Planning to win with Justin Rose
Whether winning on the golf course or building a successful financial plan, dedication and commitment are imperative, Zurich golf ambassador Justin Rose tells Jennifer Hill
When out on the course, golfer Justin Rose continually evaluates the risk of certain shots with his caddy – and considers risk assessment as pertinent in the business world as it is on the sports field.
“Sometimes I will play the ‘risky’ shot and sometimes the ‘low-risk’ option,” says the professional, who won his first major championship at the 2013 US Open, becoming the first English player to win a major since Sir Nick Faldo in 1996 and the first to win the US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970.
“The ability to take risk-based decisions to achieve the required outcome is a key factor needed as a professional sportsperson or when building and running a business,” says Justin. “An entrepreneurial outlook is another key attribute for both.”
Justin was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, to English parents, and moved to England at the age of five where he started to play golf seriously at Tylney Park Golf Club, near his then home in Hook in Hampshire.
He turned professional at the age of 17 after coming to worldwide prominence at the 1998 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, when he finished in a tie for fourth place.
Almost 20 years later (Justin will turn 37 later this month), he has a string of accolades to his name.
At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, he won gold at the men’s individual tournament. With that victory, he joined Hall of Fame members Gary Player, David Graham, Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer as one of only five golfers to win official tournaments on all six continents on which golf is played.
On 30 December 2016, it was announced that Justin had been awarded an MBE for services to golf following his Olympic gold medal.
He has also twice been runner-up at the Masters Tournament, in 2015 and 2017, and is expected to do well later this year at the British Masters.
The event has a rich history as one of the leading professional tournaments on the European Tour, and for the third year running Zurich is one of the official partners.
Despite his clear success, Justin wishes he had realised how much more he could have saved during the early stages of his career.
“The effects of compounding returns are very powerful over the long term, and I could have benefited greater had I saved more when I was younger,” he says.
For Justin, financial planning is “very important”. “I obviously look at this from a sportsman’s perspective, where my career will be relatively short and income during my career will be volatile,” he recognises. “However, financial planning is important for everybody.”
Justin has worked with the same financial planner since 2001, who advises the golfer on all aspects of his financial affairs – from investment and pension planning to wealth management and estate planning.
“He also deals with all of my accounting, international taxes, insurance and day-to-day financial affairs. I like the idea of one person having oversight of all aspects of my finances,” he adds.
What does he value most in his financial adviser? The most important values, he believes, are honesty, trust, integrity and accountability.
“I also value somebody who has the confidence to speak openly with me, and tell me when they believe I’m making a poor decision or should be saving more,” he adds.
“As I travel a great deal I value my time away from tournaments and practice, so I also value the ability of my financial professional to meet at locations that are convenient to me.”
Justin now lives with his wife and their two children in Orlando, Florida, but cites some of his best investments as those made in the UK.
As part of a generation which has generally only known British house prices to appreciate in value, he has some of his wealth tied up in bricks and mortar, which he regards among his best investments.
“I grew up in the UK, purchased my first properties here and retain strong links to the UK, so I have benefited from some good property value increases,” he says.
“I have also gained access to some unique hedge funds, which have been good investments.”
And the worst? “Whilst I hope they do not turn into my worst investments, I have invested in some start-up opportunities.
“The biggest learning has been the impact of subsequent rounds of fundraising which start-ups generally undertake and the powerful impact of dilution if you do not participate. These are still viable businesses and I hope there will be an exit at some stage.”
The importance of having a thorough annual review draws a parallel between keeping his financial plan on track and continued sporting excellence.
“My financial professional insists on visiting me at home at least once a year, when we review all aspects of my financial affairs, which is akin to my performance analysis as a sportsman,” he says.
“Dedication and commitment are two significant factors in excelling at sport. I believe that both are key factors in planning my financial affairs; I need a financial plan which I have bought into and am committed to fulfilling.”
I have a diverse portfolio of financial investments, which includes shares, fixed income, commodities and some hedge fund exposure. Due to contacts I have made throughout my career, I have made some direct investments into private equity opportunities.
As a member of the PGA Tour, I have joined their retirement plan, which has both contributory and non-contributory policies. In addition, as I earn taxable income in both the UK and US, I also fund personal pensions in each country.
I also hold property assets, some of which are personal residences and some residential property for investment purposes.
• The 2017 British Masters will take place at Close House Golf Club, Newcastle, from 28 September to 1 October
Jennifer Hill is a former deputy money editor of The Sunday Times, personal finance correspondent of Reuters and personal finance editor of The Scotsman