My Trip to Stanford – A Note From CEO and Founder David Ramsay

I returned last week from my studies in Stanford and would like to share some of my thoughts.

Stanford is the heart of Silicon Valley where the head offices of Google, Facebook and Apple reside. You could say it is the home of innovation.

These days, there are three main narratives impacting investors.

 

Narrative 1: says that Wall Street caused the Global Financial Crisis and that the U.S. Government saved the economy.

Narrative 2: argues that the U.S. is not really in recovery. Anything good happening out there, a rising stock market or falling unemployment rates, is either a bubble or a lie.

Narrative 3: says that the U.S. Government is using Quantitative Easing (QE), TARP and Government stimulus that has created a bubble.

 

What is interesting about all these narratives is that they are all government centric. They ignore the role of entrepreneurship.

In the past seven years, fracking has made the U.S. the most productive energy producer in the world. The cloud, smartphone’s, tablets, apps, 3-D printing, genetic mapping and testing, vertical farming and Big Data are all boosting productivity and profits at company after company.

The Federal Government have never fracked a well or 3-D printed a body part, QE didn’t create the cloud or Big Data, entrepreneurs did.

 

Palo Alto, CA, USA - Sept. 17, 2015: Stanford University Hoover Tower. Completed in 1941, the 50th year of Stanford University's anniversary, the tower was inspired by the cathedral tower in Salamanca, Spain.Palo Alto, CA, USA – Sept. 17, 2015: Stanford University Hoover Tower. Completed in 1941, the 50th year of Stanford University’s anniversary, the tower was inspired by the cathedral tower in Salamanca, Spain.

 

One of those entrepreneurs, Bill Gates, says we are on the verge of 3 amazing technological advances which will be the key drivers in economic growth.

  1. Advanced Robotics – In the U.S. manufacturing between 1993 and 2007 robots accounted for more than one tenth of total GDP growth over this period.

     

     

  2. A Cure for Alzheimer’s – The disease costs the U.S. 230 Billion per year, mostly to Medicare and Medicaid. A cure would immediately alter the budget of every state in the country, not to mention millions of lives.
  3. Super Cement – advances in materials science means for how you build things, how long it lasts, we are going to be able to build infrastructure that lasts 10 times as long as the cement rebar approach that we have today.

 

With all that economic pessimism, it is sure great to have visited the epicenter of innovation. This innovation will continue to provide long term shareholders with a growing income stream to live the lifestyle they desire.

Staff Blog – Investing in yourself!

At Income Solutions, we as staff are taught to invest in ourselves – and for me, that investment came in the form of my physical health with cycling.

Two years ago I started occasionally bike riding with friends around the Bellarine area and to my surprise enjoyed it, so bought myself a basic bike and equipment and took up cycling as a serious (and expensive!) hobby.

I get asked sometimes how I stay motivated for cycling – long rides, sore bum, weather conditions. The truth is, once you’ve invested so much of your money and time into something, you’re automatically a bit more incentivized to continue. Then, as you become fitter and a more skilled cyclist, the desire to push yourself to new limits becomes more prevalent.

Currently, the furthest I have ridden is in the Great Ocean and Otway Classic Ride which was 145km’s. The race started off at 7am and I was able to cross the line at 12:45pm.

I’ve taken a bit of time off these last few months as it’s the off season and only been riding about twice a week, but with Summer not too far away I’ll be getting back into training soon of riding five times a week, with a combination of before work rides and longer trips on a weekend as well as throwing in some running. Two events that I’m particularly looking forward to this season are the Around the Bay in a Day – where I’ll trek 250km’s starting in Alexandra Gardens (Melbourne) out to Queenscliff, catching the ferry across to Sorrento and then riding along the coast back to the city, finishing up at Alexandra Gardens. The other event that I am looking forward to is Amy’s Gran Fondo – an event for the late Amy Gillet who tragically passed away in Germany, 2005 when she was representing Australia with a group of riders and a vehicle crashed into their squad during a training exercise. Not only does this ride raise awareness around the importance of the 1.5m rule – but the Otways (although one of the most challenging in Victoria) is rewarding because of the views you’re surrounded by along the way.

One of the reason’s why I love cycling so much, is that anyone with a bike and a pair of runners can participate – people of all ages, abilities and fitness levels can ride a route and at a pace that best suit’s them, while still getting all the benefits of physical fitness and taking in the sceneries.

I highly encourage anyone who has thought of taking up cycling to give it a go, it’s a great way to see new part’s of Victoria!

Financial Planning: FAQ’s

You're not the only one asking yourself these questions!

As a person who has spent majority of their life in the financial services industry, I was sure I was well versed in taking care of my finances. I understood the basic principles:

Have a diversified portfolio, stick to a budget, and save for the future.

Both my parents worked in the banking industry and I had been exposed to discussions about money from a young age. I streamlined into commerce subjects for Year 12, and went onto study semesters in subjects such as Financial Accounting and Income Tax Law which would probably put any other sane person to sleep. Nevertheless I genuinely enjoyed learning about finances, and I chose to study accounting both at an undergraduate and postgraduate level.

However, sitting in my first Common Sense Investing presentation given by Income Solutions, and on that day presented by the company’s founder, David Ramsay, I realised that I knew very little about my own finances.

I was also about to turn thirty, and with the end of our twenties we all have some real world experience under our belts – we’ve tried some things, failed at some and succeeded at others.

Living as a thirty-something brings a lot of new and interesting financial challenges.

Do we have enough money in our emergency fund for a rainy day?

Should we be spending all our savings on our wedding? (My other half glares at me as I write this second line).

I realised I needed to make a few changes if I was going to secure my family’s financial future. I have gained a lot of exposure to this area of planning for the future in my time with Income Solutions; working closely with David, Elise and the many team members of our Geelong office.

 

Here are a few questions that have struck me both personally and professionally now that I have hit the big 3-0 this year:

 

I do not have a lot of spare money to invest, nor do I have thousands in savings. Why do I need a Financial Planner?

Advice from a financial planner is not necessarily for people paying taxes in the highest tax bracket and earning a six figure salary. Making sound financial decisions in your early twenties can have a significant difference to your future. Financial planners can give advice on the choices you make, your lifestyle and not only where you see yourself in 10 years, but how to get there.

 

Where is the best place to keep my money that I do have?

The conundrum of a fixed deposit or investing in the share market. Managing your savings wisely is important to your long-term wealth creation plans, and can guard against financial disadvantage should the situation ever arise. Each savings strategy is different, based on the individuals situation.

 

When is the right time to sign up for a mortgage?

The first goal for most young professionals is to save up for that first house; whether it be the dream home, the older house that needs renovations or a house in a different area that can be leased and used as an investment property. There are a lot of options and factors to be considered such as risk, debt, interest rates and it is important to remember that what is right for you may not apply for someone else.

 

Where is my super and how does it work?

Your superannuation matters – most Australians rely on their superannuation balances to fund them in retirement. Most of my own friends working in a variety of fields – engineers, doctors and casual work – seem to not know where there super is and how it is invested.

 

How important is life insurance?

Under-insurance is a big problem –the possibility of becoming totally and permanently disabled is not something you consider in your 20s. However, these tough questions need to be asked and answered to help secure your future.

 

What is budgeting and why is it important?

Budgeting doesn’t mean you need to pinch your pennies and not enjoy yourself. It is more about having an idea of where you are spending your money and finding ways to cut down on that frivolous spending that drains your bank account. It is used for planning and for control. Financial planners can assist you with committing to a budget in order to make an agreed-on outcome happen.

 

 

There is no one right time to be thinking of the future. It needs to be happening, always. If you are working full-time, part time, in-between jobs, just taking a few months off work to spend time with the family, or you are pondering starting your own business, we will be able to help manage your goals and dreams. You may be, like myself, entering an age where the thought of retirement and other financial issues become a bit more ‘real’ or you just want a better understanding of how your money will deliver the lifestyle you want.

If any of the above queries have resonated with you as they did with me, or if you have any other burning questions and want to learn how to better strategize for your future, drop by Income Solutions and we’ll make time for a chat.

 

Tharaka Leeniyagoda

Associate Financial Planner

 

Please note: The advice in this article is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information.

Why you shouldn’t panic!

Staff Blog

There are times in life where you listen to the news with a heavy heart, and a slight panic.  It’s fair to say the big news stories of the last few weeks have left me feeling this way, following the tragic loss of life in Orlando Florida, and the murder of Jo Cox in the UK.   Label them what you will – hate crime, terrorism – it doesn’t matter how they are portrayed, the reality is that in the global village of today’s world you acutely feel the pain of these events as if they happened down your own street.

As Business Development Manager at Income Solutions, I make sure I keep up to date with the news and read as many articles as I can.  As a Financial Planning firm, we are very interested in behavioural investing and the flow on effect big news events have on the way people view investment markets.

Last week I’ve read articles around SPECULATION of the Brexit outcome – Britain’s decision leave the European Union, for which Jo Cox was passionately campaigning against.  I was horrified to read one article where the author was promoting changing investment options for superannuation investors based on what MIGHT happen.  For example, the author’s suggestion is that the Australian share prices MIGHT be affected by this decision.  The author’s strategy was to sell now while the price is high and then hold cash until it’s right to buy back into Australian shares at a low price.  The author doesn’t predict when that “right time” might be.

NO!  I feel so strongly against this sort of SPECULATIVE advice that I’ll just repeat that.  NO!

Let me give you a definition of speculation, taken from the Macquarie Concise Dictionary: Trading of commodities in the hope of profit from changes in the market price, engagement in business transaction involving considerable risk but offering the hope of large gains.

Now let’s consider your superannuation – a long term INVESTMENT designed to provide you with income when you retire.  From the same source, the definition of investment: The investing of money or capital in order to secure profitable returns, especially interest or income.

Let’s face our own reality.  Unless you are a qualified investment analyst with access to financial reports (which you know how to read and understand), I doubt you have the skill set to know how to time to market.  Event trained and experienced Fund Managers who spend their working week researching and making investment decisions don’t always get it right.  I honestly can’t think of one scenario in 25 years in the industry where I recall a happy outcome.  My over-riding memory of clients who have taken this step is seeing their stress and feeling their loss.

Besides, you seriously have better things to do.

Instead, invest in yourself.  Be the best you can be at your chosen profession or even just life in general.  Set some goals, lifestyle and/or financial, and work hard towards achieving them.  Then outsource – just as most people don’t service their own car or build their own house, your investment decisions should be outsourced to a trusted Financial Planner.  Let your only investment decisions be around how much energy you can place into making your world a better place to live in.  If you can achieve this, by extension of the positive things you are doing, you can contribute towards replacing those heavy news stories with more good news stories.  Even if it’s only the local news.  What’s more, you’ll be spending time enjoying life.

Alison Adams
Business Development Manager

 

Please note: The advice in this article is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information.

From Frivolous to Finance – Getting Your Money in Order.

Savings.

Growing up I’ve been lucky enough to live a really good Aussie life.

Mum, Dad, two little brothers, a Dalmatian dog named Stripes (I wish that was a joke) and a white picket fence. I received an above average education, studied overseas, taken many family holidays and have never gone without.

I’ve had it really good.

So you can imagine my shock and embarrassment when after thirteen years of schooling, four years of tertiary education and my abundance of worldly experiences, I was ill-equipped to handle my finances.

I can tell you about Pythagoras’ Thoerum, go into detail analyzing Euripedes Medea, and Peut parler un minimum français! (I took a little French in school, if I’m being honest it was just to go on the Year 10 trip to Paris.)

But up until recently, I couldn’t tell you how my bank accounts worked.

I couldn’t tell you what the interest rate was on my Credit Card, and I definitely couldn’t tell you ​​why I thought it was OK to go into the bank and take out a loan to travel Europe for 4 months.

But don’t worry guys, I know how to solve for x using  x + 9 = 18 + -2x …phew!

So when I returned from gulping my way through the beer halls in Germany and skiing the slopes in Switzerland, it was time to return home and face the music.

But how?

I was so ashamed to admit that after all the education my parents had provided me with and the privileges life had thrown in my direction, that I was in this position.

By a stroke a fate, I had applied for a job in admin support here at Income Solutions, and got it. I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony! Me, who can’t get her account out of the red working at this financial firm?

What has struck me over the last six months is how the key skills you need are so simple. They are based on common sense. Why is this not being taught to us at high school?

But it’s ok, I know HBr is Hydrogen Bromide… I’ll use that one day!

No matter your history or your circumstance, it’s important to make a decision to want to help yourself and do something about it.

Once you’ve made that decision, it’s about education and discipline.

Education isn’t just for the young, you need to keep educating yourself throughout life. Education in knowing where your money is going, where you’re being taxed or getting charged interest and what options are available to you.

Discipline in sticking to your plan, being able to say ‘not yet’ to those shoes you want, living within your means and not relying on credit.

If you would like to take the first step towards improving your financial situation, go to www.incomeoslutions.com.au/events and register for our First Steps to Financial Success seminar. Topics that are covered include Setting Goals, Managing your Cash Flow, Debt Management, and strategies for building and protecting wealth.

It’s free, no obligation and the purpose is to provide tips and education to people who want it.

What have you got to lose?

Celeste Smith – Marketing Coordinator

Please note: The advice in this article is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information.

153 Mercer Street, Geelong

The Goal of the Purple Box Discussion

WHYUnless you choose to live the life of a hermit, it is an inevitable fact that you are always meeting new people. Some meetings are just fleeting passages in your life, some become lasting and leave an imprint on your own little journey.  As I grow older I am becoming more conscious of these chance encounters. When these people come into your life, for whatever reason I often wonder to myself, “How did this person get to where they are in the world?’. Now this can go both ways, this person could be achieving unbelievable feats that you would have never have thought possible, or more often than not the situation can be quite the opposite. We all know that person that we felt was destined for so much more, but for whatever reason they just haven’t been able to figure out what their path is.
In effect, when we as advisers sit down and have the Purple Box discussion with our clients, we specifically focus on the individual developing themselves in a manner that will benefit their life, careers and business exploits. We have learnt that when a client is able to successfully invest in themselves, their ability to ‘create wealth’ increases exponentially. We genuinely want the people that work with us to be that person that is achieving the unbelievable. But why do some achieve, and not others? James Allen’s “As A Man Thinketh” goes a long way towards explaining in my mind why some people achieve everything they want, while others are left floundering.  Although Allen (1864-1912) never achieved great fame or wealth, his works continue to influence people around the world today. His collection of thoughts highlight how powerful our minds truly are. Allen’s underlying argument is that a man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts. Allen effectively states, if you choose to think noble thoughts, your actions will eventually become noble and vice versa.

“A man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart, and set out to accomplish it. He should make this purpose the centralizing point of his thoughts. It may take the form of a spiritual ideal, or it may be a worldly object, according to his nature at the time being; but whichever it is, he should steadily focus his thought-forces upon the object, which he has set before him.”

When I read this passage I think of those people I know who are doing the same thing day in day out, never moving forward but consoling themselves with the idea that they are okay because they don’t seem to be moving backwards.

As an adviser, we see it in their faces when they aren’t quite content with life. People will not often tell you, but you get that sense. That sense of confusion and frustration, that anxiety that they aren’t quite where they thought they would be. After every Purple Box Discussion, I believe there is but one objective: It is critical that our clients leave with a goal in mind, an agreed upon centralizing point of thought.

As Allen mentions, it can be anything. Is it that promotion they have always wanted, or that University Degree that always seemed too far away? Do you want to buy a new Caravan so you can sneak off as you please? Or simply, do you wish to be the best parent you can possibly be? It doesn’t matter what it is, just that it is something. When I reflect on the greatest achievers that I have met, they all seem to have one thing in common. It is the fact that they keep on moving forward, no matter how far away that destination maybe. They pick out a mountain on the horizon and start walking towards it. By the time they get to the base of the mountain, they realise the mountain isn’t so big after all.

If you would like to book a time to have a Purple Box discussion with me or find out more about how we can help your dreams come to life, call (03) 5232 1200 to arrange a time to catch up.

Kane Leersen, Financial Planner

Please note: The advice in this article is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information.

Myth #3: Financial Planning is all about Investing and Retirement

Steven Myth 3 blogThere is a common misperception that Financial Planning is all about Investments and Retirement Planning. Sure, the investment of surplus funds (spending less than you earn in case that is a foreign concept!) and Superannuation is a big part of what we do. However, a good Financial Planning relationship should extend well beyond simply advising on Investment and Superannuation products and strategies.

For example, your trusted Adviser should challenge you to get the best out of yourself in your career or business (what we affectionately refer to as your Purple Box here at Income Solutions) and push you to get outside your comfort zone (much the way a Personal Trainer does).

A solid Financial Planning Relationship is built on not just Trust, but importantly on a process of education. You don’t need to become an expert, but there is no doubt the better understanding you have, the more successful your outcomes. At Income Solutions, we run Information Sessions (including Common Sense Investing, Common Sense Estate Planning and First Steps to Financial Success) to assist you to gain knowledge in all things Financial Planning.

A good Adviser will also give you encouragement and the confidence to spend your Income on the things you’re passionate about; saving for a boat? Wanting the freedom to work part-time and travel more? Far too often Advisers get fixated on assisting their clients to accrue wealth, often at the expense of the very reason you sought advice in the first place, to be in a position to ‘live the life you want to live.’

Last but certainly not least, even when your Finances are in order and you are well educated, your Adviser should assist to facilitate the transfer of wealth to the next generation, embracing the responsibility to educate future generations to ensure the benefits of your hard work is reaped for generations to come, and not cashed in and spent in a heartbeat.

To learn more about the specific areas of advice we provide, find out more about our services here.

Steven Nickelson, Financial Planner

Why Income Solutions?

Even as a young child I was quite good at putting aside money and saving for things rather than, as most children do, getting my pocket money and spending it on lollies or other sweets.

Throughout my primary and secondary school years I enjoyed maths and problem solving. When I was in year 11 and starting my VCE studies, as one of my electives I chose to study accounting. I also started part time night studies to complete a Diploma of Financial Services, at The Gordon (TAFE). Once I completed VCE studies, I changed to full time at TAFE and before I knew it my Diploma was complete.

I was having trouble finding a job when a friend suggested to me that I give my resume to David Ramsay at Income Solutions. I was a bit unsure of giving a resume to them, as I had not done much study in Financial Planning. However I was lucky and was asked to come in for an interview. It was my first job interview and was very nervous, but David took me ‘under his wing’ and provided me with the opportunity to study a Diploma of Financial Planning. With the assistance of David and the Team at Income Solutions I successfully completed the Diploma.

Even though I’ve always been a good saver, I have learned so much from working here. Income Solutions taught me to invest in myself through study and hard work. I am also building my wealth and on my way to securing a financially stable future. Income Solutions can also do this for you. I know how much effort our staff put into helping clients reach their financial goals and how important it is to provide a valuable ongoing education to our clients. So, why Income Solutions? We think that this “ongoing education” is what sets us apart from other Financial Planning firms in Geelong and Melbourne.

Want to find out more about us and how we can help you? We hold regular information sessions every month – so head to our website and register for one of those, or book in for a free appointment with one of our fantastic Financial Planners.

Are you looking for a job or know someone who is? Why not have a look at our careers section?

Ash Irwin, Associate 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

MYTH #2: I CAN DO IT MYSELF

Steven Myth 2With the seemingly endless amount of information available on the web, there is a distinct sense of  “I can do it myself” creeping into the human mentality. Whilst this might be true for certain tasks, like replacing an iPhone screen or baking a cake (although the results may not always be as intended ), your finances are one task which you should not attempt to D.I.Y. You should seriously consider taking financial guidance from an expert, like your trusted Adviser.

I use the word ‘expert’ sparingly; a topic Financial Adviser Gareth Daniels explored some time ago here , where Qualifications, Experience, Reputation, Detail and Availability were all postulated to be the fundamental facets of an exceptional Financial Adviser.

Even when you gain confidence in your ability to understand finance, or have sufficient time on your hands to thoroughly research your options, your Adviser should still be your robust foundation, and your voice of reason. Would a Cardiac Surgeon perform his own treatment? We all know a builder with a half-renovated house, right?

The Online Applications process and its reliance on ‘robots’ means that you can now obtain products at the touch of a button – need Life Insurance? Sure. Want a loan for a house? Easy. But what about impartial advice? Does the Policy meet your needs?  Who exactly is guiding you through the Claims process in the event things do go wrong?

Finding an Adviser you trust is key to your financial success; a fee-for-advice relationship is a great way to ensure you’re getting advice in your interests and holds your Adviser accountable to adding value all the time. Good advice is worth paying for, or as Benjamin Franklin famously put it, ‘An investment in Knowledge pays the best dividends.’

Book a free appointment today with a Financial Planner at our Melbourne, Geelong, or Colac office.

 

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