Financial Adviser | Teen in a hurry to make millions
QUESTION: I was reading The Sunday Gleaner when I stumbled across an article in the Business section written by you. I observed that your job is a personal financial adviser and so I was hoping that you could help me with my goal.
I am a teenager about to enter 10th grade and my goal is to make at least $15 million or $20 million before I take on my profession of becoming a pilot. I am not experiencing any financial problems or any difficulties. I am just a boy with a lucrative goal - to be a young double-digit millionaire, to invest in real-estate, purchase vehicles, and invest in things that will keep me wealthy after I find out how to get to my goal.
I have not sat any major examinations such as CXC/CSEC, CAPE, SATs, so I have no qualifications yet. I would like for you to direct me in a path where I can work towards achieving my monetary goal. What can I do or invest in that would provide me with the millions I have in mind over a three-to-four year period or more? I await your prompt reply.
FINANCIAL ADVISER: I am giving you a prompt reply, but I doubt I can tell you how you can make the millions you want and in the timeline you have set. Nonetheless, it is encouraging to know that you have set yourself clearly defined goals - just that they are extremely optimistic.
I assume that you are about 15 or 16, so it will be two or three years before you become an adult and will be legally able to own property or other types of assets, but it is quite fine to begin to have dreams and plans about your financial future.
May I suggest to you, though, that it would be beneficial to focus on your education now and, thereby, lay the foundation for a prosperous future? You already know you want to be a pilot, so I suggest that you focus on the subjects required to qualify. As time advances, it will be increasingly necessary to determine how the path to your desired profession will be funded. Perhaps your parents will take the lead.
I do not know of a magical path to wealth. There are persons here and in other countries who get wealthy quite quickly, but, by and large, many do not do so by orthodox means. Such means are to be avoided.
Other persons have inherited wealth from family, but the majority of wealthy persons owe their wealth to hard work, generally by being entrepreneurs or by being highly skilled professionals. A small group can point to their success as corporate executives as the source of their wealth.
The fact that only a relatively small proportion of the population has a high net worth suggests that the process of getting to that position takes time and patience. Many successful persons will tell you that they experienced serious setbacks at some point and had to start over, but their perseverance paid off.
Not many persons have become wealthy by working for others, and although investing in the financial markets is helpful, it has provided meaningful wealth for fewer people than is generally believed. Nevertheless, employment and investment contribute to the process of accumulation, which makes wealth possible. Starting early is key, so from that angle, you are on base, but you still have time.
It would be helpful to get into the minds of persons who have become wealthy. There is much on the Internet and in books and magazines about several of them. As you do your research, make note of their similarities - in their mindset, strategies, attitudes to money and setbacks and their responses to developments in the business environment.
You may want to study about persons like Gordon 'Butch' Stewart and some of the young men who amassed significant wealth through their pioneering efforts in the field of technology - Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, for example.
Have you ever heard of the invisible wealthy? These are people who systematically amass wealth over an extended period but do not show it - in fancy cars or houses, for example. They keep a low profile, avoid debt, save and invest consistently and may have an incredible knowledge about building wealth, but you would not be tempted to ask them because they do not flaunt it.
Don't be fooled by what you see. Put first things first and enjoy what is left of your childhood, particularly your time in school.
Oran A. Hall, a member of the Caribbean Financial Planning Association and principal author of 'The Handbook of Personal Financial Planning', offers personal financial planning advice and counsel.