Martin Bond, a former banker and now partner at NxD Global in Dubai, says investing should be done within your means, understanding that what you risk can be lost.
Money & Me: Don't focus on money for money's sake
Martin Bond is a partner at NxD Global, a Dubai-based matchmaking service that was set up to help place non-executive directors onto boards of companies. The former banker, originally from the UK, has a diversified portfolio and says he works hard to make his money work for him to produce the best returns.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I'm definitely a saver. I am a money manager by background, but I've been aware of the importance of putting money aside since I was quite young. From my late teens, I've always realised a dollar saved early when it compounds over 20 to 30 years becomes far more than a dollar in later life. Money will work harder for you over years. It's not about having the money, it's about making it work. I spent 12 years doing this on behalf of clients. In terms of my own private wealth, I am quite diversified. I invest in properties and in stocks. I follow the core satellite approach that a lot of banks talk about, where the majority of your investments follow your general attitude to risk and then smaller chunks of money are put into things you have a particular liking for, such as gold. I think we're fortunate in the UAE in terms of disposable income. We can actually live a good life over here while providing for our future by saving.
Have you made any financial mistakes?
Of course. We all have - and they're the investments we learn from. I think what is important is not to avoid mistakes, but to learn from them. The key thing to making mistakes is not to make one huge mistake that wipes you out, and that goes for business as well as investing. Always invest within your means, invest in what you understand and only put at risk what you can afford to lose. If you stick to those principles, then you can learn from any mistakes you make.
What annoys you more: wasting time or wasting money?
Well, for me, this is pretty much the same thing, time is money. I definitely don't like to waste my time - life is too short. And I really don't like to waste money.
What do you spend your money on?
I'm not an extravagant spender. I like to spend money on travel, family and friends. I'm not a big spender on myself. I am an investor at heart and it's not purely for money's sake. I enjoy it. It's more of a challenge or a puzzle than a gamble. I always make educated investments. I'll assess things thoroughly before I invest. It may not always work out the way I want it to, but it's the challenge that is exciting and satisfying. My travel experience involves a lot of charity work. I like to do sporting events for charity: marathons and climbing mountains. I've been doing a lot of mountain trekking in recent years. I've been to the Mount Everest base camp, Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia, all as part of charity projects. I've also run three or four marathons in New York and London for charity. I enjoy travelling, but I like travelling with a purpose and if I can help people in other parts of the world and have fun myself while doing it, then that's my ideal travel. There's a charity based in the UAE called Gulf for Good, and I do a lot of my charity treks with it. It puts a lot of money into local and overseas charities. It provides the opportunity for people to challenge themselves and at the same time help good causes.
What is your idea of financial freedom?
Financial freedom has been a goal of mine for a long time. Financial freedom is the ability to run your life as you wish without other parties forcing your hand, so you have the freedom to choose. I truly believe money is only an enabler. It enables you to live the life you want to live. People shouldn't focus on money for money's sake, but should see it as a tool to enable them to make life's choices without having to worry about how they are going to pay for it.
What should children be taught about money?
When I was young, local banks would come into schools and actively encourage students, pre-teen, to open accounts. I opened my first one at nine or 10 years of age. I believe money-management skills should be taught at schools at a younger age than it is, especially now. A bit of financial awareness when we are young would not go amiss.
Is there too much focus on money?
Absolutely. I think there's been way too much focus, not only in this region, but everywhere. I think the financial downturn was caused by greed across the world. Markets go up and markets go down and when markets are at their peak, greed can affect all of us. You see more evidence of money here, more glitz and bling, but I don't think it's because there's more focus on money in this region compared with elsewhere. It's just because there is a lot more of it.