Mr Dennis Khoo, the Singapore head of personal financial services at United Overseas Bank, sees strong parallels between his efforts at the office and his passion for growing plants.

The avid gardener flexes his green fingers every weekend to care for his garden - or what he calls "the tranquil place in the house".

The way he nurtures his plants at his Sixth Avenue landed property with a small garden is akin to his grooming of talent at the bank, says Mr Khoo, 50.

"When you can understand your team's strength and help make them more successful, that really makes me tick," he says.

"It's like how I enjoy gardening and get that sense of satisfaction as I watch my plants grow."

Mr Khoo's eyes light up as he speaks about how he cared for a water lily he had bought from Thailand, and how he is close to getting a Vanda orchid to bloom.

As a young man, he aspired to be a scientist, but went on to pursue an engineering degree because it opened more doors to career opportunities in Singapore.

Although he has been in the banking sector for over a decade, Mr Khoo recalls how he could have worked his first housing loan better to his advantage.

"I grew up in an HDB flat in Commonwealth Drive and then in Buona Vista - so I wanted to find a home with my wife in the same area," says the father of three.

"In the early 1990s, we found a unit at a red-brick property, the now defunct Holland Hill Mansions condo, which was facing the swimming pool."

The property was priced at about $500,000 then and both Mr Khoo and his wife sold their cars thinking that it would be wise to pay more cash upfront and reduce the size of their loan.

With the benefit of hindsight, Mr Khoo says he would have preferred to stretch out his borrowings over a slightly longer period as he and his wife were then in their late 20s. But "then again, we sold two depreciating assets to purchase an appreciating one - so it worked out well in the end", he says with a laugh.

Mr Khoo and his wife Yong Soo Ping have three children aged eight, 13 and 17.

Q: Are you a spender or a saver?

I try to save at least half of my salary, of which some will be channelled into investments.

The money stays as cash until I find an investment that suits my risk and return preference.

Q: How much do you charge to your credit cards every month?

On average, about $3,000 on groceries, meals and petrol. I try to charge most of my expenses to two credit cards, which offer better conversion rates for air miles.

Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?

In 2006, my wife and I drew up our wills to ensure that the family will be provided for should something untoward happen to either one of us.

Besides having sufficient insurance coverage, I also believe in the benefits of a diversified portfolio which can help to minimise the downside risk of an investment.

My money is spread out across bonds, funds, equities, equity funds and property. When I was younger, my strategy was focused on capital appreciation.

A simple way to do so is buying something scarce - for instance, land in Singapore. But you must be mindful of the impact of changes in regulation and policies.

Since hitting 50, I'm looking at products which offer dividend yields of at least 5 per cent - including bonds and real estate investment trusts - that can build up my passive income for old age.

I'm thinking more about preserving what I have and ensuring that my children will be well-provided for in their next phase of life.

Q: Moneywise, what were your growing-up years like?

My dad was the sole breadwinner and rose up the ranks from technician to production manager in the manufacturing field.

I took my first flight at 25 for my graduation trip with two friends. Family holidays would usually be road trips to Malaysia.

My parents influenced me to be thrifty, and saving became a natural habit.

Q: How did you get interested in investing?

My first job out of school was with Hewlett-Packard and the company offered me the job after I had worked with them as an intern.

It gave out share options to full-time staff and that got me exposed to the stock market, where I made my first investments.

Q: What property do you own?

A freehold, two-storey house off Sixth Avenue which my wife and I bought in October 2010. We bought it after viewing more than 30 different properties.

We also have an apartment in Shenton Way which faces the sea and the port which cost us $1.5 million in 2010. The property is still under construction.

Q: What's the most extravagant thing you have bought?

I'm not one who makes impulse buying decisions, so it would have to be a telescope I bought for about US$2,000. With it, I can see the planet Jupiter from my rooftop.

Q: What's your retirement plan?

I want to be kept busy and will probably not retire. But after the children are grown up, I might want to give back to society by lecturing and teaching.

It's my way of imparting things I've learnt through experience and from others to the next generation.

Q: Home is now...

A six-bedder house off Sixth Avenue where I live with my wife, three children and our domestic helper.

Q: I drive...

An Audi A6 which fits my family comfortably. But when I am in the city, I usually take the MRT.