Investment Options in Malaysia!

Table of Contents

We always hear the term “invest, invest, invest, start investing at a young age, and watch your returns double, triple, quadruple as you grow older”. Do you ever wonder are these words true? We’ve seen people doing it and making it. Yet, it’s just one of those things that we keep sweeping under the carpet, thinking that we have time to start it later. And when we have time to start, we just do not know where to begin, get lazy, and the cycle repeats.

So the big question is, is investing really that complicated?

If you’ve read a fair bit about investing, you’ll realize that people tend to be biased against certain investment vehicles. That’s because usually people invest in their circle of competence (meaning that they invest in something they believe in and see further potential) and risk appetite. If you don’t invest in your circle of competence, you are basically investing blindly, and this can be potentially be dangerous (worst case scenario is you’ll lose whatever you’ve invested), so invest wisely!

I will share the little I know about investment options in Malaysia, and hopefully will write in-depth later on as I progress in my investment journey!

Types of investments available in Malaysia (ranked from safest to riskiest!)

Disclaimer: Personal opinion only!

#1 Fixed Deposits (FDs)

I wouldn’t consider this to be an “investment vehicle”. Basically, this is the safest kind of investment you will ever find. Furthermore, in Malaysia, it’s protected by PIDM, meaning your investments safe!

Typical returns: 3-4% per annum.

How to start: Most banks have e-FDs available at their online banking portals / apps. Log in your account and apply directly online! Just note that if you do it online, you lose the power to negotiate for a better rate. Head to the nearest physical outlet for better rates if you plan to invest a bigger sum (they sometimes give you better rates!).

#2 Amanah Saham

These are basically “Trust Funds” created by a government-linked subsidiary called Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB). What PNB does is something like EPF, they pool the money of investors of the fund and use that money to invest.

There are two types of funds offered – (i) fixed-price funds and (ii) variable-price funds. Fixed-price funds have no sales charges (similar to FDs!), but the variable-price funds do. The returns for the latter isn’t as great as fixed-price funds too. However, the fixed-price funds are close-ended funds, meaning there are a fixed number of units available in the market. So it might prove a little tricky to get your hands on them.

Typical returns: 3-8% per annum.

How to start: Register for an account at ASNB branches or any agents (Maybank Berhad, CIMB Bank Berhad, RHB Bank Berhad, and Pos Malaysia Berhad). Buy one of the funds, and register online at their online portal, myASNB.

Tip: Buy 100 units of the variable-price fund so that you can register on their online portal. After that, you can start trying your luck at the fixed-price funds.

#3 Unit Trusts / Mutual Funds

These type of investments are best suited for someone who has little knowledge about investing and prefers someone else to handle the “technical” and “difficult” work, and do not mind average returns. It’s something similar to #2 Amanah Saham, just that the risks are higher (to me). People who invest in these usually need to invest in these for a longer-term, and it’s usually to save for their retirement.

I personally do not really like investing in these type of investment vehicle, mainly cause no matter how high the return might be, there is always a relatively high commission cut.

There are also different kind of unit trusts / mutual funds to suit your risk appetite or preference (e.g. oil, gold, ASEAN countries, etc). The one that I invested 6 years ago consistently every month (savings / retirement fund) is giving me less than FD rate returns. *facepalm*

Typical returns: Varies greatly.

How to start: Open an online account at Fundsupermart (they charge lower fees!). Or head to any Public Mutual branch / other banks and open an account (not recommended).

#4 Property

(Reason why this is up here is because of REITS)

There are two ways to invest in property.

#A The traditional way of buying the property itself.

#B Buying REITS (Real Estate Investment Trusts).

Investing in in #A obviously requires considerable capital (for down-payment… or not! I see some properties being sold with 0% down-payment; and those old-timers in the property investment circle have certain strategies in investing property). Unfortunately, I know very little about property investment strategies currently (as I am lacking the required capital to do so in the first place).

Typical returns: Varies.

I do however know about REITS. Currently, am particularly interested in the trust that is managing MidValley, Pavillion, KLCC and Sunway Pyramid (IGB REIT (5227), Pavilion REIT (5212), KLCC REIT (5235SS) and Sunway REIT (5176) respectively). Will write more on those when I research in depth about their structure and potential returns given that malls are beginning to go out of fashion elsewhere in the world right now.

Typical returns: 4-7% per annum

How to start: Open a stockbroking account at any local bank. REITS are listed on the Bursa Malaysia Stock Exchange.

#5 Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)

These are basically like unit trusts / mutual funds. The only difference is how you sell them. ETFs are actively traded like how stocks are traded on a market exchange (so no sales charges / commission charges imposed by the fund managers! But only the normal stock trading charges). An ETF basically just tracks/copies/mimics something else, and hence they do not need a lot of highly-paid fund managers to make investment decisions.

These have higher risk though, as compared to mutual funds, as these are more open to speculation (as they are traded like stocks, but then again it depends on how you look at it).

Typical returns: Varies.

How to start: Like RIETS, open a stockbroking account, as these are listed in Bursa Malaysia Stock Exchange.

#6 Stocks

When you buy a stock, you’re basically buying a piece of the company. And if the company does well, you hope that the stock price will go up (capital gain), or they will distribute their profits to you in the form of dividends.

There is only one risk in investing in stocks… losing your entire capital. But hey, the upside is unlimited gain! There are many strategies to invest in stocks (might explain some of the strategies I know in later posts), for example dividend play, etc.

Another upside of investing in stocks is getting to attend their Annual General Meetings (AGMs)! If you do go, expect to be showered with free gifts (e.g. tickets, events, gift baskets, etc.), especially if the companies that you invest in are blue chip companies.

Typical returns: Varies.

How to start: Like RIETS and ETFs, open a stockbroking account, as these are listed in Bursa Malaysia Stock Exchange.

#7 Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P Lending)

This type of investment is someone who borrows money to new businesses, usually startups (as they are unable to get loans from the banks).

The downside to this is that it’s riskier, that’s why banks don’t touch them. I personally like Funding Societies.

Typical returns: 10%-20% per annum.

How to start: Sign up at any of the 6 authorized P2P lenders. Find the list here.

#8 Equity Crowdfunding

Basically the same as #7, just that instead of paying you interest on the loan you are borrowing them, you get paid in shares.

#9 Digital Currencies – Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin! The riskiest type of investment vehicle to-date. Heard of over 1000% gains, but also equally large losses?

Read also: What is Cryptocurrency? Is it Bitcoin? – Everything you need to know and how to buy it in Malaysia (Luno)!

Conclusion

You’ll feel quite dazed if this is the first time you are being exposed to all these different types of investment vehicles in Malaysia. What I would suggest is to go with what you are most comfortable with. Develop a strategy / plan to determine how much will go into “safe” investments, “slightly riskier” investments with slightly higher returns, and “risky investments” with super high returns.

Always be prepared to lose everything. Always have enough for a rainy day.

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