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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Money & Me: 'I started my fourth career at the age of 44'

Dubai logistics consultant Wim Hoste has now taken up singing as a side profession in addition to his other skills

Wim Hoste started singing professionally after a session in Dubai karaoke bar with friends reignited a childhood passion. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Wim Hoste started singing professionally after a session in Dubai karaoke bar with friends reignited a childhood passion. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Wim Hoste is a Dubai-based logistics consultant with a thriving career as a professional singer, MC and actor. The Belgian, 54, performs in the UAE and overseas and has appeared in TV commercials for global brands such as Toyota, Krispy Kreme and Hardees. As a young man, Mr Hoste was a Belgian swimming champion before becoming a sales representative with Thai Airways and taking on roles with Belgian national airline Sabena and Virgin Atlantic. He later moved into logistics in Belgium and Angola. He relocated to Dubai in 2006 and lives on Palm Jumeirah with his wife, Korean mezzo soprano Jin Soo Young, who joins him on stage on October 5 for his Best Of Broadway show at Madinat Jumeirah.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

My father and grandfather were entrepreneurs in the distillery business. Everybody said I would follow, but I was passionate about going abroad, to explore. That’s why I left Belgium and started a career in the airline business. I come from a family of five kids; I’m the youngest and we lived in a modest house. My mother was a PA for a German company. My parents worked hard, were careful (with money) but loved to enjoy life. I was brought up in a family that valued money, considering it as something precious. Thanks to that I’m careful; I know how quickly you can lose money – and how hard it is to make.

How much were you paid in your first job?

I worked with my father at weekends, delivering to hotels and restaurants. He paid maybe €3 (Dh12.86) or €4 per hour. I was about 12 and really happy when I got that money because I could do things with it. My job with Thai Airways paid about €1250; not a big salary. I was offered a job in a bank and for an airline. I chose what I preferred, not for the money, which was better (at the bank). I never regret anything, because I’ve done it from my heart.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I’m not a big spender, more saver, although I sometimes buy on a whim. One time I was in Belgium with my wife and we saw a beautiful house and said ‘let’s buy it’. It wasn’t like we had the money in our pocket but we found a way to buy it.

Where do you save?

I have always bought property, in Belgium and here, as my kind of saving. It holds value and you can rent it out. I’ve done shares, but not since the crash.

Do you have a philosophy towards money?

We live in a society where money rules, so you have to make a choice – either you live out of this society and money doesn’t matter or you make sure you have money because you have to pay bills. To make money my strategy has always been to do what I love. If you do something you don’t love, you’re not going to be successful.

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Are you wise with money?

We are born and brought up to be careful. It’s in our Flemish culture, generally speaking. There’s this mentality, ‘will we have enough tomorrow?’ I left Belgium when I was 25 but you take it with you. Even if I became a billionaire, I’m pretty sure if I buy something I will still look twice. I like to negotiate – the feeling that I got a good deal.

What brought you to Dubai?

I went to work in oil and gas logistics at a company in Angola; grew it from 20 to 180 people. Angola was booming, but dangerous sometimes. Then somebody offered me a logistics job in Dubai, to set up and develop a company. The moment I set foot in the UAE, I knew I wanted to stay.

Why did you become a professional entertainer?

People always complimented my voice. As a kid I wanted to sing and dance, go on stage. The problem was I didn’t sing well. I shouted and lost my voice. I was 12. The doctor said ‘if you keep on, when you’re 30 you’re not going to have a voice’. So I stopped until about 10 years ago in a Dubai karaoke bar with friends after a stressful day. The moment I took the microphone I immediately started feeling good and had a positive reaction from the crowd. I started vocal lessons and the teacher said I had a classical voice. One day a friend asked me to sing at an art gallery opening. I decided, beginning of 2017, to really focus on it - first doing small concerts then bigger concerts, in Belgium, South Korea, with invitations to different places.

Mr Hoste says his best investment has been a Thai restaurant in his hometown of Ghent. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Mr Hoste says his best investment has been a Thai restaurant in his hometown of Ghent. Chris Whiteoak / The National

What has been your best investment?

A Thai restaurant in my hometown of Ghent. I was working for Thai Airways and somebody asked me to find a place for a restaurant. I became a partner and it was a huge success. The restaurant is still there, but I sold my share 10 years ago.

What’s been your most cherished purchase?

The first car I bought on my own; a Citroen 2CV. I had so much fun with that. I was 18. I could drive to university, take friends out. My brother was a mechanic and we transformed it with Mercedes Benz parts. That car was unique and famous in my hometown.

What has been your key financial milestone?

My job with Thai Airways, because it made my dream of travelling come true. I got a trip to Bangkok, training for one month. I was being paid for what I loved.

Do you prefer paying by cash or credit card?

Cash; out of habit. I have more control over what I spend. I take so much out per week. It’s old fashioned, I know. Some expenses go on debit or credit card.

Do you plan for the future?

I was always the guy looking five, 10 or 20 years ahead - until I realised it doesn’t matter so much. I still look into the future, but I focus much more on today. Nothing happens if you don’t have a plan, but I prefer short-term plans; the world is changing so fast. I have a (financial) base, but I want to do more than that because I can. I feel my fourth career (entertaining) has potential because I have the knowledge of these other careers. I don’t want to limit myself.

If you won Dh1m what would you do with it?

Have a good holiday; spend maybe 10 per cent. Ninety per cent I would invest in my shows; increase the production, have a bigger budget to promote them. I’d invest in myself, in my career, my branding and my website. You create your own value.