The heavy, leather-covered office desk is rock solid and sturdy, exuding a sense of power and strength. Neat and absolutely clutter-free, it holds nothing save a classic table décor piece and a smart leather-bound diary — a clear indicator of the user being a perfectly organised person.
Dressed in an immaculately tailored white shirt, an elegant pair of blue-and-white cufflinks holding the sleeves firmly in place, Tim Searle sits behind the table clearly pleased with the way life has been treating him. ‘I’m almost OCD when it comes to perfection and being organised,’ says the chairman of Globaleye, a company that provides business and finance solutions to high-net-worth individuals from Geneva to Vietnam. ‘My desk has to be organised. In this industry one has to be organised.’
Offering advice on wealth management was not his first job, though. ‘I was one of the kids who while in school wanted to join the Navy and also wanted to be a stockbroker,’ he says.
Tim would go on to do both. At 17, after a rigorous interview and selection process he entered the Navy where, post training at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, in Devon, England, he was posted as an officer in Hong Kong. ‘It was a good, fun place and after two days there, I met my future wife,’ says Tim. The couple just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary last December.
After his stint in Hong Kong, he returned to the UK to serve on a frigate as a communication officer. ‘Those were the Gulf War days and I was stationed in the Caribbean,’ he says, pleased to have spent much of his time overseas away from the ‘rain and gloomy weather of London’.
But although ‘some positions in the Navy were some of the best jobs to have at the time,’ being in the services also meant being away from the family for extended periods of time. ‘And when you are married with kids, disappearing on a ship for a couple of months is not something nice,’ says the Dubai resident. ‘So, for me, the shine [of the Navy] was going because it was getting increasingly difficult to be away from home for long periods of time.’ So, when it came to considering a switch in careers, he did not have to think too hard. ‘It had to be in finance, stockbroking maybe,’ he says. But Devon, where he was based, was not a financial hub and London being a three-hour commute away was not a feasible idea. Having spent several happy years off shore, Tim and his wife were not averse to spreading their wings once again.
Serendipitously he chanced upon an advertisement for a job in financial services in Bahrain, applied, landed it and in 1994, arrived in the Gulf. ‘While there, I kept hearing that if you are young, keen to work hard and wanted to do something in life, the UAE was the place to head to. So I came over here,’ says the father of three.
He has not looked back since. After starting off in a financial business in Sharjah, Tim branched off and set up his own financial services company ‘because I felt I had to deploy better ethics, a code of conduct etc., which I’d like to receive as a consumer’.
But from the services to financial services... was it a difficult move? I ask him. ‘From the outside you have perception that finance is a highly complex world,’ he says. ‘[But] financial planning can’t be too complex or complicated. If it was, you’d never be able to get in here.’ As chairman, Tim’s job involves dealing with high-net-worth individuals, mitigating financial risks, directing and expanding the business — ‘we now also have a Swiss–based asset management company’ — among other things. ‘My role is to ensure that we are ready for the kind of changes happening in the world. Change is the only constant so we need to be always prepared for it; if anything, one needs to get ahead of that change and, if you like, create the change.’
So, what are his top tips for saving?
‘Right on top is — pay yourself first,’ says Tim, who has over two decades of experience in wealth management. Usually, once you get your salary, you start spending. Then if there’s anything remaining at the end of the month, you put it aside. ‘Whether it’s down payment on a property, education funds for kids or saving for retirement, savings has to have a target. By paying yourself first, I mean keeping aside your savings first and only spend the remaining money.’
Tip # 2 is time. ‘This is massively important. The more time you have to reach your objectives, the more chances you have of meeting them,’ he says.
Some clients say they are planning to retire in 10 years and wonder how much they should be putting away. Ten years, says Tim, is often not enough time to create a healthy nest egg. He suggests starting early. ‘I use basic maths to explain this. To get a million dollars in your bank in 10 years, you have to save $100,000 a year, right? Are you saving $100,000 a year right now?’ he asks. That said, Tim insists that something is better than nothing. ‘It’s never too late to start saving.’
Tip # 3 is discipline. ‘Once you’ve decided on the amount you are going to set aside, stick with it. Of course, there may be sudden nasty surprise expenses. That’s where a good financial adviser will help by being regularly in touch with you, redressing how everything is going and doing things to get you there.’
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But wouldn’t it be less expensive to go online where there are plenty of websites offering advice on wealth management than seeking the services of a financial expert?
‘If your car has a problem, would you look for online tips and Youtube videos to set it right or would you take it to an expert?’ he counters. ‘Or if a person is looking for advice on a legal issue, a divorce, for instance, googling ‘divorce cases’ will get you hundreds of matches. Do you have the time to read and understand all of them? Learn all about legal issues related to divorce? Read up all related law books? Or would you approach a divorce lawyer who can offer advice that is specific to your particular case?’
When you seek advice from a financial expert, they will treat you as an individual with specific issues. ‘They can shift and chop and change things around to make a plan suit your needs perfectly. People further up the financial food chain will approve that a lot more. And as my mother used to say, ‘you buy cheap, you buy twice’.
Tim uses that last analogy to underscore his views on style as well. ‘When you want a nice tailored suit, you need to go to the people who know their stuff. And for me, it’s Ascots and Chapels. ‘I’ve really enjoyed the whole process of getting a bespoke suit made. The very attentive and patient team at the DIFC outlet looked after me really well. They also had a great selection of stuff, including fine fabrics. The place is nice and would encourage a gentleman to come down and get a nice suit made.’
For Tim, a classic car aficionado who owns a few automobiles that will turn heads, style is something very personal. Not one to follow the herd, he is stickler for elegant classic cuts. ‘I wear corduroy, I wear tweed, I like traditional suits.
‘For me, details matter. I have exacting standards and I’d like the tailors to follow those standards,’ he says, slipping into his Ascots and Chapels suit and getting ready for the photoshoot.