Saturday September 1, 2012
Are you ready to follow Robert Kiyosaki’s advice?
MONEY & YOU
By YAP MING HUI
I am thrilled that my last article, What Robert Kiyosaki Didn't Tell You, garnered positive feedback. It shows that many people are thinking about the impact Kiyosaki's work can have on their finances. As such, I would like to continue the discussion about investors taking on and managing risks (or investors being unable to manage such risks).
Kiyosaki is right to say that we must take an active interest in how we manage our wealth and assets. Rising inflation and the high costs of living are proof that we can no longer afford to be lackadaisical with our personal finances.
That said, in a book he co-authored with Donald Trump, Why We Want You to Be Rich: Two Men, One Message, Kiyosaki said this: “If you do not decide to become rich, the chances are you will become poor.” I feel that this is simply untrue: I don't think that if you decide not to become rich, you'll be poor.
The problem is that Kiyosaki's statement evokes fear in many people, especially the middle class. Petrified that they are going to be poor, many take a leap of faith by either investing aggressively in property or starting their own business. Many people do this in the belief that they are conforming to another of Kiyosaki's fundamental points and that is to take on a good debt.
According to Kiyosaki, there are two types of debts: bad debts and good debts. Bad debts are those taken to finance your lifestyle and enjoyment. Good debts are ones taken to fund your investments that will grow your wealth. Naturally, Kiyosaki advocates you taking on more good debts. However, remember that when you take on good debts, you are also exposing yourself to financial risks. In addition, there's no such thing as good risk or bad risk. So, when you take on good debts, how much risk are you being exposed to? Also, are you ready to manage such risks?
It is the failure to consider these questions that have led people to follow Kiyosaki's advice with disastrous consequences. Those who invest in properties are usually excited by the high possibility of becoming wealthy. However, those who fail are often the ones who rush to take out loans from banks without giving their actions careful thought. Unable to rent or sell these properties, many can't service their loans and suffer financially. In some cases, their suffering includes their mental and physical health.
I personally benefitted from Kiyosaki's advice as it gave me the assurance and encouragement to start my own business more than 10 years ago. I thought it would be smooth sailing all the way and business would pour in. After all, I had created a workable business plan, saved enough money and believed that people wanted to know the services offered by independent financial advisors. In no time, I realised that starting and managing a business wasn't going to be easy, especially when independent financial advisory services were relatively new and unknown. However, I was lucky because I had the necessary support, knowledge and experience to manage my business risks by virtue of being involved in a business that emphasises risk management. I was able to avoid some of the traps that people fall into when they don't manage their risks properly.
Let me give you a real-life example: a 28-year-old engineer is frustrated in his job. He sees his bosses driving fancy cars and going on annual holidays to exotic places and wonders if he'll ever be in the same financial position. He decides that the only way to become rich is to become his own boss. So, he quits his job and opens a restaurant. Only, he has not prepared a written business plan, has little capital, no idea how to manage cash flow or his staff and knows nothing about the food and beverage industry. After three years, he is still struggling and now borrows money from relatives and friends to keep the restaurant afloat. Two years later, his business has completely failed and he's declared a bankrupt. When he falls back on the only thing he knows, which is engineering, he's already 33-years-old and has been out of the job market for five years. He'll be hard-pressed to find an employer willing to employ him.
If this same 28-year-old engineer were to approach me, I would tell him to optimise what he has now to achieve financial freedom first. In the process, he will learn about managing and minimising the financial risks he may be exposed to. In particular, I would tell him to continue working, but not give up on his dream to become wealthy and start his own business. Then, when he's comfortable, he can take on more risks.
The rationale behind the advice I give this 28-year-old engineer is this: the process of planning and preparing for a successful business might take a few years. What is important is that throughout this process, he continues to have a steady source of income, thereby, reducing his mental stress and any strain on his finances. He will also be able to invest his savings and accumulate his wealth. When the time comes for him to assume the risk of running a business, at the very least, he will be financially secure. It may appear to be a slower and more conservative approach than Kiyosaki's, but it is, by far, a safer way to achieve wealth.
So, are you ready to follow Kiyosaki's advice? In a nutshell, you're ready if you feel comfortable taking various business and investment risks. This will mean being in a position to manage and minimise possible stress that can come with such a move.
Naturally, it is an added advantage if you know how to adapt Kiyosaki's money-making ideas within a Malaysian context. You must also be equipped with sufficient knowledge and experience about your investments. Most important of all is to have a back-up plan in place to support you and your family financially in the event such money-making ventures fail.
No doubt, this is a lot for the average Malaysian to consider if he wants to start on the journey to becoming wealthy. It is possible for him to become lost along this journey. Bear in mind that every journey begins with a single step and you should take that wisely. In my new book, Set Yourself Free, I emphasise how important it is for you to have clarity about your present financial position. Then, by using a new tool I've created called “The Money Matrix”, I show you how to successfully plot a safe path to wealth, with minimum effort and risk.
Yap Ming Hui has no hesitation admitting that he is kiasu and prefers a safer and more certain approach to becoming wealthy. He can be contacted at email@example.com.