Adversity and perseverance in every day life

In December, we Bec blog Jan 2016at Income Solutions held our End of Year Event in Geelong and Melbourne to say “thank you” to our wonderful clients. Every year we have a theme and this time it was “Adversity and Perseverance”. What does that have to do with Financial Planning? Well, in terms of “hanging in there”, quite a lot really.

In a complex world with billions of inhabitants, we often find ourselves needing to be tough in order to get by – and some have it much harder than others. One of our guest speakers at the event was Moira Kelly; an amazing humanitarian who thinks nothing of entering a war torn country to help sick and injured children receive adequate medical care and a warm bed. Her list of achievements and awards from 1986 onwards would make most of us feel incredibly guilty for complaining about a bad hair day or not having a nice enough car.

Moira is one of those special people with a very interesting psyche that not all of us are born with. As a little girl, she wanted to work with Mother Theresa to help those in need. At the age of 18, her wish came true. However, Moira made it happen. She willed it to happen, but also planned and took the necessary steps to make her dream a reality.

A timely example of this level of perseverance is Mr David Bowie and his rise to fame. This week I watched a documentary on his journey to creating the Ziggy Stardust character. I like to think I’m quite knowledgeable about music artists, as my preferred literary genre is the music biography. However, I wasn’t entirely aware of just how long it took Bowie to score a hit single and sell a decent amount of records. As David Jones, he formed his first band at 15, at 20 he released a strange novelty single that flopped, followed by a string of unsuccessful singles. It took Bowie ten years to become the huge star and incredible artist we know and love (and mourn) today. The level of belief in himself and his talent is what eventually made him one of the most influential music artists of all time. Most musicians would have given up during that ten year period.

So how does adversity and perseverance apply to you and I, in our everyday lives? We don’t need to be a Moira Kelly or a David Bowie to reach our goals. However, if we want to live a fulfilling life and do the things we love, we have to “hang in there” sometimes. Are you in the right job? Do you even like it, let alone love it? Would you consider going back to study to get a job you really want? Are you currently earning what you deserve? In terms of finances, is your money working for you? How (if at all) is your money and super invested?

So many questions to ask ourselves! Sometimes we have to change a few things in our lives to get on the path we should be on. Some of us will face adversity, most of us will need to persevere – but we only get one shot at life. At Income Solutions, we’re more than just financial planners – we believe that investing in yourself and doing what you love is the key to a happy and fulfilling life; and we talk to our clients about this every day.

Are you just starting out and want to find out about putting a plan in place to secure your financial future? Perhaps you just want to learn more about how your hard earned cash can be better invested? We have a range of free information sessions held in our Geelong and Melbourne offices which cater for everyone. It doesn’t matter how much you earn, or where you are in life, you can make some informed decisions and sensible choices to help design yourself a life that you can be passionate and excited about. So, get in touch!

Rebecca Lee, Marketing Manager

Myth #4: My Adviser should get me the best returns

SN blog 2016With recent market sentiment being all negative, oil price concerns, China devaluing the Yuan and Australian Share markets at a 2 ½ year low earlier this week, it’s timely that I post the 4th Financial Planning myth of the series; My Adviser should get me the best returns.

A good Financial Adviser, in fact, should be brave enough to admit that they’re unable to control markets and manipulate your portfolio to time markets and ‘buy low and sell high.’ Likewise, adding value by ‘picking’ individual stocks or Fund Managers is elusive.

As John Bogle, Founder and former CEO of Vanguard puts it, ‘Successful Investing is all about common sense.’ ‘Simple arithmetic suggests, and history confirms, that the winning strategy is to own all of the nation’s publicly held businesses at very low cost.’

“So what does a Financial Adviser do, then?”

A truly great Adviser should assist you to build a capital base that produces enough income to enjoy the lifestyle you want to live in the future; all whilst juggling your short term goals such as building a family, educating said loved ones, paying for travel to give your family great experiences along the way, covering contingencies (in case life doesn’t go as planned) and allowing you work-life balance – so you can enjoy the spoils of your hard work.

Indeed, there are many roles an Adviser should play in your life; including educating you to make sound decisions with money, reassuring you during tough times, giving you recognition for your efforts and achievements, providing you with peace of mind, and offering a sounding board to bounce ideas off.

My favourite description is ‘an unreasonable friend’. As a coach and a friend, your Adviser will be someone in your life who gets behind you and can give you a nudge beyond the normal limits you have set for yourself in order to help you reach for something greater. Someone who will not simply tell you what you want to hear, but rather what you need to hear, and always put your interests in front of theirs. It sounds simple, but that is often very difficult to find.

To book an appointment with an Income Solutions Adviser, visit our website now!

DAVID RAMSAY’S END OF YEAR COMMENT

As the year comDavid EoYes to an end, you will see in the media the so-called financial experts trying to predict what the share market will return in 2016.

Personally, I never make short term predictions about the share market; but if I did it would similar to Nick Murray’s prediction for the US market for 2016. Many people say if the US sneezes we get a cold, however I hope we get what Murray predicts the US will receive in 2016:

“We’re simply observing that five hundred large profit-seeking companies, managed by experienced professionals, are currently planning to commit very large cash sums to strategies which might, if successful, result in both direct and indirect benefits to the patient, diversified, long-term investor”. Nick Murray, Client’s Corner, Dec 2015.

To find out more, I urge you to visit Nick Murray’s website and subscribe to his Newsletter Client’s Corner. The article is entitled How Companies Are Planning To Reward Shareholders In 2016. I also recommend, if you have not already done so – that you attend our free information evening Common Sense Investing. We have dates scheduled for January, however if you are still enjoying your holidays, our 2016 dates and can be viewed here.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

David Ramsay, CEO and Founder

RETHINKING YOUR DECISIONS

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of JulyAs part of my current study I was required to research and analyse the Charter Hall Group. I am inclined to share some of my findings with you.

Charter Hall Group (CHG), is a property funds manager which, was founded in 1991. The group employs specialist intellectual property and advanced intellectual knowledge to manage property assets across retail, office, residential and industrial properties. These assets can be held in either unlisted, or listed property trust.

The Charter Hall Group’s intellectual property includes investment management, asset management, property management, transaction services, development services, and treasury, finance, and legal and custodian services as outlined in the Charter Hall Group Annual Report 2015. Consequently, Charter Hall consider themselves to be the upmost experts in property.

On the 16th of June 2006, the Charter Hall Group floated on the ASX, closing at $4.97.

On the 14th of December 2015, the Charter Hall Group closing price was $4.33. This demonstrates a loss of over 12%, in 9.5 years.

I ask you, taking into consideration the information I have just shared with you.

If the experts at Charter Hall are unable to make a profit in the property market, why do so many Australians invest their time, and expend their energy trying to turn property into profit?

David Ramsay, Founder and CEO

HAVE A PLAN & REAP THE REWARDS

Elise blog Dec 2015As a young professional, retirement seems so far away. I’m busy trying to achieve the balance between work, study and a social life, so as to enjoy what many would call the ‘prime’ of my life.  Women are living longer than men, are still getting paid less than men, and are more likely to have gaps in employment due to taking on ‘carer’ roles. Consequently, we as women, generally have less superannuation and other investments. So although my retirement may not be in my immediate future, the financial planner within urges me to plan – especially because I am female.

Everyone’s plan is different but the basics are the same.

At Income Solutions we believe the best investment you will ever make is in yourself.  Further education offers you a great advantage over your colleagues. It can give you the confidence to apply for that promotion, or to request a pay rise and breach the gender pay gap.  Whilst working full-time and studying is not an easy feat, once you have achieved a balance it is definitely worth it.

Develop a budget.  I know budget sounds like a dirty word and no one wants to know how much they spend, but it is important.  It is not about not spending money, it is just about knowing how much you do spend.  It is one of the most important aspects of your plan.  Many of the banks now have budgeting tools in-built with your internet banking and this is a great place to start.  You can’t plan to invest in the future without knowing how much you spend.

Another vital part of your plan should be protection. People don’t question insuring their car or their house, but if you ask them if they have Income Protection they don’t understand why they need it. You are the money machine, and if you are not able to work and earn an income where is the money going to come from?  Insurance is important. It is no longer your partners or parents responsibility to safeguard your future.  You are an adult, and you need to take responsibility. Insurance is easily obtained and some of it can even be funded through your superannuation.

Now comes the fun part; planning.  Think about your goals.  Write them down.  The best way to keep yourself accountable as you are progressing towards achieving your goals is to have them written down.  My goals have always been to travel and I have been fortunate enough to see quite a bit of the world.  The downside to this is that the list of places I still want to visit keeps getting longer.  I know I am going to need to work hard and invest to have an income large enough to support this lifestyle.  Family is also important to me and I would like to have one of my own one day.  Due to this I know that I will fall into the same situation as many women who take breaks in their employment and work part time in order to raise a family.

One thing that is not on my list of goals is buying a house.  Many of my friends and family cannot understand this.  I hear the phrase from them ‘rent money is dead money’ all the time.  This is not true.  Interest is dead money.  I know I can rent a nicer place than I can afford to buy and will not be paying interest to the bank to do so.  I can invest the difference in what my rent is as compared to what mortgage repayments would be for the same house and build up my investments that way.  One day in the future my investments will be able to fund my travelling adventures.  My friends will own a house that is simply costing them money, not making them money.  I know this strategy is not for everyone and if it is your goal to own a house it just should be planned for and structured the right way.

When you talk to young professionals about financial planning, the common theme is that it is too hard and they don’t have time to plan.  It really isn’t that hard and a little bit of time invested now will pay dividends in the future.

Income Solutions have a variety of presentations – Income Solutions for Women, First Steps to Financial Success, Common Sense Investing, and Common Sense Estate Planning.  If you want to find out more about us and how we can help you, head to our website and register for one of our free information sessions or simply book a free appointment. By the way, our coffee is so good it’s worth just popping in for that!

This post also appears as an article in the latest RUBY magazine.

Elise Ryan, Financial Planner

 

A BIT OF A GAMBLE

A friend came to me the other day asking about shares and to look into a new ‘share trading’ app he had seen advertised on Facebook. He explained that by investing in shares he could turn $250 (the minimum deposit requirement) into $900 in a matter of hours!

This had me thinking, do many people my age see investing in shares as a get rich quick scheme or a way to make a quick buck? From various conversation with friends and family members it seems that they do.

I believe this is the wrong way to think. Shares should be seen as an investment which is held for the long term, providing regular dividends and long term capital growth. We, as young adults, don’t need to find the next speculative stock which share price may double tomorrow.

We have so many years ahead of us that we should be more concerned about creating good saving habits, establishing a sound financial strategy and investing in the right kind of shares. These ‘right kind of shares’ will grow in the background without the need to regularly log onto a share trading app to see if your investment has double (or halved in value) and then quickly sell at the right time. These ‘share trading’ apps sound a bit like gambling to me!

We should be buying the right kind of stocks, holding them for the long term and reaping the rewards of compounding. The information evening that we host at Income Solutions every month (called Common Sense Investing) is a great place to start your long term journey and perhaps hear a new point of view.

If you’d like to hear more, register NOW!

Patrick Dwyer, Associate Financial Planner

BRIDGING THE GAP – FINANCIAL EQUALITY

Recently our very own Alison Adams wrote the below article for RUBY magazine. The message is just too important so we thought the article should also feature as blog post:

get riled, it irks me, it makes me cringe.  Do we really need events specifically targeted at women? 

As a woman, I have had a successful career which has allowed me flexibility and choices and sees me treated with respect in my workplace – I’m treated the same as any male counterparts in an industry that has traditionally been male dominated.  As a mother of two young girls I don’t feel like there are any limitations or restrictions to their future just because they are female.

So if this is how I feel, why is it that:

  • Women remain behind men in the pay scale, earning an average annual gross income of $67,000 compared to men who are paid about $82,500 per year.
  • The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia tell us that in 2011-12 average super balances were $82,615 for men and $44,866 for women.

I feel equal but these statistics don’t feel equal.  Combine this with the fact that:

  • Women have a longer life expectancy than men.
  • Women are more likely to have breaks in employment or work part time, either caring for children or elderly parents.
  • Women could spend 30+ years in retirement. Put another way, on average a 65 year old woman will spend 25% of her life in retirement.

OK, I don’t like to generalise, however we have noticed a trend where women have a tendency to avoid seeking financial advice.  This trend doesn’t seem to discriminate – it applies to single women, women in relationships, divorced women, professional women and stay at home Mums.   Women are great at being busy.  We juggle a lot of roles.  We also tend to be competent at managing our households – we definitely seem to have day to day finances under control.  The same can’t be said for long term planning – and it’s long term planning that can make the world of difference.

All of these factors seem quite grim.  So I’m going to earn less, save less and need to fund a longer retirement.  On top of that I’m going to ignore the situation and not seek advice.  Situation hopeless, right?  Wrong.

In direct response to these issues Income Solutions have developed a targeted presentation for women, helping to break down the issues and provide solutions.   There are so many things that can be done to bridge this gap.  Every woman should feel empowered to take control and make a difference to their future financial fitness.  I’m going to quote on of our advisers, Gareth Daniels “It doesn’t matter how much you earn, it doesn’t matter where you are in life – you can make some informed decisions and sensible choices.  You really can design a lifestyle that you are passionate and excited about”.  Gareth’s comment wasn’t particularly female focused but boy, his message hits the nail on the head!  Ivana Trump once famously said “Don’t get mad, get even”.  She was of course talking about making her soon to be ex-husband pay dearly in their divorce.  Think about it though – getting even is exactly what we want to achieve.  Financial equality…….and we can show women how they can create it themselves without the need to marry and then divorce the rich husband!

How can women get started if they don’t know where to start and are not likely to seek help?  In developing Income Solutions for Women, we’ve made sure the presentation is portable.  We know Geelong is full of great businesses and inside these great business are owners and managers that care about their employees and their future.  After all, that’s just smart business.  Our philosophy at Income Solutions has always centred around education – it is the key to empowerment.  As a result Income Solutions for Women is now available as a work place session. Come on employers, its history in the making!  To book a session or to talk about Income Solutions for Women or any of the other information sessions in our range, give us a call on 03 5229 0577, drop us a line to [email protected], or visit our website.

Alison Adams, Business Development Manager

OPENING UP TO A NEW WORLD

Before I started working at Income Solutions in January of this year, I had absolutely no idea that I could invest my superannuation in shares, or that having a Financial Planner could help me in the slightest – when I had almost nothing in the bank. My super sat in a “cash hub” for years as I happily watched it slowly grow every time my employer made a contribution. For a few years I worked at universities, where I enjoyed 17% super contributions, and I remember thinking “how great is that, 17%?” It was pretty good, but it would have been even better if I had been educated on how to invest it.

According to mainstream society I should be married with a couple of children, have a mortgage, be taking the kids to music lessons or sporting games, and be drinking wine with other mothers reminiscing about the 1990s and how great it was in our 20s.

But what if you find yourself (happily I might add) single, childless, living alone with two cats, with just a little in the bank, and with a history of being a terrible saver and a serial mover? In the past twenty years, I’ve lived in almost ten cities and have started over again more times than the average person my age. I never paid much attention to saving money and I didn’t think about my super and how living overseas for 10 years would affect it.  I also didn’t think about getting old; retirement was so far away that there wasn’t much point giving it a second thought.

What I’ve learned in the past nine months from working at Income Solutions is that you can be any age, with a little or a lot of money, with some knowledge of Financial Planning or none at all – and you will still benefit from professional, expert advice that can get you on the path to saving money, growing your super, and investing for the future. There is also no need to feel guilty for not owning your own home. In fact, it’s actually not the right path to take for everyone and you could be better off investing in other ways. Wow. Now I feel better – because I previously felt the pressure to get that home loan.

So what does a woman like myself need to do to get her finances in shape?

  1. Find a Financial Planner who understands you as an individual
  2. Make sure you have a bank account with a “money tracking” facility to help you budget simply and effectively – it’s actually empowering to discover where your money goes!
  3. Work at having a “buffer” amount in your bank account at all times
  4. Work with your Financial Planner to invest your super to help it grow
  5. Get the right insurance in place to protect yourself
  6. Listen and take on board the advice you receive from your Financial Planner – you’ll most likely learn much more than you thought you would

So, whether or not I’m a gypsy or a “crazy cat lady” (or both), I am now on my way to securing my financial future and feel safe in the knowledge that I will retire in 25 years or so with more than enough money to live on. When I stop working and wish to travel some more (or move interstate), I most certainly can – but much more comfortably than before.

Want to learn more about what Income Solutions has to offer women? We run free workplace information sessions called Income Solutions for Women in the Geelong region. We’ll come to you. Tell your colleagues, boss, or HR manager about us and book a group session via our website. Coming soon to this blog section – a fabulous article (recently featured in RUBY magazine) by our Business Development Manager Alison Adams. You’ll learn how statistics show that we can be disadvantaged due to breaks in employment and lower super balances – but luckily there are ways to fix this!

Rebecca Lee, Marketing Manager

 

 

MEET DANNY ARCHER, OUR FIRST INTERN FOR 2015

In July, we offered an internship opportunity to Deakin Commerce student Danny Archer. This week we’ve said goodbye to him after seven weeks with us. The Income Solutions team in Geelong enjoyed having a new face in the office, and we were very impressed by Danny’s enthusiasm and how quickly he learned the “ropes”. We took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his experience as an intern with Income Solutions. (We’ll be advertising more internships soon, details at the end of this post!).

Danny 2

  1. How did you find out about internships at Income Solutions?

I sent an expression of interest e-mail directly to Income Solutions explaining my situation at University, and my desire to obtain an internship with the purpose of gaining an advantage over my co-students by having real, professional experience in my penultimate year of studies.

  1. Take us through the process of applying and being accepted.

Mason replied to my e-mail via a phone call advising me that Income Solutions were impressed with my informal application, and would  like to organize a meeting to discuss the matter on a more formal basis. David (CEO) and Mason (Operations Manager) were present at my interview which I was made to feel very comfortable and welcomed in. We discussed my career-objectives, what I wanted out of an internship, what role they were prepared to offer as an internship and also my University layout moving forward.

  1. What was your first impression of the office itself?

I particularly liked the open-plan design of the bottom level offices, giving the firm a tight-knit feel. The most impressive aspect of the Geelong office is the 75-seat Auditorium. A great initiative by David, I attended one of the Common Sense Investing Information Evenings which was held in the Auditorium, and it really reinforced how beneficial it is to the firm.

  1. What was your first impression of the staff?

Meeting the staff was the part of the Internship I was initially most frightened about. I wasn’t sure how they would take to having an Intern in the office, as I am the first, or how they would react to my inevitably repetitious questions about how to complete certain tasks and duties. During my initial tour of the office, every staff member I met welcomed me with a great smile and warm personalities, instantly minimizing the nerves I was feeling and making me feel comfortable from the beginning. Having this support from the staff, particularly the Associates with whom I worked closest with, eradicated any nerves I had about making mistakes on work as I knew help was always there when needed.

  1. What kind of work have you been doing during the internship?

I began completing documents for client review meetings, Unit Calculation spread sheets, Share Dividend spreadsheets, Fee Disclosure Statements (FDS) and preparing the client(s) Portfolio Review files. I found this task very enjoyable and informative as I was able to learn a lot about Superannuation and Pension funds, share dividends and their distribution methods and also different types of insurances available to individuals and families. I was also able to sit in on a client review meeting with Dan, one of the Advisors, and an individual client, which was an experience I had looked forward to throughout the Internship. I really enjoyed being exposed to how an advisor-client meeting is held, and was also able to write the File-Note at its conclusion.

  1. Have you been able to apply what you have learned from your Commerce degree during the internship?

I have been able to apply a considerable amount of knowledge learned throughout my Commerce degree into my Internship. The classes undertaken as part of my Financial Planning major obviously helped having a fundamental understanding of shares, property, cash, insurances, assets, liabilities and estate planning, which I was able to build on significantly during my time at Income Solutions. My Accounting classes also helped, in particular with my understanding of taxation in Australia which is a core component of Financial Planning.

The Advisers at Income Solutions are impeccably professional and have a very strong belief in the investment strategy used at the firm. My outlook on investing in either of the three asset classes has drastically changed due to constant teaching from the Advisers here. I tried to make use of their knowledge as much as possible and asked many different questions about what investment strategy would be best in many different scenarios..

  1. Would you recommend us to other students who want to undertake an internship?

I would definitely recommend Income Solutions as a firm for any student to complete an internship at. The professional development I have been lucky enough to achieve here has exceeded all expectations I had prior to commencing the Internship, and is an invaluable asset I now have as I endeavor to complete my degree and apply for full-time positions post-grad.

Want to be the next intern at Income Solutions? Visit our Careers page and apply. Interview rounds begin in October.

Nick Cooper – we’ll miss you – mostly ;)

Nick Cooper blogWe had BIG news in June.  When you work in the world of financial planning, the media is always making news BIG …..generally BIGGER than it needs to be and normally peppered with their special brand of doom & gloom spin.  So, BIG news is nothing out of the ordinary.  This time, however the news was closer to home.  Very close in fact because Nick Cooper, announced his retirement!

We must admit it didn’t come as a huge shock – Nick was already “semi-retired”, working 2 days a week.  I have worked with Nick for 25 years and when he finally made his decision to retire it prompted me to think about the things I will miss about him when he’s gone.  And some things I won’t miss.

I WILL miss Nick’s company.

I WON’T miss him hanging over the side of my desk to tell me EVERY “important” thing he can think of.  Let me tell you, there’s a lot of “important” stuff happening in the world of Nick Cooper!  And telling him to “go away” doesn’t even work!

I WILL miss Nick’s reliability and sense of duty – if something needs to be done, investigated or followed up, he’s the man to go to.  Big or little job.  Hard or easy job.  He even normally does it without complaining.

I WON’T miss Nick’s singing and dancing.  How does that man know the lyrics to every song that’s played on the radio?  Worst still when he used to play the Moody Blues at ear splitting volume and sing along to that.  Painful memories there for sure.

All jokes aside, Nick and I have worked together for a very long time and the thing I will probably miss the most is the ease of relationship you have when you’ve worked with someone for that long.  We can’t offend each other – we’ve tried and it’s like water off a ducks back.  We can have tantrums with each other and we don’t even have to apologise afterwards.  We’ve built up a form of unspoken language where one look can say much more than words ever could.  As Nick would say, “he’d get less for murder” or even worse “it’s like he’s got two wives, both telling him what to do”.

Amazingly, Nick has only ever had two jobs:  starting as a young cadet in the RAF before transferring to the RAAF and achieving the rank of Flight Lieutenant; and financial planning, where humble Nick won’t give you any clues but he did achieve quite a few accolades along the way.  Nick decided to start studying while he was in the RAAF and completed a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Accounting.  Not too long after his studies were completed, he decided to leave the RAAF and try his hand at financial planning.  Nick took a position as a junior planner at a planning firm in Dandenong, where he was taken under the wing of planner Dilip Dutt, with whom he remains firm friends to this day.  Nick then decided that a tree change to Geelong was in order and took up a partnership opportunity with Geoff Peach in Lara (at this time he made the best business decision of his career by hiring me!).  There has been a few business reincarnations along the way, eventually leading where he is today at Income Solutions.   And it has been a ride with a few twists and turns – probably the biggest challenge being Nick’s horrific accident.  Sometimes from bad things, good things can shine – Nick generally understates the severity of that accident but he was lucky to survive it.  He displayed so many of his positive traits to get through that time – determination, strength of character, perseverance.  Plus he proved what we all knew – his tough head was no match for a car windscreen!  As he’ll readily tell you – he won that battle, not the car.

I know it’s with great pride that Nick will tell you that many of his original clients are still his clients today and they are the reason he’s stuck around for so long. While he’s sad to say goodbye, he’s confident he’s left them in good hands.  All good things to come to an end and I’m glad Nick’s decided it’s time to do some things for himself.  He’s going to tick off some bucket list items – a couple of cruises around this beautiful world we live in and if you’re travelling on the roads look out for the old bikie putt putting past you on his motorbike!  Give him a wave when you see him.

Alison_Adams

By Alison Adams, Business Development Manager

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