Money & Me: Dubai entrepreneur is Spendlove by name, spender by nature

As his name suggests, entrepreneur Ian Spendlove is a spender by nature and enjoys splashing out on his daughter and the occasional fast car.

Ian Spendlove got his start in hairdressing and retail management. Anna Nielsen for The National
Powered by automated translation

Ian Spendlove owns and runs the Spendlove Group, a Dubai-based group of companies spanning several sectors including events management, staffing, recruitment, freight logistics, public relations, travel and beauty. The British expatriate, 50, has spent six years in the UAE.

Describe your financial journey so far.

I started my career as a qualified hairdresser while also running two successful London market stalls selling ladies fashion and music cassette tapes. I took time out to travel, starting in the South of France teaching windsurfing and water-skiing for six months and returning seven years later via New York. I then worked within the vehicle marketing sector of the events industry on product launches, film shoots and motor shows. There I identified a gap in the UK’s event services market and created Showforce. Now almost 25 years old, it was the first company of its kind to deliver crew with a clean-cut corporate edge, in what was previously known as a rock ‘n’ roll industry. Having seen the way the events industry was gathering pace in the Middle East, I opened an office in Dubai in 2009 and another in Qatar in 2012. Nowadays Showforce is just one company within the Spendlove Group.

Are you a spender or saver?

The name pretty much says it all. I’m not sure with a surname like Spendlove that I could ever be anything other than a spender. That doesn’t mean that I’m frivolous with money though.

What is your philosophy towards money?

I like to be comfortable but I’m not convinced wealth is a route to happiness. I’m an entrepreneur and I will always want to take risks, yet somehow I have managed to miss the booms and busts in the financial market. For example, when I arrived in Dubai I didn’t have the money to invest in property the way a lot of people did, in turn that meant that I didn’t suffer during the economic crash.

Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?

As Albert Einstein famously said: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”. I’ve made plenty from trying to grow the business too quickly and not carrying out the correct due diligence to putting my trust in the wrong financial advisers. Everything is a learning curve.

What has been your best investment?

Almost 20 years ago I bought a property in a rundown area of London now known as the Docklands, part of the financial district and an affluent part of the City. It was a slow burner but I’m happy with the return.

Have you ever had a month where feared you could not pay the bills?

Yes, many times. The events business is both cyclical and seasonal and in the old days it was very much feast or famine; we’d have a very busy summer in the UK, things would quieten down in the winter and it would be a struggle. This was part of the reason for expanding to the Middle East – as things quieten here in May, the UK is getting geared up for silly season.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

For business I prefer credit card, for personal expenditure I like cash to keep control on my spending. Before an evening out I will withdraw the amount I’m happy to spend.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The one thing I wish I’d done was borrow as much money as I could and invested in property on Emirates Hills and the Palm and then sold them at the height of the boom – I’d be retired and living in the lap of luxury by now.

What would you raid your savings account for?

My parents went without to ensure I had great experiences, I want to do the same for my 10-year-old daughter. There is always an activity to participate in or a school trip and I’m more than happy to raid the piggy bank. I’m also a petrol head on the quiet so I have been known to shell out for the odd fast car.

Follow us on Twitter @TheNationalPF