For almost 20 years, Paul Njoki, the Head of Wealth Management at Standard Chartered, has advised and monitored the world’s rich.
He began as a corporate auditor at KPMG then moved to Bermuda, a playground for the super-rich. There, a client would send $5 million and direct him to invest.
He also audited hedge funds, mutual funds and audited funds for other big fund managers.
Standard Chartered wealth unit, which serves a significant proportion of Kenya’s affluent, manages over Sh120 billion AuMs.
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The rich have largely been cushioned from the pandemic owing to their liquidity and access to capital that provided them with an array of investment options ranging from global stocks, venture capitalism, real estate and mutual funds – and even giving them the ability to bag government tenders.
A recent report showed that there were some 1,755 individuals with a net worth of $5 million (Sh566.5 million) or more as of November last year with wealth totalling $37.1 billion (Sh4.2 trillion).
Kenya’s rich have diverse business interests spanning agriculture, transport, manufacturing, clothing and real estate.
In a sit-down interview with Enterprise, Paul shed light on how the wealthy invest, protect and grow their money.
Clear and decisive about their goals
Wealthy folk are clear and know what they want. This enables them to work towards their goals with a ruthless focus.
According to Paul, a sit down with High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) is always an enlightening moment.
“I go into a meeting room with them thinking I’m clear but I find they are even clearer,” chuckles Paul.
This sharp focus extends into even their habits and work ethics.
“They work hard really hard, most of them are also early birds,” he said.
Paul adds that they are quick decision-makers. After a pitch, they don’t sit for too long with a decision.
They seek advice
Most people lack an in-depth grasp of finance or even the time to seek out the best financial portfolio.
A financial advisor helps in finding the best rates, budgeting, investing, saving and tax planning. They simply help one plan your finances and align them with their goals.
HNWI are not limited when it comes to advise. Most of them have various wealth managers and financial advisors on call and are not afraid to seek a second opinion.
“There are some clients whereby I’m coming out from a meeting advising them, I bump into another financial advisor I know from the industry going in to also advise them,” reckoned Paul.
He adds that the advice is not limited locally but also international. The HNWIs also read a lot of financial materials to understand markets and trends.
Diversification was one of the key business trends in 2021 as covered by Enterprise.
The pandemic has taught businesses to diversify into other revenue streams and not just rely on one arm. Focusing only on one business line can be risky owing to unforeseen shocks.
Nowadays, one would be hard-pressed to find a business that only concentrates on one line.
Constant diversification is one of the strategies employed by HNWIs to grow their wealth and avoid stagnation.
Rather than relying on a core business alone, one can diversify their company using strategies such as mergers or acquisitions and new ventures. This, experts say, helps entrepreneurs reduce swings in income, manage investment risks and achieve consistent returns.
Paul notes that their main sources of income got hammered and HNWIs realised the need to deepen passive income and also diversify.
This saw them start saving, investing in different areas, taking up life insurance and seeking out financial planners.
“Our advisory is now tailored to help clients build portfolios that are secure and yielding passive income,” he said.
This refers to wealth that gets transferred from one generation of a family to the next and may consist of assets such as cash, property, stocks or ownership of a family business.
In the recent past, they’ve been stories of the collapse of family empires owing to poor structures of generational wealth transfers.
Such realities are making wealthy families realise the importance of seamless generational wealth transfers. This gives beneficiaries a big advantage in terms of getting ahead in life or even continuing on an investment path to building more wealth.
The way, HNWI start ensuring that family wealth is not squandered by roping in their children into the business early so that they feel they are part and parcel of the wealth-building.
Paul notes that most of the HNWIs bring their children to investment meetings.
“As you advise them the kids are listening in and absorbing these things over time,” he said.
Keen on wealth transfer
HNWIs are always looking to put their affairs in order just in case of anything.
“If I’m not here what happens to this money? They ask that question … they are always planning,” said Paul.
As Enterprise has written before, estate planning enables one to preserve family wealth, provide for a surviving spouse and children, fund your children’s or grandchildren’s education, or leave a legacy behind for a charitable cause.
The process involves determining how your assets will be preserved, managed and distributed. It also takes care of your financial obligations in the event of these transitions.
Paul also notes that they are transparent in the way they handle their money. This means bringing all their statements to the table. They know that anything they tell their wealth managers is discreet.
HNWIs are open to various investment ideas. It is simply the work of a wealth manager to match them to an investment product.
For example, as an international bank, Standard Chartered helps Kenyans invest globally. One can buy any government bond issued in any market in the world.
Paul notes that individual clients have made money in bonds such as one issued by the Qatar Government when it was raising funds to construct world cup stadiums.
They also help them purchase stocks in companies such as Tesla, Facebook, Apple and Alibaba.
Others are investing in biotech firms and firms such as Moderna and Pfizer which are making Covid-19 vaccines.
“Clients are willing to participate in certain products as long as they understand the risk and how it’s being managed,” said Paul.
“The one thing we have to do in the Kenyan economy is work harder to classify clients based on their appetite to participate in a certain product,” he added.