By Ike Suarez
Dapper describes Mario Sant Singh?s appearance as we meet him for an interview. We are at the Carlos P. Romulo room of the Prince Albert Restaurant at the Hotel Intercontinental Manila.
The Singapore-based Singh is director of training and education of FX Primus, a retail forex brokerage firm with head office in Mauritius.
As such, it facilitates the online buying and selling of foreign exchange worldwide. It targets average citizens as clients and its online reach extends to 205 countries.
Singh has just flown in from Jakarta and is in Manila for a look-see at the venue for his two-day seminar, June 29 to 30, at the Mall of Asia.
Topic of his talks will be the basics of retail forex trading. Target audience will be middle class Filipinos curious to learn more about this activity and even willing — or better still, adventurous enough — to give it a try.
Singh is dressed as if he intends to look good before the television cameras. He sports a black jacket with overly large buttons over a white shirt. Jacket and shirt are both topped by Roman collars. His trousers? black color matches that of his coat and is cut from the same cloth.
As is today?s fashion, his is a stylishly clean-shaven head. Cool is his demeanor as we go about our interview with him on a hot and humid evening.
Yes, he does come across as a television personality and that?s because he is one in his native Singapore. He has appeared on numerous television programs there, such as those on CNBC, to share his expertise on global finance and forex trading.
He also is a legitimate member of the book writing fraternity, having authored the book, ?17 Proven Currency Trading Strategies: How to Profit in the Forex Market?. The book rolled off the presses only early this 2013 and is published by Wiley and Sons of Singapore.
Singh is a guru and evangelist for retail forex trading. His task is to persuade more people globally to log on to the Internet to engage in this activity for a profit. It is both his mission and passion.
Hence, his visit to Manila. Singh harbors no illusions that multitudes of middle-class Filipinos will immediately engage in retail forex trading once he has delivered his lectures.
He nods when we ask him if what he will be doing in the Philippines is missionary work. Affirmative also is his answer when we ask him if him if he realizes he will have to be patient and determined in his educational efforts.
He admits Filipinos are still skeptical about the benefits of retail forex trading. He acknowledges a good number of them suspect it to be an online scam. And with specific regard to his company, because it is headquartered in Mauritius, a country very few in the Philippines know of.
Nevertheless, Singh expresses confidence he will be able to build in the Philippines a cadre of early adopters. Over time, they shall be able to spread the good news of retail forex trading to finally make it a mainstream economic activity in the country.
A definition of terms first before we go further in this article. It is , as Singh says in a most common-sensical manner, an activity where one currency is exchanged for another. And as he explains it in his book, ?forex traders make money by speculating on the movement of currency rates.?
Thus, they buy when they expect prices to rise and sell when they expect prices to fall. In the parlance of the trade, they go long or go short. For today?s retail traders, they do this by logging on to a broker?s site to make a few commands on their computers or Internet-enabled mobile devices.
Forex trading is no total stranger to the Philippines. It has been present in the country already for a few years and there are a number of brokers now into this business. So much so that a former fellow technology journalist now makes her living soliciting forex accounts.
But the accounts sought are large institutions, upper class Filipinos, and wealthy expatriates. For everyone else, forex trading is an activity far removed from their day-to-day concerns.
Singh intends to change this and bring the Filipino middle class into the forex trading picture. His primary targets in this sector are individuals aged 25 to 50 in search of supplementary incomes. Retirees looking to augment their pensions have also been targeted.
He acknowledges he must first win their trust and confidence. Not only must be dispel suspicions that retail forex is an online scam. He must also correct illusions it is a path to easy money and instant riches.
Singh explains that forex brokers merely act as facilitators for the exchange of different currencies. It is up to players to buy or sell. That his company, FX Primus is headquartered in Mauritius is because the country enables brokerage firms there to offer players the chance to leverage their trades by up to a ratio of 1:500. The country has successfully positioned itself in global finance as a haven for offshore operations.
Singh adds that FX Primus has all its clients? accounts independently administered by a third-party custodian. Thus, the assurance for clients that their funds are safe and secure in case of collapse by a brokerage firm as a result of misappropriation of funds or compliance issues.
Doubts and suspicions notwithstanding, Singh is convinced objective factors now make it feasible for retail forex trading?s eventual entry into the Philippine economic mainstream.
For one and for many reasons, the Philippines is today experiencing an economic boom. As such, the country has now attracted the attention, if not fancy of more foreign investors. At the same time, Filipinos presently are in search of investment vehicles in addition to the traditional real estate, jewelry, and fixed income deposits.
Likewise, various foreign currencies have now become familiar to a good number of Filipinos. This includes the eight most actively traded in global forex markets, namely: US dollars, euros, Great Britain pounds, Australian dollars, Japanese yen, Swiss francs, Canadian dollars, and New Zealand dollars.
The Philippine diaspora has made this possible. Immigrants to other countries and OFWs make up this group and its members regularly remit money to relatives.
Familiarity with the Internet by members of the middle-class is yet another reason. And as of now, there is a growing trend among this group towards increased acquisitions of Internet-enabled mobile devices such as tablet PCs and smart phones.
Thus, Singh?s optimism.
He points out that there is a a method to successful trading. The hit-or-miss approach to this activity is the major reason why Filipinos who earlier had tried forex trading experienced disappointing results, according to him.
?Strategy is the most basic approach to successful traiding in retail forex,? he states. This is what he will be lecturing on at the MoA this June along with the other basics.
Executing a strategy tailored to one?s peculiar trading category will enable one to successfully participate in forex trading whose daily global transactions total $4.3 trillion, points out Singh in his book. Along with retail forex traders, others engaged in it are central banks, commercial and investment banks, and multinational companies.
Such activity is recession proof, claims Singh. Reason: there is always opportunity to go long or go short in foreign currencies any time all the time. A few other reasons would be the following: the foreign exchange market is global and operates 24 hours; it is very liquid; its immense size makes it impossible for anyone to corner it.
According to him, a retail forex player can realize an average of four percent return to one?s investment. But he adds, ?One must play consistently and the money you make will depend on how much you invest.?
Even if playing retail forex is simple, it is not at all easy, Singh admits. Making this simple are the few rules to follow. These are rules he has devised for executing the specific strategies he has likewise created. They are the following:
1) Ensure the correct time frame
2) Overlay the necessary indicators
3) Execute long or execute short based on the strategy rules
4) Double check your entry point, stop loss, and profit level targets
5) Record your results in your trading journal
Details of these are in Singh?s book. Particular strategies to be employed in line with these rules will depend on the particular kind of trader a retail forex trader is, namely: Scalper, Day Trader, Swing Trader, Position Trader, and Mechanical Trader.
Scores garnered based on one?s answers to a questionairre found in a chapter of Singh?s book determine the category a particular retail forex trader belongs to. The questionairre resembles a set of questions in psychological tests to determine a person?s particular personality type.
Names of the 17 strategies Singh has devised can be described as catchy: They are the following: Rapid Fire, Piranha, Fade the Break, Trade the Break, Gawk the Talk, Balk the Talk, Trend Rider, Trend Bouncer, Fifth Element, Power Tanger, The Pendelum,. Swap and Fly. Commodity Correlation (Part 1) Commodity Correlation (Part 2), Siamese Twins, Guppy Burst, English Breakfast Tea, and Good Morning Asia.
Catchy though their names may be, they also demand discipline and rigor in their execution. They depend on technical analysis — the use of charts and statistical formulas — for successfully choosing the exact time to go long or to go short profitably.
Singh tells us that those who engage FX Primus as their broker will have access to online tutorials in this regard. They will also have access to various online mentoring activities, ranging from the most basic to the ultra sophisticated. The more complex activities will most likely have to be paid for.
As we bring our conversation to a close, thoughts and impressions race through our head. Yes, Singh faces an uphill battle as of now. And that is why he confides to us that, ?I hope to visit the Philippines twice a year for the next three years to conduct seminars.?
But who knows. He could yet build a cadre of early adopters happy with the results of their forays into retail forex. By word of mouth and social media, they could spread the buzz to make retail forex trading mainstream in the Philippines.
All this though is still in the future. For now, we wish him good luck.