Wealth is more than just money

Wikus Fourie, Old Mutual Wealth CEO, stresses the importance of wealth management and investing in tough times.

25 October 2019 | People

The current tough economic environment should not stop Namibians from investing and applying basic good financial principles such as budgeting and living within their means, says Old Mutual Wealth chief executive officer Wikus Fourie.

In a conversation that touched on a wide range of topics on wealth creation and investing, Fourie says according to his understanding, wealth means there is substantially more to money than just having money.

“Wealth management to my mind speaks to more than managing a portion of your money; it manages your entire holdings, entire financial position and it speaks to a bigger generation and not just yourself. The timeline of wealth management is longer than managing a short-term expense budget.”

He agrees with the old saying that money is never enough but says with disciplined planning and budgeting, everybody is capable of investing and creating wealth for themselves and their families.

“Numbers are infinite; money can never be enough. That is the quote that I always keep in the back of my mind when dealing with clients’ funds as well. To get to grips with your finances you need to understand the whole picture and have a realistic view of what your finances entail. You can only do that with proper planning and it comes back to a word that a lot of people hate, which is ‘budget’,” says Fourie, whose work experience include working for PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Sanlam Namibia, Trustco and FNB Namibia.

Stick to the basics

Fourie, who studied at the University of Stellenbosch, advises Namibians to live by basic financial principles and avoid overspending on non-productive things.

“We need to step back and avoid a lot of fancy things by just doing basic things. Look at the budget and you will then start to take control because a budget and a plan give you a whole picture on how you can manage your spending. I think it is an important step for a lot of people. We tend to have a lot of plans for our lives but we don’t have plans for our own finances and then we expect to have a goal but we don’t have a plan on how to get there.”

A frequently asked and debated question is: “Does money bring happiness?”

“We equate having money with being happy. It’s a very controversial topic in the sense of how much is enough, or can enough money be enough? I don’t subscribe to the theory that financial security can buy happiness or that money can buy happiness. It certainly will make life easier but it does not necessary create happiness. If you are unhappy with money or without money, the other won’t change that. In that essence, happiness starts with the person that you are and you need to breed contentment within yourself in order to be happy,” Fourie says.

He believes that money will facilitate certain things, but that it can’t buy relationships, friendships, peace of mind or health.

“So, in that sense I would be wary to say that financial security and happiness are equal to each other. One can certainly assist the other but you can be unhappy with financial security and there are many people out there that can attest to that fact.”

Plan in difficult times

Fourie emphasises that financial planning is important even in difficult economic times. In his view, many clients see the current times as a probative factor in establishing sound financial principles.

“It can be an opportunity to gain or acquire certain assets at very reasonable prices but you can only do that if you have planned. The current economic situation in the country is well documented and we can’t escape that, but it does not mean that it precludes us from sticking to laid-out plans and budgets. Also, if we plan accordingly, we can then look at opportunities within the market as they present themselves, maybe acquiring a property that is below market value or investment in a company that is currently discounted. That is where we need to start seeing opportunities as well.”

Furthermore, Fourie states that it’s never too late to start planning, budgeting and saving.

“As the old saying goes, it was a good time to plant a tree 20 years ago. When is the second best time? Today. So if you have not started, today is a good time to start, it’s never too late to practise good financial stewardship. You have to sit down and assess your situation based on your income and expenses and make informed decisions.”

Tough times are opportunities

In Fourie’s experience, successful and wealthy people are the ones who see tough times as opportunities.

“Throughout my career, people that have been successful in accumulating wealth are the ones who have always seen opportunities rather than obstacles. Obstacles will always be there but they choose to look at the positives rather than the negatives.”

When he is not creating wealth for his clients, Fourie likes being in the outdoors, exploring Namibia and playing golf.

Fourie strongly believes that creating a saving culture must become part of the national conversation.

“We talk a lot about life skills at school. I think this should form part of the education curriculum. If we want to raise a generation of people that are financially equipped, we need to address this at a younger age. Our saving culture in Namibia is one that can only improve and we are our own detriment sometimes in the way that we create and acquire new debts in our personal capacity. We must try and create a platform where from a young age we can talk about such things in a classroom.”

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