A successful businessman is a Western-style financier, President of the Investment Group UNIVER, an active public figure and sportsman Taras Kozak in an exclusive interview specifically for LDaily
He is a representative of new western business elite, open to everything new and to the world in general. “When the countries interact, they invest in each other,” says Taras Kozak, “they are enriched, when they become self-sufficient, they become poorer.” There are more such liberal economists in Ukraine. Of course, changes are not easy, because the «Hydra which they fight with is strong and illiberal», and the majority of the people are distrustful. However, to surrender, to give up, to go to a prosperous “abroad” is not in the character of the head of “UNIVER”. And he overcomes his long marathon with the same tenacity as the morning 10 kilometers. This is difficult, but the difficulties are only encouraging.
LDaily: Taras, tell us about your business today.
T.Kozak: I am engaged in investments and finances. My company (Investment Group UNIVER) works on the Ukrainian stock market. Last months we were engaged in testing the legal path in investing in foreign assets, which was opened in July this year after the National Bank adopted the provision on the electronic license. Already dozens of Ukrainians were able to invest money in securities, real estate or transfer money to an account in a foreign bank. One of the activities of UNIVER is assistance to Ukrainians in buying securities abroad. For example, you can get a small share in Facebook or Apple. Agree, it’s nice.
LDaily: They say that there is no securities market in Ukraine, right?
T.Kozak: Yes, there is no developed modern Ukrainian stock market, but we are working hard to make it appear. Our system of market surveillance does not protect the investor, although it is the most valuable. It is the businessman, who is investing his own money, creating jobs, then paying taxes to the budget. This is not that “cool” one of the 90’s that has stolen something. A modern businessman is a person who has created something.
LDaily: How old is your company?
T.Kozak: The company UNIVER was founded in 1995 in Russia. I entered the Moscow State University (Moscow State University named after Lomonosov) when I was in Soviet Russia, so I began my career in this country. In 2005 the Investment Group UNIVER started its Ukrainian way. In 2010, I left the shareholders of the Russian UNIVER and began to deal only with the Ukrainian project, which today is 12 years old. Yes, this is a long time, but we should remember that we are working on the financial market, which remains quite unclaimed in Ukraine.
LDaily: Taras, how did you come up with the need to run the marathon?
T.Kozak: The driving force behind this achievement and all of my sport story in the past in general have become public changes in values and a healthy sense of envy.
“Businessmen are already stopping, as it was fashionable in the 90’s, to be measured by those who have a more expensive watch or a red jacket. Companions with a model appearance, shiny Mercedes, expensive restaurants – it all ceased to be the object of envy. Today, businessmen are increasingly becoming similar to their Western counterparts. And the old philosophy of “buy-sell”, “steal and save” disappeared, it was replaced by a businessman of a new format – creative, aimed to creating .”
It is no coincidence that the interests of this category of people have also changed. The modern trend is sport. So after work it is cool to go not to a pub, but to the gym. Moreover, today businessmen began to leave the gyms, where they are engaged in running, swimming, rugby.
As for me, I was motivated by the news that two of my classmates from the Moscow State University passed Ironman’s distance. This simultaneously confused me and caught me. Ironman competitions are a great test. First, the athlete needs to swim 3,800 m, then ride 180 km on a bicycle and after that also run 42 km. And all this is in one day, without stopping for rest. These figures seem cosmic, but the fact that it is very, very difficult has become the main catalyst for me. I have been training for 2 years, so I hope that next year I will have a chance to get this title. And the club LIVE.LOVE helps me to come closer to the dream. It was its program that I ran my first full marathon in Vienna.
LIVE.LOVE is not just aimed to run. They say that in two months you will run, for example, 10 km or a marathon. That is, a certain period of time and a specific goal. This formulation of the task has a very strong effect on businessmen who are used to living the projects.
LDaily: Does the trainer control the mode, the load?
T.Kozak: Of course, but most importantly is to keep yourself in the rhythm, keep the diet, the regime of the day, go to bed on time. Because it should be early, at six in the morning. However, at nine, after running 10 km, you feel fine and ready to work in the office.
S & B model
LDaily: What does sport teach you? Maybe character traits that did not exist have emerged?
T.Kozak: Sport and business are similar. Both of these activities bring up willpower. The athlete must run a certain distance and he runs even when he is ready to fall. It’s the same in business. Not all projects go smoothly; you can quit, spit and close the project. In such moments it is incredibly important to show willpower and bring it to an end. Another positive thing is that sport makes a person more organized. Compliance with the routine later becomes a habit, and this positively affects not only the state of health and appearance, but also the business.
LDaily: Have you become more popular with LIVE.LOVE, or does the involvement of interested people in your project involve your social activities?
T.Kozak: Social activities are different. Mine, for example, is connected with finances and investments. I am the coordinator of the civil platform called New Country. I am engaged in pension, financial, tax reforms, I am the co-author of several bills. This is a highly specialized industry, so I do not expect it to be popularized. I do not exclude the social factor, I regularly share posts on Facebook, but I say that somehow too early to say that the public projects have somehow won it. In general, the financial literacy of Ukrainians is very low. This I can argue, because I often read lectures about this.
Europeans are more experienced in this respect than we are. They perfectly understand the nature of taxes; they know that this is their future prosperity. We genetically continue to perceive taxes as a continuous evil, remembering the sad past times of our country. We are afraid of them, we try to cheat everywhere, pay less, and then, of course, we complain.
LDaily: Do foreign investors examine Ukraine?
T.Kozak: No, it’s not totally true, the opposite I would say. More and more active Ukrainians go abroad – to Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Portugal, and Italy. The balance is negative, people emigrate. Either passive or old remain. Both those and others must be fed. Pension compensations are small, social assistance is ridiculous. The state only struggles with corruption and creates an investment climate. Meanwhile, every so-called mask-show from the Security Service or the Tax Police expels thousands of businessmen from the country who will create a new business abroad. Surprisingly, the forces continue to flaunt this.
“Ukraine is a cage for investors and money, and my activity is to break this cell and open up the opportunity for Ukrainians to use modern financial services, make financial transactions around the world, insure themselves in foreign companies and much more”
LDaily: Would you like to live and build a business in another country?
T.Kozak: I lived abroad, but Ukraine is the best country for me. I do not want to shout that I’m a patriot and tear a national embroidered shirt on myself. Now they cover up their own political ambitions, even crimes, and the word “patriotism” is often used inappropriately. There are very few true patriots left. Actions are more eloquent than words.