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“I learned the hard way why wealth building is important” – listener interview with Kevin

Sometimes life makes sure that things don’t go as straight as you would like or as they do for most people. The challenge is to find the way out of the low exactly when things are not going well. But only very few people succeed in getting out of it again. My interview guest today has managed to find his way out of this low. How he did it, what he does today and what individual shares have to do with it, he tells in the listener interview.

Interview overview

I have my listener and former colleague Kevin as my guest today. This is only the second interview with a former colleague who also lives in Lübeck. The result is a personal episode with an interesting interview.

I talk to Kevin about the difficult start to his career, the changed way of dealing with money and of course about his way to the stock exchange.

In the further course we talk about his investment strategy, his broadly positioned single share portfolio and some more.

Shownotes

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Summary of the interview

You are not only a listener of the Finanzrocker Podcast, but you have also edited some episodes in the past. That makes our interview a bit special.

Yes, that’s right!

This is only my second interview from my professional life. Would you like to tell us briefly how you became interested in the stock market?

I developed a great interest in finance and money at a relatively young age. During a financially difficult period, I grew interested in making more out of the money I had.

After I had squandered the first training salaries, the realization came that I would not get ahead that way. By a lucky coincidence, I got to know the world of investment and it has become a real passion.

What does money mean to you in general? It wasn’t so easy in your youth, was it?

At the age of 17, I suddenly found myself all alone. I lived alone in an apartment, but I had no income because I was still finishing my secondary school degree at the time. At that time, I was receiving social benefits. A few months before I started my apprenticeship, I only had a few hundred euros in my account, the equivalent of 1 euro a day. But I didn’t want to beg anymore and finally wanted to be an adult, so I got through it.

I never want to experience a time like that again, and that’s how my current relationship with money and finances has developed. For me, money is not primarily for consumption, but to secure one’s standard of living.

How did you manage to get back on your feet?

There were moments of despair when I wanted to throw everything away. But I thought to myself, that can’t be it now, so I kept going.

At first, I did an apprenticeship as a retail salesman. After half a year, however, I dropped out because I realized that I needed mental work to be fulfilled.

Then I started a school-based training to become a business assistant (today: state-certified business assistant). However not with the goal of acquiring the apprenticeship, but to achieve my entrance qualification for a university of applied sciences on the side. It was clear to me that if I went back to school, I would like to get a degree.

During my apprenticeship, I was able to choose a specialization, and I chose data processing. I was very lucky to have a great computer science teacher who built an Ebay clone with us. There I realized: This is my thing!

So I started studying media informatics. On the side, I was already earning money with website design. Later I made it in a company up to the IT department manager. In the meantime, I decided to become self-employed and an entrepreneur.

So the bottom line is: with perseverance and education, I got out of the situation.

In the meantime, you’re successful professionally, have completed a degree and are also well invested in the stock market. What are the most important lessons you have learned along the way?

I would first differentiate: Learning for life and learning on the stock exchange, even if they merge.

In my private life I have learned a new way of dealing with problems. It is seldom the problem itself, but rather the way I deal with the problem.

It is the same on the stock exchange. What do I do if something goes wrong or I have made a mistake? But mistakes are basically not a bad thing. You can learn a lot by listening to others. Some mistakes you have to make yourself and link them with emotions in order to avoid them in the future.

What does your overall asset allocation look like today?

My asset allocation is relatively broad and contains many individual stocks. It has evolved that way historically. Over the years, I’ve figured out how risk-averse I am and which investments suit me or that I’m comfortable with.

About 80% consists of equity investments, with another 6% in ETFs. My cash ratio is currently about 10%, which I would like to increase to about 20%. A small portion is commodities, physical silver. A very small part is in cryptocurrencies, this should make up 5% in the long term.

I’m not completely happy with the allocation, you might never achieve that 100%. But I feel comfortable with it, that’s probably the most important thing.

What do you pay most attention to in your stock investments? Key figures such as profit development, P/E ratio or dividends?

That depends on the company itself as well as the industry. P/E ratio is good for a rough initial assessment. A very high or very low P/E ratio is an important indication to take a closer look at the company.

Important ratios for me are margins and leverage.

Even though stocks are a rather risky investment, I am still quite conservative here. I look out for companies that are financially stable so that I can go through crisis phases relatively calmly. Key figures are one thing. Something else that is important to me is that I understand the business model and whether I can think it into the future.

I also look at the payout ratio. I don’t want companies in the portfolio that pay out everything in dividends today and less in the future. At some point, I want to get to the point where I can live off my dividends for a bit. LongSo, timeliness is very important to me.

Do you have a specific sector and/or country breakdown?

I have a basic allocation. 25% of my investments are in the consumer goods sector (e.g. Unilever). That brings a certain calm to the portfolio. As a computer scientist, I naturally love technology stocks, which also make up 25% – that’s my growth market. The rest is spread across various sectors such as healthcare or financial markets, there is no exact breakdown.

In terms of country allocation, I have 50% of my investments in the USA, and the rest is distributed relatively wildly. I make sure not to invest more than the 50% in the USA, unless I don’t find much outside. Currently, I still want to add to Japan, because after all, that is the third largest economy.

In general, I prefer to invest in Asia via ETFs (e.g. Emerging Markets ETF, China S&P500, Robotic ETF) instead of individual stocks. Because a lot is still in transition there.

Wrong decisions are also part of the stock market. Which ones have you learned the most from?

The topic of timing or selling too early. If you are still used to the returns of building society contracts or call money accounts, you quickly have the feeling that you have to “take profits immediately” instead of holding the shares longer. This was the case with me when the Microsoft share was +30% after a short time. In the meantime, I think much more long-term here.

Another issue is over-optimization. This ruins the return. Here, if you are not so risk-averse, you should choose more conservative stocks from the beginning, so that you don’t then over-optimize in times of crisis and worsen the return.

The last point is that you should not sell stocks because of any news or statements of crash prophets. It is best not to consume so much news at all.

Do you use any particular tools or websites for stock picking?

Here I use well-known websites, such as Onvista.de or Simplywall.st, to pick out key figures. Sometimes I use Aktienfinder.de to find new stocks, but this has become less frequent lately.

What are your future goals?

To build up investments in cryptocurrencies. So far, I have only been there for the short term. I still have a few individual stocks on my wish list that I have not yet found an entry point for, for example, because they are currently too expensive.

Other goals in life are quite classic: buy a house, start a family, travel a lot. I would like to live abroad for 2 years. And I would like to make my startup, which I founded, successful.

Finally, I’ll do the obligatory word shuffle with you again. I name terms and you say what comes to your mind.

Motivation

You have to have it, but you can also develop it. When I don’t have any, I like to look at stories and biographies of people who have already achieved a lot. For me, these are mainly entrepreneurs or investors like Warren Buffet or Jeff Bezos.

Colombia

My first big trip took place there, where I got to know really foreign cultures intensively for the first time. Even though communication with the people there was not always easy, it was at least very cordial.

Part-time self-employment

If you want to build something up yourself

no way around it. An alternative would be to write a business plan and look for investors. Time-wise, it can be a burden, but you can also come out of it stronger.

Rock music

You’re right there with me. Tool is my favorite band that I listen to every day. I also play guitar, bass and drums myself and have often played in rock bands.

Human Capital

Human

capital

is the most important investment you can make. My “true” asset allocation is: 90% human capital and 10% classic investment in stocks & co.

Fitness

Is very important to keep a cool head and to handle stress well. For a certain physical and mental health it is inevitable.

Happiness

Can

‘t be found if you look for it too hard.

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