You often hear it from the now wealthy “I wish I’d started sooner”, today we’re talking to Stephanie Brennan who heeded that advice. By 23, Stephanie was already an Australian property millionaire and at just 24 she now boasts a property portfolio worth AUD$2.3 million (£1,060,000), in this in-depth interview she reveals; how she discovered her passion, how not to get screwed by the banks, and how to maximise your savings and increase your income.
Property’s an incredibly scary industry, why on earth did you decide that it was going to be your first foray into investing?
You often hear successful people talk about finding your “why”. The “why” is your passion in life, the reasons you get up of a morning, or the career you love to be doing.
I didn’t know what my “why” was for a long time. I knew I wanted to start a business but I wasn’t sure how to get to that point or what my business would be.
For example, my first thought of starting a business was completely unrelated to what I ended up doing which was consulting and, later (meaning now), mortgage and finance broking.
I’d toyed with the idea of opening a nightclub or a hairdressing salon. Those ideas were short lived; I lasted one day as an apprentice hairdresser at 16 and realised I wasn’t very good at talking to people. As for owning a nightclub, I felt there was too much risk and too much money needed to start that venture, and I probably needed to be 18.
Whilst trying to find my “why” I worked a total of 23 different jobs in my short 24 years of life through working multiple jobs at a time and trialling new things. In addition to this, I’ve probably interviewed at over 50 or 60 jobs across different industries, everything from; cleaning housing, to taxi driving, to modelling, to engineering, to government, to retirement, to pet cremation, and those are just some of the jobs I’ve done! Not to mention the ones I’ve interviewed for like account management in TV advertising, or becoming a trainee dental assistant.
It wasn’t until I worked with a property investment company that I thought “I really want to start investing in property” and eventually when I did start investing, it made me realise that the broking industry needed to change.
On-the-job learning seems to be a major goal from taking on all those jobs and attending all those interviews. After acquiring a small portfolio of houses, you then began working in the financial services industry. Could you explain that decision and what you hoped to learn?
I felt there was a grave lack of information and guidance available to first time investors and investors in general. I saw an area I loved and an area where I could help others to providing them with the advice and guidance they needed. I could connect them with other professionals in the other areas of finance that also have the knowledge and experience to help anyone looking to build wealth and build a retirement fund.
My vision and my aim is to ensure that no one has to feel as lost as I did when I first started investing.
Since becoming a broker, I have learnt a tremendous amount about investing and which banks to look at for in each different scenario and at each different stage in time. I now know which banks favour investors, which banks are great for those that are self-employed, and which banks are great for first time investors or home owners.
I’ve also learnt a great deal of the terminology and governing legislation in the financial sector. This has given me a great tremendous amount of insight into how to get the best loan for you and what that really means.
For example, often you see adverts that show an interest rate and then the comparison rate. The majority of people are lead to believe that the comparison rate is the average interest rate currently being charged in the marketplace, however the comparison is actually that exact same rate inclusive of all the fees and charges.
Another example is with car loans. Unlike home loans, banks don’t pay commission on car loans. How brokers, bankers, and dealers make money is by loading their commission (between 10 to 20 per cent of the purchase price of the car) onto your loan, which they often don’t disclose. So you’re not just paying for their commission but you are also paying interest on their commission!
What actionable advice do you have for those who wish to maximise or increase their saving percentage?
My advice for those in the UK would be to look at what you would like to achieve from your investing and work backwards and evaluate what you need to do in order to reach your financial goals.
For example, do you need to increase your income and if so, how could you do this? Do you need to up-skill yourself? Ask your manager what promotions are available in the company and what they need to see from you in your current role in order to be promoted.
Can you reduce your living expenses? For example, call your car insurance provider when you get your next renewal and ask for a loyalty discount. Similarly you can control your grocery expenditure, or limit the amount of times you go out for dinner.
Look at purchasing with a friend or a family member and combine your income and savings to purchase an investment property, or think about getting a guarantor loan.
There are many options available; it’s all about finding the option that suits you, your needs, and your long-term goals.
One of the reasons many of us seek wealth is to enable us the time to pursue projects we love. When it was reported that you wanted to “retire by 30” I was shocked! For you what does “retire” really mean?
I would like to have the option of taking some time off to have a family and raising my (potential) future children. But, I need to ensure I have the funds, the resources, and the flexibility to provide them with the same upbringing and opportunities that my parents afforded me.
In terms of actually retiring, I don’t see this in the near future because I genuinely love what I do and I feel lucky every day that I get to wake up and go to what others deem “work”! To me it is no longer a job but a way of life. Seeing how people’s lives change when you help them, and seeing how happy and relaxed and confident my clients are is so rewarding to me that I can’t see myself ever walking away from that.
Thanks once again Stephanie, I have one last question. What are your media recommendations for people who are looking to be wealthy?
My top 10 books would be:
- Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman: This teaches the human side of business and how each member of your team should feel and be appreciated within your business.
- The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber: Advice on learning how to be a great company well before you ever become one [we’ve got some key insights from the book here – Nate].
- The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson: Teaches time management
- NeuroInvesting by Wai-Yee Chen: Some incredible insight into how mindset affects investing
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu: Reminder of when to let things go and to look at the big picture
- Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps by Allan and Barbara Pease: Highlights the functional differences in men and women and gives great insight into the physiology and psychology of people.
- On Being Certain by Robert A Burton, M.D: Insight into how the mind and body works
- You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen: Tips on negotiating
- You Can’t Win a Fight With Your Boss by Tom Markert: Tips on career success that you may not ordinarily think of
- Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain by Sharon Begley: How we can condition our minds and ourselves
My favourite YouTube channel would be The Entourage, it gives really valuable and practical insights in to business
I also love this clip, I find it inspiring and really shows that everyone has the same number of hours in a day, success is all about how you use them.
For more articles on how you can increase your wealth :-
and for more secrets on property investment