Gavin Basma-Kwas is the investment director at Beehive UAE, the country’s first peer-to-peer online lending platform. The Englishman, 35, grew up in Australia before moving back to the UK in his twenties. After seven years working in London for a multinational finance firm, he moved to Dubai with his family in 2014.
How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?
My paternal grandfather emigrated to the UK during the Second World War and arrived with nothing. He worked extremely hard to provide for his children – values that he passed down to my father. Both of my parents were a big influence on me. They taught me to save from a young age. I started working at the age of seven. I had three jobs and I was earning £13.25 (Dh61) fortnightly – to be precise. Since then I always had two jobs right the way through university and into my late twenties.
Are you a spender or saver?
I like to think I am a bit of both. If I have a specific goal in mind I can be very disciplined. When I was 17, I paid my brother back his car loan in nine months as opposed to the agreed 24, albeit with some sacrifices along the way. Suffice to say I was living off baked beans for a while.
What is your most cherished purchase?
When I was 25, I gave up my full- time job and travelled to 17 places around the world on my own. I will be encouraging my children to do the same when they are older. I think these are the experiences which shape us and give us a different outlook on life.
Have you ever had a month when you feared you could not pay the bills?
I have never really been like this, it is not in my DNA. I always make sure that I have a bit of reserve.
Where do you save?
Nowadays there are many different forms of savings, from bank accounts to pensions, property investment plus alternate investments. My strategy is to have a good mix. I tend to always have a plan I am working towards so gear my savings accordingly.
What has been your best investment?
I would have to say a combination of my trip around the world and some properties I purchased after the financial crash in London. Then of course my two lovely children with my wife. Finally, not strictly a financial investment but in our future was my move to Beehive. I needed a change in career and it came about at the right time. I see some fantastic SME companies in the UAE with excellent management and if I can be there to help them grow and develop then I am proud of that.
What do you most regret spending money on?
I am generally careful when I spend, so I can’t really say I regret anything I have purchased. You often get the odd small things, but nothing major.
What financial advice would you offer your younger self?
I believe that it is important to have a savings plan from a young age. My parents used to always make me save half of my pocket money. So for any extra special present they would pay half and the rest would come from my savings. It gave me a good grounding for understanding the value of money and that it doesn’t grow on trees. Finally on some investments it is better to win small than wait and not win at all. On both a property I owned and shares, I waited a little extra time to see if I could make even more but the opposite happened.
Do you have a plan for the future?
My plan is to develop my career further within Beehive both nationally and internationally. I am also keen to support and mentor UAE starts ups and SMEs from the experience I have gained. In the longer term, one day I would like to have my own business. I really enjoy the UAE lifestyle for the diverse range of cultures, the outdoor lifestyle and the safety aspect. It is a fantastic time to be growing a business here with the positive outlook of the country’s leadership and the focus on innovation.
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