1 Do you spend a lot of time on money matters?
‘I won’t be hypocritical: Bart and I have done well and financially realizedwhat we wanted to achieve. Yet I have never really cared much about ourfinances. We have surrounded ourselves with a few confidential advisers andadvisers, so that every major financial decision is checked with at leastthree people. But to be honest: when we meet with our accountant, I especiallyhope that we will be through all the paperwork as soon as possible so that wecan have dinner.’ (laughs)
2 Who gave you your best financial advice?
‘My father, although as a CPAS employee he was not at home in the businessenvironment either. He urged me to buy real estate as soon as possible at thestart of my career. With my first savings I bought a property in Bilzen with avery heavy loan. It paid off well: from day one I rented it out to publicservices for years. I myself only entered it for the first time after fortyyears, when the lease had ended.’
3 What do you invest in?
‘About two-thirds of our assets is in real estate, the rest is in an equityand bond portfolio. The management is outsourced and we receive a report everyyear. Soon we will have a meeting with the adviser about this, the first sincethe war in Ukraine started. I have little illusions. At the same time, Irealize that we have to sweat out the crisis and that there is no point inpanicking.’
4 When do you want to stop working?
“There’s no age limit on a craft that’s based on creativity and entertainment.Bart and I have agreed that we will tell each other immediately if we noticethat what we are doing is no longer acceptable to an audience. Until then wewill continue. Not because we need it financially, but mainly because we liketo do it.’
5 How much is your pension benefit?
We still dream of an apartment in Paris. “
‘With my mixed career I now have a pension of about 1,500 euros. That is notin proportion to what I have paid all those years, as a self-employed personand as an employee. That is why we have worked so hard to be financiallyindependent. That is mainly due to Bart, who has much more of the self-employed mentality that I lack.’
6 What do you like to spend money on?
‘We like to eat out. In an ordinary restaurant around the corner or in a starrestaurant, although the latter remains something for special occasions. Theweekly shopping also takes a big bite out of the budget. Bart is an excellentcook, who buys the best ingredients in specialized stores. That adds upquickly.’
7 How do you feel about inflation?
‘The rising electricity and water bill is still cutting in. I’m quite frugalin that respect, while Bart is a bit more casual. Behind his back I often haveto turn off the lights, close the doors or turn off the taps.’
8 What is the greatest luxury for you?
‘That I don’t have to. I’ve always been my own boss and I’ve always kept myfreedom.’
9 Have you thought about your succession planning?
‘We really put a lot of effort into that five years ago. That was certainlynecessary because we don’t have children. The power of attorney is also inorder. We have already seen too much misery among friends and acquaintances,because the deceased had not arranged anything.’
10 What would you buy if money were no object?
‘An apartment in Paris. At the start of his career, Bart was completelycaptivated by the French capital. We once saw a beautiful penthouse for saleon the Champs-Élysées. That cost 20 million Belgian francs, which of course wedidn’t have. We even considered taking out a loan for this. In the end wedidn’t. For that money we could spend our whole lives in the best hotels whenwe were in Paris. Yet it has always remained a dream to own a property there.’