Ownership and generational wealth are John Lombela’s forte. He has immersed himself in technology and investing on the cutting edge.
A software engineer by profession, he also has experience in corporate investment banking. Lombela runs an information-technology consulting practice and has kicked off, Cryptovecs Capital, a hedge fund focused on investing crypto assets.
Through the years, he has made himself an expert on how to use ownership to build generational wealth.
“One thing I have come to learn in the investment world — while focused on building general wealth — is to understand the type of leverage we can have from what we own,” Lombela said. “Then we can build long-lasting wealth that can be passed on to our future generations.
“Leveraging off what we have with the intention to multiply is what we must understand when it comes to building wealth,” he said. “If you own an asset, learn how you can leverage that asset to have more of it. Eventually, you will own multiple different types of assets.”
Success starts with knowing the fundamentals.
“One of the key elements is to understand how leverage works,” Lombela said. “I can leverage my house to access more capital and create more businesses that will create more revenues toward achieving my goals. Then rinse and repeat.”
He questioned whether an entrepreneur needs a succession plan from the start.
“A succession plan is only important when you know you want to pass the baton to someone else to carry on the work you started,” Lombela said. “That plan would be futile if you don’t have a business or wealth to pass on.
“Build first and focus on having investments that would pay long-term,” he said.
Lombela suggested building platforms that provide income for entrepreneurs.
“I like to think of these platforms as multiple investment vehicles that can pay me even when I am not working hands-on,” he said. “The only work I’d be involved with is to manage businesses and portfolios I have built over time.”
Ownership includes both tangible and intangible assets such as stocks and bonds.
“Monitor your portfolios and other mechanisms that allow you to have access to liquidity when you need it urgently,” Lombela said. “However, if you want to approach banks, they will evaluate your intangible assets and determine a value acceptable by both parties.”
He emphasized that ownership is important in everyone’s life.
“That includes whether it’s at work or owning an asset for wealth creation,” Lombela said. “Ownership gives you a sense of pride, peace of mind and confidence in your abilities to scale up and start using leverage.
“It is important as a young professional or entrepreneur to focus on building a business or multiple businesses that produce an income,” he said. “You need to reach a level of moving into ownership of assets such as a home — unless we choose to build a business out of it.”
Lombela cautioned against rushing too fast into ownership.
“Let’s not get into the trap of owning first before we have built sustainable businesses that can pay us an income to support our assets,” he said. “This goes for young people who often think that owning a house first is a must. We live in a world where that has shifted quickly.”
With an engineer’s eye, Lombela detailed the process of building and owning to begin growing generational wealth.
“Start by evaluating where you are in your life, and what you are trying to accomplish,” he said. “Plan early toward owning the types of assets you would like to own. Keep in mind that an asset is only as good as one that brings you an income.
“Therefore, if you live in a home that you own, that’s more of a liability than a real asset that would produce an income,” Lombela said. “Remember that you want to build wealth and not keep on spending. Make choices wisely and better so you build businesses that support your assets.”
The old ways of doing things will not suffice in today’s world.
“We need to unlearn what we have been taught over the years,” Lombela said. “We need to learn by creating businesses that generate one or multiple incomes, and invest with a long-term view on assets that produce an income.
“First, focus on income generation, then on asset building,” he said.
In a rural economy, cows and agriculture in general also count for generational wealth creation.
“Absolutely,” Lombela said. “Use whatever vehicle you choose to build wealth — as long as what you build and maintain produces an income or will produce an income in the future. Everything else will be a liability for which you need money to sustain.
“We often start with a job to learn the basics of managing finances,” he said. “Every dollar you receive should produce more dollar babies by tenfold. Then use that income to create businesses and buy intangible assets — land, homes and so on. Invest long-term. Period.”
Lombela noted principles of financial empowerment that promote ownership.
“Manage your income wisely,” he said. “Spend on what you need first. Reinvest what you have left over into an appreciating asset that will yield great returns over time. If you can’t own a big property yet, invest in assets that are tradeable publicly and are liquid such as shares.
“Learn about the financial and capital markets,” Lombela said. “Learn and identify whatever suits your investment appetite and profile. Don’t be in a hurry to own a home and live in it. Be willing to get in the property market to own multiples and for business.”
Everyone needs to invest in their financial education.
“I encourage our generation to understand the true meaning and value of money,” Lombela said. “It will change our perspectives and kickstart a great relationship with money. That would empower us to know more about money, make more of it and give more back to communities to help those in need.
“This is a topic most of us won’t learn at schools,” he said. “Be willing to learn from others at a very young or early age in your professional career — and from peers who have mastered the notion of business and money, as well as asset ownership.”
No single path will lead to financial success.
“There are multiple ways to raise capital,” Lombela said. “Most of these lie in the hands and pockets of others, including banks. We can only access it if we have valuable insights to exchange.
“My money is in someone’s pocket,” he said. “Until I give him value, I won’t access it.”
Lombela quickly shot down the notion of a home as someone’s first possession.
“Absolutely no, no and no,” he said. “Not today. Until you have made it in life, don’t even buy a home. Build businesses, rent peacefully, and focus on creating income. Then buy a home you’d feel comfortable to live in.
“People — especially us black folks — run to the bank to get a loan to buy a home, a car and furniture for this home,” Lombela said. “We forget that with these liabilities, we need to up our income. That’s why we stay in debt. We don’t know how to create multiple income streams. Income first.”
Owning a home too soon might be far from a dream.
“When we haven’t made it in life yet, buying a home is like buying a comfortable prison,” Lombela said. “That thing can’t move, and we can get stuck in the same place forever.
“On the upside, owning a home is psychologically important,” he said. “It gives confidence. Just know when to buy.”
Another ownership possibility is asking for a bond and renting.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that,” Lombela said. “Get a loan for business. Buy a home, rent it out, and make a business out of it. That’s great.
“But to buy a home and live in it, that’s a liability,” he said. “We need good credits to be able to leverage banks’ money through loans.”
Lombela said entrepreneurs should focus on growing and nurturing their business.
“It all depends on what you did to get where you are, the opportunities you have access to, your core values, what you can handle and the skills you have,” he said. “Many factors are in play. Have one same focus. Money, income, business, assets and wealth building combine all of those elements.”
If possible, start young. Fear of money scares money away.
“Money requires momentum,” Lombela said. “It scares easy and wants its freedom. It’s happy when someone spends it or uses it to make more of it.
“If we keep money in a bank, it will find a way to go to a funeral, a wedding or fixing a car accident,” he said. “Money needs velocity.”
Lombela advocated talking openly with kids about money – grooming them early to understand the business and legacy being built.
“Let’s unlearn what we thought we knew about money,” he said. “Build long-lasting wealth by doing things right and understanding what it takes to build wealth in this modern age.
“We won’t inherit land,” Lombela said. “Forget it. Learn to move money from the rich to you. Use financial markets.”
Although wealth takes years to build, procrastination carries its own risk.
“Don’t get caught up preparing forever,” Lombela said. “You get better by doing first and changing and tweaking. So, like Nike, Just Do It — getting better as you keep on doing it. You’ll spend years building a strong business and not years thinking about launching one.
“Let’s manage our time well,” he said. “The choices we make today will either slow down or fast track our journey to ultimate success. We’re all destined to succeed. Believe that.”