My Salary: ‘I earn up to Dh325 an hour as group chief financial officer’

Kishore Purswani, who works for a UAE-based insurance broker, also earns passive income from real estate, fixed deposits and mutual funds

Kishore Purswani, group chief financial officer for an insurance broker in the UAE, says he budgets his costs for six to 12 months. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Kishore Purswani, a 47-year-old Canadian-Indian, works as a group chief financial officer with an insurance broker in the UAE.

He lives alone in an apartment he purchased in Dubai's Liwan community last year.

Mr Purswani’s family lives in Canada because his children, aged 19 and 13, study there. His wife, who has an admin and customer service job with an airline, and younger son live in Toronto, while his elder son goes to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

The senior executive, originally from New Delhi, received a UAE golden visa under the executive category earlier this year, and graduated in commerce from India.

He secured his first job in India as a data entry operator in 1994 and received a monthly salary of 1,500 Indian rupees ($18). After a stint in Nigeria, he moved to the UAE, where he’s lived for more than 20 years.

Mr Purswani’s first job in the UAE, in 1998, was a clerical opportunity with a group of companies focusing on retail, wholesale, manufacturing and supermarkets. At the time, he earned a salary of Dh1,500 ($408).

Mr Purswani has also completed certified public accountant courses from the US and Canada, making him a dual-designated chartered accountant.

What is your current salary?

I earn between Dh300 and Dh325 per hour.

What does your investment portfolio look like?

I have invested in real estate in India, Dubai and Canada. While my family lives in one of the properties in Canada, the others are rented out. A few of my investments in India are off-plan.

I purchased the property I currently live in for Dh600,000 last year.

I invested in a systematic investment plan in India about 15 years ago, which invests in mutual funds. My next plan is to invest in equities.

I also have fixed deposits in India. Since I work for an insurance company, I have also purchased a life insurance policy with an investment component.

I haven’t invested in cryptocurrency because I don’t believe in short-term gains and have a long-term investment horizon.

I prefer to invest in an asset class and forget about it because it pays off in the long run. I started investing in the year 2003.

Have you started saving for retirement?

I contribute yearly to a retirement savings plan in Canada. It’s a guaranteed income certificate programme.

It’s a discretionary plan and you are allowed to save up to 10 per cent of your net income. I usually try to stay within the 8 per cent to 10 per cent bracket.

I invested in this myself because I knew I had to diversify my investment portfolio.

I am also eligible for a state pension in Canada.

Do you have any debt?

My car loan is paid off. I don’t have credit card debt because I pay off the amount in full every month.

My credit card expenses range between Dh8,000 and Dh10,000 every month. I use it to pay for my groceries, entertainment expenses, utilities and everything else. I don’t pay for anything with cash, it’s all plastic money.

I took out a personal loan to purchase the property in Dubai. I decided to use a personal loan because I want to pay it off in the next three to four years, while a mortgage can go on for 10 to 15 years.

I have two mortgages in Canada and no debt in India.

Do you have an emergency fund?

Yes, I have an emergency fund, which will sustain me for two to three months.

Have you ever inherited money?

No, I have never inherited any money because I come from a very moderate family. My father worked in the ready-made garments industry. I didn’t have the luxury of inheriting anything.

I currently support my in-laws and extended family.

Growing up, were you taught how to handle your finances?

I’ve always been good at maths. So, I took the opportunity to learn commerce. That gave me an idea about how to manage my finances from the very beginning.

I’ve been studying accounting and commerce since grade nine, so it’s in my DNA.

My parents also instilled the value of money in me. I was taught not to waste resources and money. Growing up, we were always taught not to waste food.

I feel those are really important values parents can impart to kids. Since resources are scarce, if you waste them, future generations will suffer.

Do you try to impart the same values to your children?

Absolutely, I teach them the importance of financial literacy as well as the value of what they have received in life. I didn’t have the luxuries they currently enjoy.

I always tell them to look up to set higher aspirations, but also to look down so they stay grounded and grateful for our blessings.

When they ask for something, I ask them to work for it so they understand its true value, not just in terms of price.

What are your major monthly expenses?

In the UAE, my main expenses are fuel, groceries and entertainment bills, which are high because I go quite out a lot.

I spend about C$7,000 to C$8,000 (Dh18,704 to Dh21,376) every month towards my mortgages in Canada, kids’ education, my son’s apartment rent in Vancouver, utilities, groceries, household bills and other miscellaneous costs for my family.

I also travel once every three to four months to meet my family in Canada or they come here to meet me. I bear all these expenses. I also travel to India four to five times a year.

How do you budget your salary with the rising cost of living?

There is definitely an impact. But at the same time, salaries have also gone up. When I landed in the UAE, my salary was Dh1,500. It has increased a lot since then.

There’s a bit of pressure on rising costs, but we just need to find a way around it.

I budget my costs because I know all my expenditures. I plan it not only for this month but for the next six to 12 months. I know what sort of income I’m expecting and the kind of expenses I have planned.

Do you worry about money?

There are always money worries but because I have the CPA qualifications, I have never felt a crunch.

If anything happens in the UAE, for instance, I can always go back to Canada and the employment market is really good there.

What are your financial goals?

In the next three to four years, I need to save for my elder son’s university fees and then for my younger son’s education.

Once those are taken care of, then my financial goals are done and I don’t need to worry that much. I have enough for now.

When my kids ask for something, I ask them to work for it so they understand its true value, not just in terms of price
Kishore Purswani, group chief financial officer, insurance broker

I need to save in the range of C$80,000 to C$100,000 for each child, depending on the programme.

What is your idea of financial freedom?

If you are thinking of retiring and know what sort of life you want to live, the ideal goal would be to receive money in the form of a passive income every month without doing anything.

My end goal is to give back to the community. I won’t need huge amounts of money at that time.

By then, my children would have graduated and they would be on their feet, so it would be just my wife and me who would have to look after ourselves.

At what age do you plan to retire?

Only after 65 years. I still have 10 more years for the kids to finish their university. I see 66 as the right age for me to retire.

Do you have any passive income?

I do. One of my Canadian properties is rented out, so that pays off my other mortgage.

I also earn income from my rental properties in India.

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Updated: October 30, 2023, 5:31 AM