Success Profile: Emmanuella Fernandes









~Emmanuella Fernandes

The best way to conceptualize the possibilities that exist just from changing your paradigms and behaviours in relation to money is to get an inside view into the lives of those who have walked the course. Today, we bring you a lady who has been a stellar example and leader in the finance sector.

Emmanuella Fernandes is a Certified Financial Planner and a Wits Alumni with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. She holds a post-graduate diploma from the University of the Free State in financial Planning. She has left her mark at Discovery as an Executive Relationship Manager and at NFB Private Wealth Management as a Financial Advisor. She now works at Allan Gray as a Client Relationship Manager. Here’s what she had to share with us about her journey.

1. What is the earliest childhood memory of a personal finance lesson that your family taught you?

I remember going to The Carousel Casino, and my dad would give my brother and I R50 each to play the arcade games. My brother would run off and spend all his tokens in no time. I would always play the games that gave me tickets because if I collected enough tickets over a long period of time I would be able to exchange them for something I really wanted – an enormous teddy bear. I did not know it then, but by being more discerning about what I did with my tokens, I was learning to understand the importance of delaying gratification.

2. As you went through university, what were some money habits that you had that were not so great and emphasised the importance of good money management?

At university, I had a really bad habit of spending way too much money on cappuccinos. Upon reflecting, it gave me the opportunity to be more discerning in separating my needs from my wants, and I was able to be more deliberate about how I would spend my money.

3. Who helped you shape your perspective on financial literacy?

I think from a very early age I established a relationship with money, and that is all thanks to my parents. They always taught my siblings and I about the benefits of setting money aside and saving for what you really wanted, as opposed to squandering it all in one go, or even worse, on something that you might not necessarily need. Watching my parents and grandparents work very hard and being exposed to money at an early age helped me learn some valuable money lessons early on.

By having open and honest conversations with our children about money, we can cultivate a better savings culture, and consequently build a more secure financial future for them. In my opinion, learning how to make your hard-earned money work even harder for you is one of the most important lessons we can pass down from generation to generation.

4. So, you went to Wits to study for a BCom degree. What inspired this decision?

My father was very entrepreneurial, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about the world of commerce and hopefully start a business of my own one day.

5. From the clients you have interacted with and looking at consumers in South Africa, what are some of the money habits that we have formed that you rate as a detriment to our economic prosperity?

I think one of the more obvious bad habits is getting into too much debt. Very few of us can afford to fund big-ticket items from our salaries alone, and this is where debt usually comes into play. Debt is not necessarily a bad thing if used appropriately, but the cost of servicing debt can eat away at our ability to buy the things we really want and prevent us from building wealth over the long term. It is important to understand your options and plan so that you can leverage time and earn interest rather than pay interest.

Another bad habit is this notion that we will save any surplus cash we have leftover at the end of the month. The reality is this rarely materializes. There’s a great quote by Warren Buffet that says, “Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving”. If we can get into this mindset from the onset, making saving part of your budget and having a disciplined approach when it comes to saving, it will put us in better stead going forward.

6. How do you hope that your field of work at Allan Gray will transform the economic prosperity of South Africans?

I wish someone had shared with me the benefits of saving and investing years ago, I would for sure be in a better position today. The reality is, it’s never too late to start. I am part of a brilliant team at Allan Gray and my role is to educate people around what we deem important when it comes to saving and investing, in order to empower them to make more informed decisions when it comes to their finances. If at the very least all we achieve is plant a seed about saving and investing, then I consider my job done.

7. Your top book on personal finance?

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. One of the nuggets in his book is the concept of paying yourself first.

8. Worst financial investment you made that you regret?

I think purchasing a brand new car. I find that people often have the misunderstanding that a car is an investment just because it's an asset. The reality is, once you drive it off that showroom floor it can lose up to 30% of its value, and not only that, it depreciates over time. Looking back if I had done my homework, it would have made sense to perhaps purchase a demo model instead. It would have been cheaper, and the repayments would have been much more affordable.

9. What are some of your best financial investment tools to grow your money that you have used that you’d encourage others to use?

I would suggest a budgeting tool for starters. If you can be more deliberate about where you’re spending your money and really scrutinize your budget, you might be pleasantly surprised by how much you can actually afford to invest. That, and as I said, paying yourself first, and making saving or investing part of your budget will bode you well in the future.

Another tool is a unit trust. This is basically an investment account that makes it affordable for people to invest relatively small amounts of money in a wide range of assets (shares, bonds etc.) which generate a return that is higher than that of inflation. The return earned will depend on the underlying assets in which your selected unit trusts invest in.

10. Who are some of your mentors/role models when it comes to wealth building?

I would say my parents, Warren Buffet, and Dr Allan Gray.

11. What legacy do you want to leave?

I would like my legacy to be making an impact in this world by bettering people’s lives and making my mom proud!****

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