Cézanne Britain is the founder and CEO of Britain Renecke, a 100% black, female-owned commercial law firm in South Africa. Her tips for a debt-free life and why she counts memories, not money.
What is your investment philosophy?
I tend to have a conservative investment philosophy that is long-term orientated rather than short-term focussed. While I believe in doing research, I am also guided by my gut feel when making investment decisions.
What advice you would give anyone who wants to invest?
I take a very conservative and long-term view on investments. From a very young age, my focus has been to save as much as you possibly can of your salary and to try and be debt-free as soon as you can. And if you can steer away from short-term credit like credit cards and short-term loans from the get go in your career, that’s probably a good thing. You are going to need to build up your credit but make sure that, for example, if you spend money on your credit card, settle the full amount at the end of the month. Don’t let it draw interest.
What is the most interesting investment decision you ever made?
When my husband and I got married, we didn’t buy wedding rings. We didn’t buy bedroom suites. We spent our money on travel. After the first financial year of business, I wanted to give my husband something to show him and thank him for all his support and I bought him a wedding band and that was two and a half years ago. And it was quality but it didn’t cost a fortune.
What was your first big investment?
Buying my first apartment. I have generally invested in immovable property and shares and my education. Of the three, I paid for my own education and worked five jobs a year. Because I didn’t want to have debt when I started this [company] when I was 18 years old. It meant five jobs a year but it meant I graduated without a loan. There were lots of bruises along the way. But I was debt-free. The second thing I had on my list was to buy property. I then bought a bachelors apartment when I finished my articles…I was going on 23.
What lessons have you carried with you since your childhood?
I was fortunate to have parents who taught me the value of discipline, responsibility and hard work from a young age. I think most important of all, have a dream and vision and a fierceness, fearlessness and resilience to succeed.
What is the most expensive item you have?
I don’t tend to collect material things. I tend to spend money on traveling and making memories. Four years ago, I took my mom to Mauritius for the first time. I wanted her to experience what I experience. We spend our money on giving people experiences and giving ourselves experiences because memories last a lifetime. When I talk about long-term investment, I also talk about memories lasting a lifetime. You can’t get those back.
The most expensive trip you have ever taken?
A trip around the world seven years ago.
How do you describe your leadership style?
I learned a long time ago we have to use our power responsibly. I don’t have one type of leadership style, but rather a combination of autocratic, transformational, coaching and visionary leadership.
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