South African rapper and best-selling artist Kiernan Forbes, known as AKA, on investing in himself and a sizeable watch collection.
As you grew in fame as a musician, what was your investment philosophy?
I started investing in my company [Beam Group] and I started investing in myself instead of investing in cars and frivolous things. I also invested in a couple of things that would allow me to make money, even when I am not on stage [performing]. However, my biggest asset is my people because they make me a better version of myself.
What is the worst investment you ever made?
I bought some DJ equipment. The lesson I learned from that was stick to what you are good at.
How have you diversified your investment portfolio over the years?
I invested heavily in my company. I have about 25 people who work for me and that is where the majority of my money goes. So when my moment is over, I will still be successful.
You once said ‘you can’t have fun if you don’t have money’. Is that true?
That is 100% true. I feel like some people can have fun without money, but I can’t because not having money makes me very nervous. It makes me feel childish. One thing I do plan on investing in later in my career is a BSc in Business Management. But right now, like the old saying goes, ‘I want to make hay while the sun is out’. Because one thing that many artists don’t realize is that you won’t be at the top forever. While you are there, it feels like it will last forever but history has shown that it doesn’t.
What do you mostly spend your money on?
I spend my money on things for my house: little things such as toasters. I also like spending a lot of my money on my friends… We dine a lot on SQ seafood platters. I also spend a lot of money traveling.
What is your most recent expensive acquisition?
My most recent acquisition is a nice watch, the Rolex GMT-Master II. I am trying to build up my watch collection because they never lose value. Jewelry can’t depreciate like cars; it’s a great investment. So that’s why I am trying to build a better collection of watches, so that I could give them to my daughter or [future] son.
Your albums have hit platinum several times. Would you say ‘platinum’ is a metal you strive for?
In music, platinum and gold are everything! When you closely look at the music industry, you will notice that musicians don’t sell as many records as they used to, because it’s no longer just about the music but about brand-building. It’s about investing in you and making smart decisions. But my favorite minerals are diamonds.
– Interviewed by Melitta Ngalonkulu