Passive Investment Income

What are some ways a person can generate passive investment income? There are a number of ideas about it. Everyone has his own ideas about which one can be a passive investment income. We should have our own choice of investment. The wealthy, the marginalized, and the middle class people differ in their own preferences about investing their money. Now, let’s compare ways and opportunities according to some considerations such as safety, profitability, and also liquidity.

Safety means that your investment and the income are stable. The money that you invest could be prone to the changing market condition, economic slowdown, and social unrest. The point is that your passive investment income should always be there. In that case, it is safe to invest.

On the other hand, profitability is what we usually consider when we invest. We are supposed to believe that what is profitable is ideal. That’s right. But is it risky? Is my money stuck? Obviously, everyone would go for whatever gives them profit. Whenever we consider gains, the highest amount is always the best passive investment income. What we should consider here should not have been about the top gainers only. It’s should also be the safer ones.

Another significant factor that must be considered is liquidity. Let us suppose that we earn very attractively from our safe investment. What does that mean to us anyway? When you are ready to use your fund because you really need it and that’s the reason why you invested, is it possible to convert it to cash now? If there is no liquidity, our passive investment income is only an imagination. You would become wealthy only in your dreams. Liquidity is not only about the comfort of making a withdrawal. It is also about how smooth it is to invest.

Now, here are three kinds of investment we may consider whether which passive investment income is better for us. So, let’s talk about three kinds of portfolios such as business, stocks, and real estate.

Business is a personal activity that deals with economic factors that determines future gains. It is the chemistry of work and investment. This means that a businessman does not only wait for passive income, he should also work for it. Therefore, it is an active income and at the same time passive.

In the aspect of safety, business is not that safe. It is exposed to economic cycle. Businesses are under the supply and demand law. If the demand for their goods has been increasing, the price will also increase, and so will the supply. As time goes by, the demand will influence the supply to increase more. So if the supply is much greater, it will then influence the price to decrease. Consequently, businesses are getting more unstable and their future is turning gray. But, businesses may also get more resilient. As this type of investment is a little active, the active control of a businessman can manage a worse situation. Therefore, these two characters of investment regulate the cycle. Because of this, business becomes good. It is definitely a good example of passive investment income when it comes to safety.

In stock market, it’s the other way around. Safety is a very controversial issue here. Obviously, the risk involved here is very high. But the potential return is high, too. Passive investment income is more common in stock trading. Therefore, your income here is not the product of your active participation in the company. It is the product of your decision.

In the area of real estate, the lesser amount you invest, the safer it is. The bigger the investment you have, the riskier it becomes. But land alone is considerably not risky. The reason why real estate becomes a little risky is because the cost of structural materials is getting higher. Structural materials are also subject to the law of supply and demand. So, if we only rely on land for passive investment income by renting it out, our passive income will not be affected by any price fluctuation. Aside from that, structures depreciate over a period of time. Therefore, investing in real estate can be risky or safe depending on the kind.

In terms of profit, it is more attractive in business. In some businesses, you have to spend time before you earn regularly. Usually, the profit is negative especially if they are just beginning to operate. They should promote their brands and strengthen themselves in the market. When the consumers buy their goods, passive investment income begins. On the other hand, other businesses are doing well in the beginning of the operation. During the first stage, their sales shoot up. Subsequently, they grow very early. As time goes by, consumers get sick and tired of their goods. Consequently, these businesses reduce their passive income. Nevertheless, what is nice about business is the resilience to catch up with the competition. In business, the consistency of income is stable. One more advantage in business regarding this is the petty cash. Passive investment income in business need not come after a fixed cycle like that in stocks. There is always readily available petty cash.

On one hand, profit potential in stock investing is definitely high. As the character of stocks is risky, risk appetite causes the value of stocks to go up quickly. On the other hand, risk aversion and profit taking in the intraday trading can cause the value of stocks to go down quickly, too. Risk management in the stock market depends on the traders. Speculators enjoy their passive investment income from the price volatility while non-aggressive traders and investors get their passive investment income from dividends. Therefore, we can’t rule out the risk nature of stocks. When we gauge the balance between the energy we exert and the profit we earn, investing in stocks could be the most attractive one. We must not forget that passive investment income is an income that we could get without extra effort. If stock market really offers this potential, it must be a better option for passive investment income.

In real estate, how can we have a passive investment income? There is no doubt that one may enjoy his passive investment income in real estate without extra effort. The point is whether or not the ratio of profit is balanced with the investment. Surely, we can gain in real estate primarily because the usual investment is big as well. But always remember that you should pay the capital gains tax annually. This might explain why landlords do not solely rely on renting out their lots. Hence, land is usually developed to optimize the gains. Regarding the actual amount of gains, real estate could guarantee a better passive investment income. Therefore, we should really consider the ROI.

In terms of liquidity, it is somewhat less in business. Of course, liquidity still exists. However, much time is spent to put up a business, to start gaining, and even the time it takes to stop operating. Although the period of time executing all these can be determined according to a business plan, the process is still slower depending on the kind of business. Retail businesses are quite liquid whereas manufacturing industries are not.

Among the common types of investments known to many, investment in stocks is the most liquid one. You can open and close an investment account at your convenience. Moreover, you may select any available stock you wish to invest in. If you wish to have exposure in stock market, to take profit, or to pull out your investment, it won’t take that long. You may do so at any given time wherever you may be.

On the contrary, liquidity is a big problem in real estate. In business, there are still ways to determine it, but hardly in real estate. Usually, it is like a game of chance to sell even a small house and lot. Thus, investing in real estate, earning passive income, and even pulling out your investment will never occur overnight. It won’t matter if it doesn’t affect productivity. For instance, you have found a better opportunity that needs quick decision. Then, you think it best to change your existing investment into such a new one. Perhaps, before you are able to pull out your investment from real estate, your commitment to others will have already been canceled. In similar case, you might get stuck.

These are some ways a person can generate passive investment income. Whether you wish to invest in stocks, real estate, or business, you can always find an opportunity to generate passive investment income.

Best Investment Ideas and Best Safe Investments for 2012

Here we list some of the best investment ideas and tackle the challenge of finding the best safe investments for 2012. What might appear to be one of the best investment ideas to the uninformed could turn out to be one of the worst.

Looking at the big picture for investment ideas in 2012, moderation in asset allocation and a balanced investment portfolio will be the most basic key to success. There are 4 asset classes, and average investors need to spread their money across at least the first three to keep their overall portfolio risk moderate. The 4 categories in asset allocation are: safe investments, bonds, stocks and alternative investments like gold and real estate (optional). Asset allocation can be simplified, because there are mutual funds available to average investors that represent each of the 4 asset classes. Now let’s get more specific about the best investment ideas for 2012 starting with safe investments.

Safe investments earn interest and do not fluctuate in price. You will need to look outside of mutual funds in 2012 to find the best safe investments because record low interest rates have taken yields on money market securities (and hence money market funds) down to just about zero. One of the best investment ideas if you have an account with a discount broker or major mutual fund company is to shop for one-year CDs paying higher rates if you can’t get competitive rates from your local bank. Do not tie your money up for longer periods just to earn a little more interest. One of these days interest rates will go back up and you will be locked in at a lower rate and face penalty charges if you cash in early.

Finding the best safe investments will be truly challenging in 2012, but here are some more investment ideas. If you are in a retirement plan like a 401k that has a fixed or stable account option do not overlook it. You can often get a much higher interest rate there (maybe 4% to 5%) than anywhere else outside of your retirement plan. If you own an older retirement annuity or universal life insurance policy, it might have a fixed account you can add money to that is guaranteed to never pay less than 3% or 4%. Remember, truly safe investments like U.S. Treasury bills and bank money market and savings accounts are paying WAY LESS than 1%!

Over the past 30 years bonds and bond funds have become a favorite with investors because they have been consistent performers and returned on average about 10% per year… basically about equal to what stocks have returned, but with considerably less risk. Many investors have fallen in love with their bonds funds and consider them to be among the world’s best safe investments. Bond funds are NOT safe investments. They have performed well since 1981 (when interest rates and inflation were at record highs) for one primary reason. Both inflation and interest rates have been falling for 30 years, which has sent bond prices higher. Loading up on bond funds now is NOT one of the best investment ideas for 2012. In fact, it is one of the worst investment ideas.

When interest rates and/or inflation turn around and head upward bond funds, especially those that hold long-term bond issues, will be losers. That’s how bonds work. One of the very best investment ideas for 2012 is to sell your long-term bond funds if you own any, and switch to funds holding bonds with average maturities of about five years. These are called intermediate-term bond funds; and average investors should have some money invested here as part of their asset allocation strategy to add balance to their investment portfolio. These are not truly safe investments, but they are much safer than long-term funds.

My best investment ideas in the stock department focus on stock funds. Do not go heavily into the more aggressive funds that invest primarily in growth and/or small company stocks. These pay little if anything in dividend income and tend to be more risky and volatile than the average stock fund. Go with funds that invest in high quality large-company stocks with excellent dividend paying histories. Look for funds that are paying 2% or more in dividends. One of the best investment ideas for 2012 and beyond: invest in no-load funds with low yearly expenses. No-load means no sales charges, and low expenses mean higher net returns to the investor.

Alternative investments include the likes of real estate, gold and other precious metals, natural resources, commodities, foreign investments and so on. One of the best investment ideas for managing a truly balanced investment portfolio is to include this fourth asset class as well. The simplest way for the average investor to add these alternatives to their portfolio is with mutual funds that specialize in these areas or sectors. My best investment ideas here: don’t go heavily into any one area, and don’t chase after a sector (like gold) just because it’s hot. Real estate and natural resources funds would be my picks as two of the best investment ideas in the alternative investments asset class.

Moderation and diversification across the asset classes will be the key to asset allocation in 2012. I have also listed some specific best investment ideas for keeping the average investor in the game and out of serious trouble should the investment scene turn ugly. Above all else memorize this: long-term bond funds are not among the best safe investments for 2012. They are not safe investments, period.

Investing – How To Choose The Best Option

Investors are increasingly forced to choose from a proliferation of investment options. They also have to deal with contradictory advice on how to achieve their financial goals and how to invest the savings they have accumulated during their lifetime. If you consider that there are more than 7000 mutual funds available in the United States alone, and thousands of insurance products worldwide, making the choice that will satisfy them ever after is daunting, to say the least.

No wonder people so often ask the rather general question: Which investment is best? The first part of the answer is easy: No single investment is ‘the best’ under all circumstances for all investors. Personal circumstances, goals and different people’s needs differ, as do the characteristics of different investments. Secondly, one asset class’s strength in certain circumstances could be another’s weakness. It is therefore important to compare investments according to relevant criteria. The art is to find the appropriate investment for each objective and need.

The following are the most important criteria:

  • the goal of the investment
  • the risk the investor can handle
  • liquidity required
  • taxability of the investment
  • the period until the financial goal is reached
  • last but not least, the cost of the investment.

THE GOAL

Goals determine the characteristics sought in an investment. You will be in a position to choose the most appropriate investment only when you have decided on your short-, medium- and long-term goals. The following generic goals are normally involved:

Emergency fund

Emergency fund money should be readily available when needed, and the value of the fund should be equal to about six months’ income. Money market funds are excellent for this purpose. While these funds do not perform much higher than inflation, their benefit is that capital is saved and is easily accessible.

If you already have a ready emergency fund covering more than six months’ income, you could consider a more aggressive mutual fund

Capital protection

If your primary aim is capital protection, you will have to be satisfied with a lower growth rate on the investment. Those above 50 are normally advised to be conservative in their investment approach. While this may for the most part be sound advice, you should also keep an eye on the risk of inflation, so that the purchasing power of your money does not depreciate. It is not the nominal value of the capital that should be protected, but the inflation-adjusted one. At an annual inflation rate of 6%, $1 million today will buy the same as $174 110 in 30 years’ time. A 50 year-old with $1 million would therefore have to lower his living standard substantially if he only retains the $1 million until he was 80.

Conservative investments like those listed above should form the normal basis for providing an income. Because of inflation risk, investments should be structured so that they can at least keep up with inflation. This means that at least a percentage of the investment source providing the income should be made up of other asset classes like property and equity mutual funds. The percentage would differ according to individual and economic circumstances.

Investors fortunate enough to have their basic budget provided for by a conservative fund could consider increasing their income with commercial property funds and tax-free income from dividends paid out by listed shares.

Capital growth

If an investor’s primary goal is to achieve capital growth, the real rate of return should be higher than inflation. This implies greater risk to capital in the short term. Investors aiming at capital growth should not be apprehensive, as they will reap the rewards in the long term.

The history of equity prices over the past 100 years proves equity investments to be the best performer, followed by property. This does not mean you should buy either of these investments blindfolded. Wait until the quality shares in which you are interested are trading at inexpensive price levels.

RISK

The investment with a history of the highest growth is not necessarily the one to choose. The Standard Bank’s Gold Fund increased by 178% during the period 13 August 2001 – 24 May 2002 (284 days). Judging only on the growth of the fund during this period, it performed exceptionally well. But would it be the right investment for a retiree? During the 805 days following this, the same fund experienced a negative growth rate of 44%! The problem with an investment that decreases by this percentage is that it will not reach its previous peak by increasing again by 44%. This is because the growth this time will take place from a lower base, so in fact the investment would have to increase by approximately 80%.

LIQUIDITY

Hard assets like Persian carpets, works of art and antique furniture may be good investments in the long term, but unfortunately they are not very liquid. The same is true of certain shares in smaller companies. Money market funds, on the other hand, are very liquid, but the returns may not always be as good as those from other investments. The need to liquidise the investment quickly is therefore also a criterion to consider when evaluating investments.

TAXABILITY

The taxability of an investment has a considerable impact on its value to the investor. When comparing the returns on different investments, the return after tax has been deducted should be used. The investor should always ask what will be left in his pocket after tax deduction.

PERIOD

Conservative investments with no potential for high returns are suitable for shorter periods, while investment-objectives with longer time horizons aspire to achieving higher returns. Money market funds are suitable for periods of one or two years. Income and conservative asset allocation funds for three or four years and flexible asset allocation funds, commercial property funds and value equity funds may be chosen for longer periods, dependent on the economic and interest cycle and the propensity of the investor to accept risk.

COSTS

The costs involved in an investment are normally things like administrative cost and commission. The percentage of the costs to the investment amount directly affects the value of the investment. Many of the currently available investment products are structured in such a way that investors can negotiate commission.

CONCLUSION

No investment strategy blueprint is going to be perfect for everyone’s circumstances. Investment opportunities should therefore be examined critically before any decision is made. It should also be kept in mind that there are different companies managing specific funds under the investment categories referred to above. Some are more effectively managed than others. Investors should therefore research investments as well as the managers thoroughly before investing. Otherwise, they could appoint professional asset managers to do so on their behalf. Time spent determining the type of investment you really need is time invested in your future financial well-being.

A New Way to Invest in Property

The two most frequently asked questions by investors are:

  1. What investment should I buy?
  2. Is now the right time to buy it?

Most people want to know how to spot the right investment at the right time, because they believe that is the key to successful investing. Let me tell you that is far from the truth: even if you could get the answers to those questions right, you would only have a 50% chance to make your investment successful. Let me explain.

There are two key influencers that can lead to the success or failure of any investment:

  1. External factors: these are the markets and investment performance in general. For example:
    • The likely performance of that particular investment over time;
    • Whether that market will go up or down, and when it will change from one direction to another.
  2. Internal factors: these are the investor’s own preference, experience and capacity. For example:
    • Which investment you have more affinity with and have a track record of making good money in;
    • What capacity you have to hold on to an investment during bad times;
    • What tax advantages do you have which can help manage cash flow;
    • What level of risk you can tolerate without tending to make panic decisions.

When we are looking at any particular investment, we can’t simply look at the charts or research reports to decide what to invest and when to invest, we need to look at ourselves and find out what works for us as an individual.

Let’s look at a few examples to demonstrate my viewpoint here. These can show you why investment theories often don’t work in real life because they are an analysis of the external factors, and investors can usually make or break these theories themselves due to their individual differences (i.e. internal factors).

Example 1: Pick the best investment at the time.

Most investment advisors I have seen make an assumption that if the investment performs well, then any investor can definitely make good money out of it. In other words, the external factors alone determine the return.

I beg to differ. Consider these for example:

  • Have you ever heard of an instance where two property investors bought identical properties side by side in the same street at the same time? One makes good money in rent with a good tenant and sells it at a good profit later; the other has much lower rent with a bad tenant and sells it at a loss later. They can be both using the same property management agent, the same selling agent, the same bank for finance, and getting the same advice from the same investment advisor.
  • You may have also seen share investors who bought the same shares at the same time, one is forced to sell theirs at a loss due to personal circumstances and the other sells them for a profit at a better time.
  • I have even seen the same builder building 5 identical houses side by side for 5 investors. One took 6 months longer to build than the other 4, and he ended up having to sell it at the wrong time due to personal cash flow pressures whereas others are doing much better financially.

What is the sole difference in the above cases? The investors themselves (i.e. the internal factors).

Over the years I have reviewed the financial positions of a few thousand investors personally. When people ask me what investment they should get into at any particular moment, they expect me to compare shares, properties, and other asset classes to advise them how to allocate their money.

My answer to them is to always ask them to go back over their track record first. I would ask them to list down all the investments they have ever made: cash, shares, options, futures, properties, property development, property renovation, etc. and ask them to tell me which one made them the most money and which one didn’t. Then I suggest to them to stick to the winners and cut the losers. In other words, I tell them to invest more in what has made them good money in the past and stop investing in what has not made them any money in the past (assuming their money will get a 5% return per year sitting in the bank, they need to at least beat that when doing the comparison).

If you take time to do that exercise for yourself, you will very quickly discover your favourite investment to invest in, so that you can concentrate your resources on getting the best return rather than allocating any of them to the losers.

You may ask for my rationale in choosing investments this way rather than looking at the theories of diversification or portfolio management, like most others do. I simply believe the law of nature governs many things beyond our scientific understanding; and it is not smart to go against the law of nature.

For example, have you ever noticed that sardines swim together in the ocean? And similarly so do the sharks. In a natural forest, similar trees grow together too. This is the idea that similar things attract each other as they have affinity with each other.

You can look around at the people you know. The people you like to spend more time with are probably people who are in some ways similar to you.

It seems that there is a law of affinity at work that says that similar things beget similar things; whether they are animals, trees, rocks or humans. Why do you think there would be any difference between an investor and their investments?

So in my opinion, the question is not necessarily about which investment works. Rather it is about which investment works for you.

If you have affinity with properties, properties are likely to be attracted to you. If you have affinity with shares, shares are likely to be attracted to you. If you have affinity with good cash flow, good cash flow is likely to be attracted to you. If you have affinity with good capital gain, good capital growth is likely to be attracted to you (but not necessary good cash flow ).

You can improve your affinity with anything to a degree by spending more time and effort on it, but there are things that you naturally have affinity with. These are the things you should go with as they are effortless for you. Can you imagine the effort required for a shark to work on himself to become sardine-like or vice versa?

One of the reasons why our company has spent a lot of time lately to work on our client’s cash flow management, is because if our clients have low affinity with their own family cash flow, they are unlikely to have good cash flow with their investment properties. Remember, it is a natural law that similar things beget similar things. Investors who have poor cash flow management at home, usually end up with investments (or businesses) with poor cash flow.

Have you ever wondered why the world’s greatest investors, such as Warren Buffet, tend only to invest in a few very concentrated areas they have great affinity with? While he has more money than most of us and could afford to diversify into many different things, he sticks to only the few things that he has successfully made his money from in the past and cut off the ones which didn’t (such as the airline business).

What if you haven’t done any investing and you have no track record to go by? In this case I would suggest you first look at your parents’ track record in investing. The chances are you are somehow similar to your parents (even when you don’t like to admit it ). If you think your parents never invested in anything successfully, then look at whether they have done well with their family home. Alternatively you will need to do your own testing to find out what works for you.

Obviously there will be exceptions to this rule. Ultimately your results will be the only judge for what investment works for you.

Example 2: Picking the bottom of the market to invest.

When the news in any market is not positive, many investors automatically go into a “waiting mode”. What are they waiting for? The market to bottom out! This is because they believe investing is about buying low and selling high – pretty simple right? But why do most people fail to do even that?

Here are a few reasons:

  • When investors have the money to invest safely in a market, that market may not be at its bottom yet, so they choose to wait. By the time the market hits the bottom; their money has already been taken up by other things, as money rarely sits still. If it is not going to some sort of investment, it will tend to go to expenses or other silly things such as get-rich-quick scheme, repairs and other “life dramas”.
  • Investors who are used to waiting for when the market is not very positive before they act are usually driven either by a fear of losing money or the greed of gaining more. Let’s look at the impact of each of them:
  • If their behaviour was due to the fear of losing money, they are less likely to get into the market when it hits rock bottom as you can imagine how bad the news would be then. If they couldn’t act when the news was less negative, how do you expect them to have the courage to act when it is really negative? So usually they miss out on the bottom anyway.
  • If their behaviour was driven by the greed of hoping to make more money on the way up when it reaches the bottom, they are more likely to find other “get-rich-quick schemes” to put their money in before the market hits the bottom, by the time the market hits the bottom, their money won’t be around to invest. Hence you would notice that the get-rich-quick schemes are usually heavily promoted during a time of negative market sentiment as they can easily capture money from this type of investor.
  • Very often, something negative begets something else negative. People who are fearful to get into the market when their capacity allows them to do so, will spend most of their time looking at all the bad news to confirm their decision. Not only they will miss the bottom, but they are likely to also miss the opportunities on the way up as well, because they see any market upward movement as a preparation for a further and bigger dive the next day.

Hence it is my observation that most people who are too fearful or too greedy to get into the market during a slow market have rarely been able to benefit financially from waiting. They usually end up getting into the market after it has had its bull run for far too long when there is very little negative news left. But that is actually often the time when things are over-valued, so they get into the market then, and get slaughtered on the way down.

So my advice to our clients is to first start from your internal factors, check your own track records and financial viability to invest. Decide whether you are in a position to invest safely, regardless of the external factors (i.e. the market):

  • If the answer is yes, then go to the market and find the best value you can find at that time;
  • If the answer is no, then wait.

Unfortunately, most investors do it the other way around. They tend to let the market (an external factor) decide what they should do, regardless of their own situation, and they end up wasting time and resources within their capacity.

I hope, from the above 2 examples, that you can see that investing is not necessarily about picking the right investment and the right market timing, but it is more about picking the investment that works for you and sticking to your own investment timetable, within your own capacity.

A new way to invest in properties

During a consultation last month with a client who has been with us for 6 years, I suddenly realised they didn’t know anything about our Property Advisory Service which has been around since April 2010. I thought I’d better fix this oversight and explain what it is and why it is unique and unprecedented in Australia.

But before I do, I would like to give you some data you simply don’t get from investment books and seminars, so you can see where I am coming from.

Over the last 10 years of running a mortgage business for property investors:

  • We have executed more than 7,000 individual investment mortgages with around 60 different lenders;
  • Myself and our mortgage team have reviewed the financial positions of approximately 6,000 individual property investors and developers;
  • I have enjoyed privileged access to vital data including the original purchase price, value of property improvements and the current valuation of close to 30,000 individual investment properties all around Australia from our considerable client base.

When you have such a large sample size to do your research on and make observations, you are bound to discover something unknown to most people.

I have discovered many things that may surprise you as much as they surprised me, some of which are against conventional wisdom:

Paying more tax can be financially good for you.

This one took me years to swallow, but I can’t deny the facts. The clients who have managed to get into a positive cashflow position have paid a lot of tax and will continue to pay a lot of tax, whether it is capital gains, income tax or stamp duty. They don’t have an issue with the tax man making some money as long as they continue to make more themselves! They regularly cash in the profits from their properties and reduce their debt, but always continue to invest and park their money where the return is best. In fact, I can almost say that the only people who enjoy positive cashflow from their investment properties are the people who have little concern about paying taxes as they treat them as the cost of doing business.

Just about every property strategy works. It just depends on who does it, how it is done, when it is done and where it is done.

When I first started investing, I went and read many property investment books and attended many investment educational seminars. Just about every one of them was convincing and this confused the hell out of me. Just when I was about to form an opinion against a particular property strategy, someone would show up in one of my client consultations and prove that it worked for them!

After testing many of these strategies myself, I came to realise that it is not about the strategy,(which is only a tool) but rather it is about whether the person is using the tool appropriately at the right time, in the right place and in the right way.

There is no such thing as the best suburb to invest in, forever.

If you randomly pick a particular property in what you think is the best suburb over a 30 year window, you will find that there are periods during which this property will outperform the market average, and there are periods when this property will underperform the market average.

Many property investors find themselves jumping into historically high growth suburbs at the end of the period when it is outperforming the average, and then stay there for 5-7 years during the underperforming period. (Naturally this can taint their view of property investing as a whole!)

There is no such thing as the worst suburb to invest in, forever.

If you pick a property in the worst suburb you can think of from 40 years ago, and pitch that against the best suburb you can think of over the same period of time, you will find they both grew at about 7-9% a year on average over the long-term.

Hence in the 1960s, a median house in Melbourne and Sydney was valued at $10k. The worst property around that time may have been 30% of the median price for then, which was say about $3k. Today, the median house price in these cities is about $600k. The worst suburb you can find is still around 30% of that price which is say $200k a house. If you believe a bad suburb will never grow, then show me where you can find a house today in these cities, that is still worth around $3k.

Median Price growth is very misleading.

Many beginner property investors look at median price growth as the guidance for suburb selection. A few points worth mentioning on median price are:

We understand the way median price is calculated as the middle price point based on the number of sales during a period. We can talk about the median price for a particular suburb on a particular day, week, month, year, or even longer. So an influx of new stocks or low sales volume can severely distort the median price.

In an older suburb, median price growth tends to be higher than it really is. This is because it does not reflect the large sum of money people put into renovating their properties nor does it reflect the subdivision of large blocks of land into multiple dwellings which can be a substantial percentage of the entire suburb.

In a newer suburb, median price growth tend to be lower than it really is. This is because it does not reflect the fact that the land and buildings are both getting smaller. For example, you could buy a block of land of 650 square metres for $120k in 2006 in a newer suburb of Melbourne, but 5 years later, half the size block (i.e.325 square metres) will cost you $260k. That’s a whopping 34% annual growth rate per year for 5 years, but median price growth will never reflect that, as median prices today are calculated on much smaller properties.

Median price growth takes away people’s focus from looking at the cost of carrying the property. When you have a net 2-3% rental yield against interest rates of 7-8%, you are out-of-pocket by 5% a year. This is not including the money you have to put in to fix and maintain your property from time to time.

Buying and holding the same property forever doesn’t give you the best returns on your money.

The longer you hold a property, the more likely you will achieve an average growth of 7-9%. But you will be bound to hit periods where your property outperforms the 7-9% growth and periods where it under performs the 7-9% growth.

The longer you hold a property, if its growth is at or above average, the lower its rental yields will become.

The longer you hold a property, the higher the capital gains tax you will need to pay when you sell, and the less likely you will be able to sell it.

The longer you hold a property, the more likely there will be a need for an expensive upgrade of the property.

The longer you hold a property, the more likely you will forget which part of the equity actually belongs to the tax man, AND the more likely you will be to try to leverage the equity that doesn’t belong to you. This can get you into a negative equity position with a negative cashflow forever, unless you have proper financial guidance.

Why the London Riots Created a Greater Business Travel Threat Than a Terrorist Attack

Introduction to the London riots threat

If you have business travel to London, you need to read this article. In this article you will discover why the London riots created a greater travel threat than a terrorist attack. We will examine the threat posed by the London riots and demonstrations, terrorist attacks and resulting travel delays, disruptions and changes. At the end of this article, you will have a specific understanding of the required business travel management response and awareness as to why this will happen again.

The London riots and demonstrations has resulted in one of the largest business travel disruptions of 2011.

London Riots and Demonstrations

The London riots and demonstrations have come as a complete surprise to many. It is not a unique event and certainly not unique to the UK. The scale, violence, fire and failure of the authorities is often something expected in other countries but the lack of preparedness for destinations like the UK is common and widespread. Therefore, the lack of preparedness and last-minute scramble to respond and the inability to avoid major business travel disruptions are widespread as a result.

Due to the footprint of disruption, many routes and modes of transport have been negatively affected. Simple commute from the airport, trains and ports to planned accommodation options have been altered and continuous review of hazard or threat assessment are required. Furthermore, travel support providers such as taxis, hotels, restaurants, emergency services an other basic amenities have also been affected, to varying degrees.

Travel and risk managers need to immediately identify:

  • Affected areas,
  • Degree of threat,
  • Affected and exposed (inbound and outbound) business travellers,
  • Arrival/departure points,
  • Safe and non-affected areas,
  • Mitigation or eradication options,
  • Cost of implementation,
  • Funds available,
  • Emergency support,
  • Accommodation options,
  • On-going or developing events,
  • Social or non-business activity,
  • Insurance claims and compliance requirements,
  • Cancellation criteria,
  • Resumption of travel criteria,
  • Extended event plans,
  • Travel alternatives (domestic and international)

The London riots have affected multiple support systems related to business and leisure travel. Any leisure travel disruptions will further compound business travel threats such as decreased accommodation options, airport congestion and increased public transport demand. Even simple actions like withdrawing money from an ATM will prove a challenge and compound the hazard/s.

The London riots have had a prolonged affect on UK business travel sector, far greater than the majority of terrorist attacks. Further affects such as planning and preparation for the 2012 Olympics will also contribute to the lingering affects.

A lack of planning and subsequent response capability by businesses could constitute a failure of duty of care, due diligence, corporate social responsibility, workplace health and safety or other related legislation.

Terrorist attacks less of a threat than London riots

With the exception of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, most have limited travel disruption and only affect a narrow band of travellers. Inclusive of the Mumbai terror attack, terrorist attacks typically have clearly defined threat elements (terrorist, bombings, gunfire, etc) whereas the London riots is a constantly changing and unclear threat. Most business travellers will be unprepared for such decision-making demands and lack sufficient experience to make consistent and safe decisions.

Most contemporary business risk management systems focus on location and plausible event threats, then seek to inform or prepare travellers for the best results to mitigate or eliminate the hazards and threats. Therefore, the bulk of business travellers will not be prepared or educated on how to respond in London, with such wide spread disruption and threats. Few will have residual knowledge from information and preparation for such events in other locations, considered more likely to be medium to high risk. Many of the supporting business travel management departments and managers will be equally unprepared and resourced.

A terrorist attack and other similar violent crimes would have a much smaller footprint of disruption, not affected such a wide business travel demographic, not affect business travel support providers so comprehensively or have such a prolonged impact on all exposed.

Routine travel delays, disruptions and changes represent one of the most persistent and probable travel risk management issues.

Travel delay, disruption and changes

Change management and the decision-making involved is one of the most commonly accepted workplace hazard concerns. This is equally relevant to business travel and business travel threats.

The instinctive and guided response of travellers to any delay, disruption or change can significantly affect the outcome of any spontaneous or new hazard as it presents. Particularly when this is the first level of response, before support options and resources can be activated or come into affect.

Travel delays have been triggered due to airport and airline workers unable to get to work, taxi drivers not able to refuel vehicles, hotels and staff overwhelmed, business travellers unprepared and convergence of business and leisure travellers upon all available exit travel nodes.

Access to information, at all levels, the ability to consume and process all the options and explore alternatives is imperative in this and similar travel disruption events. Crisis leadership will succeed more frequently than simple crisis management, to which are dependent upon timely and accurate information from all available resources.

Unfortunately, many will fail to fully understand the gravity of the events, the threats posed and respond or prepare accordingly. While many others exposed will chalk it up to another force majeure or random act that is just part of the rich experience of international travel. Courts, business travellers and peer review increasingly do not share this flippant view.

This scenario and lack of preparedness has been played out numerous times in recent history. Volcanos, volcanic ash affects, Japan’s tsunami, airport closures, airline failure and many others have caught business travellers and managers alike unprepared. This disturbing trend will continue.

Conclusion: London riots threat

You should now see why the London riots have a far greater impact and threat to travellers than you may have originally thought. We have examined the business travel threat posed by the London riots, terrorist attacks and resulting travel delays. You now have a specific plan for this and similar events and the required business travel management and response. This will happen again. Perhaps not in London, perhaps not a city wide demonstration but this kind and scale of business travel disruption event will happen more than once before the end of 2011. Review your plan and make the necessary enhancements now.

Business Travel Tips – How to Pack For A Business Trip

Use these business travel tips pointers to create and plan a stress-free business packing travel plan.

Ladies:

 

  • When you are putting together your clothes for business, experiment with one color instead of all your favorites. This makes it simple for you to combine and present an ideal business persona for your meetings. With a one color-scheme, you will not need to pack multiple pieces of clothing.
  • If you’d like to add a bit of color, you can include a colored shirt or scarf you like (maybe it is your favorite, or it gives you that ‘extra OOMPH’ that you need for self-confidence – or to compliment your look).

 

Tips on packing shoes: As much as shoes are something that some women say they can’t ‘live without,’ pack no more than two or three sets. Make certain you have a set of flats and only one set of high heels in your luggage. If you wear high heels all day and evening long, then during your company trip, when what you want (need) most is to shine, you may be experiencing painful leg and back discomfort.

In addition to sensible shoes, women who travel may want to pack makeup. On a business trip and with makeup – Less is better. Makeup during a business trip really should be minimal so that you present an experienced, knowledgeable and professional look. Foundation, powder, mascara, lip gloss, eye liner, and eye shadow, are a few of the things that you need to consider in packing. Less is more – mascara and lip gloss can go a long way in making a professional looking presentation.

All Travelers:

 

  • Frequent business travelers should make it a habit of packing their bags as soon as they return from a business trip. This way, when they have to travel on short notice, the stress and worry of packing is diminished.
  • Frequent travelers on business really should try to use regional airports instead of major air-ports. Local and small airports are less congested, and then there are fewer security hurdles.
  • When you are on company business, choose the most direct routes instead of the least expensive routes. The least expensive travel arrangements usually make for the longest distance, and this also means you will likely have to use your precious time for traveling and staying in hotels.
  • So, instead of saving money, your cost may actually go up, with the less expensive, less traveled route, Because you’ll make up for the cost with longer flights and maybe even an extra day stay at a hotel – which means more money all the way around (food, cab or car rental,.. ). Consequently, it’s always best to go on a direct flight route to save time and expense, even if you have to fly first class.
  • If you’re able to fly mid-week, you will be happier because you may be able to save money on trip expenses. Traveling on a Monday or Tuesday normally costs more. Take these travel tips into account when you are paying your own personal air flight to help you cut your costs.
  • Also think about the distance from your hotel room to where you are meeting. Have a look on the internet on a map so you see exactly where you’ll be meeting, compared to where you are going to be staying. In case you do not know the local or surrounding area, you might want to stay near a company or civic facility in which your company is holding their business.
  • Business travelers understand how to make the most of the resources offered to travelers specifically on business. Find hotels that focus on the travelling business person. These hotels won’t have amenities for families and neither are they attempting to attract buses of adolescents in route to a camp. When you need to pay attention to business details and not the kids running in the hallway, this will help you find appropriate (and professional) lodging.
  • Packing vital electronic things is likewise one of several business travel tips. In case you are traveling overseas, make certain you are aware of the telecommunications requirements of the country. Make certain you pack a couple of USB memory sticks. You will never know if they may require them.
  • Never pack your laptop inside your luggage. Your laptop may be a pivotal element of your trip. Inside a flight terminal in an unexpected emergency situation, your wireless laptop may be used to adjust reservations so that you can prevent all those long lines for getting your next flight out. You’ll be able to arrange accommodations by automobile or snag just one of the few remaining rooms in hotels in the city straight from the convenience of the seats in the airport terminal.
  • If you plan well, then you can normally just walk to your meeting or hotel, while the people around you are stressed – simply because you knew the way to balance technology plus the need to help yourself out of a situation that could have been a problem.
  • But one way to use your laptop computer to help yourself if there is a situation where the airport terminal is shut all the way down would be the limited electric power of laptop computers. To see your electric battery go lifeless just when you wanted it by far the most is a lot like watching your tire go flat on the freeway because you drove over glass on your way to the meeting.
  • What few people know is that you have open electric-powered outlets in air terminals which are there for cleanup crews. Once you are at the airport – discover exactly where those outlets are. Normally you can find these outlets just underneath the windows that look over the landing strips. If you can secure a seat close to these outlets, it is possible to replenish your laptop computer and maintain your lifeline to everyone you need to.

The Upside to Business Travel

Many people abhor traveling for business, while some only hate it when they are consistently on the road as a road warrior. They frequently miss home, having their own familiar place to stay, and home cooking. Still, there are a number of tips for the business traveler that can make the best of traveling for business.

Free Fun Travel
Traveling for business can also help increase traveling for pleasure. While flying, staying at hotels, and renting cars one can be collecting loyalty points for future use. This means that one can be traveling for fun with the rewards of their business travel. It is a liberating feeling to walk to an airline counter and cash in some points for a trip to anywhere in the world- Vegas for the weekend or take someone special to Paris.

Travel Perks
Being a frequent traveler with the loyalty programs will have you an established elite traveler in no time. Pay attention to the requirements and do what you can to get elite status as soon as you can. The perks are tremendous with free and sometimes unexpected upgrades. Preference in the check-in lines will make a huge difference when you are pressed for time or dog tired at the end of the day. Preference in check-in/check-out times will be a perk you will use often.

Be In The Now
Every major town will have its unique flavor and will have some tourist must sees. See them when you have down time. When you are constantly on the road it will seem enticing to stay in a hotel room and relax to some TV, but when you do this day after day, town after town no wonder burn-out settles in. Get out and explore, get to know the town, it will undoubtedly help your business in that town to know more about it. Try the specialty foods of the area, stay away from national chains. And if you do find that you travel the same cities consistently, then make it your town. Find some favorite places to eat and entertain yourself, then you can actually look forward to visiting again.

Being able to travel for business is a wonderful opportunity and should not be seen as a burden. Changing of the attitude may be as simple as looking to the pluses and not focusing on the negatives of frequent travel.

Do Not Let Business Travel Disrupt Your Fitness

You have your ticket, you are packed, and the airport van is picking you up for your next business trip. Leaving Sunday afternoon and returning Friday evening has become routine over the last couple of years. You ran your errands and spent time with the family. You managed a brief workout early Saturday morning so you could attend the kid’s soccer games and birthday parties. Business travel is difficult. Lately you are feeling your clothes tightening around your waste. It has not gotten to the point of buying new clothes, yet. Ask yourself if this sounds familiar. There are more and more business professionals challenged with stressful jobs compounded by stressful travel. Surely, this takes a toll on the family and personal life[1], but even more important it could be destroying your health. When your health is gone, your family and job is in jeopardy.

Health and fitness for traveling business professionals is a serious concern, “But it is also a source of a variety of stresses, often overlooked or denied by both organizations and travelers themselves. The World Bank, studying its own travelers, discovered that both their physical and mental health-care claims were significantly greater than those of nontravelers.“[2] The typical executive travels 3-5 days per week. They eat ninety-five percent of their meals in airports, restaurants, or fast food establishments. They eat late while entertaining clients. Most of them do not exercise on the road even though gyms are available in hotels. In addition, most traveling business professionals do not get the deep sleep they need. Any medical professional, or fitness expert, will tell you this lifestyle is a recipe for disaster.

There are several resources offering ways to eat right and workout while traveling.[3] Videos abound on exercises you can use while traveling.[4] Still with all this information available, the vast majority of business travelers fail to eat right and workout on the road. Why is this? The problem is more behavior than access to good food and workout facilities. The solution is more education about fitness, not more facilities, workouts, and supplements. People who understand “why” about anything tend to accept and change more than those who do not take the time to understand a subject. Think about this principal. Continuing education is designed to make you more proficient at your job. The more you know and experience the more valuable you become to your employer. Your self-worth and self-esteem increases. This is true when it comes to fitness. The difference is you are your own boss. Here lies the root cause of the problem. If fitness is not a priority in your life, you have too many irons in the fire, you are stretched thin, and now your travel time takes up twenty percent of your waking hours, then you will put fitness on the back burner. The next thing you know you are twenty-five pounds heavier, your body fat percent is nearing obesity, and you have little energy at the end of the workday. At this point, your doctor informs you that your blood pressure is elevating and recommends blood pressure medicine.

A CEO who has all the distractions mentioned earlier recognizes the problem, does not drop everything, and still attacks the specific problem. They would contract a professional, e.g. lawyer, CPA, or consultant to help them filter through all the information and establish a good plan to attack the problem. These professionals allow the CEO to attack the problem while dealing with all the distractions, and still achieve his/her goals. The traveling businessperson should have the same approach to solving their fitness problem. Their professional is a private personal trainer, or fitness consultant.

Private personal trainers have the ability to provide you the right amount of information you need at the time you need it without you spending large amounts of time researching nutrition or exercise routines. They have the ability to assess your current fitness level then design a nutritional and exercise program that works for you. In addition, they can continually assess you, and make changes that will allow you to progress. Good private personal trainers have the ability to council behavior as well as design programs. They hold their clients accountable the same way a CEO uses a consultant to help them maintain accountability for a strategy. In most cases, a private personal trainer is more expensive than a gym personal trainer, but offer services that are more customized and personal. They are normally much less expensive than business consultants. You should consider a private personal trainer as an investment not an expense, the same way a CEO considers a consultant as an investment. So if you are traveling how can a private personal trainer help? You sure are not going to pay them to travel with you. The good news is technology helps to solve this problem.

Today private personal trainers have a wealth of technology available to them to help resolve the two biggest problems preventing fitness while traveling, i.e. education and accountability. Private personal trainers normally have their own web site. This web site provides the tools necessary to help their traveling client. Let us review a few tools that provide a near personal training experience on the road for a fraction of the cost.

 

  1. You have access to articles, other web sites, and educational material on your personal trainer’s web site. Your personal trainer can provide information based on your level of fitness. In other words, they provide the right information at the right time. You are not wasting time.
  2. Your personal trainer can provide a private login on their web site that has all your information, e.g. measurements, training schedule, exercise videos, meal programs, etc. This section of their web site is password protected for your privacy. Google documents offer great tools for this type of interface.
  3. Accountability is available with the use of Google’s calendar and SMS notifications. SMS messages are pre-assigned via the Google calendar for clients. They receive alerts on their phone saying to snack, complete a workout, etc. Business travelers have the ability to respond through SMS text messaging, email, or a phone call letting the trainer know what they have eaten, or that they completed their workout routine. If not contacted the trainer will follow-up. This happens no matter where the business travelers, or the trainer, are in the world.
  4. Clients can sign-up on
  5. It is less than $10.00 per month and offers the ability to track and monitor nutrition, activities, journals, and moods. By providing their trainer access, the trainer can track all activity 24/7. This combines nutrition, exercise, and behavior extremely well. This provides the trainer the information needed to council clients through a variety of virtual techniques, e.g. SMS texting, web site response, email, phone call, or SKYPE.
  6. Skype, Google Video Talk, and other video conferencing tools allow clients to schedule times with their trainer in order for the trainer to view the business traveler’s workout. This is convenient if they are working out in a hotel room.
  7. Finally, it is important to meet at least once a week when possible with your personal trainer face-to-face to celebrate your progress, establish new measurements, and set new goals.

This type of professional and private personal training is available to travelers. One company providing this service is Strategy for Fitness(TM). Overcoming a lack of education and accountability will be a big step to improving your fitness level. These services are an investment in your life. You have someone who is interested in your health and wellness and can counsel you on an ongoing basis no matter where you are. Using technology reduces your overall cost for personal training. Accountability is a powerful motivator. Trainers can hold business travelers accountable through advanced technology services. Do not let excuses become a barrier to improving your fitness while you travel. There are no excuses.

[1] Espino, C, Sundstrom S, Frick H, Jacobs M, Peters, M, “International Business Travel: impact on families and travelers”. Occupational and Environmental Med Medicine. January 11, 2010 .

[2] James Striker, Lennart Dimberg, Bernhard H Liese, “Stress and business travel: Individual, managerial, and corporate concerns”. Journal of Organizational Excellence Vol. 20 Issue 1 pages 3-10. January 11, 2010

Why Sound Business Travel Reporting Matters

For any company that has their employees engage in regular travel, it is important to have a good corporate travel strategy. Part of developing and improving on a corporate travel strategy is solid business travel reporting. Business travel reporting provides the company with details about the cost of travel and how the money is being used. This data not only helps to keep track of expenses but it also can be used to identify areas of waste and inefficiency. When this information is tracked and analyzed it can be used to improve upon your company’s business travel strategy. Using the service of a corporate travel agency is an effective means toward achieving all of these goals.

Due to their experience and their connections in the travel and finance industry, a corporate travel firm will be especially suited to provide these services with the highest degree of detail. A corporate travel agency uses a variety of methods to analyze and track a clients business travel expenses. They can use data from banking and credit card records along with the travel records to identify the most and least efficient travelers in your company. They can help to manage airline data to find which carrier is providing the most business friendly service for the most affordable price and they can help to identify waste and abuse of funds.

A corporate booking agency can also help employers to analyze information in a way that can determine how effectively the employees travel and how well they stick to the itinerary and how closely the individual employees stick to the travel strategy. This can be achieved by referencing the data accumulated from credit cards, expense accounts, airline data, hotel bills and rental information. Once all of the data is collected and analyzed, the corporate travel firm can prepare a complete report. The reports will cover a variety of different areas and will often be accompanied by a written summary of the overall information. Clients can also request specialized reporting from a corporate travel agency. These may be to address an area of concern or to see how a new aspect of the travel strategy is working.

Most business travel agencies recommend that their clients schedule regular meetings with their travel manger to go over the business travel reporting and to find ways to improve the corporate travel strategy. The management of a business should meet with their corporate travel manager at least once a year. In these meetings the travel manager can help the client go over the business travel reporting and understand what all of the data means. The manager will help to identify areas of waste and point out parts of the travel plan that are working well. At this time the client can address their concerns about the travel strategy and work to adjust the business travel strategy. A corporate travel agency can also help their client with a plan for implementing the new strategy and addressing the changes with their staff.

Having the services of a business travel agency is a necessity for any company that engages in regular travel. Having a well thought out strategy will not only save the company money, but it will also make sure that the staff is getting the most out of their trip.