My money

Enjoying rather than hoarding

For Sylvie Huret, an unsustainable product is always too expensive, because it should not exist. Photo: Andrés Lejona/Maison Moderne

For Sylvie Huret, an unsustainable product is always too expensive, because it should not exist. Photo: Andrés Lejona/Maison Moderne

CEO of Degroof Petercam Asset Services Sylvie Huret sees her income as a way to enjoy life. Between piles of books and North Sea dunes.

Do you have a motto about money?

Sylvie HuretSylvie Huret: Money is a very bad master, but a precious servant. Not having to worry about money is a real comfort, but it's so sad to see people who don't take advantage of something that should be a means and not an end in itself. The goal should not be accumulation.

What do you remember about your first salary?

I was lucky enough to have parents who paid for our education, but our pocket money was reduced to the bare minimum. So, in order to make the most of my student life, I did a lot of odd jobs: waitressing in student bars, hostessing at fairs and exhibitions... I realised that the days could be long in these jobs, and that convinced me to study to get a more interesting job.

Did you do anything special with this pocket money?

No, when I was young, what mattered to me was to be able to have parties with all my friends. That was my main motivation.

Do you have any expensive passions?

I have a passion for reading. So it's not an expensive passion, but a rich one. I read a lot, but I only ever buy paperbacks. Given what I consume, it takes up space and, above all, I like to be able to give them to my children or friends once I've read them. But I can walk out of a bookshop with a 40cm pile of books. My wealth is in having books in stock.

A crazy move that you don't regret?

"About five years ago we bought a house on the Belgian coast, near the Dutch border. The prices are very high there, but we enjoy it very much. It's a magical place where we meet up with family and friends. With this kind of purchase, you know clearly why you work.

An unattainable dream?

I've always dreamed of a backpack helicopter like the Belgian artist Panamarenko designed, but one that doesn't make any noise and runs on green energy. I would find it fabulous to be able to move around in the open air while looking down on everything.

A very precious object?

The photos of my children when they were little.

Does the price of some things bother you?

Yes, the price of products that are not sustainable, which is often not very high. It drives me crazy. A product that is not of good quality and that pollutes is already too expensive. It shouldn't exist.

To become rich, you have to...

Either be born rich or be persistent. It is difficult to become rich, if you are not born rich, without having the consistency and courage to follow through with your idea or to be able to go through difficult times.

Things you don't look at the expense of?

The first is the education of children. You have to be able to equip them in terms of their academic background and their openness to the world. The second is travel. The third and final one is the design of my living space. I really like contemporary art and vintage Scandinavian furniture.

Saving or investing?

I actually invest my savings. I have always entrusted it to people whose job it is. I wouldn't be able to do it myself and I wouldn't like to blame myself for making the wrong choice. But I'm confident, I'm looking at it in the long term, I'm not worried about how it will turn out."

This article was written for the July issue of Paperjam magazine, which was published on 23 June 2021. It has been translated for Delano.

Is your company a member of the Paperjam Club? You can request a subscription in your name. Let us know via [email protected]