Learning from the investment masters

Morningstar staff  |   11/10/2017 Text size  Decrease  Increase   |  

Vanessa Stoykov: I started Evolution Media 18 years ago when I realized there was a real gap in the finance industry. My background is journalism. My first job was at InvestorWeekly. But after working for a few funds management firms I realized there is an opportunity to be creative in an industry that's not traditionally known for that. So, I went about building quite a large production business that focuses on the out-of-story telling in financial services. And many people may think there is no story, there is and I've proven it 18 years later.

No More Practice Education was a bit different. We realized the same gap but in the education space, particularly for financial advisors. The existing content that they were receiving was – bland is a harsh word, but perhaps there wasn't the level of engagement and storytelling that there is when you put the actual people who manage money or who are making decisions on the screen.

At the end of the day, people respond to people and people buy people. So, by us making video leaning as opposed to just straight text learning, we take people on a journey and it's a journey where they retain more of that education because of the way we tell the story.

Actually, when we talk about our purpose, we have this overarching purpose to make the pension irrelevant for people. And by saying that we mean that they won't need to live on a government solution, but because they have created enough wealth for themselves.

How do we do that? Well, we need to make the finance industry more accessible. There is a percentage of people that engage with the industry, probably more at the SMSF and high-net-worth end. But there's a whole bunch of people – I mean only 2 in 10 Australians get financial advice that aren't engaged with the industry and the industry hasn't done a great job of telling its story in a way that is accessible and easy to understand. So, that's our job.

There's a few challenges. One of the biggest ones is actually accepting that retirement is going to happen. So, there was a research that Suncorp put out recently that said 60% of Australians don't even think about retirement. So, part of the challenge is getting people to accept that it is a long-term planning process and the earlier you start, the more likely you ought to reach your goals. That's a challenge.

I think another challenge is Australians are absolutely in love with property and there's no two ways about it. It's the biggest investment that people will ever make and it's worked. The last 20 years we've seen property prices go through the roof. But that is unlikely to continue with that rate.

So, then is the challenge of how else do I make income? How do I diversify what is a property and most likely super that's not enough? So, there's a big challenge facing Australians. We're about to release a piece of research we've done with Griffith University that talks about intergenerational wealth transfer. So, the biggest transfer of wealth in Australia's history is going to happen in the next 15 to 20 years as baby boomers hand over to X and Y their properties, the wealth they have amassed and that's of critical importance to this country. Because aging population, people are living longer, there will be less people to work, to earn money to pay taxes, when I'm retired, I'm 44 now, and if people don't put that inheritance and that windfall that they get into a long-term investment strategy that pays for their retirement, they are going to fall short.

This doesn't have to be bad news. I mean, what we are saying is, look at retirement as an opportunity to reinvent yourself. Look at the windfall you are going to get if you are lucky enough to inherit as something that can help you reinvent the last 30 years of your life.

I've been writing for a long time for advisors and usually, in support of advisors and their businesses. Advisors have received a lot of criticism in the media, some of it rightly so. But unfortunately, the good news and the good work that advisors do every day doesn't get written about. So, a lot of what we are trying to do is help them build better businesses and help them tell their story better, so more people engage with advice. I write for direct investors and that is more around the message of let's think differently about investing.

The Investment Series is running on Channel 9 in a few weeks. We're very excited because this is the first time we've used a celebrity to go through the process of transformation around money. So, we've used Blair McDonough who is ex-soapy star and one of the first people ever on Big Brother in Australia. I don't know if you're a fan of reality TV. But those who watched it, loved him. But he is a typical Australian in the sense, almost 40, owns a home with a mortgage and has an investment property. But with his wife going on maternity leave, second baby, we take him on a journey to understand A, his cash flow and budge needs, because most Australians have trouble managing their cash flow and budget and it's something that advisors can really help with. So, we pair him with an advisor.

But then we get him to meet some of the best investors around the world. We take Blair to meet these individual portfolio managers in interesting locations and he actually gets a masterclass from the managers themselves around what it means to become an investor. And I think for the viewer to be able to understand his financial plan, because our advisor Simon Clifford gives him a financial plan on the program and see how he has planned out the next phase of his life will get people thinking, wow, I need to do the same.

People can see the investment series on Channel 9 from October 14. It's running every weekend on a Saturday at 12. You can also get a copy of the report we've done with Griffith University. We will be releasing that on October 10 and people can download the report themselves. And I'll be launching my own website on October 10, too. So, people, direct investors, who want to go there and start thinking about their reinvention, can go VanessaStoykov.com and start downloading the blogs and doing the diagnostic tools. So, exciting times and I'm looking forward to writing for Morningstar as well.

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