Chinese New Year: Investing in the Year of the Snake

The big, black water snake must know it's been bumpy times in markets in recent years because the reptiles usual wrath may be subdued in 2013, if you believe the astrological predictions of a Hong Kong-based stock brokerage.

CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets released this week its annual tongue-in-cheek "feng shui" index, which is based on the signs of the Chinese zodiac.

The report features predictions for financial markets, among other things, ahead of Chinese New Year on Sunday.

Snake years typically bring radical changes, but this year should see a measure of stability. Five of the basic elements or energies are present in the fortune charts including the market driver fire, according to CLSA.

As well, Chinese zodiac snakes always are female or yin, and this influence should be a sharp contrast to the “moody, broody, maddening male yang energy that drove the Dragon to distraction during 2012 and many investors to despair,” says the index report, which focuses on Hong Kong's stock market.

"Yin is in keeping with other calmer energies that are likely to prevail this year," it said.

According to Chinese mythology, the snake symbolizes wisdom and snake people are meant to be intelligent and wise.

That intellect and wisdom will be needed to guide the global economy and markets this year as big-picture uncertainties remain including the U.S. debt ceiling, Europe's healing and the outlook for China's economy.

But the old skin-shedder also signifies new beginnings.

Steve Tutty, head of wealth management services at HSBC Bank Canada offered eight -- the luckiest number in Chinese culture -- wealth-management tips for the year.

Below is a condensed version of the tips:

Chart the best course to reach your goals. Develop a sound financial plan whether your goal is to purchase a vacation home, retire comfortably in the future, or ensure your wealth is there for future generations.

Simplify your finances. It is easier to manage your investments when they are all in one place, and you can save money by avoiding multiple fees and brokerage expenses.

Use credit for convenience only. Paying off your credit card balance on a monthly basis improves your credit-worthiness which is important when you want to secure a preferred rate on a loan or mortgage, and will also help you reach your wealth management goals faster.

Empower yourself through financial literacy. Financial literacy gives you more control over investing choices. It also helps you to better understand and assess riskier choices before you invest your money.

Take advantage of government savings programs. Examples include a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), Registered Educational Savings Plan (RESP), or a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) offer valuable tax advantages.

Tap into the power of self-directed, online investing. Online brokerages typically offer a wide range of market research tools and investment choices such as stocks, ETFs, GICs, and bonds. Benefits can include lower commission fees, 24 hour online access, and access to foreign markets.

Get the experts working for you. Each and every individual has a unique set of financial circumstances. A personalized wealth plan guides your decisions.

Invest in your family’s future with a global investment strategy. Make the most of your money by diversifying your investment portfolio with a wide range of short and long-term investment products, and find new opportunities in local and global markets.

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