Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Forget hashtags. Accept reality.

Loadshedding. A dreaded word for all of us. I have no opinion on what got us into this mess. As far as I am concerned, all politicians are crooked and centralised government is a pretty terrible idea. An even worse idea is the creation of State-owned entities. I am going to leave it there and change course.

We need to accept our reality. Things suck sometimes. Deal with it. There are many things that are a mess in South Africa. And it is driving people crazy. I get a bit of a kick from browsing social media. Hello, people... venting your anger with the hashtag #EskomLoadshedding is not magically going turn the lights on. Maybe I am bit twisted but your anger is a source of entertainment for me.

So what should you do? First, decide whether you want to be here. If you don't, make a plan to get out of here. Simple choice. Stay or leave. (and please don't say some people don't have a choice... there is always a choice!)

If you decide to stay then stop complaining. Don't be naive, though. Take active steps to protect yourself.

  • Invest your money in real assets (property, shares etc - if South Africa goes south, ZAR cash isn't going to worth very much. I feel real assets have a better chance of maintaining purchasing power.)
  • Build an offshore store of wealth or investment portfolio (heck, if you want to leave, it can be the start of you saving towards one of those Visa's you can buy in some European countries)
  • Have access to offshore cash in hard currency (USD, EUR or GBP). If you need to get on a plane then you have some rent and food money.
  • Start meditating (I am serious). Learn to deal with stress/anger that uncertainty in South Africa is causing you.
  • Lastly, on a sunny African day go for a walk on the promenade at your nearest beach and wonder is it all really that bad...

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Action over inaction

I read a lot. I know, I have told you that 15 effing times. Like a broken record. I read everything. Any genre (except horror because I get nightmares!).

Reading is great because it exposes you many new ideas. Autobiographies are especially great as they let you into the mind of an individual. I even read my fair share of self-help. Some constructive feedback to the authors I have had the pleasure of reading... I find most books tell us only about the romance. Like a relationship, there is more to every story than just the romantic part. After reading books, everything seems so easy. If I just do x, y will happen. Well, life ain't like that.

The best way to do anything is to actually do it. Want to be an entrepreneur? Start a business. Want to be a small business owner? Buy a small business. Want to be an investor? Start a portfolio.

We can always find excuses not to do any of the above. We wait for the stars to align and then we will get going. The problem is the stars never align perfectly. We also want to be taught.The best way to be taught, is to do.

So, instead of signing up to these annoying masterclasses that keep popping up on Facebook where you can learn how to run a business like Howard Schultz (Starbucks), save your money and put it into an investment portfolio.

I know a number of people who are in their mid-thirties and don't have an investment portfolio. Others only have one by default due to employment and they don't know much about it. Unfortunately, company pensions will probably not be enough to sustain you when you retire.

Don't make this mistake. Start small and build up your portfolio over time. Good luck!

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Wednesday, 30 January 2019


As an investor, the least of my concerns is how much a Gigabyte of data costs. I can't believe how much stock exchange operators and data providers are able to charge for share price and stock exchange data.

My small brain can't comprehend how the JSE "owns" the closing price of AVI or any other listed company. Why do I have to pay them a fee for these prices. As shareholder, it is my right to use the share price of my own company as I see fit (I also don't understand how someone can own a sports fixture list... but that is for another day). The price of a company is the price of company. It is a fact. Imagine if I couldn't publish that the sky is blue.

Yes, I know the JSE infrastructure is expensive but they charge hefty listing fees. The model needs to change. Models changed in other industries. Just ask Multichoice about streaming.

In my opinion, it is the private investor who suffers. I can't afford a Bloomberg terminal (or any of the less expensive options). I propose data should be free. At least, delayed data should be free. Heck, give me end of day data free!

At the very minimum:

  • End of day closing price data
  • SENS data (this the JSE news service - companies are compelled to use this service to communicate with their shareholders and yet you have to pay for it... ok, I am not being fair. You can get something like the last 7 days free on a financial news website. Archives? Fat chance.)
Without price data, it is very difficult to calculate the performance of a portfolio. I already have to manually record all dividends! 

So this post is actually a plea... if anyone out there has a relatively inexpensive I am all ears. I am not looking for those funny overpriced Sharemagic-like trading systems. I just want to be able to access this data in a csv or excel file that is automatically sent to me daily. 

PS: forgive me for the moan :)

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