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Martin & Heidi’s Story

When Heidi and I met, I was working full time, running the legal team for a company and Heidi was a nurse. I had a property that I was living in and Heidi was also living in her own property.

Not long after we met, I then committed to buying an investment property — so we had the 3 properties. It was then that we were thinking about the long term and starting a family. We started thinking about what we needed to do, from an investment point of view, with those 3 properties and whether we should get some advice to work out whether we needed more property. I was also fully aware that there was a lot of spruiking and a lot of advice out there that wasn’t independent, and wasn’t going to be the right advice for us. I would question that advice because I’m a professional advisor myself, so I know what it takes to give good, independent specialist advice. I wasn’t comfortable that there was advice freely available in the market. So, when you’re finding someone and you don’t have that relationship, it has to be based on trust. I can’t recollect exactly but I was reading property investor magazines and listening to media. It was then I came across the Empower Wealth podcast, The Property Couch. I think it was that, in fact, which prompted me to start conversations with Heidi to say, “Look, we’ve got 3 properties and maybe we need to be looking at how we treat those properties. We’re comfortable with property and we can’t live in Brunswick forever, so what do we want to do?”

I don’t even know if I was thinking about a Plan — a written plan that stepped out what we ultimately ended up getting — but that was probably the message of the podcast was around the planning. So I contacted Empower Wealth just because I was interested, and there was an opportunity for a consultation. So that was the first contact. One of the things I look out for is when you contact someone is how quickly and how personal the message is that you get back. It was a very quick and very personal message, which was impressive to me and what I look for in customer service, and particularly when you’re talking about something of such importance.

So I went into that initial consultation pessimistic as I was very wary of the industry. I went in there, wanting to be very clear that the message coming back was independent. I also wanted to know what services they offer and how they offer them after that consultation, which is free. It was like, “Okay, we’ll go ahead.”

There was no actual pressure. There was no spruiking anything to us. But when we went home, I said, “I’m really impressed. I think these guys, Empower Wealth, can really help.”

So we then organised the meeting to sit down with the strategic Property Investment Advisor. There was pre-planning to that session, so we were sent a link at point to a detailed questionnaire with a whole bunch of questions about who we were. There were basic facts, but there was other things about values that you did resonate with because they were questions that I wasn’t expecting. I was expecting a financial fact-find, but that in itself is really helpful because it made you think about what you really wanted. It was very detailed about every cost of living expense and I knew, going in, that we’d provide all the information we needed. We weren’t going to sit through another session that we’d already set to hear about the service. I was about, okay, now we know we’re paying for something and we’re going to get something real out of our session. We had this idea, the mainstream idea, that we needed to accumulate property to accumulate wealth and that was the idea we went in there with. So we’ve done this questionnaire and we were comfortable that they had the data they needed.

 

We came out of that session with the message, “We don’t want you to buy any more property and we don’t want you to sell your investment properties.”

We probably both sat back in our chairs and laughed because it was just wasn’t the message we expected. I probably chuckled because it couldn’t be clearer to me that the message that been delivered from the beginning to that point — “Our service is independent. It’s fee-for-service and this is what you’ll get. You’ll get a strategic plan based on your own financial input and your own financial goals and outcomes you’re looking for. There will be nothing else that will be put on the table to try and lead you into a different service.” We walked out very comfortable, not only with the financial plan and all of the strategic plan, which is what we went there for, but also there was no mention of using any other services because they were saying, “Don’t buy, don’t sell.”

So, for what I would think is a fairly modest investment by us, for a business of their size as well, there was no expectation or message, inferred or expressed, that we should be looking to use any other services they offered.

So the weight was lifted off my shoulders because I didn’t feel like I had to go with the pack — we could make some decisions that would really impact our life without having to go into further debt. One of our goals, which was written into the plan, was around starting a family. So we walked out with that plan and studied that plan — I probably studied it more — but we were very comfortable when Jasper arrived. And then at the same time that Jasper was born, I’d also made a decision to leave my corporate career and start my own business. And that was all based on the financial security; in fact it was based on the messages that came out of that plan. Because we knew that I could make that decision.  It was probably four years of thinking about doing it, and never doing anything about it, and then that decision was being made within twelve months of that plan. So that small investment completely changed how we live our life because I now have complete flexibility with my own business. I didn’t tell them, by the way — and this is an important message. We didn’t tell Empower Wealth we were doing it — but what we did after I settled down a bit with Jasper arriving, I just contacted Empower Wealth and said, “By the way, I quit my job and now I’m running my own business.”

So we went back in and we revised the plan — but we’re completely comfortable because now we have it in the Plan. Exactly what we need to do to achieve what we want to achieve. We have a completely different life to what we had before. We went in, and being able to see that data and see that plan for financial security has given us the confidence to know that we can make key life decisions and achieve key life goals. Because we have it all down and we’re very clear on where we’re going. Those key decisions are leaving my career and starting my own business, spending more time — I spend a lot more time with my son that I could ever probably have hoped for — if we hadn’t got the plan, who knows where we would be. But our thinking at that time was “Buy more property.”

If we had of gone and made those decisions, we might not necessarily have bought the right property and we would have had more debt, and if we had a been in more debt, then I wouldn’t have been able to leave my secure income and secure employment to go and set up my own business, and actually enjoy my work, and enjoy the flexibility of time to spend with my family.

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