Dan Dowding, the chief executive of IFAs Killik Co in Dubai, moved to the UAE nearly three years ago with his family. Originally from the UK, he is a passionate cyclist and charity fund-raiser who trains up to 200 kilometres a week. Mr Dowding is competing in the London to Paris bike race for “Team Killik” this month and hopes to raise Dh56,000 for War Child.
Describe your financial journey so far.
My financial journey has very much been influenced by my dad and maternal grandfather. Dad worked in the oil and gas industry, was very hard working and as his career progressed, it became easier for the family in terms of finances. I was taught from an early age to work hard and save money. These values definitely rubbed off on me. My grandfather left school at 13 in 1929 without any qualifications and began work as a farm labourer. Working almost every day of his life into his mid-70s, he built both an arable and livestock farming business with an impressive annual turnover. Through his experience of trading real commodities at market, he developed an interest in stock markets and he passed on his interest and some of his knowledge to me. It is mainly due to my grandfather that I followed the career I have. I developed an interest in the stock market from an early age when he bought me a few hundred pounds of shares in some of the early privatisation issues and I have been buying shares ever since.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I’m more of a saver, which is not to say I never spend money – I do, but it tends to be on shares. While markets have been volatile for a number of years, we will get through this phase of global economic uncertainty. When we do, shares will look great value. Investing goes hand in hand with my job, part of which involves following companies and industries. This is what I enjoy.
What do you enjoy spending money on?
I am a mad cycling enthusiast. I have more bicycles than my wife tells me we have room for, two of which are Italian marques, hand built for me in Italy. I should not really tell you how much they cost, or my wife will be filing for divorce. I take part in classic amateur cycling events, such as Paris Roubaix, Ronde Van Vlaanderen and L’Étape du Tour. I try to fit in several triathlons each year – which means spending money on travel and entry fees.
What’s your philosophy regarding money?
Money is a facilitator. We should not pursue the accumulation of money for that end itself. If looked after and managed properly, it allows you to do the things that you want to do and provides you with some degree of security and freedom. There will always be people with more than you and there will be people with a lot less. If you can use any surplus to help those with less, it can be extremely rewarding.
Do you do a lot of charity work?
Like many people, my working hours are long and while I do try to dedicate some time each year to charity work, I would like to do more. I support a number of charities on a regular basis – Oxfam, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Centrepoint and Great Ormond Street Hospital. We also support a family in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and provide for the education of two “adopted” children in a township just outside of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Each year, I try to participate in a larger fund-raising event, like London to Paris.
What has been your biggest financial challenge?
I think we are all living through one of the biggest financial challenges that we are likely to live though. The fall out from sub prime, credit-default swaps, the global slowdown and the resultant sovereign-debt crisis in Europe has created a sea of uncertainty. It is hard to position for this.
What has been your most valuable financial lesson?
My most valuable financial lesson is one that I pass on to our clients and that is not to put all your eggs in one basket. Create a balanced portfolio and don’t invest until you are sure it’s the right thing for you.
Do you believe in planning for the future?
It is important. Many of us have life goals and aspirations. Through careful planning, you are more likely to achieve them. If you have dependants, it is especially important to plan. Without wishing to be morbid, one does need to consider the impact on your dependants of you not being around. Certain protections can be put in place to provide for them if this were to happen. Now, surely, you are likely to sleep easier if this is the case.
For more information about Mr Dowding’s London to Paris charity ride, go to www.justgiving.com/Killik-L2P