A new type of rich – Q&A with Kevin Barnard

“The New Rich (NR) are those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility.” – Tim Ferriss

I am fascinated by people who take the Third Door option to life.

For those not familiar with this term, the analogy is life is like standing in line to a club. The first door is for the privileged and connected, they walk straight in, the second door is for those prepared to queue and wait their turn. Then there is the third door, it is for those people that head down the alley and climb through the bathroom window or persuade a cleaner to let them in through the fire exit.

These are the people who think differently, they haven’t got it all figured out, but don’t have access to the first door and are not prepared to queue waiting for the second door.

To hijack and slightly tweak the concept from the godfather of the third door, Tim Ferris (The 4-Hour Work Week), he identifies people that he calls the “New Rich”.

These are people who choose experiences over things, people who don’t live in the 5x9x5 cell (5 days, 9-5), people who haven’t necessarily struck gold or are wealthy in the traditional sense, but live comfortably and frugally, simplifying their lives, using geographical arbitrage and a whole range of tools to escape. They focus on what I call proportional income, in that time invested has a direct and proportional result.

The New Rich: Kevin Barnard Q&A

To better understand the mindset of the New Rich, I am interviewing people living alternative lifestyles, this week with we hear from Kevin.

What I love about his story, is that he Scott Adam’s (Dilbert) it. Scott took his two areas of competence, drawing and comedy and merged the two to create a unique combination.

In a similar way, Kevin has an aviation background and is a tax expert, so he combined the two areas of competence to create a unique offering. Over 90% of his clients are engineers, cabin crew or pilots. Catering for their diverse needs include the exemption of foreign remuneration, application of double tax agreements, tax residency matters, taxation of offshore investments and trusts.

It is a great example of someone carving out a niche for us all to learn from.

Where are you from?

I’m an Eastern Cape’r. I grew up in Grahamstown, but moved to Port Alfred in my 20’s.

Where are you now? Why there?

I moved with my wife and children to Perth, Australia in 2017. We live up in the hills to the east of the city. It’s a great place to raise a family, and we’re very happy, although we miss our friends and family in SA.

What does being Rich mean to you?

To me, being rich is a matter of fulfillment. I have an interesting, rewarding career that I can shape as I need. I get to spend time with wife and children every day and we have the opportunity to explore a whole new country together. I don’t think that I have it all figured out, and there are bumps along the way, but I feel that my life is fairly rich.

What formal study have you had, have you used it?

I trained as a Charted Accountant, and later completed a masters degree in accounting. The qualifications have both been highly relevant to my career.

Give us the highlights package of the jobs you have had?

After qualifying, I worked in the corporate world in Johannesburg and London. I then took a sabbatical to be become a pilot, and was immersed in the aviation world for 7 years. Eventually, I settled down and returned to Rhodes University to lecture management accounting and corporate finance.

How did you get into what you are doing now?

While I was at Rhodes, I started growing a small tax consultancy, specialising in expat tax affairs. Most of my clients are pilots that I used to fly with, and their colleagues. The consultancy has grown almost exclusively by word-of-mouth and is completely online. My office is my laptop, and so moving it to another country was easy. I’ve also recently started lecturing Australian tax on a part-time basis at a university in Perth.

How many hours do you work a week?

During tax season, I’m quite busy with the consulting. Some days 14+ hours. However, the rest of the year is more relaxed. The thing I value the most about this setup, is flexibility. I can do the school run, teacher meetings, science projects and trips to the emergency room without agitating a boss. I’m also able to get out for a run on the local trails when I need a break from the eFiling screen. Ultimately, the work gets done but I get to choose how I prioritise my day.

What is the best advice you have received and why?

My sister says “n’ bietjie bietjie maak meer”. It’s just a simple reminder of the compounding effects of one’s efforts, and applies to any endeavour.

What was your biggest learning on your journey?

I’ve learnt that I’m terrible at faking it. While I have tried the corporate world, it’s not a space I thrive in. I’ve been more successful in my consulting and teaching roles, where I feel that I have a direct connection with people, and I’m motivated by the difference I can make to individuals.  

What do you do in terms of financial planning?

Just the basics. Minimise debt, mitigate the big risks and diversify assets. I’m also looking at ways to produce a passive income stream from the expansion of my consultancy.  

What is your number one bit of advice you can give to someone looking at shifting towards a different lifestyle design?

Brace yourself for some turbulence. It’s not an easy path but, stick to your vision.

What’s next?

We’re still finding our feet in Australia, and there is lots to learn. There is also a whole new country to explore. I’ll continue to grow the tax consultancy, but in a way that I retain the flexibility I value. When I can find the right path back to flying, I’d like to spend some more time in the air.

For those in need of tax advice visit www.coraltax.com

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