“I would have liked to start saving in my early twenties”

Anna Skigin is the founder and CEO of Frank Porter, a short-term property rental management company that she launched after vacationing in Dubai in 2017.

It maximizes returns for homeowners by renting out properties through platforms such as Airbnb and now employs 100 people, including cleaning, maintenance and interior design divisions, with a branch in Russia.

Ms Skigin previously launched an Italian restaurant concept in London, worked in private banking with Rothschild in Switzerland and held a client advisor position at London auction houses Sotheby’s and Phillips.

Raised in Russia and Canada, Ms. Skigin, 35, lives in Palm Jumeirah with her husband, partner of Frank Porter.

How has money figured in your education?

Until I was nine, I grew up in St. Petersburg, then we moved to Toronto. We were well off, no worries about the food on the table or the cost of college. I had a career path: I had to get a diploma, do finance, work in a bank.

When communism fell, the 1990s were very eventful. My father was a typical Russian businessman who did a lot of things… fashion, jeans making, catering, then buying a property. He decided to move the family because it was dangerous in Russia at the time. My mother trained as a pianist and became a housewife.

Did you inherit the entrepreneurial spirit from your father?

For sure. Russia was a very interesting situation. Imagine you are in a totally communist country and overnight they say you can make money doing things.

You have to understand it. It rubs off hearing stories about your past, that idea of ​​trying to get out of it on your own. This is one of the reasons I decided to start my own business.

I firmly believe that when I have children they work early for money to start to understand the value of things

Anna skigin

What was your first experience working for money?

As a saleswoman in a clothing store in Canada. I wanted to buy dresses, shoes, makeup. My father said, “You don’t need anything, you have everything.

I waited until I was 16 to find a job to buy these frivolous things. I went after school and on weekends, for just $ 8 an hour, to make my own money so I didn’t have to ask my parents.

What monetary lesson did you learn from this?

It is important for children to have a job to start costing things. You have to work a full hour for $ 8 to be able to buy coffee and a muffin. Your parents feed you and pay for your clothes, but when you start to understand how long it takes an ordinary person to work to afford something, it puts things in perspective.

I firmly believe that when I have children they work early for money to begin to understand the value of things.

What brought you to the United Arab Emirates?

I had just sold a restaurant business to my partners and was thinking about what to do next. We took a vacation and were at the Address Hotel in Dubai, overlooking the buildings around the marina, prime real estate; it was a Saturday in March, peak season in Dubai, and there was no one in these apartments.

A law had been passed the previous year which authorized short-term rentals. It seemed like a golden opportunity that people were missing out on and I had a fortuitous moment: “We have to start a business.” You don’t have a lot of opportunities like this in life, so we moved in September.

Do short term rentals generate higher returns?

In general, the income is much higher than long term rentals. People pay a premium to stay in properties that have furniture, everything is connected. The best about short term rentals is the money, but also the flexibility as landlords don’t have a contract with a tenant, you can get away with it whenever you want.

Some owners want to come back to Dubai for a vacation and their unit makes money the rest of the year. With tourism being the biggest industry in Dubai, you earn a lot. There is huge growth in the market.

Do only the best addresses bring in income?

When we arrived, only Dubai Marina, Downtown and Palm Jumeirah made any money. Slowly we started to receive more requests for new areas and we are operating everywhere now.

It’s not just about Russians coming by private jet and wanting a Palm villa, it’s also about a family coming and instead of a few days at the hotel they can afford an apartment. bedroom apartment and spend (saved) money on activities in Dubai. People are staying longer.

What are your spending and saving prospects?

I was a lot more spendthrift, especially when I worked in Geneva in the bank, I didn’t care. My parents weren’t savers, they didn’t instill in me this idea that you have to be more frugal. So I wish that in my early 20s when I was actually making a lot of money, I was smart enough to save. Everyone has something to learn at 20.

Now I am much more of a saver. The Covid-19 has changed my mentality a lot. It has been a huge personal and professional experience to make us understand what is important and what is not.

How to make your fortune grow?

I have a non-aggressive portfolio. The goal is to have a good portfolio of properties in different locations. I have just bought an apartment in St. Petersburg which is rented on a short term basis. I have an apartment in London and Sweden and we have something going on in Poland. Hopefully these will pay off. I practice what I preach.

What is your philosophy towards money?

Money is freedom and a facilitator to do a lot of things. If you don’t have money, your children don’t have an education. It is vital for people to live the life they want. It gives you the opportunity.

I think of money as a great gift, but up to a point… I don’t think more money makes you happier. This extra car doesn’t, the third house doesn’t. I have great respect for money.

Are you good with money?

A lot of money will go towards things to do with the business. I have a budget in mind that I spend per month and the rest is either saved or invested. It’s something I probably started doing in my late twenties. Before that, it was just spending. Now I understand this is important. It’s about being a responsible adult. With age, we become smarter with money.

What luxuries are important to you?

I’m not really a “thing” person, I don’t care about clothes or bags. It’s more those moments with people, experiences and my home. The things in my house don’t have to be the most expensive, they just last longer. This mentality of spending on quality as opposed to fluff.

Has the pandemic had an impact on your business?

It happened overnight… 85% occupancy until no one had booked apartments. Everything that was not essential to our core business has disappeared. We had to put half of our employees on unpaid leave (during confinement).

Then a crazy thing happened, short term accommodation became essential and stayed at 50-60% occupancy for a few months even though there were no tourists.

In a way, it made the company stronger because we were able to fix the issues, investigate what was working, what was not working, during the downtime.

What are your future goals?

The long term plan is to make Frank Porter an umbrella for many companies, in many cities and growing without my constant interference, so that I can maybe focus on other things that interest me. Maybe it is the retirement plan, although I would never be able to not do something.

Updated: October 28, 2021 6:00 a.m.

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