Money&Me: Moving on from property loss

Though a spender by nature, Mike Ryan became a doctor primarily to help people. He specialises in hair, scalp and skin disorders and diseases, which have a huge effect on self-esteem and can even ruin careers.

Although Mike Ryan has learnt from past financial mistakes, the clinical trichologist says money does not rule his life. Satish Kumar / The National
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Mike Ryan is a clinical trichologist at Vivandi Hair Spa in Dubai. The British doctor, who moved to the UAE a year ago and specialises in hair, scalp and skin disorders and diseases, says that hair loss has a huge effect on a patient's self-esteem, image and can even ruin careers.

Describe your financial journey so far.

I come from a one-parent family. It was just me and my mum and she had three jobs to support me through my education. When I graduated from university, I worked for L'Oréal in its research and development laboratory. I tried to give mum back as much as I could because she supported me for all those years. I don't support her now because she is financially independent, but the value of money is important knowing that it's never been readily available.

Are you a spender or a saver?

A spender for sure. I've tried over the years to invest and save and for some reason it seems to go pear-shaped. I'm not very good at choosing the right place to put my money. I end up losing more than I save. It puts me off saving because I've been burnt twice and it leaves a very bitter taste in your mouth when you lose lots of money.

Have you made any financial mistakes?

It was misfortune rather than mistakes. I bought property and I always seem to buy at the wrong time - when we go into recession. There have been two recessions in my lifetime, where the housing market has almost crashed - the early 1990s and in 2008. I had property in both those periods that I needed to sell and I lost a lot of money. I was taught that money is safe in bricks and mortar, but it's not - at least in my case.

What is your philosophy towards money?

Money is not my god. I've met a lot of people in life where it is their sole driver, but it doesn't rule my life and it doesn't get me out of bed in the morning. I work to live, I don't live to work.

What has been your most valuable financial lesson?

Taking the correct advice from people who know what they are talking about when it comes to investments and matters of money. It's a little bit like medicine. A lot of people know a remedy that cured their Auntie Betty and when it comes to finances, there are a lot of people who know a lot about nothing. So if you take advice from friends and family, even though it's very well meaning, it's not qualified. If I was going to invest again, I would make sure I went to a qualified person with a very good track record and testimonials to prove their success.

Why did you decide to become a doctor?

The driving force behind that was to always help people. It's a vocation rather than a job. I decided to be a doctor at 14 because another family member was a doctor and it seemed like a natural career progression. It was never a decision based on money.

Why is it so important for people with hair disorders to get them treated?

It affects people's confidence. I see a wide range of patients, from children right through to senior executives. The psychological effects on them are all the same. It doesn't matter what gender or profession they are, the psychological side of it is quite immense and should never be underestimated. It can affect self-esteem, image and even careers. The hair itself has no function within humans any more other than self-esteem and sexual attraction. And there is a distinction to be made between men and women. Men lose their hair primarily because of genetic reasons, but there are 50 reasons why women can, whether it's a thyroid problem, diabetes, the humidity or stress. The morbidity rate of people who lose their hair is 13 per cent - where people actually resort to killing themselves after hair loss.

What has been your biggest financial challenge?

Moving to Dubai. I had to leave property back in the UK, so there were all the complications of renting the house out, such as do you put it with agents or family, or do you sell it? Then when you come here, you don't realise how much the cost of setting up here is. I certainly didn't. There's paying rent for a year in advance; the whole wardrobe is different here than in the UK and the lifestyle is certainly more expensive. It's the hidden things that you tend not to factor in when you come out here.

What do you like to invest in?

Art. I know nothing about art, but a friend of mine is an artists' broker. She tells me who to buy because they will make money eventually. I've bought a few pieces from her and they seem to be a very good investment. I keep them stored in my parent's house.

Do you plan for the future?

I have money in independent pension schemes that I put into for the latter days back in the United Kingdom. Back home, we're brainwashed into the fact that you need to save for your old age so it's something I've always done.

What do you like to spend on?

On social time with my friends. I spend most of my time at the golf club, so when it comes to spending my money that's where it is. I'm not interested in fast cars or gadgets.