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Robin Townshend | 79, Retired Senior IT executive
Capital “is finally growing again”
Always a little ahead of the game
An ‘early adopter’ before that term became popular, Robin Townshend switched from a career in industrial chemistry to computers in the early 1960s, when few people knew what computers were.
The 79-year-old, who recently switched his Living Annuity to 10X Investments, has shown more than once that he is unafraid of making a change when he finds a more promising path. He says of his career switch that “most people could hardly spell computer” at the time.
He had been working in industrial chemistry for several years when he made the change and that proved to be a very good decision. During the next 30 years, he says, he “practised every aspect of the IT industry, from programming, through systems design, sales, management and eventually business process re-engineering”. The last 20 years of his career were spent as the senior IT executive at a large South African company.
Despite having made a late start to retirement saving, Robin caught up by going into super-saving mode. He was able to take early retirement at the age of 58. Robin and his wife of 56 years, Edwina, took a two-year break and travelled. No doubt, the couple, who live in a retirement village in the charming town of Howick in KwaZulu-Natal, spent time catching up with their four children who are scattered around the world (the USA, Dubai, Scotland and one in South Africa).
Robin says his own parents – modest, hard-working people who made sacrifices to ensure their children were educated – had retired in humble circumstances.
“We were brought up on strict Christian principles and were taught (erroneously) to live by faith,” he said. Robin explains that “living by faith” translated at that time into not providing well for the future. When he realised that this was a rather “irresponsible form of faith, as it did not provide for the future needs of my family,” he says, he started investing seriously for retirement but “only after the age of 40 – which with hindsight was far too late!”
Nonetheless, by 1999, he says, he had built enough capital to retire on, “or so I thought at the time”. He didn’t just sit on his hands, though. After returning from his travels, Robin took up a position with the prestigious Hilton College to begin an outreach programme for underprivileged schools.
“This was a great opportunity to give something back to the community after working so many years for my own benefit, and that of my employers,” says Robin, adding that the outreach programme “has progressed very successfully over the past 18 years”.
Things did not progress as well with his own savings, however. Robin says he was unprepared for the huge rate of inflation in the years after he retired. “Even so, my relatively meagre capital gave good returns and allowed us to live modestly and happily until about three years ago, 2016.”
When the returns had been good in the early days, he says, broker fees and admin fees had not amounted to a significant percentage of his capital. That wasn’t to last, however, and the market downturn soon meant that every penny counted.
“The harsh economic environment took its toll on investments and I found that my capital was being eroded,” says Robin.
Robin and Edwina tried drawing a smaller pension, but that did not help because “combined with the broker’s fees and other investment costs, the growth rate could not keep up”.
“I was faced with the harsh reality that my investments would not provide a pension for the rest of our lives.”
Robin started researching his options and had various discussions with his broker along the lines of: “Why must you charge a monthly percentage of my capital, when you advise me only once a year?” He also asked why his broker didn’t charge a consultation fee like the medical profession and the answer was: “Our industry does not work like that.”
That was when he made the “difficult decision to dismiss the broker idea altogether”. He had become disillusioned with the investment industry, whose focus apparently was not on him as the client or how to improve the clients’ returns, but rather on its own interests.
That was when Robin came across 10X Investments. “I found that all the advice I needed was available on their website and I could easily calculate various ‘what-if’ scenarios.”
His final doubts were “put to rest by a helpful 10X consultant [Allan van Zyl], who steered me through the process”.
“I found it relatively painless to move my investments from a major investment company to 10X – all online and straightforward.”
Robin has been with 10X Investments for three months and reports himself “delighted” to see that his capital “is finally growing again, as the return rate is far higher than before”.
With his Living Annuity back on track, Robin can focus on his local church ministries and duties as a trustee in the retirement village. Any time that is left he can enjoy his hobbies of photography, table-tennis or hiking in the Berg.
“All in all, I have a happy and fulfilled retirement. My advice to my children is start investing for your retirement as soon as you possibly can!”