Warren Ingram is an award-winning financial planner and respected personal finance commentator in the media. He is the co-founder of Galileo Capital and has been a financial planner for nearly two decades.
He was the South African Financial Planning Institute’s Financial Planner of the Year in 2011. Warren is a regular guest on 702 Radio and Cape Talk’s The Money Show with Bruce Whitfield. In addition, he writes a monthly article for The Sunday Times and Moneyweb, as well as periodical articles for a range of other publications.
The Difference Between Good And Great | I believe that anybody can be competent (good) at their job or chosen career if they educate themselves for the position and then spend enough time gaining sufficient experience to understand the intricacies of what they are required to do. It is a given that you might need certain natural abilities to do the job properly; for example, a person who is only 1.5m tall might not be a good basketball player, while someone who is 2m tall might not be a good jockey. In order to be great at what you do, you also have to have passion for the job so that you will be motivated enough to eat, sleep and breathe your career. This is the real difference between good and great – the passion that is required to put in the extra effort that will make you better than other, similarly talented people.
A Key Talent | I have always had limited natural abilities. At school, I was never the cleverest, nor was I the best athlete but I had a strong desire to be respected rather than popular. I was terrible at sport in junior school but at high school I was forced to play basketball as I was tall. It is probably no exaggeration to say that this was life-changing for me. I loved basketball and so I practiced every day until I became good and eventually managed to play at a provincial level. The confidence I gained from this had a massive effect on the rest of my life. I became a leader at school and I have been a leader at every stage of my career. I realized that if you work with passion and act with integrity, you may never be the most well-liked person but you will be trusted and respected. These are important characteristics for any leader and trusted advisor.
I found that the strengths I developed at school translated well in the work environment as people naturally trusted me and listened to my advice. This is why I became a financial planner after University and why I have been able to advise wealthy individuals ever since. Being a great financial planner is all about acting with integrity and having enough knowledge to assist your clients with their needs. I think this is why I was fortunate enough to be recognised by the Financial Planning Institute as their Financial Planner of the Year.
Principles I Live By | Always act with integrity and treat people with respect. If I cannot respect or trust you then I cannot work with you and I certainly cannot agree to work as your trusted advisor. I believe that patience and persistence also work in your favour more often than haste. Great investors, inventors and business visionaries have often been forced to crawl for a long time before they could fly. Taking the time to learn your craft and also to understand your limitations, is critical to long term success.
Lessons I Have Learnt | I deal mainly with wealthy and successful people who are in the latter stages of their lives. I have learnt so much from them about the way to live life and how to conduct your career. Many of these people have regrets that they did not achieve a balance in life between their work, family and other interests. Remarkably, none of them started out with the goal of being rich or successful, these were by-products of their drive to change the world in some small way or to build something that would last. When they achieved their objective, they found that they were also wealthy and successful in other aspects of life.
Very often, they also regret the way that they acted in some aspects of life. Business leaders are often rewarded for being “tough” or “ruthless” but this usually leads to very inhumane behaviour, which has terrible consequences for all concerned. I believe that you can be very successful without being ruthless or tough, you need to be fair and honest and always act with integrity. If you are uncompromising on those principles, you will do well in your career and more importantly have few regrets later in life. This is the key to a long and full life as far as I can see, I would hate to be a rich, lonely and miserable old man one day!
Dealing With Doubt | When my business partner and I started our company in 2005, we had a very difficult and slow start. It took us three years to really get the company off the ground and I had to sell every asset I owned to keep the company afloat. Our slow start was largely because we refused to charge unfair fees to our clients and we were trying to change the financial planning industry. We wanted to sell advice and not products at a time when everyone just sold products for maximum commission. I had many agonising hours and painful conversations with my wife as we depleted our life’s savings on an idea that we hoped would work. After three years the business really took off and we have never looked back since. Thinking back on those times now, I realise that my wife and business partner were vital as they reminded me of our vision and plans for the future. I had a strong conviction that we were doing the right thing and that our strategy was correct but when things got tough I did doubt myself. That belief in the vision and having a support network to remind me when I forgot was critical.
Performing At My Peak | I work very hard on my physical fitness and am careful with my diet. I wake up at 5am every week day and train five times a week for 90 minutes. I am always in bed by 9pm to ensure that I get enough sleep. In addition, I spend a few hours per week on activities that are unrelated to my work and fitness. These outside interests provide a balance in my life, which I view as critical. I believe that a stable and secure family life is most important if you want to succeed and you have to work on this aspect of your life as much as you would work on your career.
Advice On Building Wealth | You cannot start out simply wanting to be rich, this will lead you to take short cuts and often cause you to fail. History is littered with the failures of those who simply wanted to be rich and looked for the fastest way to get there.
On Inspiring Others | If you are always honest, fair and deal with people in an open and respectful manner, they tend to reward your faith in them by working hard and remaining loyal. As an example, we don’t retrench staff in our company simply to retain profitability for shareholders in difficult times. In my view, retrenchments normally happen because the company management did their jobs badly and then expect their staff to carry the financial burden. When we were starting out as a company and had financial problems in our business, management and shareholders stopped drawing money from the business so that we did not have to retrench anyone. This philosophy was and is still clearly communicated to our staff and I believe this earns us more loyalty than most other companies. Finally, we give our professional staff as much autonomy and independence as possible. If a parent needs to pick up a sick child or go watch a school play, we trust them to make up the time in another way so that everyone still benefits.
I Am Inspired By | Warren Buffett has always been my role model as I believe he acts with integrity at all times and even though he has been rated as the richest man in the world, he is not driven by material gain. He even called his private jet “The Indefensible” and eventually sold it because he was so embarrassed by it.