Money & Me: Dubai real estate broker takes pride in a property purchase

Property entrepreneur Nick Stockwell says watching his parents budget to pay for his private education in the UK has taught him that you can afford the 'good things' in life if you are disciplined.

Nick Stockwell learned early that you can afford good things with determination. Victor Besa for The National
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Nick Stockwell is a co-founder of the Dubai real estate brokerage Tregoning & Stockwell, which he set up with his business partner Harry Tregoning in September 2014. Mr Stockwell, 37, from the UK, moved to Dubai in 2012 after a career in the financial services sector.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

I know my parents were certainly belt-tighteners, and I was fortunate to have a good [private] education in the United Kingdom. When you have those outgoings, you don’t have much left over. The priority was the education, and that has made me think you can afford good things if you are determined.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

My first salaried job was the British Army, and it paid £19,000 (Dh102,282) per year at that stage. I was also working for my dad in his warehouse earlier – taking advantage of cheap labour, no doubt, when I was about 13, 14.

Are you spender or saver?

Historically, a spender, at least until I got married. My wife is a saver. She’s a consultant for a British engineering firm. We have similar backgrounds, but she’s more diligent.

What is your most cherished purchase?

The apartment I bought in the UK, in West Kensington. It was a big spend and I was quite young but invested a lot into it, putting in a new kitchen.

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

I don’t think I’ve ever been in fear. My family and friends would always have covered me if ever I was really short of cash. I would have been able to call up my dad and ask for a loan to cover it. But now we’ve got to pay rent cheques [as a business owner] and you do get more concerned about what the cash flow is going to look like.

Where do you save your money?

Historically, I’ve saved in the bank with the best rate of interest. Currently, I have started up a new business and am trying to pay myself as little as possible and put as much back into the business. The aim [of the company] is to help people find rent-to-buy properties in Dubai. One is always conscious that the reason a lot of start-ups fail is that they run out of cash, but our business is quite cash-generative.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

I’m a big believer in credit cards if you pay off the outstanding balance each month. I have the Emirates NBD Skywards card and it generates about 100,000 miles a year.

What has been your best investment?

Probably an apartment I bought in London in 2005. I bought it with a friend, and then bought him out and sold it just before moving out to Dubai, having done a lot of work on it and living in it as well. A guy who I really respect, who’s an entrepreneur out here, said if you are really going to be independently wealthy you need to start your own business and own your own property. I’m doing both.

What do you most regret spending money on?

I’m still in the doghouse for it: Rugby World Cup tickets. One thing I learnt from the Olympics was that you have to get in early and I bought four tickets to semi-finals for £515 each. England had the worst showing ever. I had to take a 50 per cent haircut. My wife was not amused.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

I wish I’d had it hammered into me to save little and often. If you are a teen and you have £40 of pocket money, at least save £1 or £2. It’s funny how the little things add up quickly.

Do you have a plan for the future?

Everything revolves around my business now. We plan to grow as quickly as possible. If I make that a success, everything in my personal finances will follow.

If you won Dh1m, what would you do with it?

Have a chat with my wife, take her on a fancy holiday and put the rest into a property as quickly as possible in the UK or Dubai.

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