Clear, defined financial goals should form the basis of any investment decision. Whether you’re saving for a house, building a nest-egg for retirement or just want to maximise your retirement income, defining exactly why you want to invest will help us to choose the right investment options for you.​

In our experience, neither speculating – otherwise known as the process of buying an asset in the hope that the price will go up and you will make a profit – nor saving are investment strategies. Investing is buying an asset while planning to enjoy the income generated from that asset.

If the investment is a good one, made after thoroughly researching how it meets your unique financial goals, then the income and asset value will grow. You can then reinvest this income to grow your wealth.

Both shares and property produce an income: shares through dividends and property through rent. Both also form important cornerstones of your overall investment strategy. Shares and property generally grow in value if they are well selected and can be held directly or through managed investments.​

For most of us, our investment time frame should be the rest of our life. But in a practical sense, we define long term investing generally as 5 to 7 years. By simply buying assets, which are known as passive assets, you will be able to build your wealth without being actively involved. 

Active investments, which include renovating a property or buying a business, have the ability to produce much higher returns than passive assets, but they also come with a much higher chance of losing all your money.

But shares also have one downside: they frequently fluctuate in value. This is perfectly normal and something to expect as a shareholder. When held for the long-term and appropriately diversified, shares consistently deliver a strong return when compared to other types of passive investments.

Although many try, it’s impossible to predict the short term movements of the share market. That’s why we focus on long term buying and holding for our core investments, which deliver good returns to investors and make timing of markets unnecessary.

This philosophy also works for those with large amounts of cash to be invested, who may find it easier to place those investments over a period of time rather than in one lump sum. This means you’ll be able to avoid the pitfalls of investing at a market high in favour of receiving a steady average return over a period of time.

A bubble describes when the markets, in a speculative frenzy, push up prices to unsustainable levels. They can be hard to spot but can be identified by two key factors.

  1. The first sign is that prices have risen rapidly over a short period, with returns becoming an unsustainable 30% to 50% per annum.
  2. The second is that the income generated from these inflated investments will be extremely low or non-existent when expressed as a percentage by historical standards.

There may be times when certain aspects of your portfolio have delivered above average returns or have achieved long-term targets in a shorter timeframe. During these times, it may be advisable to sell some assets and hold cash to invest in future opportunities, or to switch to a sector that has been underperforming.

Property tends to go through cycles where values will approximately double in a short time and then stagnate. These cycles are unpredictable but have previously lasted anywhere from 7 to 20 years. Long term investors know that while one value double is rewarding, the real aim is to hold for three or four doubles for greater returns.

Although property will generally grow slightly less than shares, banks will continue to lend up to 90% to you so that you can build wealth more rapidly while using leverage to buy property. But this strategy also comes with increased risk.

In retirement, when you will have hopefully paid off your debts, property tends to generate less income and be more costly to maintain than other investments. Because of this, a retirement strategy based on residential property alone will require significantly more assets than if diversified across other assets.

If you ask anyone who has owned a property for 20 or 30 years, they will generally say that it was an expensive purchase at the time but now seems cheap by comparison. For example, the median price of a residential property in Brisbane in 1985 was $61,550, according to the ABS.

In theory, diversification means not putting all of your eggs in one basket. In practice, it involves holding a
wide variety of investments across different sectors and within those sectors across different asset types, countries and investment managers.

Diversification helps you reach the returns you need to achieve your long term goals with the least amount of risk possible. This enables you to avoid stress and lowers the risk of making bad decisions when markets inevitably fluctuate.

It might sound like stating the obvious but it is incredibly difficult to recover from losing 50% to 100% of your investment. That’s why it’s best to avoid big mistakes like:

  • Chasing high returns, such as during a bubble
  • Not getting expert advice before investing
  • Choosing investments claiming to offer guaranteed returns that are significantly higher than bank accounts or bonds
  • Investing in products you don’t understand
  • Excessive trading of investments looking for shortterm gain
  • Saving but using investments that can and might fluctuate in value to do so
  • Selling viable investments due to short term issues or focus

This means something different for wealth builders and retirees.

For wealth builders it means:

  • Having sufficient insurances to protect yourself
  • Making sure you have access to spare cash and/or credit
  • Investing into share markets using dollar cost averaging to ensure you have a steady return
  • Leveraging into residential property


While for retirees, it means:

  • Having sufficient cash reserves to support yourself in the case of market fluctuations
  • Keeping at least four years’ worth of known expenditure in short-term or lower-risk investments, so that good quality growth investments never have to be sold to meet short-term needs.

Planning helps you understand your current position and define your goals. It also helps you to decide where you want to be and which steps you need to
take to get there. Overall, it provides a clear focus for the many financial decisions that will need to be made.

Strategy is all about investing intelligently to meet your specific financial goals. Strategy can help with everything from deciding who should own an investment to more complex issues like gearing or using superannuation effectively.

Together, planning and strategy can help you grow your wealth and meet your short, medium and long-term goals.

Many people choose not to invest because they think they don’t have enough money. In fact, the opposite is true as the only way to achieve wealth (aside from winning or inheriting it) is to invest. It is never too late to start investing and no amount is too small. Investing small amounts over the long term, combined with solid compound returns, is the right way to grow your wealth.

This is one of our fundamental beliefs and serves as a philosophy that underpins how we advise our clients.

For those that are looking for exciting money, speculative advice or short-term market timing, we cannot provide adequate investment advice as it contradicts this fundamental investment belief.

There are many factors to consider when you’re looking at buying a residential investment property. To make sure that you’re choosing the right investment for your unique financial circumstances, here are a few things to consider:

  • It is better to choose an investment property in an area with a dense population to ensure a greater chance of rental income and tenant occupancy. An Australian capital city that has not recently had a property boom is a great place to start looking.
  • When it comes to maximising capital growth, the closer to an Australian capital city CBD you can buy, the better. Within 5 to 10 kilometres of a CBD is ideal, while you should avoid property further than 100 kilometres from a CBD.
  • Avoid property in small, remote and rural mining towns. When the mining project ends, fly-in fly-out workers often fly-out permanently.
  • You should plan on holding your property for the longterm, or at least 10+ years. Investing for income and capital growth is a much better strategy than investing for tax benefits or for the short or medium terms.
  • A new property will have less maintenance costs, can attract higher rental yields and will enable higher depreciation and building amortisation deductions. An older property may be purchased at a lower cost and may be better value for money, but those approaching retirement will need to be aware of higher maintenance costs.
  • Whenever you can: favour houses over units and units over studios as the land size is generally larger when it comes to capital growth and rental incomes are usually higher.
  • Choose property that is close to the CBD, shopping centres, schools, public transport, restaurants, parks and gyms.

When it comes to the details of actually buying an investment property, you have 4 broad options to consider:

  1. Do it yourself: some people enjoy searching for and buying properties themselves. Others, however, find the process overwhelming or simply don’t have the time.
  2. Use local real estate agents: much like buying a home, you can use local real estate agents to help you in finding an investment property. You can provide them with a list of your requirements, such as budget, rent yield, etc. and then pick from the properties they show you.
  3. Use a buyer’s agent: your team of financial advisors can work directly with a buyer’s agent to help you find your ideal property. A buyer’s agent is a licensed real estate professional who legally acts on the behalf of the purchaser. We provide your requirements to them and they search for a property that ticks all of your boxes.
  4. Use a property research company: we can also assist you by introducing you to a property research company. These companies are licensed real estate agents who are authorised to sell properties to you. The properties they have available are usually new properties sourced directly from developers.
    Property research companies have unique research processes that enable them to identify properties that best meet their investment criteria and your requirements. They can also provide an expert opinion on the best locations to buy properties.

Whilst Essential Wealth & Retirement is of the view that the contents of this document are based on information which is believed to be reliable, its accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed and no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given or implied. Additionally, no responsibility for any loss or damage arising in any way for any representation, act or omission is accepted by Essential Wealth & Retirement or any officer, agent or employee of Essential Wealth & Retirement.

General Advice Warning

The information contained in this document has been provided as general advice only. The contents have been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should, before you make any decision regarding any information, strategies or products mentioned in this document, consult your own financial advisor to consider whether they are appropriate for your own objectives, financial situation and needs. You should consider the PDS of any product mentioned before making any decisions.