Investment Tips 2 MIN READ

Technical Analysis: “Higher-for-longer” reality spooks markets

With a resilient US economy, the US Fed is prepared for further monetary tightening.

September 26, 2023By Kyle Tan

In the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting recently, the US Fed left rates unchanged. However, it signaled a higher for longer stance and that it is prepared to tighten further, or increase interest rates, if appropriate. Basically, a resilient US economy would result in further tightening.

Last year, markets were optimistic on a Fed pivot in 2023. The equity market’s rallied on hope and over optimism on policy easing hence the mantra “bad economic news, is good news for markets.” Now that the reality of the “higher for longer” is here, the scenario of another hike startled markets and triggered the recent selling.

The Fed’s hawkish rhetoric has prompted volatility in the global markets. As a result, the S&P 500 has re-tested the 4,300 support amid the announcement.

Looking at the technical movement

A. The S&P 500 remains bullish in the medium term as seen with the long upward channel.

B. The upward channel will break if price falls below 4,200.

C. Price may test the 4,200 level as momentum has a downside.

Make or break at 4,200

D. A topping pattern called the “head and shoulders” has emerged, but there is no sell signal generated yet. If price were to fall below 4,200, the drawdown target of 4,070 can be projected.


As the overall market remains bullish, pullbacks would be good re-entry levels for the S&P 500 given that the US Fed is near the end of its tightening cycle. A healthy pullback allows markets to set up for a year-end rally. However, the bullish view will quickly turn into a bearish one if the US economy tumbles into recession, and the market’s mantra flips to “bad economic news is bad news for markets”.

KYLE TAN is an Investment Officer at Metrobank’s Trust Banking Group, managing the bank’s offshore Unit Investment Trust Funds (UITF). He holds a Master’s degree in Financial Engineering from the De La Salle University and is a Level 2 passer of the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) certification course. He spends his free time working out, training at the gun range, or hunting for rare Star Wars collectibles.

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Fine Living 4 MIN READ

Everyday outfits for the office: A guide to power casual dressing

Casual dressing is the perfect go-to outfit anytime and anywhere, even at work. Here’s how we can get the right match for your power casual dressing looks.

September 22, 2023By Angela Kiara S. Brillantes, BusinessWorld

A casual look has been associated with something that is simple. But with fashion evolving as time passes by, casual can be something low-key yet stylish and chic.

With more workplaces embracing looser dress codes, casual style is becoming more familiar. This option lets a person to feel more comfortable at the office without feeling under- or over-dressed.

Casual fashion comes with a diversity of choices, and you need to know how the choose the right one that fits your preferred lifestyle while still looking customary to an office setting. Here are a few tips to help you in your power casual dress hunt:

For women

A casual style can look chic and stylish if one knows how to do it correctly. For women, adopt a casual-chic look by styling with neutral colors like black, white, beige, and grey and choosing soft and comfortable fabrics that are also breathable like cotton, linen, silk, or denim.

  • Shirts and blouses–Invest in the basics. For example, casual shirts and blouses are clothes that can be easily mixed and matched with bottoms, layers, and accessories. Shirts can be customized to fit one’s style as they come with a variety of options. Some differ in sizes (long or short sleeves), and others differ in colors, prints, and designs (simple, patterned, or checkered).
  • Bottom wear–Women can wear jeans to elevate a simple yet sophisticated look. A relaxed fit-trouser is ideal as it allows more flexibility and movement. Wide-leg trousers can also be used if one wants to emphasize their curvier features while aiming for a chic and professional look. If one wants to perk it up a bit, a midi skirt is also perfect for a casual look as the skirt comes in different shapes and styles, perfect for any body shape, its below-the-knee length gives emphasis to the footwear and adds posh to the overall style.
  • Dresses–Another outfit piece to wear for a casual look are dresses. Dresses are versatile, comfortable, more feminine, and a timeless classic. Women can enjoy shirt dresses if they want to enhance their silhouette; a knitted dress that goes well during work hours or at a night out; or a long wrap dress that can be paired with sneakers or boots.
  • Layering–To add life to one’s casual style, layering is the key to adding “depth and interest,” to one’s outfit. You can mix and match items and accessories based on various textures, materials, colors, and patterns that you think fit your outfit. Consider jackets, coats, or cardigans over a blouse or a dress, or tailored pieces like blazers that add structure to your ensemble.
  • Shoes–For casual dressing, matching your clothes with the right pair of shoes should be well-thought of as this gives your feet a stylish look as well. For comfortable yet fashionable footwear, women can wear loafers, ballet flats, or low-heeled boots.
  • Accessories–Every accessory can be customized to fit one’s personality and fashion sense. Add statement accessories that match your outfit such as a chic handbag, a pair of classy sunglasses, or a timeless watch that polishes your ensemble.

For men

Similar to women, casual dressing for men should be a balance of comfort, style, and individuality.

  • Jeans–Jeans have been the foundation of the casual style for a long time. So, choosing the right pair of jeans should be done for a modern-day power look. To look smart and casual, dark-washed denim is just right; and for a more laid-back kind of look, light-colored denims are also ideal.
    For trousers, chinos are also a great fashion piece that is elegant and comfortable, a perfect piece for a smart-casual style. Chinos come in neutral colors including khaki, navy, and beige, which is ideal for occasions with “ambiguous” dress codes.
  • Polo shirts–Polo shirts can be matched with decent suit pants or a premium pair of jeans. One can also stay cozy with a knitted polo shirt that can appear just as classy and elegant, or the grandad collar shirts for those leaning to a “smarter” casual look.
  • Jackets–To finish the casual look, coats or jackets are the way to go. Jackets, which are long-term investments in one’s wardrobe, can be worn over everything and comes in various materials such as leather, fleece, denim, and corduroy.
  • Shoes–Wear white sneakers that go with a classic look, or a leather pair for a more polished look. Aside from sneakers, other options include loafers, desert boots, and boat shoes.

Accessories and accents–Stick with that support you preferred style and express your individuality and uniqueness. One can consider wearing a designer watch or a belt that fits that pair of jeans.

Hack to try

You might wonder how to mix and match different pieces into a good casual look, especially when you’re busy. Try the “2×2 outfit formula” where you simply combine two items of formal wear and two items of casual wear. This way, you emphasize both a formal office look and a ready-to-go style.

Remember that dressing casually is about personal style, a suitable appearance, and comfort. With limitless choices of clothes and accessories at your disposal, you can find a specific casual style that truly fits your personality.

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Retirement 3 MIN READ

What to look forward to beyond retirement 

Depending on how you look at it, retirement can be exciting or scary. We have prepared a short guide to help you make your post-retirement years worthwhile and fulfilling.

September 14, 2023By Bjorn Biel M. Beltran, BusinessWorld

You may already have your retirement account set up in a diversified portfolio somewhere, accumulating wealth until you finally decide to retire for good. Perhaps you are looking for ideas on what to do with all of that along with your newfound time.

Many people who learn of financial literacy— including an increasing number of young adults—have retirement as the end goal of their financial journey. But few ever think about what they want to do after retirement. For many hardworking adults who have reached senior years, retirement turned out to be more challenging than they were led to believe.

In fact, a 2019 study in the UK showed that many British pensioners found that the average retiree becomes dissatisfied with their life after only one year of retirement, and described the period as “boring,” “lonely,” and “quiet.” The study also noted that the biggest drawbacks of retirement were financial difficulties, boredom, and isolation.

The transition into retirement can be both exciting and daunting, filled with uncertainty and anticipation. But it does not have to be boring or lonely. Instead of viewing retirement as the end of an era, it can also be seen as the beginning of a whole new chapter.

Consider your financial situation before retirement

Before hitting your senior years, it is important to consider how to manage and make the most of your retirement savings.

  • Create a financial retirement plan — Consult a financial advisor who can help you create a comprehensive retirement plan, which can help ensure you allocate your investments into assets that produce a steady income stream. The retirement plan should also include anticipated living expenses.
  • Get healthcare and life insurance — As you age, your healthcare needs may change, and it is vital to have adequate coverage to protect yourself from unexpected medical expenses. Research various healthcare plans and consider long-term care insurance to provide financial security in case you need assistance in the future.
  • Create an estate plan — It might be intimidating, and many people might prefer not to think about it, but this is the time to do so. Creating a will (a legally binding document) and establishing a power of attorney can help ensure that your assets are distributed accordingly to your beneficiaries.

Enter retirement with your passion

With your financial situation settled, it is time to think about what you want to do. Retirement provides an excellent opportunity to reignite your passions and pursue hobbies that may have taken a backseat during your working years.

  • Start a hobby — Whether it is painting, gardening, playing a musical instrument, or woodworking, engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment can enhance your life. Even if you had already been doing them before retirement, consider this time to be your chance to pursue your passion to the next level.
  • Join social clubs — Share your interests with others. With social media apps, finding a community of like-minded individuals near you is easy and it can be a stepping stone for learning and growth.
  • Study again — Take the time to research workshops, classes, or online courses that can help you develop new skills or deepen your knowledge in areas that interest you. Even if you do not have a hobby, or know what sorts of activities you like, now is the perfect time to try. Prove to yourself that you can learn and accomplish new things regardless of how old you are.
  • Travel – Without work commitments or time constraints, you can embark on adventures you have always dreamed of. Whether it is a cross-country road trip, a tropical beach vacation, or a journey to far-off lands, retirement opens a world of possibilities.

Retirement does not need to mean the end of your personal growth. In fact, there is no better time to explore new interests and expand your knowledge.

Retirement is far from the end, so think of it as the beginning of an exciting new chapter in your life. Whatever you choose to do, remember that this is your time to savor and celebrate the achievements you have made over the course of a lifetime.

Seize the moment and make the most of the many years to come. You have earned it.

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Fine Living 4 MIN READ

Antique furniture, an alluring alternative investment 

Unless treated as family keepsakes, antique furniture could perhaps serve as another investment, as long as they are properly and professionally maintained and appraised.

August 22, 2023By Chelsey Keith P. Ignacio, BusinessWorld

Having withstood the test of time, antique furniture is an object of fascination. Defined as pieces that date back dozens or hundreds of years, antiques are at the backdrop of stories from a bygone era and could also possess sentimental value, especially when part of one’s family history. Plus, of course, they add to a home’s exquisiteness with their one-of-a-kind beauty that aged like fine wine.

Such pieces of furniture serve as mementos of one’s lineage, possibly making them priceless for the inheritors. But aside from seeing such objects as keepsakes, perhaps they would someday pass on these antique furniture as alternative investments. Who knows, as you sit on your antique chairs or bed, you are unknowingly sitting on a pile of cash.

Whether treating antique furniture as an heirloom, an adornment, or an investment, it is best to be acquainted with caring for this old stuff to maintain its significance and value. And when the time comes that one is considering realizing the monetary worth of these antiques as an investment, knowing about selling them is also valuable.

Antiques are sought by collectors and those who merely want unique, sturdy, and historic furniture for their homes. But apart from these qualities that make such pieces attractive, the rise of considering sustainability in consumption is also adding to the appeal of antique furniture.

Still, of course, the worth of antiques would vary from one to another. Aside from its conditions — which are necessary to keep it in a good state — the rarity, age, and craftsmanship matter in the value of antique furniture as well.

Keeping antiques’ value

To maintain its beauty and strength, which are valuable to its worth, antique furniture has to be handled with care.

If you own old wooden pieces, know that direct sunlight, ambient temperature, and humidity could affect the furniture. Years of accumulated dust can also have some effect on the quality of wood so it is advised to wipe them off from time to time. But be mindful not to use cleaning agents that may harm the paint and protective varnish coating of the antique

When it comes to moving antique furniture that would prevent damage, having several helping hands would be needed, especially for large and heavy objects. Be careful not to carry them on their extended parts to avoid breaking them.

Some antique furniture, however, would need more than cleaning to keep its appeal. When in need of fixing, do not try doing it on one’s own or by an amateur. Antique pieces needing restoration must be carried out by a professional antique restorer.

Keep in mind also that restoration could impact the value of the antique furniture, especially if too much revamp has been done. So, as much as possible, it is best to be mindful of keeping its original look when restoring antiques.

Passing on antiques

When you finally decide to transfer your antique furniture to someone else, either as an inheritance or for selling, there are several ways to consider to figure out its worth and where to sell them.

You can list the details of your antique furniture, such as its age, the type of materials used (especially important for wooden furniture), previous ownerships, and restorations or fixes that have been done to it.

Sometimes, the historical significance of the furniture—from the years where it was created, to the historical figures–gives it even more value. There are communities of antique collectors in the Philippines specializing in period items, such as during the Spanish colonial period, the US occupation, all the way to World War 2.

When all these details are collected, you can show these to your potential buyers. But some antique collectors also offer their furniture to auction houses, and there are several renowned ones in the Philippines.

Auction houses, where you can consign your antique furniture, would also help in pricing the pieces. Working with auction houses can be advantageous for antique furniture owners as they could find legitimate buyers. A specialist from the auction house will discuss the piece or see the furniture to appraise it. The auction houses will also help in setting an ideal value for your item. And when it comes to presenting your antiques for sale, auction houses let you showcase your pieces as part of an auction or a private one.

But before sharing your antiques with them, familiarize yourself with the auction houses in the country; and note as well that auction houses, particularly upscale ones, might prefer pieces possessing special quality.

Among the known auction houses in the Philippines are León Gallery and Salcedo Auctions. Both founded in 2010, these auction houses can serve as a platform to offer your antique furniture as well as paintings, jewelry, and other collectibles.

Apart from auction houses, there are also antique stores looking for old pieces of furniture that could consider selling yours. If you are looking to offer your items for sale at these shops, make sure that you also have the important details and image of the antique furniture and ask for the store’s consignment policies.

Whether you would want to offer your antique furniture to auction houses or antique stores, get to know further about these sites and shops as you entrust your pieces. Although the estimated worth given to your ancestors’ antique furniture as an investment might not equal its pricelessness for you as the heir, at least make certain that these historical pieces are handled and transferred with care so they can retain their allure, purpose, and value for way more than a century.

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Investment Tips 3 MIN READ

Keeping an eye on the three pillars of disinflation

Are prices in the US decelerating too fast? If your portfolio is tied up with US assets, you need to keep track of some important indicators.

August 17, 2023By Anthony O. Alcantara

Disinflation, or the slowing down of price inflation, can be a good thing. It can prevent the economy from overheating.

However, when inflation hovers near zero, it may tip the balance towards deflation, which can wreak havoc on the economy with falling prices. Disinflation may also be a harbinger of economic depression.

Winnie Cisar, CreditSights Global Head of Strategy, has stressed the importance of monitoring this incipient trend in the US.

Speaking before Metrobank clients in a webinar titled “2023 Mid-Year Economic Briefing: Opportunities amid growth headwinds”, she cited three pillars of disinflation to watch out for.

“First is the shelter cost lag. Second is the material decline in the money supply that we’ve seen over the past 12 months. Last is the tightening of credit conditions by banks, especially for regional banks,” she said.

“We’ve been highlighting these three key pillars of disinflation that we expect to become more prominent in the second half of 2023.”

Shelter cost lag

Cisar said CreditSights, one of the world’s leading credits research companies, has created scenarios for the trajectory of the core Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) deflator, a measure of inflation that excludes volatile food and energy prices.

“We’re sticking with our base case of a gradual return to an average that includes both the slow inflation period of 2011 to 2019 and the elevated inflation of the more recent years,” she said.

“This puts inflation back to 2.5% by the middle of next year. We do see a risk scenario that inflation could finish the year around 4% if more recent trends for the past three years hold.”

She also pointed out that CPI shelter, or the portion of the consumer price index that measures housing and shelter-related costs, “has tracked home prices with an 18-month lag quite well.”

Material decline of money supply

Cisar said the US Fed appears to continue with its quantitative tightening (QT) and that the prepared remarks of policymakers “indicate no real concern about QT continuing in the background at its current pace.”

QT, or the policy action that reduces the money supply in the system to curb inflation, combined with the US Treasury rebuilding its cash balance with the upcoming T-bill supply, had investors worried.

“Right now, we see those concerns as somewhat overblown and unlikely to cause the Fed to change course with respect to QT. In general, we see the liquidity of cash in the system as quite ample,” she said.

Tightening of credit conditions by banks

Elevated interest rates were partly responsible for the bank runs that brought down the likes of Silicon Valley Bank and First Republic Bank earlier in the year.

Corporate clients were discouraged from borrowing and instead utilized their cash parked in deposits. Regional banks, on the other hand, had to fund these withdrawals by disposing of lower-yielding investment securities at massive losses.

Customers’ fear of losing their entire deposits exacerbated the bank runs further and only made it more difficult for banks to lend out any remaining cash.

This tightening of credit conditions is, in a way, just what the Fed needed, as the limited access to funding could bring about a slowdown in investment spending. But the central bank may have to closely monitor the health of the US banking system, especially after Moody’s downgraded 10 small- to medium-sized banks and put six large banks on review.

The ratings agency cited pressures on profitability, exposure to non-performing commercial real estate, and risks to these banks’ ability to generate sufficient internal capital.

A dose of pragmatism

With what these three pillars of disinflation are telling us, cautious optimism seems to be the overarching theme.

Despite economic uncertainties, US households’ excess savings are still estimated to be above USD 500 billion, according to Cisar. Combine that with an intact labor market, and we see that the consumer has fueled the economy in the first half of the year.

We also see an elevated cash balance of companies, giving them financial flexibility to navigate the economy.

“We remain pragmatic in our outlook for the Fed, US growth, and inflation. And US corporate credit is a solid opportunity even with the mix of headwinds and tailwinds,” said Cisar.

(With input from Earl Andrew A. Aguirre, Metrobank Markets Strategist)

ANTHONY O. ALCANTARA is the editor-in-chief of Wealth Insights. He has over 20 years of experience in corporate communications and has a master’s degree in technology management from the University of the Philippines. When not at work, he goes out on epic adventures with his family, practices Aikido, and sings in a church choir.

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Investment Tips 3 MIN READ

Why invest in China? 

Amid global uncertainties and negative market sentiment, China remains an investment option that is too big to miss out on.

August 11, 2023By Jon Edison Munsayac
China (1)

Savvy global investors are always looking for investment opportunities. For those who want potentially significant long-run returns and the chance to diversify their portfolios, China offers a good option.

It remains the second-largest economy in the world, boasting almost USD 18 trillion in terms of market value (only second to the US’ USD 25.4 trillion). Being a major exporter of manufactured goods, its industry is deeply rooted in the world’s supply chains.

Despite the recent threats of a potential global economic slowdown, there are still compelling reasons why China is an investment option that needs to be in any investor’s portfolio.

1. China will continue to grow.

On a relative basis, China continues to be one of the strongest countries in terms of economic growth despite its already significant size. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates China’s 2023 and 2024 growth at 5.2% and 4.5%, respectively, higher than the economic growth of emerging market and developing economies at 4.0% and 4.1%, respectively. In the long run, China’s economy is expected to flourish.

The consumer sector makes up 60% of the GDP, with a population that is second only to India. The rest is from the manufacturing and services sectors, which reflects the important role the country plays in global supply chains.

2. Government policy is pointed in the right direction.

Every five years, the ruling party holds a congress to realign the government’s priorities. In its latest meeting last month, the existing policy in macro-economy, regulation, foreign relations, and other major aspects of how China operates was reset to become more in tune with the goal of keeping its economy growing despite looming headwinds.

The policy reset on China’s regulatory and foreign front has become more business friendly and less aggressive. Economic policy has also given more room for the government to address challenges in its local real estate sector and government debt.

Though it takes time for these updates in policy to change existing market sentiment, positive change needs to begin somewhere in order to steer China’s economy in the right direction.

3. China’s local consumer spending is huge.

While these policy changes take root, the Chinese consumer is taking on the role of lifting the economy in its current state. It used to be that China was an export-driven economy. No longer. Consumer spending has grown along with the urbanization of the country and the growing desire for goods and services that developed countries enjoy.

Sectors such as retail, entertainment, tourism, and healthcare are booming. Companies in these sectors are experiencing growth unlike before. It is not just the very large companies that are feeling the benefit, but also local companies who thrive because of consumers looking for excellent products that are competitive and of high quality.

4. China has high-growth sectors and emerging industries.

The goods and services that China is offering are vast, and innovation is widespread. As the Chinese government focuses on cutting-edge technological development, expect a lot of support for the growth of these high-growth sectors and emerging industries.

Artificial intelligence, electric vehicles, and fintech are just a few high-potential industries that China is putting a lot of money into, hoping to establish its dominance globally.

While these four reasons may indeed be compelling, there are still risks involved. The best way to take advantage of this growth story in China is to consult your investment advisor.

If you are a Metrobank client, you may talk to your relationship manager or investment specialist about the Metro$ China Equity Feeder Fund. You may also click here to know more.

JON EDISON MUNSAYAC is an Investment Officer who is part of Metrobank Trust Banking Group’s Multi-Asset Investments Department. He has a little over 11 years’ worth of experience in trust banking, primarily in markets research, strategy, investment solutions, and portfolio management. He is a storyteller at heart and an avid believer in keeping things simple when possible.

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Estate Planning 5 MIN READ

Asset Protection Strategies for the Wealthy: The Psychology of Insurance

Emotions, while useful and making us human, can also thwart intelligent decision-making when it comes to insurance and asset protection. Exerting the effort to appreciate what insurance is and reflecting on a few questions may help.

August 2, 2023By Anthony O. Alcantara

“While we are, death is not; when death is come, we are not. Death is thus of no concern either to the living or to the dead. For it is not with the living, and the dead do not exist,” said the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus.

We could probably be happier with that thought. But still, the consequences of death, cannot be ignored. And when death comes knocking, a well-considered insurance policy is a crucial thing to have, especially for the wealthy.

There is just one perennial problem.

“They don’t want to talk about dying,” said Dexter Agcaoili, Director of AXA Philippines’ Single Premium Products and Unit Linked Funds Category.

“The topic of death is not easy. Even for the young HNWIs, even if they truly appreciate what insurance is, they find it difficult to discuss it with their parents. It’s deemed an inappropriate topic because it seems like they’re already keen on their parents’ wealth even if they’re still around,” said Agcaoili, who has decades of experience in various companies handling wealth management for high-net-worth individuals.

Common mistakes of HNWIs

He said the most common mistake wealthy people make is thinking that they do not need life insurance because they are wealthy and that they have more than enough to leave behind for their families.

On the other hand, there are those who still think of insurance with a purely investment mindset. They expect returns, particularly with the variable universal life (VUL) insurance type. Many think it is purely an investment that is primarily meant to grow.

In both cases, there is a lack of appreciation for life insurance protection.

“They are comparing it to the usual mutual funds or UITFs (unit investment trust funds), which are not insurance products. Single-premium VUL insurance has a death benefit that pays at least 125% of the single premium paid regardless of the market value of the underlying investment funds,” said Agcaoili.

Some subscribe to the view of “buy the term, invest the difference”, which means buy the cheap kind of insurance (e.g., term insurance) that can cover you for, say, 10 or 20 years, and then invest the rest of your money.

The drawback, however, is that after 10 or 20 years, you don’t have protection anymore. And all your investments will then be part of the taxable estate subject to estate tax, and frozen until that tax is paid or garnished to satisfy any debts and other legal obligations.

2 uses of insurance policies

The first important use of insurance is the settlement of estate taxes.

Even if the estate tax has been reduced from 20% to 6% under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, the importance of insurance in estate planning has not diminished.

“You don’t just really allocate 6% or 10% of your wealth to life insurance. If you really analyze what the essence of estate planning is, it is planning all the way until death. You make a plan that will really take care of your estate, and it will be disbursed according to your wishes,” said Agcaoili.

“The tax regime can change, so 6% earmarked for inheritance tax may not be sufficient as the tax rate can go back to 20% in the future,” he added.

The second important use of insurance is wealth transfer.

According to Agcaoili, one use of life insurance is to ensure the seamless and legal distribution of your estate without the encumbrances of probate proceedings, taxes, and garnishment.

“It’s about the seamless transfer and distribution of wealth to your heirs. It won’t form part of the taxable estate for irrevocable beneficiaries. The insurance company can readily write a check to each beneficiary in accordance with stipulations in the insurance contract, which makes the wealth distribution more direct,” he said.

More sophisticated HNWIs would use a life insurance trust, a type of legal arrangement where they assign a person or corporation to hold their life insurance policy, money, property, and other assets and manage them according to their wishes, even after they pass away.

Trends in insurance

Agcaoili noted that in the past few years, HNWIs have sought insurance policies with high insurance coverage, like regular-pay or limited-pay insurance products.

What is also becoming popular are traditional single-premium endowments, which are insurance policies that provide guaranteed cash benefits on top of the insurance coverage.

“Similar to fixed income instruments, endowments provide a guaranteed cash benefit payout over a limited term like 7 or 10 years, with a certain protection of, say, 125% of the single premium amount,” explained Agcaoili.

The insurer guarantees an annual endowment payment and the payment of the initial single premium amount upon the insurance policy’s maturity.

Others want more flexibility with bespoke solutions, which could include riders, or add-ons, to the policy, such as critical illness riders.

Key things to remember

“By studying and appreciating the value and advantages of life insurance, we can fully maximize its benefits in terms of estate planning and wealth distribution,” said Agcaoili.

It would also help to be more aware of the psychology and emotions that somehow muddle the way people think about insurance.

A few questions may help:

1. What role can insurance play in my estate planning? Can it pay for estate taxes? Can I use insurance to distribute my wealth when I pass on?

2. Am I buying this insurance policy for the right reasons? Do I appreciate the life protection coverage that it provides?

3. Will there be an equitable distribution of wealth among my beneficiaries?

4. What emotions are getting in the way of my decisions?

Thinking about death may not be pleasant. But philosopher Peter Cave of Cambridge University provides us some food for thought: “Live so you will have no regrets if you die tomorrow, but also no regrets if you don’t.”

If you don’t want to have any regrets, it may help to consult your investment advisor, too.

(And if you are a Metrobank or AXA client, you may call your relationship manager for assistance. Not a client yet? Please click here for Metrobank or here for AXA Philippines.)

ANTHONY O. ALCANTARA is the editor-in-chief of Wealth Insights. He has over 20 years of experience in corporate communications and has a master’s degree in technology management from the University of the Philippines. When not at work, he goes out on epic adventures with his family, practices Aikido, and sings in a church choir.

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Fine Living 5 MIN READ

Building and preserving wealth through art collecting

Collecting fine art is not as easy as buying and keeping other items. It requires fervent passion, discerning taste, and keen knowledge of art. It can be part of your wealth creation journey.

July 21, 2023By Angela Kiara S. Brillantes, BusinessWorld
Renaissance photo Alex

Among many things one can collect, fine art is one of those that definitely requires constant dedication, large amounts of investments, and wide spaces for storage.

Whether it comes in the form of paintings, sketches, sculptures, or landscapes, art encapsulates one’s expression or creativity. Aside from its aesthetic beauty, art has the power to communicate and inspire individuals, regardless of when a piece was created and displayed. Such characteristics make pieces of art worth collecting and preserving.

Today, art investments continue to widen its range. Artworks by old masters, from art funds, and creations from up-and-coming artists are among those worth investing in.

Note that art collecting is not for the newbie nor is it for the faint of heart. It is a high-maintenance activity and requires good amount of knowledge of art history and of the artists and their techniques. For the purpose of investing, collecting doesn’t end in making a deal with a seller, purchasing the piece, and having it transferred to your own space. After the collecting comes the handling, storing, and insuring of pieces, all of which make investing in artworks expensive.

Considering the weight and responsibility of collecting art, how should one begin? Here are some suggestions:

Examples of masterpieces from Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. Photo by Alex Villafania

Setting up clear goals is the first step. Before fully investing in art, investors should think about what they want to get out of these investments, or whether are they more interested in collecting art than making a profit.

Getting a professional art consultant is probably a prudent step. Art consultants are deeply embedded in the art community and can advise clients on how they can proceed with their art collecting and investing goals. They can help in identifying the type of aesthetics, quality, and investment value of specific pieces and the artists who created them. Art consultants also ensure that clients are protected from purchasing fake or worthless pieces.

You can also seek the assistance of other experts, such as artists, art dealers, and even owners of collections, to have a clearer understanding of what it is you are aiming for.

Once the goal is decided with the art consultant, conducting research to determine the kind of art you want to invest in is the next step. The world of art is broad; it can range from vintage paintings, classical art, Renaissance masterpieces, modern sculptures and installations, and even digital art. All these have different values to different people so it is best to align your goals with what you want to buy.

After researching, it is critical to determine the budget or the spending limit. Budget is also crucial when making art investments, since it must be clear how much you are willing to pay. Factor in as well how much you will spend for the handling and long-term maintenance of all the pieces.

Know your space requirements and time horizons. Art pieces must have a home to be cared for, regardless of them coming from legends of the classical era or from budding modern artists. Not all art pieces can survive the test of time. Some pieces may need more space and even air conditioning to remain pristine. How long you will hold such pieces will be a huge factor in how much you will spend to care for them.

Security must also be included in your art investing plans. Like any investment, preventing theft through secure access must be ensured. Artworks can also be damaged or destroyed, either accidentally or intentionally, which means additional cost on your end.

It is important to make sure your decision is an informed one. Make sure you have fully assessed whether the artwork is investment grade and if the specific piece of artwork brings you joy and satisfaction. Money can’t buy those two, but at the very least they should be the immediate fruit of any well-thought investment.

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Fine Living 5 MIN READ

A trip to Hakodate, Hokkaido’s First Port City 

Experience the sights and sounds of Hakodate, a popular tourist destination in Japan. Enjoy what it feels like to live a colorful yet peaceful life in the land of the rising sun.

July 14, 2023By Earl Andrew Aguirre and Pam Luber-Aguirre

There is a good reason to visit outside of the peak season in Japan. According to the JTB Tourism Research & Consulting Co., a whopping 6.73 million international tourists visited Japan from January to April 2023.

While still a far cry from the 10.95 million who visited from January to April 2019, tourism numbers are expected to rise further and reach pre-pandemic levels as global COVID restrictions ease.

The peak travel seasons in Japan have historically been March to April during spring and October to November during autumn. Spring, in particular, is known for blooming cherry blossom trees also known as sakura. It is common to see tourists crowding public parks across the Honshu mainland, especially in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, just to view and take pictures with the cherry blossoms. But not everyone knows that cherry blossoms can also be found blooming a month later in the far northeast.

Hokkaido is Japan’s northernmost region and is normally known for its record snowfall, snow festivals, and ski resorts during late autumn to winter. But because of its slightly different climate, the island region’s cherry blossoms bloom a little later in April to May.

Even in the middle of spring, temperatures still lean cold and fluctuate between 10 to 15 degrees Celsius during the day. My wife Pam and I had the opportunity to visit Hokkaido for the first time during those months. While it may be standard practice to fly directly to the New Chitose Airport near the region’s capital city, Sapporo, we instead began our trip in the port city of Hakodate.

A side trip worth the effort

Hakodate is Hokkaido’s third largest city after Sapporo and Asahikawa. The city has its own airport, and we were able to fly there via a domestic flight from Tokyo Haneda Airport. Hakodate is also a four-hour train from Sapporo via the Japan Rail (JR) Hokuto limited express but a bullet train or shinkansen route is planned to open by 2030.

A delicious bowl of tempura on top of rice. Photo by EA Aguirre

With its southern coast facing the Tsugaru Strait, the city is popular for its numerous seafood offerings. Start your day at the Donburi Yokocho seafood restaurant avenue near the JR Hakodate Station where several shops serve chirashidon or various sashimi on top of a bowl of white rice.

Tempura bowls are also available, for diners not looking for raw seafood. Drop by next door to the Hakodate Morning Market Square to have fresh Yubari melon for dessert as well as shop for any vacuum-sealed seafood for souvenirs.

The old settlement of Hakodate was developed into a major trading port in 1859 after the US Navy led by Commodore Matthew Perry forced Japan to open five ports to foreign trade. This resulted in several structures built in both Japanese and Western architectural styles.

Climb up the beautiful cobblestone street of the Hachiman-Zaka Slope to visit the historic preservation district. Just across the large Otani Hongan-ji Buddhist temple are the Motomachi Roman Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox Church which are still open for worship.

The main hall of the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward is still used today for concerts and other events. Photo by EA Aguirre

Overlooking the nearby Motomachi Park is the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward, a Western-style civic building from 1910. Right in-between the major tourist sites is Kikuizumi, a traditional Japanese house turned café known for its delicious demi-glace omurice and coffee.

Sakura, sashimi, and then some

To the southeast, there is a ropeway station that takes tourists to the top of Mt. Hakodate, where the entire city can be seen. The part of the preservation district closest to the northern port section features the former British Consulate of Hokkaido and the Hakodate City Museum of Northern Peoples or Ainu.

Shoppers looking for more souvenirs can also visit Kanemori, a block of red brick warehouses that have been converted into a shopping mall. In addition to Hokkaido products, the mall also sells apples and other apple products from Hirosaki City, located near the northern tip of the Honshu mainland. Just outside the mall are two branches of Hakodate’s homegrown fast-food chain, Lucky Pierrot, known for its signature Chinese Chicken Burger.

Lucky Pierrot is known not just for its burger, but also for local souvenirs. Photo by EA Aguirre

The preservation district had prominent cherry blossom trees along its roads but die-hard sakura fans are better off visiting Goryokaku Park instead. Locate far northeast of the preservation district by bus, Goryokaku is a massive five-pointed star-shaped fortress built in 1866.

It is well-known for being the final battleground between the remaining samurai of the Tokugawa Shogunate and soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army. Goryokaku had then been converted into a park and the fortress’ structures were dismantled, except for the old magistrate’s office at the park’s center.

Even when we were there in early May, cherry blossom trees were everywhere as far as our eyes could see. Just outside the park are the Goryokaku Tower, which allows tourists to view the star-shaped park from above, and the Ajisai restaurant, known for its clear shio (salt) ramen and Zangi Hokkaido-style fried chicken.

Along the city’s southeast coast and just 10 minutes away from the Hakodate Airport is the Yunokawa Onsen, a district brimming with hot spring hotels and traditional inns. In the middle of town is a public open-air hot spring footbath where people are free to come and rest their feet.

To the northeast, there is the local Yukura Shinto shrine. Along the southern coast is the Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden where visitors may watch adorable Japanese macaque monkeys soak in their very own hot spring. Underrated small restaurants in the area include Tsukiyono and its mouthwatering steak plate and Hokkai Ramen and its generous serving of chashu pork. This is the perfect place to end one’s Hakodate stay before flying out.

Japanese macaques enjoy themselves in a hot spring. Photo by EA Aguirre

With tourist visits to Japan picking up, it is a great time to consider exploring parts of the country outside of the usual tourist hotspots in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Hakodate City on the northern island of Hokkaido may be the best place to still experience cool weather and blooming cherry blossoms in May, a little after Japan’s usual peak season. It is also a city that maintains a striking balance of Eastern and Western history, traditional and modern culture, and popular restaurant chains and underrated mom-and-pop shops.

EARL ANDREW “EA” AGUIRRE is a Market Strategist at Metrobank’s Financial Markets Sector. He is recently married to PAM LUBER-AGUIRRE who works as a marketing and communications assistant manager for a global consulting firm. Both EA and Pam love everything Japanese and travel to Japan once a year. They also advocate for environmental conservation and animal welfare, which explains their family of three cats, one dog, and one turtle.

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Fine Living 5 MIN READ

Unlocking the full power of your credit card

Understanding rewards systems behind credit cards can help you select the appropriate card that you can maximize for your lifestyle needs.

July 7, 2023By Bjorn Biel M. Beltran, BusinessWorld

Most people are afraid of using credit cards because of this myth that they might overuse it and incur huge debts. This explains why credit card penetration in the Philippines is still very low.

But for many users, credit cards are a potent instrument of financial management. If used with spending awareness and with caution, users can maximize their credit cards to increase financial mobility, provide access to new avenues of investment and financing, and can even boost their standard of living.

There are incentives to using credit cards, such as 0% interest financing, free airline flights, or free shipping on online orders–the benefits of spending using your credit card.

Banks and credit card companies often give such rewards to clients as a carrot-on-stick to use their cards regularly. And if you play your cards right, you can get a line of credit that works perfectly with your spending habits and personal preferences available.

Types of credit card rewards

There are four main types of rewards systems offered by banks.

1. One of the most popular is cashback rewards that give you a percentage of your spending back as cash or statement credits (the money that is kept in your credit card account and is deducted from your next billing statement). The cashback rate may vary depending on the spending category (e.g., groceries, gas, dining, etc.).

As the most common type of reward you can get, cashback rewards are tailored to offer simplicity and flexibility for every user. You can use cashback as a statement credit or deposit it into your bank account. However, cashback rewards typically have lower earning rates compared to points or miles systems.

2. There are also cards that offer point-based rewards. Under this system, you can earn points for each of your transactions. These points can be redeemed for various rewards, such as gift cards, merchandise, travel, or statement credits.

Points rewards systems often provide higher earning rates than cashback rewards and can be redeemed for a wide variety of things. Usually, the value of points can vary depending on the redemption option, and some rewards may require a substantial number of points.

3. For the more outgoing type of user, there are miles rewards systems, which are similar to points systems but are specifically geared toward travel rewards. You earn miles for every peso spent, which can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, and other travel-related expenses.

This is perfect if you’re a frequent traveler, as miles rewards systems can offer great value and help you save on travel expenses. As a downside, however, miles rewards can be difficult to redeem depending on your usage, and they may come with many restrictions, such as limited availability of available flights or blackout dates where promos are not valid.

4. Finally, perks rewards systems offer benefits and discounts on specific services or products, such as free checked bags on flights, hotel upgrades, or access to airport lounges. Perks rewards systems are the category of rewards where you can get valuable benefits and discounts tied to specific services or products to your bank or credit card provider.

Picking the right credit card

Given these four reward structures, you may already get an idea of what kind of credit card is best for you. But before you decide, keep in mind that there are also other factors that may come into play. Your credit score, for instance, plays a significant role in determining your eligibility for specific credit cards. Higher credit scores typically grant access to cards with better rewards and lower interest rates.

Furthermore, in deciding the type of credit card to use, you need to determine your goal for your using one. Analyze your spending habits to determine which rewards system will provide the most value. For example, if you spend a lot on groceries and gas, look for a card that offers higher rewards in those categories. Do you travel a lot? Get a card that has a miles reward system you like.

Consider what you want to achieve with your rewards. If you prefer cashback, look for a card with a high cashback rate on your most frequent spending categories. Finding a loyalty program that is suitable for your shopping habits is your best bet.

When comparing credit card offers, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Read the fine print: Carefully review the terms and conditions of each card, including fees, interest rates, and reward redemption restrictions.
  2. Compare rewards earning rates: Look for cards that offer higher rewards rates in the categories you spend the most on.
  3. Consider sign-up bonuses: Some cards offer lucrative sign-up bonuses for new cardholders who meet a minimum spending requirement within a specific timeframe. These bonuses can provide a significant boost to your rewards balance.
  4. Research redemption options: Investigate the redemption options for each card’s rewards system and compare the value of the rewards based on your preferences.
  5. Evaluate additional benefits: Some cards offer additional benefits, such as travel insurance, purchase protection, or extended warranty coverage. Consider these perks when comparing offers.

Maximizing your rewards

Once you have signed up for a credit card and have started using it, follow these tips to make sure you get the most out of your rewards:

Pay your bills with your credit card: If possible, pay your bills (utilities, insurance, etc.) with your credit card to earn rewards on these expenses. However, ensure that the service provider doesn’t charge a fee for using a credit card.

  1. Understand the value of your points: The value of your points or miles can vary depending on the redemption option. Research the different redemption options and their values to ensure you’re getting the most out of your rewards.
  2. Monitor your rewards balances: Regularly check your credit card rewards balances to ensure you’re aware of your earnings and can plan for redemptions.
  3. Set up alerts: Some credit card issuers allow you to set up alerts for when your rewards balance reaches a specific threshold. Use these alerts to stay informed about your rewards.
  4. Be aware of expiration dates: Some credit card rewards may expire if not redeemed within a certain timeframe. Keep track of any expiration dates to avoid losing your hard-earned rewards.

From cashback and travel rewards to exclusive perks and discounts, credit cards offer more than just a convenient payment method.

By understanding spending habits, choosing the right rewards system, and maximizing earnings and redemptions, savvy credit card users not only can boost their financial flexibility, but unlock a world of benefits.

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