When we first saw Kathlyn Toh coming in for the photoshoot, we were struck by how incredibly thin and elegant she looked. She was quite the gleeful and chatty person as well, striking up some mundane conversation of day-to-day life with the makeup artist while she was getting her makeup done. Taking my chances, I strike up a conversation with her, and indeed, her experience and knowledge on technology and stock markets were far beyond what I could comprehend, given the years that she had worked with Intel and subsequently starting her own training company in investment and trading.

Starting a company is never easy, especially to walk away from a stable and high paying job. When Toh first started Beyond Insight back in 2008, it was difficult because she was managing everything by herself. “We are a small company and my husband was still working at the time, so everything was like a one-man show. Plus, it’s hard to attract people and we only advertise on the Star newspaper. This was before the social media becomes a tool for marketing.” Thankfully, Toh was already helping one of her Forex guru in Singapore in coaching, That is where she got many of her early students as well when she launched her first course on trading psychology.

Albeit Beyond Insights has coached more than 4500 students in their journey to take up stock market trading and investing as a source of wealth, it wasn’t this successful in the beginning, according to Toh. “The first course I taught was trading psychology, not trading strategy because there are already a lot of trading courses out in the market, but none are specific about trading psychology. Trading involves 90% psychology. And that is what I’m passionate about,” Toh said.

However, she later came to realised that it was not what the masses wanted when they signed up for a course in trading. Sharing her own experiences, Toh said that trading is not as straightforward as just following the rules. It involves discipline. As it took her a while to be a discipline trader, she decided to teach people about personal mastery, how to bring out the best in themselves. But, the plan flopped. “People wants to make money first. So, I decided to do it the other way round. Now I teach people about trading strategy, in due time, my students will come to appreciate the psychological aspect of trading later on. That way, it’s killing two birds with one stone.”

By making a slight change to her courses, Toh manage to successfully promote her training courses. Toh said that one thing she learnt from one mentor is that you should always give people what they want, that is the psychology of marketing. “I hold on to that, and once the right people come in, I give them what they needed in classes. But at the same time, I attended a lot of seminars to improve myself and how I run my business. I was from a technical and management background, having worked at a multinational corporation for the past 17 years,” Toh shares. Ultimately, her husband quit his job to help run the company.

However, that is also the start of many arguments that eventually leads to marital disputes. “People say that husband and wife should not be running a company together because it will lead to a lot of problem. There were definitely many disputes at that time,” Toh shares, unabashed. The turning point for their relationship came when the duo attended a Tony Robbins’ seminar called ‘Date with Destiny’, who preached about unleashing the power within, bringing out the best in yourself, and getting over the limiting belief. Once the limitation was overcome, you will have the courage to move forward. Toh, who previously has no expectations for the seminar, was blown away by the preacher. Not only had it improved their relationship as husband and wife, but it has also cemented the will of Toh deciding to be a trainer. “I wanted to do something like what Tony Robbins do, he transforms lives.”

However, being a trainer is not as easy as taking a walk in the park. The hardest part of it all was influencing people to do the right thing when it comes to trading. According to Toh, who has lived through two stock market crashes: the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 and the Dot-com Crash in 2000, has mold her to be what she is today. “If I knew a fraction of what I knew today, it would have saved me $256,000 when I encounter the dot-com crash. However, having lived through the crisis, it helped me to be discipline. I have been trading for 28 years, I encountered the two biggest crisis ever happened to the stock market, but I cannot just transfer the knowledge to my students, I can just tell them.

But as far as human go, the more you ask them not to do something, the more they want to do it. I came a long way to realised what is the right way to influence people. That is why I am very passionate in psychology course, because I want to learn to influence the right way. It’s not just about telling people what to do, you also need to give people some space. Ultimately it’s their decision.” Having been conducting trading and investment course since the company’s inception in 2008, Toh has seen a fair shares of common mistakes people made when it comes to trading. The most common mistakes committed by green horn traders are risk management and not having a trading plan. Toh stated that most people go by their common sense when it comes to trading and the notion of buy stocks when it’s cheap is good. “And that’s the wrong way of thinking,” she said.

According to Toh, prices of stocks are cheap for a reason. “For example, if you buy airline stocks now you will be stuck for 2 years. Yes, it did go up, but if you had bought Microsoft instead, it would have gone up 100% because these stocks are more resilient and are not affected much. A lot of people tend to learn it the hard way, because they are not willing to pay for a course fee.” Another mistakes that traders make is not having a proper trading plan. Toh admit that she did not see this as an issue until she conducted her own course. “Some students are curious as to why I can be so systematic, but to me that’s just how it should be. When I conduct courses, I have a template and a process map that starts from the beginning of trading until the end of the process. That’s the trading plan. But I’ve come to realise that it is not a norm to have a plan. If you want to repeat your success, you should have a standard process, and you should be able to repeat your process. And that is how I teach.”

To avoid the mistakes made by rookie traders, Toh teaches her students a process which she has created, the STPM framework, an acronym which stands for select, time, protection, and multiply. “First you need to think about how to select. Select the best stock rather than what you’re familiar with. You should have certain criteria. Starting from the stocks winning, we have the criteria of what constitute a great company. The criteria include the profitability, the growth, and whether the company is sustainable. These are high level criteria. Once you short-listed a company, you don’t buy straight away, you standby to wait for the right timing.

After you have selected, then you time it. You timed it based on looking at the stock chart. The timing includes exactly where to buy, where to put the stop-loss, and where to take profit. After that, it is protection. Protection is for money management. No matter how great the company is, don’t put your whole account into it. So, the question you have to ask is how much stock should I buy, so that even when things go wrong, I won’t suffer so much. And I can limit my risk to 1%. After that you can talk about multiply. So, I follow the STPM. Once you can do the first 3 steps, that means you can already buy stocks, and you already know when to get in and get out.”

When asked about her courses, Toh has only a few things to say. How much more time do they want to waste? Is your financial future important to you? If it’s important, it is the matter of taking the right courses. Second, which course is suitable for them? Toh stated that Beyond Insights has the most complete option in the market. All the way from different financial instruments, long term, mid-term, short term, to very short term, and Beyond Insights has one where you can pay full stocks, and it also have CFD and options. There will be something that fits them. Beyond Insights has also received accolades as one of the top training companies in Malaysia. So, that is a credential. It has one of the most comprehensive support in the market as it has 29 coaches to guide students. No other company has that many coaches.

In 5 to 10 years, Toh hopes to penetrate the Asian and global market. Currently, Beyond Insights is focusing on building its internal systems to ensure growth for the future. “We are building a lot of the online products, like video-based products. There are a lot of video-based products out there, but it does not get people to take action. So, the way to help people to be successful is having videos, where people can view anytime, but still having live stream and also exercises for them at the same time, otherwise they have no hands-on practices. There is a pyramid of learning, and the best way to learn is to do it. For a lot of the video-based course, statistic has shown that less than 20% of people is actually using it. But when we schedule an actual or live classes, it’s different. They will take it seriously,” she said.

Before parting, Toh shares her favourite quotes with us. “Trading is a journey of character building.” She stated that while many see trading as a mean of earning extra income, but in order to consistently make money through trading, one has to be of a right character. “Character to be committed in your goals. To be patient, to wait for the right set up. To be discipline in the process, and to grow yourself. To grow yourself so that you will do the things successful people do. You cannot just be what you are today and trade, it takes a different type of people to do that.”

Quotes: “It’s not just about telling people what to do, you also need to give people some space. Ultimately it’s their decision.”