Growing up between South Africa, Zimbabwe and the UK, 70-year-old Clive Belsham remembers attending 14 schools and staying in their respective hostels – something, he says, had a big influence on his life and where he finds himself today.
“All that moving around means I didn't have much of a home life,” Clive says. “Every time you go to a new boarding school, you have to put on the gloves and fight your way in. That gave me survival instincts. And a passable straight left.”
Life is about prospering, more than surviving, says Clive. “We want to be authentic human beings. To do that we need to discover where the cheese is for us and profit from our experiences armed with the 20:20 vision of hindsight and wisdom. Everyone is the product of their experiences but you can't blame the past – you need to take responsibility for your own life and get on with it.”
Starting his working career in accounting before falling into the computer industry in the 1960s, Clive has worked for a range companies developing applications, systems, and IT infrastructure in the fast-paced world of computer technology.
In 1994, at the age of 50, Clive left corporate life and took a 50% interest in Microknowlogy which sold mainly computer hardware.
“We changed the nature of the business to the point where most of our revenue was derived from developing proprietary applications and providing other services for large financial organisations,” he says. “By 2000 the hardware side of the business was making a loss. And that same year Microknowlogy was caught in the crossfire as three of our major clients were taken over and our revenue stream was destroyed almost overnight. So we had no option but to file for provisional liquidation.
“I cashed in insurance policies - anything I could lay my hands on - to meet our obligations. Suddenly, I had no means of visible support with a house and large mortgage, and not much else, except a pension which I had put into a living annuity. But it had been eroded – the people running it let me down.”
Clive hit rock bottom. But all was not lost. Clive says although it was touch-and-go, a series of fortuitous (he calls them miracles) events helped him get back up and, though he still works today, he doesn't need to.
His financial philosophy is to avoid credit like the plague, self insure and take an active interest your own investments. “You need to find a financial consultant who you can trust, who has your interests at heart and, in my case, can curb my naturally aggressive investment approach. Some may say that I have been very lucky with my investments but it’s not about luck, it’s about finding the right partner to help you manage your affairs and about taking the trouble to research the market yourself.”
Clive says that all of his financial decisions have been made after active discussion with his financial planner, Bespoke Financial Services' Kim Frost.
“Kim spends a lot of time interviewing and attending presentations at the major unit trust companies and this information is in turn passed on to her clients. Bespoke also runs regular investors' meetings to which financial investment houses are invited to present their views and their investment products. At the end of the day whether you succeed or fail depends on you and the quality of your information.
“If you are looking for an investment adviser who is savvy, empathetic and willing to go the extra mile look no further than Kim,” he says.