Chris Ferguson is managing director of the UAE office of Guardian Wealth Management, a global financial planning and investment company which advises clients on tax and retirement provision, investment plans and inheritance. Originally from the United Kingdom, Mr Ferguson came to Dubai seven years ago.
Describe your financial journey so far.
I wouldn't call my financial journey particularly interesting. I am not involved in short-term trading in derivatives or venture capital. I have always saved a portion of what I have earned and put it away for the long term. With the compounding effect the numbers get bigger over time and this makes things more interesting. But my finances hardly resemble the excitement of a Las Vegas casino floor.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I am both and I enjoy both aspects. I have been in the business of planning people's finances for over a decade now and it's rare to see people with the right balance between spending and saving. Outright spenders tend to spend too much today, having great fun doing it, and never think of major financial milestones in the future. Outright savers seem to save everything for the major milestones but by the time they get there they will not have any lifestyle requirements to fulfil. I believe in saving and believe it should be high on the priority list for an expat as the ability to save should be enhanced by living in a place like the UAE.
What is your philosophy towards money?
I believe money is a by-product of passion. I believe that if anyone commits to a career or life goal that they are passionate about then they will attract money from this naturally. Be focused and goal orientated and I believe the money will come.
Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?
No major mistakes. I have bought at highs before but never sold the assets to realise the losses, so over the long term I'm sure most of what I own will be OK. I am a long-term investor so in the main I do not subscribe to trying to time the market. I believe that time in the market is the way to go and therefore most of my investments are set up in this format. I'm quite positive I could have made more money in more risky ventures with hindsight, but I have opted for a relatively balanced approach and look for compounded returns.
Do you believe in planning for the future?
You should plan most things in life and your financial affairs should be near to the top of the list. Your plans should be reviewed and adjusted as needed but not fiddled with too much. It is also prudent to allow an investment to run its course; too many people panic sell when markets decrease and buy off the back of momentum. This is of course opposite to the old advice of buy low and sell high, but human nature interferes with a natural investment cycle.
Is money important to you?
I would have to say yes, as a lot of my aspirations and goals rely upon money, and this is the case with most people in today's society. Money provides the ability to plan for the important events in life with choice and freedom. I do not prioritise money beyond health and strong relationships with family and friends, but to enjoy the fullest life experience money definitely helps.
What do you enjoy spending money on?
I like to travel; I like property, cars, clothes, et cetera and a lifestyle that requires money. I like such things as having a personal trainer; to some this is looked upon as a luxury but I personally feel I get a lot from this and investing in your own health and wellness is a sound choice in my mind. I like to treat my family and one of the benefits of living in the UAE is that they can visit me here too.