Max Knudsen, the chief market strategist for ADS Securities, is a firm believer in learning from mistakes. Forecasting markets too far ahead doesn't work, he says. As to spending - in England, his money went on landscape gardening, and in Abu Dhabi it's eating out that is irresistible.
q How would you describe your financial journey so far?
a I have been fortunate to work in a range of positions in the financial markets. I spent 10 years working for banks and brokers in derivative sales before moving into research. I spent 10 years running research teams for three major investment banks and in 2007 founded my own research and trading firm in London. This was the toughest period of my career in terms of the cost of running my own business financially and personally. It was also my first move into trading. Mixing trading and research required a lot of personal discipline. I learnt a lot about business and my own strengths and after five years was able to sell a successful, regulated business.
Are you a spender or saver?
I am both at different times. As an analyst I am very diligent, researching and planning my financial steps to minimise risk. As a result I am a good saver and cautious investor. However I also need to feel and take risk, that's the trading side of me. And so periodically I also throw caution to the wind and go through periods of extravagance. I never regret these.
What is your philosophy regarding money?
I believe that if you work hard and can excel at what you do, money will follow. You will create your own luck and opportunities. I have never been overly concerned about chasing money, expecting money to follow me.
Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?
Looking back, my financial losses or mistakes have always provided me with other values. Moving from being an option salesman at a Swiss bank to being head of research resulted in a lower income and bonuses. But I learnt so much more about markets and was able to develop abilities that allowed me to develop into a top analyst in my field, winning 13 awards. Similarly, founding my own research and trading firm also cost me financially. Years' worth of savings went into the business and for the first few years I took very little financially. Many times I thought I had made a mistake but I built a business with 13 staff and with a client base of some of the world's top financial firms.
Do you believe in planning ahead?
In my analysis I rarely try and forecast markets too far ahead. There are too many variables. I've seen so many changes in both my industry and financial markets that are game changers. This has influenced how I plan my own future. I think and plan ahead only for a few years at a time.
Is money important to you?
I work very hard and this comes at a cost, often to the quality of my personal life and the life of my family. Achieving the work/life balance has always been a challenge for me. However, the reward is the money, which enables me to enjoy a good standard of life, provide for my children, and be generous with the people I care about. It's also a reflection of success.
Your idea of financial freedom?
Being able to pay for my needs and those of my family has been very satisfying. I suppose ultimate financial freedom is to be debt free and cash rich but with three-children, all boys, I don't expect to be there for some time, if ever.
What do you enjoy spending on?
Apart from buying things for my boys, my greatest passion for years has been gardens and landscaping. Back in England, over 10 years I took an empty field and turned it into a vast formal garden. Of course here in Abu Dhabi we are spoilt for wonderful restaurants so eating out is a passion.