Steve Morgan, head of Cluttons Dubai, has been working for the British property company for 10 years. The 37-year-old Briton says the tradition and history of Cluttons and its spread of offices across the Middle East, which it entered in 1976, have been an inspiration to his work. He has travelled to Mongolia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji to handle assignments and says gaining exposure to different marketplaces has been a main attraction.
q How would you describe your financial journey so far?
a Since I have been a real estate professional for a long time, most of my personal investment portfolio is around real estate. I have a broad spread of real estate in the UK and Middle Eastern markets. Dubai has to be the current flavour of the month, but there are certainly opportunities in Abu Dhabi. I think the Abu Dhabi market will start to come back in the next 12 to 18 months. Oman is also an attractive market with great tourism potential. The most exciting market has been traditionally the UAE, but Turkey has certainly changed over the last 10 to 18 months. Pre-2008, various counties in the Balkans, such as Croatia, have also been attractive.
Would you call yourself a spender or a saver?
It is important to have a balance: spend some of your money and enjoy having a comfortable family life, and at the same time save a significant portion of your income. I suggest people save a minimum of 10 per cent of their income and even between 15 and 30 per cent if they can.
What is your philosophy towards money?
Money can be an irritation in relation to saving. My personal approach is to be as safe and secure as possible while maintaining as good a return as possible as we enter a risky period. If you are investing in an emerging market, if the returns are high the risk is high and you should be prepared to take a hit. But money can be an irritation because it can get in the way of having fun in the marketplace. It needs to be given respect but it should not be taken too seriously. Health and happiness are equally as important.
Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?
I bought some residential properties in Dubai pre-2008, but fortunately I was able to hold that real estate and as a result of that I am now seeing it grow in value. Anybody investing in property should be in for a long term play - it is definitely not short term. If you can hold a property for long enough, it will come back. It needs to be held two to five years to see a return. Most markets will come back after five to 10 years.
Do you believe in planning for the future?
Yes, it is important to save because we need to ensure the security of the family and children going forward because nothing is certain.
How important is money to you?
Money has its place but it is not the be all and end all of life.
What is your idea of financial freedom?
That would be to be self sufficient and be on your own without having to borrow money from banks or financial institutions to undertake investments that you want to.
What do you enjoy spending money on?
I like to spend it on family and friends. I like seeing my family happy and whatever makes them happy such as going on a holiday, buying a nice meal or birthday gifts.