How to be a millionaire who uses it, not loses it

2013-12-08 14:00

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So you’ve joined the exclusive club of 42?747 dollar millionaires in South Africa. Now, how do you navigate through the mountains of cash?

For one, don’t rush out to buy a Bugatti sports car or bottles of Cristal champagne, warn financial advisers and talent managers.

Thokozani Shongwe, a Joburg talent manager and businessman, says it boils down to education. “If you don’t have a great background, you will lack the intellect to handle sudden wealth.”

The Credit Suisse Research Institute’s fourth annual global wealth report shows that the number of South Africa’s dollar millionaires dropped to 42?747 from 47?491 last year.

Some 62?000 South Africans make the top 1% of the global wealthy and the country contributes 0.25% to the world’s total wealth.

To qualify as a millionaire for the study, individuals had to have net assets of $1?million (R10.2?million) or more. This excludes their primary residence.

The report, released in October, names Patrice Motsepe of African Rainbow Minerals as the wealthiest black South African, with $2.6?billion, made chiefly from mining interests.

His brother-in-law Cyril Ramaphosa (who is married to Dr Tshepo Motsepe, the elder sister of Patrice) of the Shanduka Group, with $550?million, follows him.

ANC heavyweight Tokyo Sexwale of the Mvelaphanda Group has amassed more than $200?million and occupies the third spot.

Sipho Nkosi, CEO of Exxaro Resources, which owns a stake in Sanlam, is fourth, with $163?million. At number five is Phuthuma Nhleko, chairperson and former CEO of MTN, at $142?million.

Shongwe gives practical advice to his clients, who include controversial soccer star Jabu Mahlangu: Buy property instead of renting and realise that a car is not an investment.

A Sandton finance adviser, who asked not to be named, says newly wealthy people with little financial savvy should surround themselves with people who will give them good advice, not those who are looking for a good time.

Some wealthy sportsmen and artists have made this mistake.

Former boxing world champion Baby Jake Matlala’s downfall was brought about by investments he made that came crashing down on him, along with his career. Matlala died yesterday.

But soccer hero Lucas Radebe, with the help of his manager, Glyn Binkin, has capitalised on the money he made during his time at Leeds United.

Says Shongwe: “The difference between soccer and other sporting codes is that cricket and rugby officials have put mechanisms in place to safeguard players in retirement, something local soccer is yet to embrace.”

He also refers to the “black tax”, in terms of which individuals have to financially support their family, parents and other relatives.

But there are millionaires who are getting it right.

Motsepe donated $1.2?million to help tackle poverty and unemployment in two rural communities.

And Tim Tebeila of Sekoko Investments has built everything from churches and daycare centres to a hospice in Brits and a science lab in the Eastern Cape.

Ramaphosa’s Shanduka Adopt-a-School programme puts education at the centre of the nation’s welfare.

Then there are those who get it wrong.

These are the millionaires who zip around town in flashy sports cars, cigars in mouths, bottle of Cristal in hand and flanked by skimpily clad young women. They are the poster boys of conspicuous (and wasteful) consumption?–?think Kenny Kunene and his ilk.

One of the most notorious examples of a millionaire who didn’t handle his money well was Mandla Mthembu.

He famously bought matching Lamborghinis for himself and his then wife, Khanyi Mbau, and paraded his wealth at newspaper offices – only for it to emerge later that the cars were actually hired for an outrageous amount of money.

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