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Old 03-30-2008, 04:55 PM   #11
LockT31W
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wow, this thread has certainly exploded. why the repeated focus on pay, though? 400k a year is a lot - it's more than i would ever need to be happy with my life. i'm a thrifty guy, and after taking into account all the long-term expenses like my children's education and my retirement nest egg, any extra money beyond that would just be a bonus to me. and to think that you all are talking about how top doctors and lawyers making much more than that. i'm gonna be a lawyer but i certainly won't feel any envy when i know that my SAFOS and OMS friends are earning more than me even at the basic level. i'm happy if all my needs are met, and though i can't say for sure that i wouldn't want a lamborghini or a ferrari in the future, i wouldn't have to worry about being PC about buying one as a lawyer in private practice rather than as a top civil servant or a politician.
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Old 03-31-2008, 09:34 PM   #12
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But enough about government, maybe someone who is inside IB can discuss more about IB career so that people can see if they have a fit for it? We have a thread on banking & finance i believe. or even entreprenuers? I know the medicine side is quite active. All 3 can earn far more long term potential earnings then govt. Just see all our poor ministers who have to take pay cuts from their medical career or Hyflux Olivia Lum (Hwachong alumni!) who earns $15K per mth as part time MP but her company probably makes that in 1 hour!
IB is lucrative for sure, and IBs in international banks can expect to take home over $1mil annually with bonuses, however 1) they have to work like a dog (17 to 20 hour days, no joke) and because of that, many do not last beyond 3 to 5 years before they burn out and quit the business or take on less strenuous positions in the bank. That's why IBs have to be quite young and are picked fresh out of Ivy League and Oxbridge universities most of the time. A lot of aspiring IBs in their late 20s and early 30s are told by banks that they're too "old" and don't have the necessary energy to slog that kind of hours and intensity for the job 2) they are subject to the winds of the change of the economy.

During the jia lat 1999 recession, many IBs lost their jobs and all banks stopped recruiting, not only IBs but all positions!! The good thing is, you can slog like a dog and sacrifice having a life and sanity for 5 yrs and after that, retire comfortably and spend the rest of your time as a full time personal trader/remesier and invest your booty as your day job.

As for entrepreneurship, I have this to say. People love to quote runaway success stories like facebook and google, forgetting conveniently that those take place in the USA. This is a game of stats and figures, really. There are 300 million people in the US. And that is 100 times more people than Singapore. Say there are about 10 life-altering, epoch-making entrepreneurial set ups coming from the US every 5 to 10 years, must be as big time as Microsoft, Apple, Ipod, Facebook etc. That's 10 from the US that changed the world in a big enough way to earn their founders millions. And they have 100 times more people than Singapore!! Using statistics, this means that at Singapore's most genius, Singapore's population pool allows at most (10/100) 0.1 of such a success story of the same scale!!! This is how dismal the no. is, NOT because Singaporeans are any less ingenious, but sheerly because of our size.

Do note that besides the USA all the other countries in the world do not command even a fraction of such wildly successful entrepreneurial set ups. This ought to give hopefuls an even clearer idea and these other 200+ countries have many more people than Singapore, including other developed economies like HK, Korea, Canada, UK, Australia.

Straits Times just reported last week that the figure of success rate for entrepreneurs in Singapore took a worse hit and a nosedive this year. You can read it here. It was very difficult before, and now it's much much worse.

http://www.iesingapore.gov.sg/wps/po...siness%20Times

Compared with the previous survey of 500 start-ups the year before, 58 per cent are in the red in the latest poll, up from 37 per cent.

More than half of the 1,500 start-ups surveyed were in the red owing to recently emerging problems such as rising rents and prices of raw materials.


As it is, we have Sim Wong Hoo and Olivia Lum (whom I have on good information, the blessings and open road that came from the grace of her God), I think we have pretty much used up our 0.1 statistic! LOL

Even if one wants to argue that I've used the estimation of 10 life-altering US entreprising inventions too conservatively, I can easily up the figure double or triple and still the stats remain. Even if I up the estimation for comparison to 100 of such inventions every 5 years (a VERY VERY generous overestimation), that means statistically at Singapore's most genius, it's 1 such enterprise in 5 years.

I'm not dissuading would-be entrepreneurs from taking the step to fulfil their dreams. I'm painting a realistic picture of it IN REALITY and in Singapore's condition (population and statistics) objectively as I know in forums it's casual for participants to throw out big names like Google or Facebook- a small number of success stories propagated by pop culture and the media and use them to paint probable and viable dreams come true over other options to readers who may not know the whole truth. But what is the reality of things? It is possible like anything else is. Even becoming an astronaut is possible. I am here to give real statistics, data and cold hard objective analysis.

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Originally Posted by dershing View Post
Hyflux Olivia Lum who earns $15K per mth as part time MP but her company probably makes that in 1 hour!
Do note that MPs do not draw even a small fraction of the salary that top senior servants (PS and DS) as well as MOS (Minister of State) and Ministers get. In fact MPs are not paid a salary, but an allowance for conducting their duties.

All MPs I know have a full time job which pays their bills. The allowance from their MP duty is NOT meant to be their salary, thus this is a completely inaccurate comparison. Pls note it's an allowance.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stori...269781/1/.html

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Old 03-31-2008, 09:44 PM   #13
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and to think that you all are talking about how top doctors and lawyers making much more than that. i'm gonna be a lawyer but i certainly won't feel any envy when i know that my SAFOS and OMS friends are earning more than me even at the basic level.
I do not think most doctors and lawyers make more than SAFOS and OMS at intermediate and advanced levels.

Basic level, only the SAFOS outstrips the rest - OMS and all the civilian occupations eg law, accountancy, medicine except sales in banks, trading and investment banking (no NS liability, high SAFOS pay).

Entry level OMS are paid slightly less than entry level doctors and lawyers but they do start work 1 year earlier (compared to lawyer) and 2 years earlier (compared to doctors), so they're about on par.

SAFOS and OMS hit the same pay scale when they're both emplaced on the AS. In the event that both personnels (one SAFOS and one OMS) do not get onto the AS, the SAFOS earns a lot more than the OMS.

Do note that the military pays a premium for its staff because of certain factors (compensation for early retirement at 45, highly specialised skillset, military hardship to cheong sua and on standby 24-7 all year round, overseas exercises and having no time for wives and family and financial temptation to lure people to go into the military are the factors). This premium extends to both the elite in the military (the SAFOS) and even the rest. If you look at what a normal grad NUS/NTU/SMU CPT gets in the SAF and what his other mediocre NUS/NTU/SMU counterpart is getting in the civilian workforce, the difference is substantial. Of cos SAFOS are paid a lot more than non SAFOS.

Bearing in mind this attractive pay for the SAFOS comes at a price. It's what they pay to OMS-equivalent brainy people who also have military interest, expertise, leadership and fitness.

The top pay of lawyer and doctors that the civil service pegs its ministerial pay to is the top percentile or so of 6 chosen professions. And this amount is not representative of what all the rest of them earn, in fact there is quite a huge gulf. So I'd say it is incorrect for any law or medicine grad to envision with certainty that he will commanding an equal payscale as an top tier AO. If he makes it to the top percentile sure.

Law and medicine grads earn about the same at entry level and lawyers hit big pay dirt if they make partner, for doctors, it's when they start their own practice after serving the government bond at public hospital.

Accountancy grads have low starting salaries due to the VERY VERY high number of them (from SMU/NTU/many many not so prestigious Australian universities) and as auditors they don't earn much, about $2 to $2.2. Auditors are employed by the truckloads each batch, over thousands by each of the big 3 or big 4. Only a very very very small proportion catch up with the lawyers and doctors if they become partners and there is a lower proportion who do.

Accountancy is suffering from a lack of 'heat' and is one of the less hot professions now, with many accountancy graduates preferring to try their luck in the red-hot banking profession. But only front office positions in banks (IB and trader) hit major pay dirt and these VERY VERY FEW positions are usually snapped up by Ivy League and Oxbridge graduates who are not bonded.

Last edited by kukubird; 04-01-2008 at 12:10 AM.
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Old 03-31-2008, 11:28 PM   #14
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but my idea behind the What is the best scholarship thread was to also help undecided and equally capable people understand that there is a lot more than just rankings and to show that there are many paths to success.
I know that there are many paths to success and I think everyone else (well, 99% of thinking ppl) do. Look at David Gan and Sam Leong who are so rich! Anyway success is not measured by wealth, look at the Cultural Medallion winners, the highest award for artistic achievements in SG. They're not rich in material ways but they sure are successful. I intervened with information I have because I feel I have objective information. I also take it for granted that everyone knows that fit is utmost important and there are many paths to success. If there aren't many paths to success, people like me are doomed!

How can fit not be common sense? Because if the criteria demanded is not present, the applicant can no way get the scholarship no matter how hard up he is for the prestige! Eg a shy and low key OMS guy who can't see himself leading 100 men in the jungle and has already bagged the OMS scholarship can never get the SAFOS even if he's a prestige whore and SAFOS is more prestigious and he's really hard up for it.
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Originally Posted by dershing View Post

Also, I think you misunderstand my point about the President scholarship. What I was saying is that at this juncture (18 or 19 years old) you have a choice whether to take up scholarships or not. Its a career choice. And if your sole criteria is to be the best of the best by prestige and pay, then please do not bother to take up any scholarship other than those which are bond free.
Scholarships in Singapore are definitely CAREER tracks and NOT financial aids. That is bcos Singapore gov needs to maintain what it has by ensuring it has the best in its fold. If they were financial aids, they would be given to the poorest people and we all know that this is not the case here. Do you believe there are people in SG who think foolishly that scholarships are financial aids? They're ppl very far removed from the system and didn't even go to JC and clearly, we can tell they also don't read the news. If scholarships are financial aids, then it'd be very funny indeed that PM Lee's father allegedly claimed by these people, did not have enough money to send his 3 children to university.

One of last year's president's scholars Stephanie Ko's father is the MD of EDB. It would be funny if scholarships here are financial aids and not career tracks.
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Originally Posted by dershing View Post
So kukubird you are lucky to know exactly what you want do to, good for you, I also hope you are very capable and intelligent with a good heart as much of what you decide/propose affects many people. There are also many other points on consideration like whether you can work well in a extremely structured environment, whether you can play the political games required, get along with your PS etc. That is where fit comes in. How to not discuss it?
You are wrong. I am not a scholar. I am not even close (actually didn't do well in school LOL!). I have all this information because like you, I have friends around me and know many other people who have been through and are of/in the system and in the various sectors of the workforce. And you're not that old. Let's just say our ages are comparable.

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Old 04-01-2008, 01:07 AM   #15
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i'd also like to point out to all those out there reading this thread that while kukubird does paint a very bleak picture for non-scholars, even OMS and SAFOS have to slog it out bloody hard too to get to the top payscales where they'd be pegged to the top 6 professions blablabla. but it is true that, in the middle, they are pretty well off.
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Old 04-01-2008, 01:46 AM   #16
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I did not paint a bleak picture for non scholars. I am not a scholar myself FYI. I am painting a realistic picture about entrepreneurship and accountancy, which is backed by statistics. It's very easy for anyone to mouth off names like google and facebook on the net, without thinking through about credible statistics and business conditions. If i was an aspiring entrepreneur now about to sink my life savings, the first thing I do when I'm calculating risks logically is do research online to find out the % of starts up that succeeded here. This is helpful information and sensible, and not to pluck fantasies out of the air and give to others, who may make their life decisions based on your talk. Stats from IE show that almost double of start ups this year flopped compared to last yr. That's what I get for being kind?

Also, there are many people in private sector who make a lot more money than even the highest paid civil servants here- ministers. They are FRONT OFFICE bankers. the annual pay of Jackson Tai alone is several times of the annual pay of a minister.

http://www.accountancy.smu.edu.sg/ev..._directors.pdf $3.75 million was Tai's annual pay. The PDF file shows the pay of his contemporaries, David Conner of OCBC and Wee Cho Yaw of UOB (who's basically the founder and very very old)

If you analyse logically, you'll realise that the Jackson Tais of the banking industry make up a tiny mini fraction of the whole industry dominated by Ops back office people, same as the civil service where the AS makes up a mini fraction of its whole work force.

It is a fact that lawyers hit pay dirt when they make partner. Let's just say getting into Admin Service is the rough equivalent of that. Is that a good analogy? Not all law grads make partner and hit that scale. Same for PSC scholars. Not all go to Admin Service. It's a long road of struggle AFTER they start their careers, before they reach that. Also not all emplaced on the AS move at the same rate, it's down to competency and competition as well. Same for lawyers who make partner.

Doctors make a LOT more money substantially after they leave public hospitals. That is a fact. The difference is great, which is why there is a problem of too many doctors leaving for private practice! LOL There was a time when doctors were choosing to do aesthetic medicine over cardiology, neurology, etc cos of the money, but now with the clamp down, hopefully that will change. I think it is simply good sense to specialise in cardiology and the like because the aesthetic market might have been burgeoning very very exponentially, the bubble could burst anytime and the competition is just way too keen! Whereas a specialist doctor will always have business, and will have no lack of growth of business because people are dying earlier and contracting more terminal diseases in a developed country.

My wife herself, who used to go to a GP aesthetic doctor in the neighbourhood says her doctor says the competition for aesthetic is so stiff, everyone was forced to lower their prices. And the reason why they even began introducing aesthetic was because of the stiff competition among GPs!!!

It took a long hard road for Jackson Tai to get to where he did.

Let's just say the race NEVER ends for all professions! So enjoy the ride young guys.

Accountancy has lost its lustre and this was reported in the straits times as well when ST did an evaluation on the 6 professions that civil service pegs its pay to. If it hasn't, there wouldn't be so many of them trying to get into banking! LOL. Safe to say perhaps this industry has reached its sunset.

The road to becoming a minister from an PSC SAFOS or OMS is a long one. And the same goes for the road to become a Jackson Tai.

What I have given is information on the different pay scales of different jobs and career routes anyone may be considering, based on what I know because of the no. of people I know due to my age.

Don't worry, do well and study hard and get on the dean's list. I am sure you know that law students on the dean's list have much higher offers of starting pay than non-dean list students from law firms.

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Old 04-01-2008, 11:27 AM   #17
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Woah kukubird, great to hear your views in detail and that we are about same age! I thought I was the oldest guy on the forum!

Agree with most of what you write. One point on entrepreneurship, I am extremely interested in this topic and am running my own business myself for the last 8 years. One thing I notice is immediately is that it is very humbling experience and that few people are cut out for it.

But i think Singapore market is like a mid-big sized city market, the opportunities are there to do very nicely for yourself but hard to do mega bucks like the Chinese, American, Japanese or Russians. Googles and Facebooks we may not have but there is good opportunity for people who want to run a 5,10,15,20 even 50M dollar business. And based on these type of turnover, the ower should be drawing $0.5M to 5M per year in income (inclusive dividends, assuming a very modest 10% after tax profit). That puts these many SME bosses in the same league as Perm Sec, top SAFOS, top CEOs. And best part is that they do not need to have great academic potential. Firms like GMP (recruitment), Indochine (F&B), Hardwarezone (internet), Sheng Siong (this one huge) all comes to mind.

So let's not be too pessimistic about entrepreneurship. I even know one NUS grad pretty well who at 31 has sold his business with a dividend guarantee of $1M per year income.

In short, many paths to success. Think for yourself.

Just to add to the discussion.
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Old 04-01-2008, 06:33 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by dershing View Post
Woah kukubird, great to hear your views in detail and that we are about same age! I thought I was the oldest guy on the forum!

Agree with most of what you write. One point on entrepreneurship, I am extremely interested in this topic and am running my own business myself for the last 8 years. One thing I notice is immediately is that it is very humbling experience and that few people are cut out for it.

But i think Singapore market is like a mid-big sized city market, the opportunities are there to do very nicely for yourself but hard to do mega bucks like the Chinese, American, Japanese or Russians. Googles and Facebooks we may not have but there is good opportunity for people who want to run a 5,10,15,20 even 50M dollar business. And based on these type of turnover, the ower should be drawing $0.5M to 5M per year in income (inclusive dividends, assuming a very modest 10% after tax profit). That puts these many SME bosses in the same league as Perm Sec, top SAFOS, top CEOs. And best part is that they do not need to have great academic potential. Firms like GMP (recruitment), Indochine (F&B), Hardwarezone (internet), Sheng Siong (this one huge) all comes to mind.

So let's not be too pessimistic about entrepreneurship. I even know one NUS grad pretty well who at 31 has sold his business with a dividend guarantee of $1M per year income.

In short, many paths to success. Think for yourself.

Just to add to the discussion.
Cool. Are you referring to Adam Khoo? Frankly a few of my friends in GLCs (ST, Sembcorp) were sent to his courses and came back with rave reviews. I did not read his book and personally do not subscribe to motivational speakers. He made his first million he claimed before he was 30 through the motivational company and has fashioned himself as a deepak chopra.

Naturally there are lots of businesses in Singapore that have taken off, especially big family businesses whose members you regularly see appear in the pages and covers of society magazines. The Wees of UOB, The Khoo of Goodwood, The Ongs of Far East, the Tays of Hour Glass, the Lims Of Cortina, these are old money. then there are more than are listed, though not old money like Venture Corp, Serial System. All those big businesses require over at least 1 mil to start up initially and now are in the many many millions after many years, and this is difficult for most start ups.

I am referring to small businesses with a smaller capital of less than $200,000 pooled together among several people. How did you raise the money for your start up capital? In order to run a 5, 10 , 20 million business like you said, the start up capital has to be a lot, I'm not a businessman but I'm guessing at least 2 to 3 million for a 5 million business? That's why there are all these businesses in SG in that categories succeeded cos they have $ SIGH. Maybe it's just me but I find it very difficult to put in so much of my money into a business bcos i'm kiasi. Most average people after working for 10 yrs can save at most $100 000.

0.5 mil in income per annum is very good! You must have done very well for yourself. I guess your business is pretty big. In most industries that do not pay top dollar like top insurance salesman or medicine, most people are drawing only $3.5 to $5 by the time they are 30 eg IT, engineering, PR, journalism, marketing, in house HR and admin, finance, etc. And after deducting all the costs and monthly expenses, we're left with not much of our net salary after CPF deductions.

In the so called corporate world i met a number of colleagues who used to dabble in these starts up with friends, pooling together capital to about 100K like offering IT solutions, but they all came off scalded so personally I know its not for me since I have no faith in start ups if the seedling i can come up with is small. Also heard of many people who start up small fashion boutiques or small push carts in malls and cannot break even, I know it's tough. It is so unfair, cos the poor have a lower chance to succeed at the start, while the rich with big capital also enjoy an advantage and has a higher chance of success.

I think stocks and shares is a more feasible way to make money and I hope to grow my portfolio this way and make money through the market.

HWZ is good, a few guys who started a website that became rather big and if i'm not wrong they were bought by SPH eventually.

As for indochine, haha it came from Michael Lu who has money to burn. Did you know he made a lot of losses and closed down many of his outlets including the restaurant at Centro 360 as well as Centro? He managed to get more money, I don't know how, but he's not local, he's Australian of Chinese or was it Viet descent and is very well connected.

I went to one of his events at Indochine Waterfront and saw a number of big shots who bothered to grace it, big shots like service chiefs.

I also know one of the ambassador's son, now in his early to mid 30s who started his publishing thing and did rather well but won't name names, suffice to say his company did very well in a famously tough industry where newcomers normally die like flies within a year and he bought himself a very nice sports car, a Lambo, just like specialist docs love to do for themselves in their mid 30s haha! They have a big start up capital due to privilege. Even Kenny Yap's family was already well off before he revitalised the company and then listed it.

What impresses me are small businesses that started out of a small seedling (usually a group of young people) that take off like HWZ. Those actually have more meaning to 'having made it' because they did not have the privilege of a big backer. Do you know if C&K and Apex Pal started like this I'm curious? BTW is Apex Pal listed? Always curious and F&B is something I'm interested in but it is way too saturated and difficult to penetrate, costs are too high compared to 'online' businesses with low costs.

Suffice to say the IE report on start ups and how they are in the red mostly made up of these small-seedling companies. With small capital to begin with, it is very tough to survive market conditions, costs and difficult to penetrate local market which is quite mature and very competitive. Thankfully we have the bigger names with big backers to give them hope.

Do you mind sharing what business yours is in? And are you in one of those young entrepreneurs association in SG? I think you should join, they share tips and advice and also confer awards to businesses that have done well.

If you are a woman, a way to get rich fast is marry up.

Last edited by kukubird; 04-01-2008 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 04-05-2008, 01:26 AM   #19
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I think the Micron Scholarship and Singapore Power Scholarships are excellent. The German will say Sie sind Supper!
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Old 04-05-2008, 06:20 PM   #20
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hi kuku,

erm... this thread is on which scholarship is the best one. So we are a little off topic, what we are talking about would fit the Which jobs pay the best or under Chitchat.

Will post my reply to you there instead.
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