The reason many people shy away from investments and rather choose the traditional route of savings in the bank, is because they fear the risk factor. We are assured that in a savings account our money won’t go ‘down’ – and when things look rosy we’ll get a bit of interest indicating growth. However, what we don’t realise is that inflation and other factors may simply keep our money running on the spot. It might look as though numbers have increased but the value has in fact diminished. Investment with all its attendant risks is ultimately the more advantageous route.
There are a number of resources that offer pointers in how to build financial freedom – often bolstered with the offer of a book or CD which, once purchased, will reveal the ultimate secret to wealth. Usually the only person getting rich is the one selling the book.
If you have a good education, a good job and a budding investment portfolio, then wealth is probably not a ‘secret’ to you. Establishing what wealth actually means in terms of your individual life experience is key to understanding at what point you are actually becoming wealthy. Because wealth is always relative – what is a fortune to one person, is merely ‘getting by’ to another.
So what is ‘wealth’? A comfortable retirement? The opportunity to change your career, travel further or start a company? Money that will allow you to live your dreams? How can we build a life that offers the twin goals of both security and freedom?
In the 1920s the average lifespan of an S&P 500 member company was around 65 years. Today, according to Professor Richard Foster of Yale University, that average has fallen to just 15 years.
Over time, businesses come and go. Some run out of money, lose their customers, make bad choices or just become obsolete. There are a few who manage to celebrate centenaries – and some who even get along to 150 years – but that’s rare. Business is more often conceived and nurtured in a window of opportunity that is bound by fashion, economics, science, tradition, technology and the changing forces of demand and expectation in society.
Those that survive their first five years are usually fairly solid businesses. But it’s these very same businesses that may fail further down the line when they meet – not some canny competitor – but that frightening uncertainty called ‘change’.
Ayanda is the Vice President of his company. His investment portfolio is worth R15m, and is interested in sustainable growth.
Ayanda would like to invest a lump sum. What is the next step?
It is riskier not to invest than to be invested in something that is generally perceived as being risky or volatile, such as equity funds or stock markets. Therefore, the next step would be to make the decision to invest.
Our first encounters with gold were probably way back in prehistory when generally pottering around in streams we discovered that just about everything that glittered was gold. Widely dispersed around the world, gold was discovered by many different groups over the centuries. Its incredible lustre, workability and resistance to tarnishing made it more special than any other possession. Initially valued for its beauty and extraordinary enhancement of artistic works, it became a mark of wealth long before it became money.