Investor Journeys—Harley Neville
Born in Dunedin and now living in Auckland, Harley is a jack-of-all-trades freelancer working in film and television. We had a chat with Harley about investing as a freelancer, getting his mum on Sharesies, and his path towards financial (and creative!) freedom.
Why did you start investing?
A couple years ago, I was working in a job with a salary. I wanted to quit my job to chase my filmmaking dreams, but I’d also been kicking around the idea of becoming a grownup and buying a house. I was in my thirties at a crossroads. Do I invest in a house and stay in my job? Do I quit my job, chase my dreams, and sacrifice the house? I can proudly say that I opted for the latter and went full-time dream chasing. I was expecting it to be difficult, and to be really poor. In reality, my income went up and my savings increased. That’s when I started to think more about investing.
I still had the idea of buying a house, but I didn’t know when that would happen. In the interim, I decided to look into investing in shares. To begin with, it sounded like a lot of work, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. After reading a review on Moneyhub, I signed up to Sharesies.
Tell us about your first investment!
I had a few thousand dollars squirrelled away that I put into my Sharesies Wallet. It was a small lump sum, money that was just sort of sitting there and not really doing much for me. I trickled that lump sum into various funds to try them all out. I didn’t invest it all in one hit—I just took from this little reserve I had in my Sharesies Wallet. Once the reserve ran out, I started topping up my Wallet every now and again. I also started receiving dividends, which I reinvested.
My strategy for investing was to acknowledge the risk. I only invested an amount that I knew I wouldn’t miss for at least five years. I don’t know where the number five came from...I think I just arbitrarily plucked it from the ether. But I said to myself, this money is gone for five years, so if I buy today and it drops tomorrow, so be it! I haven’t lost any money until I sell it at a loss, and I’m not selling it because it still has five years to recover. As long as you’ve got this strategy, this plan to leave your money sitting there for long enough, you kind of just have to ride it out.
What does your investment portfolio look like now?
I try to keep a little bit of extra money in my Sharesies Wallet all the time, ready to buy if I see a bargain. At the moment, I’m experimenting with two different types of investing—the auto-invest feature on Sharesies, and buying whenever I notice a dip in the market. Both options seem to be working well for me!
My portfolio’s currently 70% high risk and 30% medium risk. I’ve invested in 14 different funds and 1 company, and my portfolio’s grown about 15% so far. I’m all about that diversification! I diversify my investments across different parts of the world and different industries. If Asia’s up and Europe’s down, it kind of evens out and overall I’m still okay.
Soon after I started investing, there was a big dip in the market and all my shares went down in value. Rather than pulling my money out, panicking, or feeling down about the dip, I just stuck to my five-year plan and saw it as an opportunity to buy more shares at a bargain price. Eventually, the market recovered and I was glad I’d stayed true to the course!
What are you investing towards?
I grew up poor on the mean streets of South Dunedin in the 80s and 90s. Growing up poor made me really aware of money—in particular, not wasting it and making the most of the money I have. But overall, money hasn’t been a big priority for me. I’m not looking to get a jacuzzi or a flash car. I’m not motivated by mansions.
What I am motivated by is being able to do what I want when I want, and live the life that I want to live. I want to be in a position where, if I want to travel, I can. If I want to quit my job and work on something else for a while, I can. I’m not looking to be a rich person specifically, just a content person with enough time and flexibility to do the things he enjoys.
As a freelancer, why is it important to invest?
Investing is for everyone, but I think it’s also good for freelancers. Even when you have no work on, you can take solace in the fact that your investments are still making money for you.
Personally, filmmaking is my vocation, but it’s tough to make a living from creating your own original content full time. It’s also hard to create art when you’re working fulltime to pay the bills. So ultimately, my goal is to earn enough passive income that I don’t need to work to pay the bills, and I can concentrate on making what I want to make. It’s all about building up that freedom and giving myself the ability to chase my dreams without having to worry too much about money.
Why is it important to talk openly about money?
You can’t learn anything if you don’t talk to people. The people around me know stuff that I don’t know, and I know that. So I’m pretty open about it, exchanging tips, asking questions, that kind of thing.
I’ve gotten a few of my friends into investing, and I’ve told my brother that I think Sharesies would be good for him. But I really want to get my mum into investing! I think for her, investing seems like something quite scary or complicated, so she hasn’t really looked into it. I think she’d be really interested in the fact that you can start with spare change and then watch it grow—even if it’s just $5 a week, or whatever she can afford.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given (or been given) about investing?
Have a plan, and stick to it. You don’t lose money until you sell at a loss!
Only invest money that you won’t need in the short term. The money I invested wasn’t money that I desperately needed—I was happy for it to stay invested for a few years. I still have my normal savings in a high-interest savings account at the bank.
Set goals and work towards them. My goal is to earn enough passive income that I don’t need to work to pay the bills and can concentrate on creating art full time. Investing is one way I’m building that passive income for the future.
The people shown in our Investor Journeys are Sharesies investors, and their stories are actual experiences they’ve had with us. They’re paid for their time to record their story.
Ok, now for the legal bit
Investing involves risk. You aren’t guaranteed to make money, and you might lose the money you start with. We don’t provide personalised advice or recommendations. Any information we provide is general only and current at the time written. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice when considering whether an investment is appropriate for your objectives, financial situation or needs.