As managing director of coalition development across the Middle East for the global loyalty company Aimia, Paul Lacey is responsible for driving the Air Miles programme in the region. The Briton has spent 25 years in the loyalty world, managing programmes for Canadian Plus, Aeroplan, Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club, and now Aimia. His career has seen him work in London; Calgary, Canada; Qatar; and Dubai, to which he moved in 2010.
How would you describe your financial journey so far?
Probably fairly typical. The early 20s were a period of spending on the material things and a colourful social life, followed by the need to establish financial roots and get on the property ladder – starting to plan for retirement. Now it is at a stage where I am focused on the future as well as today and making sure my family is financially secure going forward.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I’d say I am more of a saver than a spender now. I am at that stage in life where I am trying to save and prepare for the future, especially after the birth of our daughter in March.
Is money important to you?
As with most people, money is an enabler and as I grow older it is becoming more important – as I plan for retirement and also for the financial security of my family – both longer term and in the medium term as we look at the ever-rising university and school fees. I believe the importance of money changes as we enter different life stages. Early in my career it was important to allow for a good social life – which is needed when living in London. However, then I started thinking about establishing a foundation in terms of building equity and pensions, as I moved into that phase of life.
Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?
I have always been quite conservative with money and I am not a huge risk taker when it comes to finances. There have been a few mistakes in terms of property but luckily that resulted in me breaking even as opposed to losing anything. I was also caught up in the Silicon Valley bubble [that] burst back in the late 90s. My paper wealth disappeared overnight as people realised there was not a lot of value in some of these highly volatile companies – oh, for the benefit of hindsight.
Do you plan for the future?
Absolutely – as much as I can. With a 16-year-old and a four-month-old, I have even more complex family considerations, so I need to ensure they are going to be comfortable in the future. I think when you get to a certain age, you start living for the future as well as the present and plan for what will happen post retirement. For me this plan includes being able to relax and play golf everyday as well as being able to travel around Europe watching Tottenham play in the Champions League every season. I am hopeful my son ends up with a professional ice hockey career in the NHL and then I can sit back, relax and watch him progress.
What is your philosophy on money?
Money allows us to live and enjoy the material things in life and we have been conditioned to believe money is the be all and end all, but having been exposed to people with very little who are constantly happy, it does make you take stock and think.
What do you spend your money on?
At the moment it’s mostly the usual day-to-day expenses and a lot of nappies and baby formula. We like to travel and try to ensure we have regular breaks – and as my family is spread all over the world – there is always the urge to go and visit them. Other than these expenditures, I admit to the usual Dubai pastimes of eating out and visiting the malls on the weekends – obviously collecting Air Miles along the way.