Neil Grant, the executive director of Prosperity Offshore Investment Consultants, says being self-employed means planning ahead is important.
Money&Me: Working with an eye on the future
Neil Grant is the executive director of Prosperity Offshore Investment Consultants, an independent financial-services company in Dubai. Mr Grant, who is originally from Scotland and has lived in the UAE for 11 years, says being self-employed means it is essential to save for what he calls the "must pays" of daily life, but also to plan ahead.
How would you describe your financial journey so far?
It has certainly been a long and varied one. However, it has mirrored the stock markets with many peaks and troughs along the way. Life began as a district agent for a home-service company called Pearl Assurance in the vast rural location of the Scottish Highlands, travelling many miles every week to meet clients in all weathers. However, the one thing that remained stable was the willingness for people to seek financial advice and implicitly trust the person that was offering the same. Everyone wants to save, be they in Land's End or John O'Groats.
Are you a spender or a saver?
It would seem strange if I said a spender. However, to be honest, I am both as one allows me to do the other and without money, I couldn't do either. With four little boys and the basic cost of self-employed living in Dubai, I need to save for the "must pays", as I call them, with one eye on the future.
What's your philosophy regarding money?
Someone once said to me that we had our greatest wealth at the wrong time in life and if we all received a large sum of money [loan] in our early 20s and simply paid it all back by retirement, it would be far more beneficial and less stressful. Although I don't necessarily agree with that very basic statement, it focused my attentions on a philosophy of advice that provided money and security throughout lifetimes and not "just" at retirement.
What are the challenges of running your own business in the UAE?
Normal everyday challenges, such as overnight decisions that may have a severe impact on your business and are simply announced in the press the following day. The financial sector is very different from the standard policy changes that pertain to all businesses here as there are different rules and governing bodies, such as the Central Bank, the Dubai Financial Services Authority and the Insurance Authority.
Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?
Yes. As anyone who has ventured into the minefield of self-employment will tell you, nothing prepares you for running your own business better than losing some of your own hard-earned cash. This can, of course, simply be through a poor business decision or personal judgement of someone that you thought you could trust. It was the latter for me. I was in a partnership in the early years of the business and although a legal partnership agreement was in force, the financial loss for me was huge and one that I vowed never to suffer again.
Do you believe in planning for the future?
"Failing to plan equals planning to fail" may be an old cliche. However, it is one that is very true. In a target-driven industry like ours, I strongly believe in everyone who is involved in the business knowing what the company's annual objective is and what, in my case, my personal target is each month, quarter and year.
Is money important to you?
Money is important to each and every one of us for different reasons and can become the only driver for some.
What is your idea of financial freedom?
To be in a position that we, as a family, can maintain a lifestyle that we have created and enjoyed through 11 years of extremely hard work and incredibly long hours. The ultimate financial freedom would have to be putting myself in a position where I was able to decide when to say enough is enough [and spend more time with my family]!
What do you enjoy spending money on?
Travelling well and providing the best for my family. It's also nice to share some of the fruits of your labour with family members when you get together.