Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Gift to My Children: A Father’s Lessons for Life and Investing

A Gift to My Children: A Father’s Lessons for Life and Investing

By Jim Rogers
ISBN: 978-0-470-74268-6
Paperback; 106 pp.
US$16.00/S$26.70 including GST;

Available at all major bookstores

What makes for a successful investor? And more importantly, what makes for a happy and meaningful life? According to legendary investor Jim Rogers, the road to financial success and the road to happiness are one and the same.

Rogers co-founded the phenomenally successful Quantum Fund, which in ten years delivered a return of 4200 percent. He retired from Wall Street at the age of thirty-seven, and continued to manage and invest his own funds with great success.

A Gift to My Children marks his effort to share Roger's wisdom and insights about finance, investing, and life in general with his two young children. It is anchored by the two basic rules Rogers invests and lives by:

The first is that you have to see the world up close if you're going to understand how it works.

Rogers begins with exhortations to work hard, think critically, trust your own judgment, and work to identify your passions and dreams beyond simply making money.

The second is that you must always question conventional wisdom, as many of his most successful investment strategies and ideas have resulted from swimming upstream.

Rogers is also a big proponent of the idea that it's essential for young people to study history and to experience world's culture first-hand through travel.

Rogers reveals how to learn from his triumphs and mistakes in order to achieve a prosperity:

(1) Trust your own judgment

(2) Focus on what you like

(3) Be persistent

(4) See the world

In December 2007 Jim Rogers and his wife Paige Parker and their daughters, 7 year-old Hilton Augusta, nicknamed Happy,and 3 year-old Beeland Anderson, sold their New York mansion for USD16 million and moved to Singapore last December so that Happy can learn Chinese in a Mandarin-speaking environment.

He is quoted as saying: "If you were smart in 1807 you moved to London, if you were smart in 1907 you moved to New York City, and if you are smart in 2007 you move to Asia." In a CNBC interview with Maria Bartiromo broadcast on May 5, 2008, Rogers said that people in China are extremely motivated and driven, and he wants to be in that type of environment, so his daughters are motivated and driven. He also stated that this is how America and Europe used to be. He chose not to move to Chinese cities like Hong Kong or Shanghai due to the high levels of pollution causing potential health problems for his family; hence, he chose Singapore.

Rogers, who co-founded the Quantum Fund with legendary investor George Soros in the 1970s, has repeatedly said he believes China will be the next great country in the world.

"The best gift we can give our children is to let them learn Chinese and prepare them for the future," he tells The Straits Times, while carrying the baby in his arms.

Soon after Happy was born in 2003, they hired a mainland Chinese nanny in New York to teach her Mandarin. They also have a live-in nanny from Ningxia province here in Singapore.

This explains why the little girl is able to speak the language fluently, without the jarring accent that many non-native speakers have.

In fact, she is so confident in the language that she sang a Chinese song for this reporter and recited the national pledge in Mandarin, stumbling only towards the end as she forgot some parts of it.

"I like both Chinese and English lessons, but I like Chinese more," she says in Mandarin.

Her baby sister is also having an early start in learning the language--the nanny plays her Mandarin songs every day.

In the past few years, they have visited Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong many times to look for the perfect school for Happy, before deciding on Singapore.

"As much as we want to be in mainland China, the pollution there that you read about is real," says Parker.

"Singapore doesn't have that. It also has an extraordinary health-care system and great schools, and it's a wonderful place for a family."

Rogers says many people felt they were making a big mistake when they announced that they were uprooting to Asia.

"They thought we were crazy, because we were doing it voluntarily. Many people thought we moved to China. They don't know that Singapore is not China," he says.

"Some people told me I was smart to do it for my children, but they couldn't do it themselves."

Their plan is to "stay here forever, unless something else happens", he says, adding that he hopes to travel around China one day with his daughters as his interpreters.

When asked what his net worth is--believed to be billions of dollars--he replies: "I'm sorry, but I can't answer that."

After a pause, he adds, tenderly: "My net worth should not be measured in monetary terms, but it should be measured in how good a father I can be."