x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Money&Me: 'Respect money, and it will respect you'

Dilip Thaker is the Dubai-based director of Rex Books and Stationery, a family-run firm that was started by his father in Bahrain in 1993.

Dilip Thaker, the director of Rex Books and Stationery, says his family business is a legacy for future generations. Antonie Robertson / The National
Dilip Thaker, the director of Rex Books and Stationery, says his family business is a legacy for future generations. Antonie Robertson / The National

Dilip Thaker is the Dubai-based director of Rex Books and Stationery, a family run firm that was started by his father in Bahrain in 1993. Mr Thaker sees the company, which specialises in stationery brand distribution and the corporate gift industry, as a legacy for future generations of his family. And while he is inspired by the likes of Warren Buffett, one of the world's most successful investors and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, he says it is his parents and close friends who have helped him to learn the importance of money and cash flow.

Describe your financial journey so far.

Dad gave us a fantastic life, yet kept us very grounded and taught us the basic principles of cash-flow management, like living within your means, understanding the difference between acceptable debt [one that grows personal net worth like growing a business or an asset] and unacceptable debt [splurging on non-asset, growing debt]. Coincidentally, Robert Kiyosaki's books, such as Rich Dad Poor Dad, make great reading, yet our parents have lived by these philosophies all their lives. And Warren Buffett's quotes resonate very well with me. For example, he once said: "Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."

Are you a spender or a saver?

I am a balanced spender and saver because being too much of either is detrimental. The world keeps changing and to keep pace with the changes, or getting ahead of these changes, demands a level-headed approach. Understanding about finance as a journey is more important than it being a destination. This knowledge has come to me from my elders and my close friends.

What's your philosophy towards money?

Respect money and it will respect you.

How important is it to you to keep the family company running?

I look upon it as a legacy that has been handed over to us - my brother [who runs the Bahrain side of the business] and I. And I would like nothing more than to hand it over to the next generation. I am a big fan of family businesses, such as the Tatas from India, the Rocke fellers from the United States and the Waltons, who own the Wal-Mart chain.

Did you make any mistakes along the way?

As Charlie Brown cartoons say, "If mistakes are a learning experience, then I'm the master of it all". I look upon mistakes as learning tools. I think Muhammad Ali said it best: "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."

Is money important to you?

More than money, it's how it's used that is more important to me. Case in point: Rodney King, who recently died, was awarded US$3.4 million [Dh12.49m] in damages from the state of California after being beaten by Los Angeles police officers in 1991, yet he died without any money. I believe every learning institution teaches individuals to make a lot of money, yet none teaches them how to manage it or grow it. Considering the importance that money plays in people's lives, it's amazing that no one teaches people how to manage money!

What is your idea of financial freedom?

Financial freedom is being able to comfortably use money, but debt free, where you please. There are many formulas on how to reach this stage, yet all of them lead to the same result: growing net worth, net worth and net worth!

What do you enjoy spending money on?

I like to spend money on experiences, especially with my family and close friends because the memories they create are priceless.