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How much is enough? – podcast with Andrew Bradley

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PODCAT

Elian Wiener: Welcome to the Wealthwoke Podcast. I’m Elian Wiener, your host and Founder of Wealthwoke. Wealthwoke is a community of people who are on a quest to redefine the concept of wealth and relationships with money. On this journey, we explore the growing realization that there are several dimensions of wealth including physical, financial, spiritual, career, relationship, and community. I invite you to join us on this journey where we tackle issues ranging from investing, purpose, to lifestyle. I hope you enjoy this podcast. If you do, go to wealthwoke.com to enjoy more great content.

Elian Wiener: Welcome to the Wealthwoke Podcast. I’m your host, Elian Wiener. I’m so grateful that you’ve decided to listen today. I’m also really excited about our guest, Andrew Bradley. He’s the Co-Owner, Director, and CEO of Fiscal Private Client Services, a wealth management business in South Africa. He’s also the Founder and Director of Chrome Wealth, which provides a wealth management ecosystem to the wealth management industry.

He was previously the CEO of Old Mutual Wealth. He’s also co-authored three books, the latest of which is the best seller, How Much Is Enough?. Our paths have crossed quite often over the years, and I’ve always respected his deeper understanding of money and investing. Andrew, thank you so much for joining us today.

Elian Wiener: So, as someone who’s been in the retirement industry, the wealth management industry for a long time, how would you describe your relationship with money?

Andrew Bradley: I have a very passionate and intricate relationship with money, and it started at a very, very early age. I think I have probably an obsession with financial security, for a number of reasons. My parents got divorced when I was four, and my mom was then on her own. And as a four, five-year-old kid, I experienced what that was like.

Andrew Bradley: Then my mom remarried, and she married a bank manager. So, everything about him was the Rands and cents, and I got pocket money, and I had to learn how to use that very wisely. When I finished school, my stepfather retired from the bank, bought a hotel, and then lost everything. Having seen this man that had done so much for me and bringing me up a very proud man, very financially disciplined man got involved with hotel, which he knew nothing about was always his retirement dream and he lost everything.

I saw what it did to him, and so I was in my early years at university, and the significant impact it had on me, I said, “That’s not going to happen to me. I’m going to do anything and everything I can to make sure that that doesn’t happen to me.” His self-worth, his self-respect, his engagement with other people, everything changed. I still sort of get goosebumps thinking about that. Now, for me, money and finances is not about how much, it is how do I make sure that I look after what I have? How do I make sure that me and my family are financially secure, so that doesn’t happen to me?

Elian Wiener: Yeah, I probably share a very similar sort of philosophy about money as you do. I’m probably more afraid of losing it than I am of making an unseemly amount. That’s probably what drives me. So, do you think a lot of people’s attitudes to money are shaped in their childhood?

Andrew Bradley: Well, certainly, all research indicates that that’s exactly it. So, our first experience with money, how our parents deal with money, whether they talk about it, whether they engage about it, whether one person in the family manages it, and do they then give an allowance to the spouse, or do they use money as a tool? I see many families where they use money as a weapon to control either partner, or control their kids. And so that can very often lead to resentment about money. So, our experiences as we’re growing up, whether we had it, we didn’t have it do guide us.

Andrew Bradley: So, another aspect, when I was growing up, I had everything that I needed, but nothing that I wanted. I saw these other kids who had everything that I may have wanted, and I was, hang on, look at how they responded and I saw them as spoiled brats. I must confess, I had some animosity towards them for no reason other than it hurt me and affected me.

Andrew Bradley: And so now, how I relate that to my kids who are in a significantly more fortunate position that we’ve got some financial security and they certainly are growing up with a far better quality of life and standard of living than I did. I’m trying to make sure that they don’t grow up like those kids that I resented.

Elian Wiener: Yes, it’s ironic, right?

Andrew Bradley: Absolutely. I sometimes treat them, I get angry with them, when I see them behaving like those kids that I didn’t like. So, yeah, those experiences form us. As we go into our 20s and 30s, and we get married, and we have kids of our own, that has a profound impact on whether we had or didn’t have money, and how we related to it, and how we carry that forward in our families.

Elian Wiener: One thing I really enjoyed in the book that you co-authored, How Much Is Enough?, is that you took quite a different approach to sort of the usual view from people in the industry, where it focuses mostly on the Rands and cents in terms of how much is enough, and you look at things like psychology, materialism, wellbeing. Why did you choose to do that?

Andrew Bradley: Well, it wasn’t that I chose to do that. This evolved. I mean, the first books that I was involved with, and all my background, I mean, I started in tax and being a specialist in tax and legal stuff related to investing, and then realized, well, hang on what I was more interested in was investing.

Andrew Bradley: Arun and I met and we ended up writing this book together, Fortune Strategy, and it was all about how you go about managing your money, and if I say so, it was a fantastic book, not because we’re so clever, but we were able to synthesize Nobel Prize winners on how you should put a portfolio together. And then what struck me was that despite investment markets performing very well, most investors fail.

Elian Wiener: Yeah.

Andrew Bradley: Investment markets perform well, but most investors failed, and that intrigued me. So, we started digging and scratching, trying to understand why. We then figured out that the reason that markets perform well, but most investors fail is that they’re buying at the top and sell at the bottom, and then buying at the top and sell at the bottom, they keep repeating and repeating.

Elian Wiener: Fear and greed.

Andrew Bradley: Yeah, absolutely, until they destroy their wealth. We said, well, are there ways to counter that? Why can some people, why don’t everyone, or why doesn’t everyone destroyed their wealth? Some do, and are there some characteristics? Are there some patterns? So, we went on a long journey, and we started unpacking some of that stuff, and we discovered that it had very little to do with the investment markets. It all had to do with how we as individuals behave.

Andrew Bradley: So, this is something that I knew absolutely nothing about. So, I had to start learning and re-hard coding my own behavior, because the first thing I had to do is well, what am I doing? What am I doing right, and what am I doing wrong, and can I learn from that? I fortunately realized because of some of my hard wiring, I was doing a lot of things right, but more by luck than good management.

Andrew Bradley: Many of these issues that you relate sort of our psychology, our behavior, our patterns of behavior all have a massive impact on that. So, that’s something I did, it evolved. It wasn’t something that I chose. It could be between the eyes that this is the pivotal difference between successful or having a happy content life, and understanding that money isn’t the end. But that it is just one component of it, and that you can’t figure out how much is enough, in monetary terms, until you’ve first figured out how much is enough happiness, how much is enough time.

Elian Wiener: Yeah, you use that. It’s such a great line. In that book it says, you’ve mentioned the need to develop a financial plan for yourself, not for your money. What do you mean by that?

Andrew Bradley: Well, in essence, if I asked you how much is enough money, you will ask me some formula, or worse still, you’ll ask me how much I have. You’ll ask other people, how much do you have? How much is enough? Because when it’s a number, quite frankly, you’ll never have enough because you’ll want more than the next person. And there’s always going to be someone in the room with more than you. So, that isn’t the way to answer the question, and that was our big insight yeah, is that you first have to say, “Well, who am I? What do I want? What makes me happy? How am I going to live a fulfilled life?”

Andrew Bradley: Once I know that, well, if this is how I want to live, what do I need? Do I need this massive car? Do I need a 27 bedroom home? Or how am I going to spend my time? Only once you’ve understood that can you say, “Well, if that’s what I want, and that’s going to make me live a happy, fulfilled life, what money do I need for that? Invariably, for most of us, when we actually look at what makes us happy, actually doesn’t cost a lot of money.

Elian Wiener: No.

Andrew Bradley: It’s the real things, it’s about our family, and the things we enjoy, whether it’s sitting on the beach, or for me getting on a bicycle, or going for a walk up the mountain or in the vineyards, or on the beach. That’s what fulfills me, and it doesn’t cost a lot of money.

Elian Wiener: I used to ask my father because he retired quite early, not as extremely wealthy, but enough to see him through. I used to say to him, “Well, don’t you want to make more money?” And he said, “Well, I can only eat one steak at a time.

Andrew Bradley: Exactly. There’s this wonderful sort of story about this fisherman that goes out and catches fish every day and comes home and he feeds his family, eats the fish, and the next day, he goes out again, and he fishes for an hour or two and then, you know, he has a great life. There’s this management consultant sitting on the beach on holiday watching him and he says, “Well, I’ve got a suggestion for you. Why don’t you come to me, I’ll loan you some money, we’ll gear up, you can buy three or four fishing boats, you can get some crew, you can go out. You can get a fleet, you’ll catch a lot of fish, you can sell to all the supermarket, you can export. You can make $50 million, and then you can retire.”

Andrew Bradley: Then the fisherman says, “And then what am I going to do? Get on my boat every day, go out, catch a few fish, come back, sit with my mates, have a beer and relax. I’ve already got that life. Why should I go through that?” And it’s understanding who you are and what makes you happy.

Elian Wiener: Yeah, on the flip side, I guess, and I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times during the course of your career, that clients will come to you and say, “I want out. Tell me, how much do I need? How can I get it as quickly as possible, so I can get out of this rat race and retire?”

Elian Wiener: I mean, that’s concerning, because it’s become a bit about the destination rather than about the journey. What you’re saying is, it’s so much more important to look at your journey too. Are you happy with what you’re doing? What do you want out of life, rather than just give me X amount of money so I can retire and be done with this. That’s not the way to live, right?

Andrew Bradley: Yeah. I think, particularly if you’re doing something that you don’t enjoy, and you’ve got to do that for 20, 30, 40 years, what’s the point? If you’re saying, “Well, I can have this unbearable job, and it might be six months or a year, then have a lot of money and I can do what I want to,” then you first need to be clear what it is you want and can that be crafted into what you do.

Andrew Bradley: Unless you do something, unless at all something I’m not aware of, it’s very difficult to make a whole bunch of money in a very short space of time. So, the key issue is how to craft into your daily life, whether that’s your sport, or your work, something that you really enjoy. Because if you can do what you enjoy and like, I love what I do, and maybe it’s because of my financial security obsession, or whatever it might be, where I don’t see myself as working. I’m helping solve my own sort of financial dilemmas and challenges. I get invigorated by helping other people.

Andrew Bradley: For me, I don’t see that as work. If I happen to make a good living out of it, that’s a huge, huge bonus for me. So now, this is not something where I see at all retire one day, I’ll continue to do what I do for as long as I can do it, and as long as that keeps me invigorated, it keeps my mind active. If I’m making a difference in people’s lives, that’s certainly something worth getting up for every day.

Elian Wiener: I guess, if you’re not consumed by materialism, you’re also not then predisposed to focus purely on making as much money as possible, and you can focus on rather building a business that you’re passionate about.

Andrew Bradley: Yeah. And again, coming to the point I made earlier is that when you say, “Well, let me make as much money as I can,” well, you first have to figure out well, how much is that? Is that as much as you can? Because that will never end. If it’s well, I need 100 grand. Okay, well, are you sure 100 grand is going to be enough, because what are you going to do?

Andrew Bradley: So, you first have to, in anything, is look at yourself, who are you? What are you? What do you want? What’s going to make you happy? What’s going to make you full? Only once you’ve done that, you can say well, I can now even go and see if I can make enough bucks to enable that. Isn’t it better to try and weave that into your daily life?

Elian Wiener: Yeah.

Andrew Bradley: Because that just makes life so much easier in every respect.

Elian Wiener: Okay, so when it actually comes down to investing, what are some of the biggest mistakes that you’ve seen South Africans make over the years?

Andrew Bradley: I think that there are probably a number of categories. The first one, which I alluded to earlier, most investors fail while investment markets do well, because they go in at the top and out at the bottom. So, they don’t have a plan. They don’t have a strategy, and they don’t stick to it. So, they don’t see after long-term.

Andrew Bradley: There’s some very interesting research that Martin Seligman and Shlomo Benartzi did, which we allude to in the book, and of how to prevent that and why that happens. But that’s the first mistake, people buy at the top and sell at the bottom. The other is, again, not having a plan. It’s as simple and as trivial as not knowing how much money is coming in every month, and how much money is going out.

Andrew Bradley: It’s just doing budget, because if you’re earning 100 and spending 105, trouble is going to come sooner rather than later. Because you can get some debt and you can cover it for a while, but that just starts consuming you. Otherwise, if I’m bringing in 100 and I’m spending 95, well, that’s great. It’s just not knowing that and then being clear about it.

Andrew Bradley: And then again, the third one is not having a plan of saying and it’s an investment strategy. This is how I’m going to invest for money. Invariably, people make mistakes at two extremes. They either say well I’m so cautious and nervous and look what’s going on in the world. They want to put their money under the mattress.

Elian Wiener: Yeah.

Andrew Bradley: Put the money in the bank, and you know right now and in any market anywhere in the world over any protracted period of time, the money you get from I’m calling the bank account is going to be less than inflation after tax. So, you in real terms are getting poorer every single month.

Elian Wiener: Yeah, and I mean there’s the temptation is to try and time to market I guess when you are-

Andrew Bradley: Which is point one, when you in at the top, yeah.

Elian Wiener: Yeah, it would have been the other valid until you sit in bonds or money market accounts and you get heavily penalized over the long term, right?

Andrew Bradley: Yes. So, the point there says they’re recklessly conservative.

Elian Wiener: Recklessly conservative.

Andrew Bradley: They’re putting money in the bank or that might be bonds a little bit more up from that. Alternatively, at the other extreme, they’re investing far too aggressively and by investing aggressively is probably an incorrect statement. They’re actually gambling because they’ll go and buy the shares and sold that and should I buy this and whether it’s cryptocurrency of money, but they’re just bailing and they have no idea what they’re doing, and they think they investing but they’re actually gambling.

Andrew Bradley: Because they’re not investing for the long-term, they don’t have a strategy, and when the volatility of markets go up and down within that because they don’t know what they’re doing when there’s any variation in price, they panic. If you see everyone who piled into cryptocurrency is a classic example, when bitcoins went up and now …

Elian Wiener: Guilty as charged.

Andrew Bradley: Sort of less than a quarter of the value. Well, so let’s understand what is a bitcoin, how does it work? Why did you go in there? Why did you come out? It’s [inaudible 00:19:01] investing, it’s gambling.

Elian Wiener: Yeah. I learned a valuable lesson. I guess we all have to do it. Fortunately, it wasn’t a huge one in monetary terms, but I learned a lot about myself and it was at the time when bitcoin obviously was going through the roof. It looked unstoppable. I didn’t understand it. I knew there was no basis for the evaluation that I could understand.

Elian Wiener: But I had a fear of missing out, right? Sitting around while everyone else got rich, and eventually against my better judgment I thought, you know what, I’m going to put some funds in here because if it does keep going, I will always look back and go, “Well, I should have got in there. I had a chance to. I had the means to and I didn’t,” but that’s no reason to do it, right?

Andrew Bradley: Yeah. There are many people sort of throughout time that have made that mistake.

Elian Wiener: Yeah.

Andrew Bradley: Einstein said he understands sort of what’s happening in the galaxies, in the universe, but he can’t understand the madness of people when they run in a nut. You’ve got some of the greatest minds over time.

Elian Wiener: Isaac Newton, invested in the South Sea bonds.

Andrew Bradley: South Sea bubble, which is effectively they found this, they were going to go to South America, and they were going to go and sell their goods, and they were going to make a fortune. So, people just invested, invested, invested, and they lost everything. He had invested, he’d made a lot of money, and then pulled out because he didn’t understand it or make sense, and then other people had carried on and he said, “I’m so smart.”

Elian Wiener: He got back in, right?

Andrew Bradley: I got back in and then you know.

Elian Wiener: He lost everything. Yeah.

Andrew Bradley: That a classic example. So, you’re not the first, and you certainly are not the last.

Elian Wiener: I guess it comes back again to our sort of philosophy around money and our relationship with money. I’ve been listening to a couple of podcasts with some wealthy famous people that have been interviewed. A lot of them say, once they became rich and famous, they were no happier than they were before they were. They weren’t necessarily this happy, but they certainly weren’t happier.

Elian Wiener: That’s quite a scary thing in itself because it then forces you to look at, well, you know, if having a bucket loads of money isn’t going to make me any happier, then what is? I suppose it’s an unfortunate position to be in, because you can then reevaluate what is important to you. Because I think some people have their whole lives thinking if I just get so … If I just make enough, I’ll be happy.

Andrew Bradley: Again, because they’re looking for the number.

Elian Wiener: Yeah.

Andrew Bradley: They’re looking for the number, if I just make enough. How much is enough? Well, you only know once you’ve understood their first premise. Arun, my co-author, that was the issue that drove him. He said, “Andrew, why am I dealing with all these really wealthy people, and most of the people I’m dealing with are miserably unhappy. So, why are we busting our guts? Why are we working so hard if all we’re going to do is make some money and then end up as a miserable old guy?”

Andrew Bradley: It doesn’t make any sense. So, that was the driving force for him to start understanding why, and that’s where some of the work that Martin Seligman, who’s now regarded as the Father of Positive Psychology. And he understood and unpacked what made people happy. The other irony is that, in a roundabout way, we came across him and some of his work. And his work was all about happiness, but he found that there was an incredibly high correlation between happy people and money [inaudible 00:23:00] but this is obvious.

Andrew Bradley: People that are wealthy, have money and therefore they’re happy and when we came across and we put him in touch with the guy, Shlomo Benartzi, who’s a behavioral finance professor at UCLA, and we unpacked that further. It wasn’t that the happy people or people who were wealthy had money. It was the other way around. Happy people had money, not wealthy people were happy. Happy people were wealthy people. [crosstalk 00:23:36], and it wasn’t absolute. Sorry, it wasn’t relative, it was absolute, because for the happy people, they were comfortable as who they were and they were comfortable with what they had, so they said they were wealthy.

Andrew Bradley: Unhappy people felt that they didn’t have enough because they were looking for external validation, and they weren’t comfortable as who they were. They never ever were going to have enough because they needed just a little bit more all the time. So, understanding who you are first, and what you want, and what’s going to make you happy, then money is secondary to that. If your purpose is a number, you will never, ever, ever have enough.

Elian Wiener: Yeah, I’m not sure if you saw that new global wellness index that came out. Very surprised that more hasn’t been made of it yet in the media in South Africa. South Africa scored dead last out of 152 countries on this index, which is a rating, or wellness rating the factors such as obesity, smoking, happiness, diabetes, et cetera, other factors. I mean, does that concern you?

Andrew Bradley: Absolutely, it does. I think a number of countries started looking at their own happiness index, as it was referred to, and they’re within starting to look at what they could do as a country to improve their happiness index. So, Tony Blair, I think it was, when he was the Prime Minister of the UK, he said one of the key aspects that he wants to be measured on as the Prime Minister is whether the UK inhabitants were happier than they were previously.

Andrew Bradley: Unfortunately, with the global financial crisis and austerity coming in, they’re still cutting the budget for some of this research, some of this work. But it’s starting to come back into [inaudible 00:25:35], there’s a lot of focus on happiness and understanding what it is that people are living more fulfilling lives. So I think, countries like ours, South Africa, we’ve got so many issues that we need to deal with.

Andrew Bradley: I think that’s why there’s a view that people are very stressed and there are a lot of dynamics around that, that’s why maybe I’m not as well as they could or should be with whereas … So, we have real problems, some First World countries have First World problems so that’s why they’re focusing on, you know, at a much higher level, their happiness level and their wellness levels.

Elian Wiener: So, what do you tell … What would your advice be to your average medium to high net worth client that walks through the door? What is your one or two or three pieces of advice to him or her?

Andrew Bradley: The first piece of advice is, let’s spend some time for me to understand who you are, what you’re trying to achieve, and how we can possibly assist you in getting there. Now, I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, I’m not a coach, but I need to understand them and help them understand. Only once I’ve done that, and so well, okay now you’ve actually come speak to me about your money. Because unless you care about that, we don’t know how to help you manage your money to achieve that.
Andrew Bradley: So in some instances, we asked a whole series of questions, and we’ve got questionnaires to help clients work through that for themselves. Sometimes they can do that, sometimes they can’t. So, there are one or two sort of life coaches or developmental coaches that we then refer our clients to saying, “Okay, well, maybe you should go and have a chat to them first.”

Andrew Bradley: That’s not our game. But we work with them, and we believe it’s critical that they come to terms with some of those dynamics of who am I and what am I trying to achieve, because unless you do that, we’re then running around from an investment point of view of trying to achieve something which may be not possible to achieve, or we’re going the wrong direction.

Andrew Bradley: So, I have a view in philosophy that being disorganized costs you money, in every respect. So, when I mean by disorganized, you say, “Well, I want to do this. Oh no, hang on, let me change my mind to do that. Oh no, hang on, you have something else.” Can you change? Yes. But the more clear you are about what you’re trying to achieve, then you can structure your investments accordingly, you structure your life accordingly, and things can evolve from that, absolutely.

Elian Wiener: So, it’s very interesting. I mean, your focus is primarily, before you even get to the technicalities of which fund you should invest in, what your asset allocation should be, there’s a whole bunch of questions that need to be answered first, right?

Andrew Bradley: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, that is way down the pecking order because if you start there, you’re putting the cart before the horse, as they say. So it’s yes, understanding who are you, what are you trying to achieve? And not for me to analyze you, but for me to understand you, because if I understand you better, if I understand your patterns of behavior relating to money and what money means to you.

Andrew Bradley: Whether you had a lot when you were growing up, or you didn’t, whether money was used as weapons by your parents, or by your partner, or whatever, all of those things have a huge impact on how you go about investing your money. To me, your money is a means to the end. So, if that’s what you want, how do we make sure that your money is managed in a way to deliver your lifestyle in the most consistent, reliable way possible?

Elian Wiener: Okay, I guess lastly, it’s a case of, you know, for somebody who this is resonating for or with, what are some practical ways they can go about starting that process?

Andrew Bradley: I think you need to follow a process. There are a couple of processes around, but the one that I prefer the most is Martin Seligman’s approach in the University of Pennsylvania, he has something called signature strengths or character strengths, and you can go and fill it in, and then you’ll get a perspective for yourself of what is important for you, how you can live a more fulfilling, meaningful life, and then understand your money habits and characteristics.

Andrew Bradley: There’s a few others like that. So, I think the key thing is going through a process to enable you to achieve that. Mitch Anthony also has something called Return on Life tools, which you can, again, go through and understand many of these aspects of yourself. Because once you understand that, I think you can engage with a wealth management company in a far more meaningful way where you can then get a lot more out of it.

Andrew Bradley: So, the more you equip yourself, the more value you will get, whether you do it on your own, or you do it with a life coach, or life coach and a wealth manager. That’s for me, the critical first step because if you’re just going to a process and saying, “Yeah, I’ve got 100 grand. How am I going to invest it?” Well, for what? For holiday at the end of the year, or to make sure that you send your kid to the university that you would like to, or for you to retire sort of financially secure, to live to 100? All of those are profoundly different and have profoundly different implications and consequences on how you should go about investing your money.

Elian Wiener: Andrew, that’s absolutely fascinating. Thank you so much for joining us, and yeah, keep going with the work that you’re doing. I think you’re onto something, and yeah, I think that people can take a lot of value from what you’re saying. So, thanks for joining us.

Andrew Bradley: Thanks very much. Absolute pleasure talking to you.

 

Elian Wiener

After growing up in a small dustbowl town, I obtained an honours degree in finance and investment, worked as an asset consultant, financial journalist and corporate communications consultant, started and sold one of the country’s largest PR agencies, got married and divorced, and married again, had two beautiful daughters and fought valiantly (if not always successfully) to dominate the tennis world. Despite these efforts, my greatest journey is still before me – the journey to becoming truly Wealthwoke.

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