by Anna Asker
translated into English by Markus Zacharski
"I grew up in a quite normal family so it was badly off, I used to say, but it went well anyhow. Already as an 11 year-old I got the chance to earn money. I had a little contract with a racket and clothes manufacturer. If I won the junior Swedish championship I got 500 crowns but thus I was forced to win. That was a carrot", Stefan Edberg says who earned 20 million dollars during his tennis career.
Stefan Edberg grew up in a middle class home. Daddie was a detective inspector and mum a housewife. His parents mortgaged the house in order to have money for their child's journeys and training. "When I turned 17 I started to earn some money and travelled a lot. During the first tournaments abroad you didn't have an alternative to earn some money so that the travelling went well." The big successes and earnings came when he was 18. "Until then you had to fight for every crown."
To become a tennis star is one of the very few possibilities for a teenager to earn millions. In a clipping out of Svenska Dagbladet from 1984 Stefan Edberg just has signed an advertising contract that should give him 15 millions in five years. "Up till now these are just some numbers on a sheet of paper and I would feel richer if instead of having a contract I stood here with 100,000 crowns in real notes", the 18 year-old Stefan Edberg said.
"Money was definitely a motive power. I believe this is how it works for most of the people when money starts to come. Then when you earn money year after year it is maybe more the winnings and titles that are driving you. Money starts to have less importance. You come to a situation where you have earned so much money that you have secured your future if you fairly manage it."
Stefan Edberg got used to having much money already as a late teenager, but some economical customs from childhood are still there. He doesn't toss anything at the first try and the store has a tendency to become overfull.
Today he is spending 25-30 hours per week to make his capital grow. It was at the end of his career where he seriously began to take interest in capital management. How big his capital is he never wanted to unveil. "No-one has anything to do with it." Stefan Edberg refers to what is public. The taxable income in 2004 was 242 million crowns. He thinks that capital levy should be abolished. "It doesn't hit only me but many others. You shouldn't be punished for putting aside money".
Stefan Edberg left much of capital managing in other's hands but is following the development in order to have control and he has daily conversation with his advisers. "You have to do something after your tennis career which you think is cool. I think it's a little fun to understand how the world functions and to follow politics. That's useful to learn. At school I was interested in numbers and thought math was cool. That makes it easier".
The goal is to manage the capital so that the children who are 8 and 13 years old today will have a reliable capital the day they move out. But Stefan Edberg also wants that there will be money for possible grandchildren and even succeeding generations.
"Definitely. Many times it is the first generation that earns the money, the second that manages it and the third that destroys it." In the '90s he was devoted to daytrading a bit, sat in front of the computer the whole day, watched the progress and hunted the best occasions to buy and sell shares. But that became too laborious and stupid to sit glued in front of the monitor.
"I've never been a big risk taker. If you can get an increase of 7-15 percent a year this fulfills every demand I have."
To lose money makes him irritated
"I am a competition man on every front even if I can handle it better than before."
When he gives away money it can be for small sport clubs, auxiliary fire brigades and big organisations like Red Cross and Cancer fond.
"It has to be something I sympathize with. Altogether it is a six-digit amount per year.
When I ring Stefan Edberg it is the afternoon before his 40th birthday. But he isn't busy with preparation of party. He is working with declarations in his working room in Grimslöv south of Växjö.
"Many papers begin to come in so I try to keep them in order in good time", he says. As tennis millionaire Stefan Edberg hasn't met much enviousness. When he got such reactions, it was in Sweden, not in Great Britain or USA.
"It is in Sweden above all where there's a certain enviousness built in the system." He may get letters where people request him to give money to different purposes or are horrified at the fact that one can earn so much money by hitting a ball with a racket. But this is an exception, praise and kind words are in majority.
"It is changing now a bit in Sweden, but it's still more accepted to win with sports betting and lotto than to earn money in another way. And I think it is regarded more OK to earn money with sports than with business. In fact, it is a bit awry for it is the companies which make the wheel turn."
When Stefan Edberg moved to the exclusive district Kensington in London because of the taxes in 1984 he got nothing but neighbours rolling in money. The family moved back to Sweden in 2000 and decided to live in the country and let the children go to the municipal school.
Can it be hard to be rich and keep company with people with ordinary income? Do others expect you to pay always?
"This has worked quite well. I try to be just myself and lie a bit low. People would only think that it is disturbing if I go on and pay for everyone. They wouldn't feel good."
Stefan Edberg invests more time to manage his money than to spend it. He buys what he needs but doesn't see any big pleasure in going shopping.
"I could spend more but entirely I'm a bit moderate with money. You see, I'm from Småland", Stefan Edberg says and laughs.
How much may jeans cost?
"From some 100 up to 1000 crowns. But I don't buy any for 4000-5000 crowns."
To buy a Ferrari for 4 millions isn't attractive either?
"This is not my style"
On the other hand he's thankful for having the possibility to live spaciously and go to restaurant whenever he wants to.
"You can live very light-hearted when one doesn't have to think about if you've enough money. The biggest advantage maybe is that you decide about your own life and choose what you want to work with. Of course you get used to high standard, it isn't a tingling feeling of happiness to come home to one's yard every time."
What is luxury for you today?
"We try to travel some times a year. It feels luxurious to be able to drive away, to live well and eat well."
Stefan Edberg is today joint owner of capital management company "Case Asset Management", has missions within tennis, some properties and his farm property. On average he works more than 40 hours per week. Most of the time he administers his own capital.
"It requires hard work there to succeed."
On a usual day he sits in front of the computer from 8:30 till 12, reads about markets and companies, makes some phone calls. Then he has lunch. In the afternoon he may work some hours and takes a break for playing tennis or squash. Stefan Edberg grew up in a home of middle class, his wife comes from a worker home and their children grow up in a multimillionaire's home.
How do you think your children's view of money is going to be different from yours?
"It may be a bit different but you have to direct it in a way. The most important thing about my children is that they become good citizens and know what is right and wrong, how they relate to people and money."
What do you want your children to bring along concerning the relationship to money?
"That one has to fight for it... But they may get away a bit lighter, so to speak. But we haven't come that far up till now, they are still young. Most people spoil their children too much today and we also belong to that crowd."
Having much money doesn't only give the freedom to do what one wants to do but also the possibility not to do what is boring. Stefan Edberg doesn't ever have to rake, putty and paint windows or clean up home's 400 square meters. But he's not that spoilt so he sometimes takes the vacuum cleaner.
How do you see the connection between money and happiness?
"Money have definitely an importance in today's society, it makes many things easier. But it isn't a guarantee for happiness. It is health and people around you that create happiness".
Can money be a pressure?
"It is a lot to check, even declaring may be very sulky", he says.
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