Jan Pstrokonski

Jan Pstrokonski, a former investment analyst and founder of a translation company in Japan, says:

My dream since working at an investment bank was to be location independent – specifically, I imagined working on the beach and researching stocks – which I achieved in 2009, thanks to translation. Sure, translating financial statements is not as exciting as meeting CEOs of listed companies, but think about it – what is the value of being able to spend the entire winter in Thailand, and being able to go on holiday whenever you like?

Actually, I have to tell you that working on the beach is fantastic, but only for the first two or three weeks. After that, it does get pretty boring, and you want to go back to civilization.  This inevitably leads to a taste for five-star accommodation, which exacerbates some problems.

Similarly, when you first get the freedom to be wherever you want, you will want to exploit it as much as possible – initially. However, the reality of running a business is that you do not want to spend too long travelling, and missing e-mails when moving hotels or when on the train gives you more frustration than the fun you get from going to new places.

But still, just knowing the fact that you can go anywhere at the drop of a hat (in fact, I really have very few possessions outside of investments) is itself liberating.

Of course, in the first couple of years, unless you have some savings already, then you will be worried about “job” security, losing your clients etc. I was fortunate in that I made some good investment decisions.

Having a modest amount of capital to manage keeps your brain busy, hopefully provides you with some capital appreciation over time, and can smooth over some of the inevitable concerns you will have without a long-term contract to sell your labor at a fixed price.

I find it very strange that the majority of people will spend hours thinking about what electronic device to buy, or what clothes they should wear, but when it comes to money, they just do not want to even think about it.

The vast majority of working people simply hand over their savings to companies they have no knowledge of above what they gained through a newspaper advertisement.  And pension funds are forgotten about entirely, while the anonymous people managing their money have no comeuppance for catastrophic performance. A typical pension fund might take your money and give it to another fund, which might even give it to a third intermediary, and that only after various other middlemen have taken slices out of your future. In a good year the intermediaries get a bonus, and in a meltdown the worst that can happen is that they get fired, while your assets get smoked. Where do you think the fat salary cheques come from for all the stockbrokers? Where are the customers’ yachts?

It is true that a little bit of knowledge can be harmful in investment, and you must pay your tuition fee to the market, but I truly believe that having a very simple strategy of just every now and then buying what is on offer – what strikes you as a good deal – does not require huge amounts of time and can at least safeguard your wealth.  And, above all, you have two major advantages over any pension fund manager: one, you can buy illiquid or even unlisted stocks (which are often much better bargains than well-known stocks), and two, you have real skin in the game.

My blog is, as you can see, primarily for finance professionals, or at least people familiar with finance. I often get asked by people how to invest.

Here is a simple way to invest over the long term (for people who want to know general information about how to invest).

See an FAQ for beginners, including general info on Japan and an overview how to get information on Japanese financials without speaking Japanese, here.

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