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Combining Luck and Good Business Sense
25 September 2006
Wear a nine-eyed dZi for instant money luck, fill a wealth
vase with soil taken from a millionaire’s home, and study financial risk and
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World of Feng Shui (WOFS) Philippines, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Marites Allen imparts wealth management advice through her apprenticeship with WOFS founder and Harvard Business School alumna Lillian Too, as well as through her own MBA degree from the Ateneo Graduate School of Business (AGSB).
Ms. Allen’s candor regarding her financial goals is refreshing, given that people. Usually tiptoe around the topic. In the next five years, Ms. Allen wants to hit her target $2 million. For her, having that much implies luxury, without precluding the desire for more. “We are confident that we can achieve this as World of Feng Shui already has a successful business model for the Philippines, which we are even replicating in many other countries. At the moment, we have presence in 16 countries in five continents. [We] have over 60 boutiques, all established in just a span of under five years. Five of the boutiques are here in the Philippines, where we hold the master franchise,” she said.
Owing to the global nature of the business, Ms. Allen fully appreciates the reach of Citibank, of which she is a client. “The good thing is that they are everywhere in the world. We travel a lot, it’s really very convenient. We can access our money, get it in any currency,” she said.
Feng shui started out as a hobby for Ms. Allen, who obtained certifications from different masters in Hong Kong and Singapore. Her obsession bloomed into a full-fledged business when Ms. Too awarded her the Philippine franchise for WOFS in 2004.
Ms. Allen always thought that she should have a small business of her own, no matter what it would be. “I asked myself many times, ‘Do I want to be the tail of a lion or the head of the mouse? And I chose the latter,” she said.
Pursuing and realizing her dream meant knowing more than her auspicious directions and hours.
“In the real world of business, there will continue to be problems, but you have to be strong, be resilient, and you will surely shine through,” she said.
On the other hand, the feng shui specialist also reinforced these platitudes with good old financial planning.
“Finance is the Life of any business, and you cannot survive if you don’t have financial plan. When we started, we invested a significant amount of money. Most of our savings, however, went into the business, and then [we] made sure we had sufficient reserves to cover certain eventualities,” Ms. Allen said.
“Having financial plan is critical, and the advice here is to find someone with the knowledge and experience to advice on financing,” she added.
Aside from the personal relationship she maintains with various Citibankers, Ms. Allen also keeps in touch with Vic Ricasio, her former Ateneo MBA professor. Prof. Ricasio has become a very good friend of mine and mentor, and what I like about him is he practices what he preaches as he himself is a very successful Filipino executive. I always get answers from him when I need to, any time,” Ms. Allen said.
One can only guess whether Ms. Allen’s success can be traced to feng shui or plain business sense or a combination of both.
On the financial management side, the best advice she can give is to live within your means.
“Work extra mile and enjoy the fruit of your labor….Enjoy life while you can and not when you are 60 or 70 years old. See the beautiful places around the world while you can sincerely enjoy it as it may not be as fun anymore when you are between 30 and 50.
She added that every single Filipino, regardless of the scale of the business being started, should arrange things as best as he can.
“Give it a go, and somehow you will make it…And then even if we don’t have much, share something back to charity. In feng shui, you have to complete the cycle. It is only when you give that you shall receive, ”she said.