Bruce Djite is one of Australia’s leading international soccer players. He debuted for the Socceroos in 2008 and has played professional football in Turkey, Korea and now Indonesia. Closer to home he still holds the title of Adelaide United’s all-time highest ever goal scorer.
Bruce is a Stockspot client and a keen investor. We had the chance to chat with Bruce about money in professional sport, living around the world and playing for Australia.
What drew you to soccer when you were kid?
When I was 6 I went to school in Abidjan, Ivory Coast for about 3 months. During that time, I saw everyone was playing soccer, before school, after school and during lunch breaks at school. At the time I was not sure what the game was, however in a bid to make friends I joined in and really enjoyed it. On my return to Australia I joined my local soccer club (Lindfield FC under 7s).
At what stage did you decide to become a professional player. Did you ever consider other paths?
When I was 8 years old I knew being a professional footballer was all I wanted to be. I didn’t consider other career paths, the thought of doing something other than soccer never crossed my mind.
What was your most memorable moment playing for the Socceroos?
There are a few… my first ever camp was surreal, to not only meet but also train and eat everyday with players that previously I had only ever seen on TV, playing in the top leagues in Europe was just mind blowing. Qualifying for the 2010 World Cup was special as well as playing in a friendly when we beat The Netherlands in Eindhoven.
You’ve now lived in some incredible countries like Turkey, China, Korea and now Indonesia. How has that experience changed you?
One of the greatest rewards that comes with being a professional footballer is the opportunity to travel and experience the world and all it has to offer. I have learnt countless things about myself, business, politics, international relations, cultures and societies.
My experiences have shaped my views on every decision I make each and every day. The experience of living in such different and diverse countries has given me, what I believe to be a well-rounded view of the world.
Your kids have also had a pretty cool international childhood. Do you think that helps them to see the world more broadly?
One of the key reasons I decided to head overseas for a second time was to give my children a global experience and to enhance their global outlook. I have no doubt that the experiences over the past several years will help mould them into truly global citizens. I believe there is a real advantage in experiencing life in different Countries.
What money or life lessons will you try to instil in them?
My children will learn that any rewards, monetary or otherwise can only come from hard work. I will make sure they are mindful of how much work it took to earn the money and therefore they should spend it on things they really want. I also plan to show them the benefits of compound interest and how investments can grow over time.
There are quite a few high-profile examples of well-paid professional soccer players who lost all the money they made. Why do you think this is so common?
This issue is not unique to sportspeople (just look at the recent Banking Royal Commission in Australia), however I do believe it is more prevalent amongst sportspeople. There are a few reasons why I think this is more common than it should be:
1. There is very limited education for sportspeople when it comes to managing finances or investing.
2. There are also countless ‘financial advisers’ and others who are all trying to do their best to get their hands-on sports people’s money.
3. Sportspeople earn large salaries early on in their lives, so learning from financial mistakes can be extremely costly. Whereas the general population will gradually earn more money, so early financial mistakes have a relatively small impact and tend to be worthwhile lessons without any significance on their overall financial well-being.
What made you decide to get your Bachelor of Business, Finance and Management while playing?
As I got older I became very interested in a range of things outside football. First it was economics and finance (hence the business degree) because I was paid in different currencies to the Australian dollar, I wanted to gain a greater understanding around currency movements to take advantage of currency swings and also learn the benefits of dollar cost averaging strategies.
I learnt that wealth could also be generated from investing early and reaping the benefits of compounding earnings. Studying can also provide a nice balance to what can at times be a relatively stressful work environment.
You’ve invested with Stockspot since early 2016. Are you investing for any particular goal?
The funds accumulated in Stockspot over the next 10+ years will help pay for my children’s high school education.
Has your perspective on money and investing changed over time?
My perspective on money has not changed, I believe money allows someone more time to do the things they want because financial freedom gives you the freedom to do things others are not as privileged to experience. Whether that is giving back to communities or taking more holidays.
Regarding investing it’s all about having spare funds to invest and letting the earnings from those investments compound over multiple years. Earnings on the earnings on the earnings is the key. The only change has been my unwavering belief in ETFs. Having previously invested in direct shares and experiencing the volatility around reporting season, I was not comfortable with the sudden swings and I didn’t have the discipline to not check the share prices frequently.
What’s your philosophy on saving and spending?
I try to save as much as I can. I’m generally a good saver and am prudent with my spending.
Most extravagant purchase and would you do it again?
I am yet to make a truly extravagant purchase although I am awaiting a Patek Philippe watch which will be my most extravagant purchase by far. I am treating the purchase as an alternative investment, maybe that’s just how I justify the expense to myself. Hahaha.
You’re an ambassador of a couple of charities. What made you want to get involved with them?
I believe that people with a public profile should do their best to give back and have a positive impact on society. If kids are willing to listen and follow you, it is important to be a good role model. That’s why I’m an ambassador of various charities/causes. I plan on having a much more active role with all the organisations I represent once I return to Australia.
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As shared by Bruce Djite exclusively for Stockspot. Interview edited and shortened for clarity. Images supplied.