x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

PR chief ponders halfway mark

Money and me: Simon Buerk is a regional director for the Middle East and Africa at the public relations firm Edelman, the world's largest independent PR company.

Simon Buerk, a regional director at Edelman, thinks of himself as an amateur saver and investor. Jaime Puebla / The National
Simon Buerk, a regional director at Edelman, thinks of himself as an amateur saver and investor. Jaime Puebla / The National

Simon Buerk is a regional director for the Middle East and Africa at the public relations firm Edelman, the world's largest independent PR company. A native of London, he has been living in the Arabian Gulf since 2005 and is currently based in Abu Dhabi.

How would you describe your financial journey so far?

Like most people I started by having no money and not really caring. Then when I started working I had a little but felt like I had a lot. Now I have more money but feel like I never have enough. I'm lucky that I have a few more mouths to feed these days than I had in my twenties, and that brings a different feeling about financial responsibility and what money should be doing.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I'm both. I hit 40 later this year, which is sobering. The retirement age may be going up, but I must be about halfway through my career now. I'm not sure whether I hope it is more than half or less. In any event, saving for the future is no longer optional. Particularly as a large chunk of anything I do save now will be swallowed up paying for my children's education long before I put on my slippers. But I also have my share of toys, so not everything is saved.

What is your philosophy regarding money?

I think money is there to make life better. It needs careful management - increasingly so as your life progresses. But it is also there to be enjoyed if you are lucky enough to be able to do so. Money for its own sake has no value. It's what it can do for you and the people that you care about either now or in the future that matters.

Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?

None that are apparent to me at the moment. I think that is the worry for an amateur saver and investor like me. There is a bewildering array of investment options out there. You always have a nagging feeling that you might not be choosing the best ones, but that you might not find out until it is too late. Time will tell if we have made the right choices. I hope the worst we discover is some sub-optimal choices, rather than outright clangers.

Do you believe in planning for the future?

Definitely. I think once you have children to consider you have to plan as carefully as possible. You have to provide the best you can for them. Making the most of the resources that you have is a big part of that, but not always easy. My advice now to people at the beginning of their careers would be to start long-term financial planning straight away, as the earlier you start the easier it is. I know that if I had received that advice when I was at that stage I would have ignored it though. I think I probably did.

Is money important to you?

I think apart from the genuinely ascetic, money is important to everyone. If you don't think it is, you are probably just fortunate rather than ambivalent.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

I enjoy making our family life more comfortable, and giving my children exciting experiences like skiing and holidays abroad. More selfishly, I am a keen desert motorcyclist, so my motorbike gets some financial loving too.

* David Black