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10-MINUTE MANAGER: Kim Howard


BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY

10-MINUTE MANAGER: Kim Howard

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ARE YOU WHERE you’ve always wanted to be?

Not quite. When I was a teenager I aspired to be the next Christiane Amanpour.

She was always in the midst of the biggest international news stories and was the most prominent and highly paid broadcast journalist at the time.

And since I am a news and current affairs junkie that’s where I was certain I was headed.

That all changed once I went to university and I’ve been a marketing communications champion since then.

What is your biggest professional challenge?

In my role at Fortress, which manages mutual funds, I’ve become aware of the deficits in our financial knowledge as a society.

The formal education process doesn’t address personal finance and oftentimes we don’t learn about it at home either.

So as a result we operate in an environment where many people are unaware of how to independently assess the risks and benefits of investing and are more subject to paternal guidance.

Therefore my biggest professional challenge is communicating effectively about mutual funds and other investments, in a setting where many people don’t fully understand certain financial basics but stand to benefit above and beyond whatever they have traditionally done with their money.

What is your biggest life challenge?

I fully believe that the world is my oyster, so choosing which of my passions to cultivate next without compromising any personal or professional commitments is my biggest life challenge.

When you look to the future what do you see?

In Barbados I see a shift coming in the financial arena. I think on a national level recent developments are forcing us to take greater ownership of our financial savings and investments. I see Barbadians growing more keenly focused on not just saving but growing their money, with an increasing appreciation for the advantages that come with the international diversification offered by mutual funds.

What is your favourite pastime?

Hands down it’s reading literary fiction.

What is your favourite meal?

I have a few favourite foods but no favourite meal at the moment. Though it might be risky right now if you came between me and some oven baked ripe plantain!

On Saturday nights where are you likely to be?

Spending time with great company, which sometimes might be me!

What upsets you the most?

Wilful ignorance. It’s far too easy these days to have access to information about all manner of things and to cultivate awareness of other circumstances. When I was growing up we had to read encyclopaedia and trek to the Public Library (the state of our main Public Library building also upsets me) to learn what we needed to know. But now you can email, call and google right from the palm of your hand.

What is your guiding philosophy?

Say what you mean and mean what you say. I believe in direct and open communication.

If you had the chance to manage Barbados for a day, what would you do?

I would put measures in place to train educators to facilitate basic financial education at the primary and secondary levels. In this way the groundwork would be laid for a more financially aware society.

To enhance our environmental awareness, I would implement policies and legislation to facilitate better waste disposal and recycling with strong components in school education, requirements for home and business sorting of garbage, and an expanded sanitation services department.

The other critical area would be to create an e-billing system for all tax paying citizens that would itemise the costs of all of their “free” services, such as individual school, hospital and pharmaceutical expenses. This would be for reference only and not actual request for payment.

Clearly, I would also need to modify time in order to get any of this done in one day.

Kim Howard is marketing manager of Fortress Fund Managers. (FP)

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