🐧 Tracking your net worth as a global citizen | Rohit Nadhani

Spotlight: From Building Data Tools to Untangling Global Wealth
July 23, 2023

Thanks to an intro from subscriber, Michael S., I’m thrilled to invite Rohit Nadhani, co-founder and CEO of Kubera, to share his practical insights into tracking, analyzing, and planning wealth as a global citizen.

Today in 10 minutes or less, you’ll learn:

  • ⚒️ How Rohit went from building data tools to untangling wealth
  • 🌏️ Asset allocation of younger & older Kubera customers
  • 📊 Why track Net Worth, not only Budget
  • 😨 Mistakes of silo-ing wealth and underestimating taxes/fees
  • 🫶 Counterintuitive advice from a wealth tracker CEO


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🌏️ Tracking your net worth as a global citizen | Rohit Nadhani

I'm Rohit Nadhani, a Silicon Valley techie who loves to turn complex things into simple, usable stuff. I started with database tools, then made email smarter with Newton Mail, and now I'm untangling the mess of managing global wealth with Kubera. In my downtime, you'll find me reading, hiking or plotting the next big thing with my family.

⚒️ Tell us about your career journey from building database tools to starting an all-in-one wealth tracker.

I started out in the world of data. It's a fascinating universe, really – endless amounts of information, all waiting to be useful. Then, Newton Mail happened. There, I learned that technology is a powerful tool that can make our lives simpler, more organized.

And then, the idea of Kubera struck me. The world was getting smaller, people were getting wealthier across borders, but managing all that wealth was still stuck in the dark ages. So, I thought, why not bring in some light?

Here is a slightly longer version of Kubera’s founding story if you are interested.

🌏️ Your website says Kubera is built for “digital-native global citizens.” Who fits this profile and what unique challenges do they face (versus other groups)?

Digital-native global citizens are the explorers of the modern world. They're comfortable in the digital realm and their footprint spans across multiple countries.

But with great exploration comes great complexity – managing assets in different currencies, dealing with international tax laws, navigating the global financial markets. The traditional tools were just not cutting it. So, we built Kubera for them.

📊 You have customers across life stages. What insights can you share about how the portfolio and financial planning approach of your younger, less experienced customers compare with your older, more mature customers?

The younger folks, they're eager, willing to take risks. They're not just sticking to stocks and bonds; they're going into crypto, startups, what not. The older ones, they're more into preserving what they've built over the years. They value stability, predictability.

Let's look at two of our users:

  • 28-year-old techie in San Francisco: The techie's portfolio might break down as 40% equities, 30% crypto, 20% venture capital, 10% bonds.
  • 65-year-old retiree in Massachusetts: The retiree, meanwhile, is more likely to have 60% in blue-chip stocks, 30% in bonds, and 10% in cash or gold.

The shift from high risk to stability usually happens around late 40s or early 50s or when their net worth hits a major milestone like $1 million. It's all about life stage, risk tolerance, and personal circumstances.

What they all love about Kubera is how it handles these transitions smoothly and makes managing finances an intuitive, straightforward task.

👪️ Kubera offers net worth tracking, but also backward analysis and forward projections. What type of questions do customers try to answer with these capabilities?

"How am I doing?" That's what it all boils down to.

Our customers use Kubera's analysis and projections to see if they're on the right track:

  • "How have my investments been doing?"
  • "Am I spending too much?
  • "Will I be okay if I retire at 60?"

it's all about understanding where they've been and where they're headed.

Here are some practical tips for people managing finances:

  • Track Your Net Worth, Not Just Budget: Budgets give you a snapshot of your monthly cash flow, but don't show your bigger financial picture. Track your entire net worth - total assets minus debts - a vital indicator of financial health. By focusing on net worth, people can set and achieve long-term wealth-building goals.
  • Track Progress Over Time: It’s important to see how your financial sacrifices and smart decisions add up over time. Watching your net worth grow month by month, year by year is motivating. It helps you stay on track with your long-term financial goals, whether it's retiring at 60 with a certain amount in the bank, or making a significant investment in a new venture.

Kubera makes it easy for you on both these fronts.

What mistakes have you seen others (or yourself) make in tracking, analyzing, and/or planning their wealth? What could they have done differently?

Looking at wealth only in silos: Stocks here, real estate there, a bit of crypto hidden somewhere. But wealth is like an ecosystem; everything affects everything. In volatile times, it's easy to panic. Seeing your stock portfolio down by 20% can be nerve-wracking.

  • My advice? Look at your entire asset allocation. So when stocks are down, you might see that your overall net worth hasn't been as badly hit. This complete view helps avoid knee-jerk, emotionally-driven financial decisions.

Underestimating impact of taxes and fees: They're like termites, slowly eating into your wealth. Understanding these costs is crucial. Here are two significant drags on investment portfolios that our customers come across:

(1) Trading Fees: These can sneak up on you. For example, a platform might charge a $5 fee per trade. That might not seem like much, but if you're making two trades a week, that's $40 a month and $480 a year. In a $10,000 portfolio, you've just lost 4.8% to fees alone.

(2) Taxes: It's surprising how many people overlook capital gains tax. Let's say you're an American in the 15% long-term capital gains tax bracket, and you've made $10,000 in profits from selling stocks. That's $1,500 off your returns. If you’re frequently trading, you may fall into the short-term capital gains category, taxed at your regular income tax rate, which could be significantly higher.

  • My advice? Keep an eye on those seemingly small fees – they add up. Use tax-efficient strategies like holding investments longer for preferential long-term capital gains rates or consider tax-advantaged accounts.

🫶 What counterintuitive advice would you give for someone looking to make better decisions with their wealth?

Here's the thing: people spend hours, days, even years consuming podcasts, articles, and reports, all in a bid to time the market just right. But if you ask me, they're looking in the wrong direction. It's not the market they need to understand, but themselves.

The secret to successful wealth management isn't hidden in complex charts or economic forecasts. It's in your own behaviors, your gut reactions to market swings, the financial habits you've unconsciously picked up. It's in the choices you make in life, like your life partner, that have a significant, often underappreciated, impact on your wealth.

So here's some counterintuitive advice: Forget trying to outguess the market. Instead, spend that time understanding yourself better. It's a far smarter investment.

Where can we go to learn more about you?



🌐 Beyond your borders

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Dexter Zhuang

Dexter is the founder of Money Abroad, a website and newsletter on building wealth for global professionals. Over the last 10 years, he's been a product leader, product manager, consultant and coach at companies like Dropbox, Xendit, and growth-stage startups across the US, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. His work has been featured in global publications like Business Insider, CBS, US News & World Report, and Tech in Asia. He graduated from Dartmouth College.

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