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5 Things You May Not Know about Ken Chee
Aspire, Thought Leaders | 02 December 2015
By: Chen Xushuang
Articles (26) Profile

You may recognise Ken Chee, award-winning entrepreneur and founder of 8 Investment as a successful investor and educator, but there are some things about him that you might not have heard of. Perhaps, the hardships and struggles, as well as the silver linings in Ken’s life had shaped him into who he is today.

1.       He battled with dyslexia.

In his book, Ken actually revealed that he has dyslexia, which many consider to be a learning disability. But he did not let dyslexia dampen his spirit to learn.

During his Polytechnic years when he was pursuing a Diploma in Banking & Finance, he won the 1st runner up in the first national trading competition, aka SIMEX Challenge, beating 20,000 professional traders by making $960,000 paper profit from an initial capital of $1 million within 10 days. Five years later, he graduated from the State University in Australia, University of Queensland with a Merit degree in Business Management (International Marketing). Note that he has only started to use English at the age of 15, and even passing his PSLE and ‘O’ Levels examinations had seemed like a “miracle” back then.

2.       His family went bankrupt during the Pan-Electric Crisis.

As the Pan-Electric Crisis hit the stock market in 1985, Ken’s father lost all his savings due to making wrong investment decisions, and his whole family fell into debt. In fact, they were so short of money that Ken was unable to purchase his school materials in time for school.  In his teenage years, he had to work outside school to help repay family debts.

That was also when Ken realised that “no one owes him a living”, and that he has to get what he wants for himself.

Though his father’s investment failure had given Ken a rocky childhood, this had not deterred him from investing when he grew up.

3.       He first learned the concept of “value versus price” from his grandmother.

Although Ken looks up to Warren Buffett as his value investing role model and follows the latter’s investment strategies, his grandmother was the one who first taught him the concept of adding value to business and maximising the returns.

It started out as simply as adding an egg to the porridge (that his grandmother sold) and selling it for 30 cents extra, though an egg cost only 5 cents back then.

Nevertheless this served as an invaluable lesson for Ken, who applied it to his own business ventures later on, and with integrity.

4.       He was retrenched from his first permanent job after working for five months.

The moment he came back from Australia (where he obtained his university degree), Ken headed straight for the recruitment agency. He managed to land a job with an IT company and worked very hard, but unfortunately, after five months, came the burst of the Internet bubble, which also led to his retrenchment.

Ken could not forget the day he was laid off. He was only 23 years old then.

“I went through a state of confusion, shock, anger and denial…all within that short period of time,” he recalled. “It doesn’t make sense. What did I do wrong?”

But this incident had also paved his path to becoming an entrepreneur and investor, as he grew even more determined to take control of his own destiny, and to gain financial freedom. And here is something that he became conscious of earlier than his peers did:  If one were to get retrenched at the age of 40, it would be even harder for him to get another job with the same pay.

5.       He started his investment company with $0 and paid himself $500/month for half a year.

Ken started his investment company 8 Investment at the peak of the Lehman crisis, and within seven years, it grew into a business with a market capitalization in excess of S$350 million.

But the process hadn’t been easy. At the start, Ken and his business partner Clive Tan, despite being the founders of the company, had to “underpay” themselves with a meager salary of S$500 per month. This went on for 4-6 months until the company’s finances stabilised.

Their hard work and devotion had indeed paid off, and Ken had achieved total financial freedom by the age of 34.

Ken’s beginnings were surprisingly humble; he did not have wealthy parents behind him, neither did he see himself as being extraordinarily talented. In fact, many of us are better-off than he was at his poorest. We may not be able to fully replicate his success, but there are many lessons we can learn from him in his coming Value Growth Workshop.

As a Communications Studies graduate specialising in journalism, Xushuang is keen to observe and explore issues that readers want to know more about, and to deliver quality content through engaging writing.

Please click here for more information about this author.

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