Best blogs 2013: How to grow your wealth as a salaried employee – unique insights from Enrico Liebenberg

Joining the ranks of the wealthy is possible for everyone, even if you are working for a salary. That’s the uplifting message in this excellent article, one of the most popular blogs on Biznews this year, on how to grow rich as an employee. Biznews community member Enrico Liebenberg shares his personal insights into how you can use unit trusts to slowly but surely build a sizeable portfolio of assets.

Unit trusts are investment vehicles that enable you to put your money in a fund along with other people who want to invest in the same assets. They are a particularly good option for people who don’t have the huge lump sums required to  get a decent share portfolio started.

Enrico has a special talent for explaining how money works in a way that us mere mortals who aren’t financial engineers or accountants can understand. He provides an excellent introduction to  why you need to aim to beat inflation when you invest.

Also not to be underestimated is the way costs can erode your returns, so pay close attention to the various fees, cautions Enrico. If you take the right steps, you can transform monthly savings of R500 into a lump sum of about R3m, he illustrates. – JC

How to grow rich as a salaried employee
By Enrico Liebenberg*

Enrico Liebenberg's blog on how to grow rich as a salaried employee was one of the "best read" blogs in 2013.
Enrico Liebenberg’s blog on how to grow rich as a salaried employee was one of the “best read” blogs in 2013.

So you’ve been there, done that and got the papers. Moved into your own place, got the first pay cheque and living the dream. Welcome to the rat race of the corporate jungle!

The guys with the receding hairlines all recommend that you should start putting away for retirement as soon as your first pay cheque is banked. That sounds pretty easy, okay, so you pay all that needs to be paid, take your girlfriend out for a few cold ones and now need to put away that monthly saving, but alas there is nothing to put away. That is where the ever so important principle comes into play; the rich man saves first and spends what is left and the poor man spends and saves what is left.

So now you’re thinking, it can’t be that difficult, I’ll just stick to my budget and keep what is left in my bank account. If you can manage to do that, I guarantee you; you are one of very few! The best would be to use a separate savings vehicle, this can take the form of many. The idea is that you should not be able to access it very easy, but to keep it liquid –ie. It can be converted to cash with reasonable ease. Some forms of very liquid savings vehicles are,

  • Savings account
  • Unit trust
  • Equity

All of these are quite easy to access, but you will need some cash to benefit from it. Taking into account that you just started your first job and you most probably can only afford to save R500 per month. Before you decide which vehicle to use, you need to understand the two most important principles of any investment. Firstly you want to preserve capital, in other words you don’t want to make use of a vehicle which costs you a fortune before your money can start growing. Secondly you want to beat inflation, in other words you want your hard earned cash to at least maintain its purchasing power over the investment period. Remember your goal here is long term, so those are the two main criteria you need to keep in mind.

Right, now we know what to consider, the next thing is to decide how much risk you are prepared to take. To keep it simple we will class it in three categories, a cautious investor (I really do not want to lose anything), an assertive investor (I am okay with losing some value), an aggressive investor (I want to risk it all to gain it all). The return you can expect is proportionate to the risk exposure of your investment. The lower the risk, the lower the growth you can expect. To get an idea of your risk profile take a look at this tool,, remember this is only a guide. I found it with a basic google search.

You are likely to find an awesome tool on the more well-known fund managers’ websites that can compare funds and they rate the risk on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the riskiest.

Right, so now you have decided on a fund and want to start the monthly payments into the fund, all you need to do is to fill out the application forms and submit your FInancial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) documents or contact you nearest financial adviser.

Now you can sit back and track the growth of your fund. For argument’s sake, we assume that you decide to pay R500 per month into a Balanced Plus Unit trust, these monthly investments are not increased annually and no lump sum deposits made. The performance of a similar fund over the last 10 year was 16.37% and the market benchmarks for these funds are 14.97%. So to be conservative we assume that over the next 10 years an average of 14.5% will be achieved annually on the investment. The picture will look a bit like this if you keep up with the payments:


After year   Total investment made   Value of the fund   Return in a normal savings account
1 6,000.00 6,415.26 6,153.58
5 30,000.00 43,687.40 34,440.41
10 60,000.00 133,499.03 79,753.79
20 120,000.00 697,696.16 217,813.70
30 180,000.00 3,082,121.06 456,805.95


From this it is clear that the unit trust investment vehicle out performs the usual savings account at your local bank.

Now that you know all this, the most important thing is to start saving as soon as possible, and remember, the rich man saves and spends what is left and the poor man spends and saves what is left.

* Enrico Liebenberg is Financial Manager at one of the country’s largest sporting and hunting goods retailers and is based at their head office in Stellenbosch.  Apart from his passion for investments and wine-making and -appreciation, Enrico takes a very keen interest in picking winning investment portfolios. To keep body and soul balanced, Enrico loves a round of golf, follows professional cycling and relaxing with his wife, but not necessarily in that order of importance. When not in the office you will most likely find him at his favourite local pizza spot enjoying the odd pizza and an ice cold brew or two.

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