“My father is a self-made man and an inspiration”
Lawyer Riccardo Denaro, 34, is an associate of the Italian firm BonelliErede in Dubai.
Mr. Denaro had originally planned to be in the Emirates for a few months to lead a special project with a new client. However, he stayed for three years, strengthening his business attitude as well as his legal skills.
Mr. Denaro lives in Business Bay and is an avid athlete who devotes his spare time and funds to cycling and triathlons.
Last year, Mr. Denaro and two friends invested in The Fleece Milano, an e-commerce company offering quality Italian-made men’s clothing and dress masks.
Did you experience money and aspiration while growing up?
I was born in Sicily and when I was 14 moved to Milan where my mother started her own business, training employees in health and safety. My father became a lawyer for some banks and insurance companies, but he came from a very modest family. My grandfather was in a workshop and my father is therefore the definition of a self-made man, an inspiration for me. He managed to evolve from this kind of situation to a middle / upper class level where I didn’t have to worry about anything. He has always been ambitious with a great sense of duty. This is something I got from him.
What were your savings prospects?
When I was a child and received money from my father, mother or grandmother, I saved. I probably could have gone and spent it on toys and things I liked, but I had that mindset at first. When you don’t have a lot of money, whatever you don’t spend you save for the rainy days.
Has this attitude changed?
When you start to grow and have some leeway and additional resources that come in and like I did start to see different economic environments, different countries and the approach they have to money, that made me change my attitude considerably.
Now I am much more inclined to invest my money. If there are good opportunities, if I hear about something that interests me, I can’t wait to study it, when before I probably would have let it go.
How did the law get you to the United Arab Emirates?
I was doing another project for our office in Barcelona. It was an opportunity they gave you to expand your network, to see a different kind of legal environment as well, which was also good from a personal point of view. I was about to end this experience and return to Milan, but got a call from the Managing Partner of the newly opened Dubai office. I like to travel, to know different places, different people and cultures.
How do you develop your wealth?
I have a personal financial advisor. We agree on a strategy together and it’s a balanced mix of bonds, less aggressive investments and more aggressive investments like stocks, investment funds. And I started with cryptocurrency. I always try to find the right balance because it’s not something I can really take care of. I’m someone who likes to know what he’s doing, so I don’t just say, “Here’s my money, do something with it”. I’m trying to find the time to figure it out, but when you go to the risky side you have to continue to monitor and control and with the work that I am doing, that is not possible. Everything is in the right compromise.
Do you have a preferred investment?
Probably the most important investment for me is Fleece Milano, along with two of my dearest friends. We try to make it grow together. It is an entrepreneurial adventure, it is also the passion we have for quality clothing made in Italy. I am actively involved in strategic decisions.
We had the clothing masks (included) because we had a beautiful business plan, a beautiful collection… and the pandemic arrived, then containment. We were tired of wearing ugly masks and found this made out of costume fabric. We ended up selling thousands of them.
What is your most expensive purchase?
My bicycle. It is an Argon 18, model E119 Tri. This one is not very expensive, probably around € 7,000 ($ 8,116). What worries me the most is my next purchase because it (the bike) is getting more and more serious. I am very affectionate towards my bike, but I wonder if, if I have to level up, it will not be painless.
Does money make you happy?
Not the money itself. This is probably what it allows me to get; travel, see new places. But the money itself, just making the money, having it in the bank, is not my main concern.
I was probably an occasional saver before, just because it was the easiest thing to do. Now I’m converting my mindset because it makes sense to take advantage of what you have, but that’s not what makes me happy.
So winning isn’t a motivation?
No money. It’s more about work, from a professional point of view, it’s ambition, to find something stimulating, both professional and personal. Push my limits and have a good sense of duty. I am a perfectionist, very demanding with myself. Whatever I do, I try to do my best. I do not give myself any special discount. It’s more than about the money, it’s about being focused and getting big results.
Are you good with money?
I would say yes. I tend to avoid superfluous things. I have never been spoiled by buying something that I see or want. If it’s something I need, I’ll buy it. If I see something that I like every now and then I will give myself a gift, but I don’t have a lot of time for shopping. Between training and work, my days run out pretty quickly. I am a very rational person. Whatever I do, I think twice at least, I do my homework.
Has the pandemic taught you anything financially?
I am not a frivolous spender. I know what I can spend, I don’t go over that. So when the pandemic hit, I wasn’t particularly worried. Also, I consulted my financial advisor. The market is ruled by so many factors, you have cycles, so if something unexpected like this happens you shouldn’t lose your mind, maybe rework your strategy, rework the duration of your investment, diversify the risk. What I learned is not to panic, to think rationally. There was once again a strong rise in the market. You just need to stay informed and avoid instinctive behaviors when it comes to money and investments.
What are you happiest spending on?
I am always happy to spend on traveling and also travel for concerts and sporting events. I have been to Sheffield three times for the World Snooker Championship. Mark Knopfler is probably my favorite living artist. I’ve seen it from Krakow to Minneapolis to Glasgow to London, everywhere.
Are you planning your retirement?
This is a question I started asking myself last year. In Italy there is a pension scheme if you work and produce in Italy. I was paying for it. I now prefer to save and invest rather than thinking about a classic retirement plan. I’ll see how it goes for the next couple of years and then probably recalibrate my financial and investment situation accordingly.
Update: October 7, 2021, 7:19 a.m.