstained also has a Boss Rush Mode, but it's much more reasonable to unlock, just requiring the bosses to be rather than tracking down some obscure location and complete the challenges there, and it doesn't waste an entire safe file. It also actually emphasizes the rush part, with a timer for high scores, and performance rewards that can actually be used in the main game instead of just being some weird isolated challenge for getting an alternative ending. With boss revenge mode it has another fun challenge mode that's unlike anything in the game, but it also has a couple full length modes that act like full games. Right now they have Zangetsu mode and randomizer mode, both of which are substantially different from the main game. Bloodstained is still being updated to add new game modes, while Hollow Knight is now capped at it's definitive version.
Finally, I found Bloodstained to be much more reasonable with how it distributed its alternative endings. Hollow Knight has five endings, but two of them are just variations, so I'll only consider three of them. Bloodstained also has three endings, so we can compare them. As far as it can be measured, I feel these endings are roughly distributed in the same way: the first ending is a bit over half-way through the game, and final ending requires doing a bit more than the second one. The main difference I feel in between how this three endings are distributed between the games is that in Bloodstained, the first two endings are the result of aborting the main path through the game early. Meanwhile, you get the first ending in Hollow Knight if you go and do exactly what you are supposed to do, and the other two endings are for doing extra. There is one issue though: the first ending in Hollow Knight SUCKS. I swear it's one of the worst endings I've ever seen in modern commercial game, not only is the outcome unsatisfactory for our characters, but it's just short and feels like it doesn't actually resolve anything. It's the second ending that feels canonical, and that you need to actually get to for the game to feel complete. This is where the issue comes in. To get the best ending in Bloodstained, you pretty much just have to finish exploring the castle, and everything else will fall into place as long as you take advantage of what you were told along the way. That's not the case in Hollow Knight, where I feel they were trying to find an excuse to force player to hit all the important lore spots, but it never really came together in a meaningful way. Half of it is reasonable, where you need the shade cloak to explore through Queen's Garden so you can get half of the kingsoul. The Pale King's half though, is kinda ridiculous. The first issue is getting to the White Palace, which requires using an ability that isn't used anywhere else in a specific location. The bigger issue than finding the White Palace though is getting that ability. For reasons I don't understand, they decided to make it the final upgrade that you get from collecting dream essence, when I think it would make more sense to include at least one optional upgrade past it instead of just having the seer disintegrate. The larger issue though is what it takes to get that point. The game points to two sources of dream essence, warrior dreams and whispering roots, and they contain enough essence to get all the upgrades EXCEPT the awakened dream nail. For the final bit of essence, you're expected to beat one of the champions, most of which are harder than the tyrant lord so it brings into question of what's the point of even including the queens path. The Hidden Dreams updated added some somewhat more reasonable alternative champions to get this final bit of essence from, but they have the same issue of the other champions in that not only are they hard to beat, but they are also hard to find. It's not that they are actually hard to find if you know to look for them, but as far as I'm aware the game gives you know hints that these bosses even exist, and they are all located in isolated areas that you already visited and would have no reason to revisit unless you're specifically looking for the champions. The Hidden Dreams ones are even worse in this regard, as you can be locked out of one if you miss something much earlier in the game, while the other requires a trigger completely unrelated to the character to appear, and is located in a secret area which is the one region I know of that requires desolate dive to access without any sort of visual cue. The real problem though comes once you actually get to the White Palace though, which is this seemingly never ending platform section that is FAR harder than anything before it, feeling more like you're playing Super Meat Boy than Hollow Knight. It's one thing if was just an optional challenge like the Path of Pain that it also contains, but I find the fact you need to beat it to get a decent ending to unreasonable, the game doesn't even do anything to prepare you for it. The only reason I got through it was with an optional charm, Hive Blood, whose use involves a lot of just sitting around and waiting and it is so tedious. I wonder if the White Palace feels some out of place specifically because it was a stretch goal that happened to be part of the main quest instead of a side quest like the colosseum is. Maybe it would have been even harder, but I feel like the whole ordeal would have at least made more sense if the abyss was actually completed as originally planned. The final ending doesn't have the same weight the second one does, but it's even more ridiculous. For unknown reasons, they decided to make the sole reward of boss rush side quest to be getting this final ending, and then center the entire ending around this boss rush mode, and it's just weird. What makes it absurd though is what it takes to actually get the ending, which is beating the Pantheon of Hallownest. It's hard enough to unlock as it requires clearing all the other Pantheons, but the real issue with it isn't that it's hard, it's that it's LONG. To get the hard part of the Pantheon, the player needs to spend like 20 minutes fighting all of the bosses that they've already mastered on the previous pantheons, and if they die they need to restart the entire thing. Because the ending is so hard it's like 20 minutes wasted each failed attempt, and that's just not worth it for most people. The worst part is the ending ends in a bit of cliffhanger, letting people to believe it was sequel bait, in turn frustrating countless player's trying to avoid spoilers who fruitlessly beat themselves against this ridiculous challenge. Bloodstained has it's superbosses too, but those are just additional challenges, not being required to get what seems to be an important ending. To get that you just need to be beat the game.
In conclusion, I preferred Bloodstain's save and map systems, found it did a better job at handling money, had more combat options and more interesting traversal items, had more useful upgrades to health, magic, and damage, has more useful alternative game modes, and has more reasonable conditions for getting the good endings. While I'm not saying these are the only things Bloodstained did better, I do think Hollow Knight is better in most other aspects, including graphics, story, bosses and enemies, and sound and level design, and these aspects are considered to be more essential. I will not argue why I think Hollow Knight does this better people seem to generally be in agreement to this, and I've already written well more than enough. I'd like to hear any differing opinions, but again, I recommend only reading the sections you're interested in discussing and not the entire essay.
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AEF - A Misunderstood Superannuation Fund

AEF - A Misunderstood Superannuation Fund
Although AEF uniquely benefits from the structural tailwinds of both superannuation and ethical investing, we believe it remains misunderstood as an expensive traditional fund manager.

The Opportunity
Australian Ethical Funds (ASX.AEF) is a public market superannuation fund manager. The perception of the company itself vs. the industry is nicely summarised by the two figures below. Herein lies the opportunity.
AEF is a renowned Australian fund manager that fits within the ESG trend. It represents one of the only pure play superannuation investments in the Australian public market, with 67% of funds under management (FUM) coming from superannuation. The stock bounced exceptionally from a low of $2 in March, reaching a high of $9 in June, and has since retraced towards the low $4s. Previously, the business traded at $6+ following its announcement of end of year FUM and expected earnings figures. On 8th August IOOF Holdings (ASX.IFL) – 19.9% shareholder – announced it was divesting 15% of its stake in AEF. IOOF is a peer and platform provider which offers AEF products to its clients. The investment was sold at $5.24 vs. market price of $5.90. IOOF disclosed it was selling its AEF investment (at a gain) to raise much needed liquidity. The block trade was viewed negatively by the market, with AEF immediately re-rating to below $5.24 and trending downwards (towards low $4s) ever since. The current share price of $4.17 (24 August close) implies the stock is trading at ~51x FY20 earnings guidance, which is slightly above historical levels despite substantially improved performance and outlook. We suspect that the FY20 results will be aligned with guidance (as demonstrated historically) provided in the quarterly FUM update and guided earnings figures. Results have also been positive across its peers throughout mid to late August (see ‘Roadmap’).
Company History
AEF began as Australian Ethical Investments (AEI) in 1986 and was owned by 600 insider shareholders before listing. It is a superannuation fund – so revenue is derived from fees on managing invested funds. By 2005, the business managed four unit trusts and a superannuation fund:
· Australian Ethical Balanced Trust (est. 1989)
· Australian Ethical Equities Trust (est. 1994)
· Australian Ethical Income Trust (est. 1997)
· Australian Ethical Large Companies Share Trust (est. 1997)
· Parent of Australian Ethical Superannuation (est. 1998)
The investments of the trust and super fund are guided by ‘The Charter’ – a series of positive and negative investment screens that must be taken into account when selecting securities for inclusion.
In July 2005, the government enacted policy that afforded more choice to individual employees with regards to their superannuation provider (marking the beginning of a positive era for the superannuation industry). In that same year, AEF registered for a superannuation license which it was granted in 2006. Back in 2005/06 the company did not split out superannuation FUM, but FUM increased from $311m in Jun-05 to $380m in September-05 following this policy shift – suggesting there was an existing demand for ethical investment products in superannuation.
From 2005 to 2011, AEF grew total FUM from $311m to $644m, despite muted FUM growth through the GFC-era. In 2012, the business began separating out its superannuation FUM-growth to improve its visibility. This era saw FUM increasing from $617m in 2012 to $4.05bn as at 30 June 2020.
From 2016-19 reduction in FUM-based fees has seen suppressed revenue growth vs. FUM growth. This has resulted in several step changes in FUM-based revenue margins (revenue / FUM) as a result of lower overall fees earned on products. We view this shift as a positive in the long-run since AEF has competitively priced its funds, entrenching their competitive advantages (discussed below) and reducing the temptation that fee-conscious members switch funds. Since AEF has ratcheted the cost of their funds downwards (often ahead of their peers and industry averages), we believe fee compression improves the durability of AEFs revenue compared to peers who are yet to compress their margins.
Business Model
AEF has a relatively simple business model – revenue is derived from fees on managing invested funds. The funds it manages includes retail, institutional and wholesale (non-super) funds, as well as superannuation funds. We are most interested in the superannuation business although the direct and indirect benefits associated with the funds management business are a noteworthy component to the brand and investment management infrastructure (i.e. ideation / performance fee generating / high performing ESG). Until 2012, AEF did not explicitly separate its super vs. non-super FUM. We believe this contributed to its (mis)perception as a traditional fund manager rather than a superannuation fund. Thankfully, since 2012 AEF has provided details relating to the composition of its FUM (below), and noticeably the growth in its superannuation FUM has been the driving force of the business.
Competitive Advantage
1. Superannuation Exposure: Superannuation FUM is higher growth and lower risk than traditional managed funds. Superannuation funds are regulated to grow at 9.5% due to the Superannuation Guarantee (the Australian Government mandated superannuation contribution). The regulatory framework could see this increase up to 12% in the medium-term and 14% in the long-term. For the purpose of our analysis, we have assumed a constant 9.5% contribution – so any increase would be additional upside. More importantly, excluding fulfilling conditions of release (i.e. death) an individual's superannuation cannot be withdrawn until retirement. Much like the Superannuation Guarantee, withdrawals are also mandated on a schedule that increases as a percentage of FUM with age (beginning at 4% and increasing to 14%). Consequently, the minimum inflows and withdrawals are predictable (and we note the vast majority of individuals do not deviate from these minimum levels due to inertia). Because of this mandated growth, Australia has the fourth largest pension sector in absolute terms and second largest relative to GDP (below). In 2020, the total superannuation pool is ~$2.1trn and growing. It is estimated that by 2040 superannuation assets could be as much as $9trn according to the Australian Treasury.
Alternatively, traditional managed funds are subject to redemption risk, caused (typically) by performance and myopic investor behaviour associated with general market movements. Therefore, FUM growth for traditional managed funds must be attracted through marketing and distribution channels. This inextricably links fund inflows and outflows to performance and marketing efforts, which in turn causes a clientele that is more expensive to acquire and retain, and a more volatile pool of assets. Alternatively, traditional managed funds may access capital through secondary capital raisings and the reinvestment of distributions; both of which are a country mile from a 9.5% government mandated contribution.
Logically, we wondered which (listed) asset could provide us with exposure to the exceptionally robust superannuation tailwind. We will not spend too much time detailing the industry dynamics and public market players as there is a lot of information to be found in various prospectus’ (see Raiz or OneVue prospectus). The main thing to understand is that superannuation funds can be separated into five buckets:
After screening for diversified financials and financials businesses on the ASX there were 53 players with at least some revenue linked to superannuation. The revenue exposure desired is revenue linked to superannuation FUM (explained further in the ‘Valuation’). However, it is important to understand that gaining access to this lucrative industry is difficult for several reasons:
· Private industry funds – the gems of the industry have been private superannuation funds such as CBUS, Hostplus, and ESTA. We cannot access them as public market investors.
· Conglomerate financials – it is possible to gain some retail superannuation exposure within the banking majors such as CBA, WBC, ANZ and NAB. However, they represent insignificant exposure by revenue and profit and the stocks are driven by other risk and growth factors.
· Fund managers – fund managers may directly manage retail superfunds or SMSF funds such as Magellan, Platinum and Perpetual. However, there is limited visibility over superannuation FUM exposure.
· Superannuation adjacency businesses – superannuation exposure can also be housed within wealth / platform advisers such as like HUB24, Netwealth and OneVue. However, to varying degrees, these businesses are not purely exposed to superannuation-FUM linked revenue.
· Pure play sub-scale – the final example can be found in Raiz, which is a sub-scale business that has ~$450m in FUM of which 85% is funds management. It is possible to envisage this business as an AEF in 10-15 years with larger superannuation FUM exposure. Although the superannuation exposure representing $70m in FUM currently (vs. AEF $2.72bn) is vastly inferior to AEF.
For this reason, AEF is the closest to a pure play (at scale) superannuation player.
Putting this together, we believe AEF is likely to continue to grow its FUM at 20% p.a. YoY. This is principally due to AEF's ability to acquire new members and retain existing members. Therefore, to monitor this continued FUM growth going forward we encourage readers to look out of the number of superannuation members added in these upcoming results and beyond. AEF has grown its member base YoY consistently in an industry which has, on average, been relatively flat in terms of member growth. In 2019 AEF was the highest growing superannuation business in Australia across the previous 5-years.
1. Ethical, Social and Governance (ESG): Beyond the obvious tailwinds in superannuation, AEF is also exposed to another important trend: ESG. Needless to say, ESG investing is becoming not only popular but almost mandatory for corporate money managers. Younger demographic investors are increasingly concerned with the ethical and social impacts of corporate activity. This report by Harvard and another by State Street provide some interesting commentary on the issue. ESG ETFs have been growing at a CAGR of >30%, and State Street forecasts that the global ESG ETF market will increase from US$170bn in 2020 to US$1.3trn in 2030. Momentum for ESG ETFs has been building specifically in Australia, where AUM surged almost 300% — from A$554.1m in 2017 to A$2.2bn in 2019.
Whilst the ESG-shift has been occurring since the 2010s, State Street argue that COVID-19 will only further catalyse this shift by highlighting the inherent inequalities in society and health care systems, in turn, spurring social conscience. We note the following data points as indicators of this more recent catalyst:
· Perpetual’s recent acquisition of Trillium, a US-based ESG fund, shows the desire of traditional asset managers to become exposed to this space.
· BlackRock has started publishing more frequently and consistently on ESG trends and continued rolling out ESG products.
· Forager’s investment blog received frequent commentary from investors talking about negative screening on their gambling holdings which has never been the case in the past.
The key insight is that a growing proportion of the investment community through time is becoming concerned with ESG issues and this will drive fund flow. Industry data is pointing to the fact that this is a prolonged structural shift rather than a short-term trend.
2. Performance: AEF has improved upon their exposure to structural industry trends in superannuation and ESG through excellent fund performance. AEF's performance (below) has been consistently strong across all of their strategies (we highly recommend reading page 4 of Sequoia's June 15, 2020 "Investor Day Transcript" to highlight how governance and performance are complimentary). Such strong performance not only disincentivises members from switching to competitors and assists member acquisition, but also significantly enhances earnings at the group level. For instance, FY20 guidance provided on 7 July 2020 vs. 22 June had a midpoint difference of ~$2m. Given the long track record of the managers it is expected performance will remain strong.
· FUM = funds under management
· FUA = funds under administration
· MA = managed accounts
· FU\ = total funds (FUM + FUA + MA)*
Valuing a Superannuation Member: Our valuation technique here will be somewhat unconventional. We will attempt to value the lifetime revenue per member (LRM) for AEF and for a traditional fund and then highlight the incongruity of their relative valuations.
The long-term nature of lifecycle retirement saving (and by virtue the true value of a superannuation fund) demands a long term perspective. Fortunately, the mandated nature of AEFs cash flows facilitates evaluating the lifetime value of a superannuation member. To estimate the LRM we consider the following: (i) life cycle expectations (i.e. retirement age and life expectancy); (ii) salary expectations; (iii) superannuation contribution rate; (iv) investment returns; (v) member "type;" (vi) fee structure; and (vii) a discount rate.
We begin by assuming a member makes $5,000p.a. at age 20, which grows to $130,000p.a. through the middle of their working life (35-50) and then declines to $90,000p.a. at 65 (noting these are gross values not inflation adjusted). Since the average member account balance for AEF is ~$60,000 (FUM of $4.05bn ($2.72bn of which is superannuation) / 43,000 members = $60,000 as at 30 June 2019), we can roughly assume that the average age of their member is between 30-35, which places them at the profitable end of this member acquisition cycle. Further, this member regularly contribute 9.5% of their earnings to their superannuation, which compounds at a rate of 6% p.a. Moreover, the prototypical member starts working / paying superannuation into AEF at age 20, retires at age 65, and redeems according to the minimum withdrawal schedule until age 85. However, how many members live according to this prescribed lifecycle; supported by an uninterrupted working life? What about people that take time off to raise children, either returning to part-time work or full-time work? We can model these archetypes also, which assumes much lower income growth and some years of earning no income. If we assume that society is roughly split into thirds by these archetypes (i.e. 1/3 uninterrupted, 1/3 interrupted and return part time, 1/3 interrupted and return full time), then we can calculate a weighted average LRM for the average member. Compressing fees by more than half to 50bps and assuming a 7% discount rate we arrive a weighted average discounted LRM of ~$18,000.
Whilst comparing this to the average member in another non-super fund is difficult for an array of reasons (i.e. average acquisition age, average income, average balance, average contribution, redemption allowance etc.), we can loosely estimate what this looks. Adopting the same framework as above, to estimate the LRM of an average managed fund member we must first define the managed fund member "archetype." First, we assume the average traditional fund member has a higher income profile (as lower income earners typically do not invest in managed funds). We tweak the income profile to peak at $180,000 between 35-50 and taper down to $120,000 by age 65. Second, we assume the acquisition age is 30 years rather than 20 to reflect that most individuals do not invest in traditional managed funds until later in life. Thirdly, we account for the non-compulsory nature of managed fund contributions. If we start with the marginal savings rate (10-year average of ~7%) as a proxy for available funds for investment and increase this to align with our ‘managed funds’ archetype who has higher income to 15%. We then assume that from this 15%, about 1/3 will be invested into a managed fun (or ~5%). Therefore, for our individual earning $180,000 during peak working years, this is an annual contribution of $7,200. Finally, we increase the discount rate to 9% since because redemptions are more likely in a traditional fund. Using these alternative assumptions, we arrive at a LRM of ~$5,000.
The significant difference in LRM helps explain why a superannuation business can command a much higher multiple of FUM or earnings. Further, we believe our estimate of LRM for a traditional fund manager is quite bullish (i.e. overstated) due to the following: (i) it assumes the individual works full-time for their entire life; and (ii) it assumes the individual stays with the fund from age 30 to 65 and makes uninterrupted and stable contributions. Although dollar cost averaging is touted as an eighth wonder of the world, we are doubtful it is applied as often as it is spoken.
Trading Multiples Valuation: Valuing AEF on a relative basis is difficult given the lack of peers. Against traditional fund managers (i.e. Magellan, Perpetual and Platinum), which trade between 5-20x earnings, and superannuation exposed platforms (i.e. Netwealth and Hub24), which trade between 25-40x earnings, AEF looks relatively expensive. We are acutely aware that AEF is currently (at ~$4.2) trading at 12.6% of FUM and ~51x earnings; and at its peak (~$9) was trading at 25% of FUM and 120x earnings. We believe the valuation difference is driven by the quality of the FUM managed and, therefore, the quality of the earnings growth.
Given their high alignment to superannuation, NWL and HUB are the two most comparable firms to AEF. As the trailing figures show, AEF appears to be trading on par with its peers. However, an important nuance is the trailing figure for AEF is based on 2019 earnings, whilst for NWL and HUB it is based on FY20 earnings given they have already reported. As such, on a like-for-like basis AEF’s ‘trailing’ earnings multiple (based on the mid-point of management’s guidance) is actually ~51x. This means it is trading below NWL and HUB, despite the fact that the majority of those businesses’ FU* is linked to FUA rather than FUM, which has a lower monetisation rate. Not to mention, the split between superannuation and managed funds is not as clearly delineated as is the case with AEF. What is also evident is limited analyst coverage of AEF and lack of forecast guidance assisting the market to predict growth (as is the case with NWL and HUB).
Relative to traditional fund managers (i.e. PPT, PTM and MFG), we note the substantial difference in FUM and business quality. AEF hosts the highest monetization rate (Rev/FUM), even whilst facing fee compression, with the highest FUM growth among its investment management peers. Furthermore, we expect EBIT margins will improve from ~30% toward its larger traditional fund managers peers due to economies of scale over time that we believe will more than offset any fee compression. AEF has also supported a very high ROE due to its sticky clientele and service-based business model. The combination of: (i) best in class monetization; (ii) high LTM and increasing membership base; (iii) improving margins; and (iv) high ROE will make for an incredible growth engine on earnings in the long term. Thus, AEF is a higher quality business with ~4x+ the LCM of a traditional fund trading at only a 2-3x premium using current ratios...
We note the following investment risks with AEF:
  1. Fee Compression – The funds management industry is subject to fee compression across both funds and superannuation funds. There has already been a lot of restructuring of AEF’s fees since 2016. The investment product(s) they advocate is also one that serves an ethical / moral dimension and can arguably be charged at a premium above market. Notwithstanding fee compression beyond that which we have considered would place downward pressure on margins.
  2. Member Attrition – The stickiness of AEF's membership base is a hallmark of their competitive advantage although this could be reversed over time due to poor performance or corporate mismanagement. We encourage the reader to keep an eye on member growth and net inflows over time.
  3. Product Reproduction – There is no official IP upon ESG investing and new products are increasingly being promoted to capture market share of this growing market. We believe AEF's early mover and strong brand serve to mitigate this risk.
  4. Regulatory Risks – Changes in the superannuation regulatory environment can be material. This has long been debated within the public domain although it has been viewed as politically unfavourable to change the superannuation system without a reasonably long lead time and grandfathering provisions, which we hope would make any changes unlikely and less meaningful.
Investment Roadmap
Peers’ Earnings Updates: In summary, the FY20 results of peers indicate that businesses with revenues dependent on investment funds have performed quite strongly during this period.
Earnings Announcement: Earnings release on 26 August 2020 should provide for the first catalyst to remind the market of the AEF's fundamental performance. The key figures here will be superannuation FUM, superannuation members and FY20 earnings. AEF will also provide ongoing quarterly FUM announcements, with the following update due in early October. We may also see a mid-August FUM figure in the most recent announcement. Finally, AEF has historically provided updated FUM in back-dated results announcements. Evidence of this occurring can also be found in HUB's most recent announcement:
Private Market Activity: Whilst we think that a private equity buyout is unlikely for AEF, further media exposure and transaction data points should help the public value these assets. There have been some recently executed and rumoured deal activity in the space through 2020. Notably, KKR – one of the largest US-based global private equity funds – bought a 55% stake in Colonial First State valued at ~$3bn from CBA. The implied valuation was ~16x EBITDA, despite the quality of business model and LTM of members being substantially weaker than AEF. There is similar PE interest in NAB’s MLC Wealth, with US funds CC Capital and FC Flowers on second round bids for the asset. NAB's MLC Wealth business caught the attention of Carlyle, BlackRock, and KKR earlier in the year although deals were not executed. The interest from KKR in Colonial is particularly notable, given Scott Bookmyer (KKR partner) who refers to Australian superannuation as the ‘the envy of the western world’. We believe AEF may benefit indirectly from private equity interest, which will confirm both the long-term value and viability of their business model.
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Trading Terms for Beginners: Margin Trading 101: What is a Margin Account? - YouTube Understanding Margin Rules and Requirements Margin Trading 101: How It Works - YouTube Margin Trading: The Ins and Outs - YouTube

Margin and Leverage While the "Margin" acts as collateral to cover any losses that you might incur, it also allows you to hold a position much larger than your actual account value, giving you the possibility to generate large profits relative to the amount invested. Frequently Used Terminologies in Margin trading. Some of the most used terms in margin trading are: Margin call – Is a demand by the lender that a trader deposits additional funds or securities (as maintenance margin) to their account as an assurance that they are in a position to pay back the loan. MARGIN TRADING (GENERAL TERMS & CONDITIONS) AGREEMENT, I/we undertake to comply with the terms and conditions hereinafter set forth. SECTION A A1. General 1.1 DBS Bank shall at its absolute discretion be entitled (but shall be under no obligation) to act upon any Risk Warning: Leveraged trading in foreign currency contracts or other off-exchange products on margin carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for everyone. We advise you to carefully consider whether trading is appropriate for you in light of your personal circumstances. The terms and conditions of Margin Trading Facility shall be identified separately, in a distinct section if given as a part of account opening agreement. The mode of communication of order confirmation, margin calls or liquidation of position/security shall be as agreed between the broker and the client and shall be in writing in his own hand

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Trading Terms for Beginners: Margin

In this video, Ryan answers questions about margin trading and leverage Other topics covered in this video: Twitter Q&A in regards to Bybit -How market conditions influence the decision to use ... Have you always wondered what it means to trade on margin? In this video, you’ll learn what margin trading is and if it is a strategy that could help you ach... What is margin or buying on margin? Here's what it means, put simply. Join The Exchange to get access to my 7 day free course and weekly tips about trading the stock market straight to your inbox ... Trading 101: What is a Margin Account? Come join me for a live session where I talk more about trading, the markets and all the money that can be made. Claim... One trading jargon that you’ll hear very often is margin. It’s usually in terms like margin account, margin trading and even margin call. It seems a bit comp...