Money & Me: Self-taught British financial guru advising Abu Dhabi expats
Mike Turner is a financial adviser for the Devere Group. The British law graduate, 30, moved to Abu Dhabi 14 months ago, where he provides financial advice to expatriate clients on offshore savings, investments, pensions, foreign exchange and more.
Describe your financial journey so far.
Growing up I was never taught the principles of wealth creation and management, or the importance of planning my financial future. My parents worked hard but didn’t have the knowledge or experience to give me that training. Financial literacy is not part of the UK national curriculum either, so you are never taught how to manage your finances well. I guess I had to learn the hard way by educating myself and mapping out my financial journey to get me where I wanted to be. After leaving school and completing a four-year apprenticeship in engineering, I worked in electrical construction before moving into marketing. I then took some time out to go travelling and do some volunteering before going to university to do a law degree. This sparked an interest in how finance works and led me down the path I am on now.
Are you a spender or saver?
I am at the life stage where I am making the transition from spender to saver. In my early to mid-20s I didn’t consider saving, and that’s something I find when I sit down with clients of that age and talk to them about retirement – it’s not a priority. But as people head towards their late 20s or early 30s they start to consider their future more seriously. I’m away from home and I’ve realised that if I retire at 60 but live until I am 90, that’s 30 years where I won’t be earning. A lot of people don’t realise if they don’t take action, no one will do it on their behalf. I don’t want to work hard my whole life and then retire into poverty or a decreased style of living.
What is your philosophy towards money?
For me money is all about freedom and opportunity. Most people exchange their time for money by working. If you have money or a residual income, then you can spend your time doing the things that you really enjoy in life such as travelling, time with family and friends, hobbies or good causes. This is the freedom. The opportunity side is the ability to help and benefit those around you and share the good fortune with them.
Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?
Mistakes are natural and everybody makes them, top professional investors included. Mistakes are not a problem provided we learn and grow. I learnt early on the potential dangers of credit cards. When I turned 18, the bank gave me a credit card and I went on a last-minute holiday to Paris with some friends. I thought since I was working I could pay it off in the future, so I was in Paris going to expensive restaurants and buying shoes and clothes – things I didn’t need. I ended up in debt, and it was a hard road to fix the issue. In my opinion credit cards make good slaves but terrible masters.
If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?
I’d celebrate with friends and family, take time to travel, and of course, in my line of work, look for opportunities where I could invest the majority into something that would bring me much greater benefits in the medium to long term. I’m a risk taker, so I would day trade in global stocks – everything from securities to bonds and commodities. I would also have an element of property and look at offshore bonds and savings that could then be invested into mutual funds.
What has been your best investment?
Education – not only academic education – but also investing time to learn from experiences. I find people are afraid of what they don’t know and end up not making decisions – I call it analysis paralysis. Knowledge is power.
What do you enjoy spending money on?
Travelling to new destinations; China and South and Central America are next on my list.
Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter