x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Freedom is retiring tomorrow

Sebastien Henin is a portfolio manager at The National Investor, an investment bank in Abu Dhabi. After the global financial crisis the France-born manager felt that he needed to save more, and to save it more regularly.

Sebastien Henin calls money a ‘commodity that I have to manage carefully’. Lee Hoagland / The National
Sebastien Henin calls money a ‘commodity that I have to manage carefully’. Lee Hoagland / The National

Sebastien Henin is a portfolio manager at The National Investor, an investment bank in Abu Dhabi. After the global financial crisis and its impact on the equities industry in the UAE, the France-born manager felt that he needed to save more, and to save it more regularly.

How would you describe your financial journey so far? I started to save money in my early 30s, as I wasn’t able to do it before. Over the past decade, I have tried to save on a regular basis and to diversify as much as I could with a focus on financial markets. After I purchased a property three years ago, the mortgage installments have taken a large chunk of my savings.

Are you a spender or a saver?

In the past, I was more of a spender but the 2008 global financial crisis changed my view. Working in a very challenging environment with a low visibility for a long period made me more cautious. I hope that this period of [the industry’s] financial stress will end soon!

What is your philosophy regarding money?

That’s funny, I never considered money from this angle. Money represents the link between my working efforts or my financial revenues from one side and my actual or future spendings on the other side.The aim is to try to manage as much as I can this equation! I consider it a commodity that I have to manage carefully.

Did you make any financial mistakes along the way? If so, how did you recover?

I made a few mistakes when I started. I have an appetite for risk so I took part in some venture capital projects which didn’t work well. I suffered some losses. Fortunately I had allocated only small amounts of money to these projects. I think that diversification is the key word for anyone who wants to save.

Do you believe in planning for the future? Why?

I think that planning is very important. Going forward, we will rely less and less on the contributory pension scheme available in western countries, due to demographic changes and social changes. This trend will see the family cell less supportive, in comparison to the past, towards the older generation. You have to rely more on yourself. The sooner you start your savings plan, the result will not only give you a financial advantage to invest over a longer duration but also introduce a self-discipline. That means you will save on a regular basis and not when you have some extra money on the side. This mechanism allows you also to modulate smoothly your savings during your professional life.  

Is money important to you? Why?

I work in a sector where I have to manage large amount of money on a daily basis. Fortunately this situation doesn’t impact my personal relationship with money and I keep a normal attitude in my day to day life. Money becomes important to me only when I fear to miss it. This situation can happen if I face a challenging working environment (salary cut or even worse, no job) or if my savings fall sharply due to an adverse financial environment.

What is your idea of financial freedom?

To retire tomorrow if I wish.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

I like to travel whenever I have time. Abu Dhabi is a very convenient city if you want to escape, you’re geographically located at the junction of three continents and you rely on a good airline company.

halsayegh@thenational.ae