My first time investing—#16

Ever wondered how an 11-year-old could be an investor? Meet Paul and Jamie—father and son investors from Wellington who are sharing the love for investing together. Paul, the Head of Comms and Community at Trade Me, and 11-year-old Jamie from St Teresa’s School in Karori, share their story about their first investments, tips they have for getting started, and learning about the investment world—no matter your age!

Can you both tell us about your first investments?

Paul: My first deliberate investment was when I was at university. Mum and dad were buying a classic Kiwi bach in Whangamata and they were a few grand short of the deposit. This was in the days when you could detonate pretty hefty lump sums via the student loan process. They hit me up about using my student loan—I became their bridging finance and the beach house was acquired. Instead of paying the money back to me, I got a share in the beach house—that worked out pretty well. We still have it, and our Whangamata holidays have become a family institution.

Jamie: My nanny and grandad got me some Bonus Bonds. I don’t think we have won any extra money on them yet though. My dad set my sister and I up with KiwiSaver accounts too, and we put money in there monthly. Apart from that, the first one I’ve done is my Sharesies Kids Account. I put some of my pocket money in there each month. I am only 11 though, so I’m only getting started.

Why did you set your son up with a Sharesies Kids Account?

Paul: Jamie sparked it. We were watching a Newshub story (waiting for the sports news) about A2 Milk’s CEO getting some grief for selling a stack of shares. He started asking lots of questions about how shares worked. So we talked through it and I got the share price trends up on the screen for A2, Trade Me, and a few other companies. I thought it’d be a punishing admin process to get him set up with a share trading account, but I knew Sharesies had launched Kids Accounts. So we dug into that option, and away we went!

What would you do differently, if anything?

Paul: There’s a real power in creating a habit around saving. But it’s easy to say and really hard to do. Especially if you have things to pay for, such as kids, a house, run a cricket clothing and tours company, and want to have some memorable holidays.

I don’t have any regrets, except obvious ones like wishing I’d put some money into Xero in the early days (not that I had any money to give). One bad investment I made was in a beer company that made its own beer, then you could choose the labels and give it to your mates and clients for Christmas (maybe they were ahead of their time). My mates and I invested in a racehorse once, and that went surprisingly well, as you hear some horror stories on that front. It helped that Roddy Schick at Windsor Park Stud was one of the syndicate members, as he definitely knows what he’s doing on all things equine. Hmm, so many things sound sensible in hindsight.

What are you learning about investing, Jamie? And Paul, how are you teaching him?

Jamie: I like learning about the places I can put my money, and it’s cool to be able to invest in companies that I have heard of, like Apple and A2 Milk. I know that my shares go up and down, so I have to be patient.

Paul: Nothing super clever. We keep an eye on the business news from time-to-time and log into Sharesies to see how our Portfolios are going. Apparently, Jamie and I are both aggressive investors. It’s early days, so I’m sure there are lots more future chats about investments to be had. There’s something compelling about investing in companies that you can see and use in your daily life. It makes for a rich discussion with the kids and makes for a virtuous circle.

What do you both like about having investments? Why should people try it?

Paul: For me, it’s an easy, fun, and transparent way to add diversity to where you put your money. I’m treating Sharesies like a savings account that is psychologically harder to dip into than the money that is sitting there in my bank account. People should try it because it’s important to understand how companies and the sharemarket work, as they’re such a meaty part of our economy.

Jamie: Having investments means you can earn money from the things you buy. It’s different to buying things like PS4 games or shoes because you can’t get money from them like you do with the shares. It’s easy to set up and it’s interesting watching how your shares go.

How did you feel after becoming an ‘investor’ for the first time at 11 years old?

Jamie: It felt cool I guess. It felt grown up. I like logging in to Sharesies with dad and checking how my Portfolio is going and choosing where to invest my money. It’s not as boring as just having the money.

People often think you need loads of money and experience to invest. What tips would you give to New Zealanders who might not think it’s possible for an 11-year-old to start investing?

Paul: Seriously, if we can do it, anyone can do it. It starts a habit, then it’s down to patience and commitment after that.

Jamie: People who say that are wrong. It’s easy to set the account up with your dad or mum, and you definitely don’t need lots of money either. You can put a little bit of money in and find the investments that suit how much money you have. I saved up $50 from my pocket money, my mum and dad put in another $50, and I put in a little bit more each month. We log in and I choose what I am going to invest in.

Do you have any goals that you’re investing towards?

Paul: Dead keen to pay our mortgage down—it’s like a millstone around our necks. We love going on family holidays and there are a bunch of hefty renovations we’d like to be able to do too, so yes, there are plenty of goals in front of us.

Jamie: No, not yet. But I know I will have some of these when I get older. I still have some other money that I can use to buy stuff like V-Bucks and footballs, so I am not putting every little bit of it into investments. I seem to be quite good at saving so far—the last thing I saved up for was my PlayStation 4.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve both given (or been given) about investing?

Paul: I have read a few of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway investor letters, and they’re incredibly clear, informative and direct. Over the bazillion years that he’s been doing his thing, he’s said a ton of famous things. This one connected to my day job that sticks in my head: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.” It’s a quote about PR and brand, but also reiterates the importance of thinking and investing long-term.

Jamie: That I should try it and it’s a cool thing to have a go at. I’m going to learn a lot about how it all works as I get older.

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