Sunday, August 5, 2012

Reit's CEO invests for long term

Straits Times: Sun, Aug 05

The chief executive of Cambridge Industrial Trust (CIT) Management, Mr Chris Calvert, 41, may own a car but he prefers to make the daily half-hour commute to work by bus.

"I like the bus for two reasons. It's the frugal part of me because it costs only $1.10 and it's also probably the only 30 minutes in the day when I have my own time."

Besides, the journey allows him to experience the local lifestyle and mingle with ordinary Singaporeans from all walks of life.

"Every trip to work is a new experience for me and I love that," he says.

The Australian arrived in Singapore in 2006 to help set up MacArthurCook Industrial Reit, and became its chief executive officer when the real estate investment trust was listed.

He later joined Blaxland Funds Management, a real estate fund manager, as CEO (Asia) before joining CIT in late 2008.

Mr Calvert and his wife Louise, 40, have five sons, who are aged from four to 10.

Q: Are you a spender or saver?

I see myself more as a saver. Just look at the size of my brood and you'd understand why. I have five sons. About 95 per cent of the money I earn goes towards my family - school fees, education, savings for my kids.

I don't like to shop. My wife, who is addicted to shopping, especially for shoes and boots, buys clothes for me.

Actually, I don't shop for myself unless I am in a golf shop. I collect golf clubs and you can never have enough drivers and golf balls. I like wearing loud golf shorts and having an extra pair of golf shoes.

I used to play a lot of golf. Here, with kids growing up, it's harder. I've put regular golf sessions on hold for the next few years as I want to spend my weekends with my kids.

Q: How much do you charge to your credit cards every month?

I charge $1,000 to $2,000.

Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?

I have standard income protection insurance plans.

I own stocks back home, while here, I continue to build up my shares in CIT.

I now have more than half of my money in the bank in Australia but I am in the process of reweighting my portfolio. I will be slowly moving more money into the stock market here or in Australia.

My philosophy is that investments are for the long term. I am not a trader of shares, to ensure there's that nest egg for the kids, for their education and for the family.

Q: Moneywise, what were your growing-up years like?

I have a younger sister. We grew up in a comfortable environment but my parents, who are British, came from working-class backgrounds.

My father was a seafarer for 10 years before he became a stevedore. My mum, the daughter of an army colonel, worked in the gentlemen's club that her parents ran. They migrated to Australia in 1969.

I remember the day I turned 15, when I could legally work. My mother drove me to the local supermarket and made me get a part-time job outside of school hours.

Naturally, I complained as my other mates were not subjected to the same "torture".

I actually walked in, left and told her I could not get a job. She got out of the car and marched me right back and into the manager's office. She knew everyone there and the manager was only too happy to give me a job.

So when most of my mates were out having fun on a Friday night, I was there stacking shelves till 9pm to 10pm.

In retrospect, it made me appreciate the value of earning a dollar, and not to expect handouts. Perhaps that's how I became a saver.

Q: How did you get interested in investing?

That was when reality dawned on me that I would struggle to provide for my growing family on salary alone. I think that moment came when my wife was giving birth to my second child.

I have invested in a couple of racehorses in Australia as horse racing, apart from golf, is my other passion. My first horse was great. I put in A$10,000 and made at least three times that amount.

Q: What property do you own?

My house is in the inner city suburb of Kew in Melbourne. It's about 8km from the city centre.

It is set in the Victorian era (1870s) and part of it used to be a coach house for Cobb & Co, an Australian transport company that operated stagecoaches.

It has a total land area of 12,000 sq ft and liveable space of 4,000 sq ft. It's my first property and my dream home. I bought it in 2007 as I love history and culture.

Q: What's the most extravagant thing you have bought?

When I was 24, I bought a Saab Aero sports car because it looked flashy.

At that time, I could ill afford it. I look back now and laugh at how ridiculous that was, and how much money I wasted. Age and hindsight are two wonderful things.

Q: What's your retirement plan?

That at least one or two of my children can provide for me, given that I expect to go broke providing for them.

But seriously, I currently have about 60 per cent of my money in savings accounts and the remaining 40 per cent in equities. I'm mostly invested in Reits and banking stocks.

Q: Home is now...

A rented two-level semi-detached house in Tanjong Katong with a plunge pool. I chose the area as I wanted to be in the midst of the local culture, eating and living like a local and experiencing it all.

In fact, I'm the only Australian family in the street.

Q: I drive...

A family wagon, a Mitsubishi Grandis, which is great for a family of seven.

My wife takes it on weekdays to ferry the children around and run errands. So I mostly take the public bus to work.

Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C
Senior Sales Director
DTZ Debenham Tie Leung (SEA) Pte Ltd (L3006301G) | | | |

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