Faiza Khan is one of six partners in The Accounts Department, a Dubai firm that caters particularly to the accounting needs of small and medium-sized businesses. The 43-year-old Briton moved to the region with her husband, Rehan, a telecommunications consultant, from Bahrain in 2006. She worked with Coopers & Lybrand (now part of PwC) after studying economics at University College, London.
How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?
My parents were my main influence. My father came to the United Kingdom from Pakistan to study for a PhD in chemistry, and while studying in Pakistan he had met and married my mother. Migrating to the UK in the ’60s, living within your means was the only option and you had to save up for the big household purchases and trips back to see family. I think that kind of background gives you a good grounding and teaches you to be satisfied and save up for the nicer things. Growing up with children in the UAE you see a lot of affluence and it’s always a challenge to keep them grounded.
How much did you get paid for your first job?
I did some temporary volunteer jobs before graduating but my first job at Cooper & Lybrand had a starting salary of Â£17,000 (Dh83,570 a year), which was good at the time, and they also offered a subsidised loan.
Are you a spender or saver?
A bit of both. Ultimately, I’d like to have a comfortable lifestyle into retirement, though I’d like to delay retirement as long as possible.
What is your most cherished purchase?
I’m not sure I have one. Things I do cherish are my relationships with God, family, good memories.
Have you ever had a month where you feared you could you not pay the bills?
Thankfully we’ve not had a month like that, but there were times between jobs when we were worried.
Where do you save your money?
I put aside regular amounts into savings plans we have and for property when we can. That’s our plan now, to get a family house sorted out and look at smaller investment properties.
Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?
My credit card is my best friend. Cash never seems to hang around in my purse long enough. But I’m quite meticulous about paying it off and I only use one credit card.
What has been your best investment?
I think saving in property is what has worked for us. Rehan and I just sold our family home in the UK and got three times what we purchased it for 15 years ago. With property you don’t want to overstretch yourself. In the boom time here you saw a lot of overstretching. We look to have a good deposit and stay within our means and look over a long-term time horizon.
What do you most regret spending money on?
Any big purchases I think through and plan for them, so there’s not too much room for regret.
What financial advice would you offer your younger self?
Think about investing in property as soon as you start earning. It is getting more and more difficult in the UK, but it is still worth aiming for in your mid-20s. I know people who do it with friends and there are always ways to get on the property ladder.
Do you have a plan for the future?
To continue to grow The Accounts Department. There is a huge opportunity with VAT being implemented in January 2018, when companies will need properly maintained accounts more than ever.
If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?
That would really be something, I haven’t won anything in a long time. A portion I would give to charity. Then I would spend a bit putting down a deposit for a property and maybe travel with family.
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