Nonsensical statements, statistics and around the block with the dog are the ingredients for Jaap van Duijn's weekly column. "Half an hour of typing and it's on paper."
Name: Jaap van Duijn
Brand: De Financiële Telegraaf
"I still follow all the share prices and whatever's going on in the economy, even though I've retired. The fact that I have my own investments and also my weekly column for DFT forces me to keep up. Of course I could follow what other journalists write but I refuse to depend on someone else. Whatever I write has got to be correct. And there's a lot of nonsense out there, you know. Ministers are good at that, as are chairmen of the board and journalists. They often lack the perspective of the historical context. When I read things that don't make sense, I want to correct them in my column. I generally get on my racing bike or go around the block with the dog to think about my approach and vocabulary. And then I type for an hour and it's done.
What I really like about working for De Financiële Telegraaf is that my column reaches so many readers. I was recently approached by a man in the supermarket, who asked 'Aren't you Mr Van Duijn? I always read your piece first. You describe things so clearly that even my wife understands'. I'm not sure what that says about his wife but that's why I do it: to boost the economic know-how of my readers.
I didn't know how the investment world worked in the beginning. I like to compare it with my sporty side. I've run marathons, climbed mountains and skated the long-distance Elfstedentocht race, but while I could justifiably call myself an experienced expert after finishing the latter in 1986, it doesn't work that way in investments. I started investing at the age of 18, using my first salary from the bank where I worked. It was a case of 'let's get rich quick', but it didn't work: I lost half my money. With hindsight, it's the best thing that ever happened to me. It made me more aware of financial risks and how to deal with them, though economic developments will always be unpredictable. I'm 71 now and I still don't know exactly how it works.
After studying economics, I taught as a professor in Delft. In due time, I switched to 'the real work': managing money at Robeco. That was by far the best but also the most difficult time of my life. In the end, I had 24 billion guilders in my portfolio, an enormous responsibility that really kept me absorbed. In the second half of the 1990s, it was one big party at work as the prices continued to soar. When the prices dropped following the attacks of 11 September 2001, I had many a sleepless night. I just kept thinking, ‘when will this stop?’ It didn't. You'd rather not be in that situation at such moments, but, looking back, I'm glad that I also experienced those restless years. It's pretty much like the Elfstedentocht really: while you're skating, all you want to do is reach Leeuwarden. You don't appreciate what you've done until the finish. I get that same feeling when receiving compliments in the supermarket."