Me and My Money: Simeon Burnett, CEO, Snowball Effect

Snowball Effect CEO Simeon Burnett says young people can afford to be bold and take risks to grow their wealth.
Snowball Effect CEO Simeon Burnett says young people can afford to be bold and take risks to grow their wealth. Photo credit: Supplied.

"I encourage young people to take calculated risks. 

"As people get older, have a family or others who depend on their income, it only gets harder." 

Simeon Burnett, co-founder and CEO of Snowball Effect. 

Money. It's the driving factor behind many life choices, but is it the be-all and end-all? 

'Me and My Money' is a regular feature that investigates Kiwi attitudes towards money and what drives the choices they make. 

Simeon Burnett, CEO of investment platform Snowball Effect, says young people can afford to be bold and take some risks to grow their wealth.

He's not into buying the latest smartphone but will splash out on art and outdoor furniture. Aside from wanting to invest more in companies at various growth stages including start-ups, he'd like to invest in cryptocurrency - and trees for his block of land in Northland. 

1. Are you a saver or a spender?

I tend to be a saver. I like knowing there's money set aside for family goals, investing for retirement and a rainy day. 

However, I've been known to spontaneously purchase clothes. Fortunately, I'm not struck with buyer's remorse very often. 

2. Has COVID-19 influenced your attitude to money?

Not particularly - I've always placed importance on saving and investing for the future. 

However, I think COVID-19 has encouraged many Kiwis to look at their money habits and consider how long they could maintain their current lifestyle if they were suddenly without income.

With restaurants and entertainment venues closed during lockdown, many have realised how much money is usually spent on this. 

3. What has been your biggest financial lesson, success or failure?

One of the key financial lessons I was told when young was that being independently wealthy requires people to be bold and take some risks.

The reality of living in New Zealand means based on global standards, wages are quite low. While some people can earn a good living working for a corporate or large organisation, those jobs are limited because of our small population.

I encourage young people to take calculated risks. As people get older, have a family or others who depend on their income, it only gets harder.  

If not successful the first time, take the lessons on board and try again.

4. Your mobile phone dies: what do you think is a reasonable amount to spend on a new one?

I'm notorious for having the same phone for years without feeling the need to upgrade to the latest smartphone. 

Part of me would like to retire my smartphone and just go back to my Nokia 3310 but I tend to purchase the standard version of whatever the latest model is, so probably around $1500.

5. Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider was great value for money

My wife and I recently purchased an outdoor dining table and chairs. It's had plenty of use this summer.

6. What was your last impulse or 'fritter' purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?

While on holiday with family in Northland over summer, we visited a gallery where we fell in love with a local artist's work.

We ended up buying it on the spot. Every time I look at it, it brings back memories of a great family holiday.

7. If you had spare cash to invest, what would you invest in? 

I'd like more exposure to some of the alternative asset classes that have emerged recently, such as cryptocurrency.

We have a block of land up at Te Arai, and I'd like to invest in some more tree planting across the section.

At Snowball Effect, we see a lot of interesting private companies - it would also be great to have more cash available to invest in some of them! 

8. Do you use a credit card and if so, do you pay the full balance off each month?

I use a credit card for occasional purchases and pay it off each month. 

As a general rule, I use a credit card for the benefit of the 30 days of free credit that it allows you, but no more than that. 

9. Does having more money increase happiness?

Not in my experience. It certainly can give you more options and flexibility - but that doesn't necessarily lead to happiness.     

10. The best money advice someone's ever given you?

It is this: 'The value of something is what someone is prepared to pay for it.'

I also like to remind myself of economist John Maynard Keynes' famous quote: 

"The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent." 

The views expressed in this article are personal and are not professional financial advice.