Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Are you (super) ignorant of how much money you could be making?

Don’t be (super) ignorant

In arguably the second-most controversial section of the award-winning investment book, “Who’s Taking Your Money? (and how to get some of it back!)”, Chapter 13 opens by stating that, “some people are just intellectually inferior… to hardwood…”

We could possibly change that last word to “driftwood”, as many hardwood timbers actually serve a defined and structured purpose, unlike the soppy pieces of wood that simply drift through life aimlessly without direction.

It may be cruel but it is a harsh fact of life: people who set themselves toward a certain goal or task will generally achieve it (or a semblance thereof), whilst people who bob along as victims of tides and circumstance will not achieve much (unless you count having a story about how much of a victim they are in life).

To continue the watery metaphor, we could discuss those who design their route after reading maps and charts left behind by wise sailors (guidebooks by mentors) or we could look at those who get caught up in merely watching or reacting to the uncontrollable currents (current events, current affairs); but you get the point. If you’re a column reader, you will be a classic succeeder.

As a guest on an international wealth creation teleconference two years ago, I asked the hypothetical question, “if you could continue to do your current job, and receive 10% wage increase and then, after 20 years, receive a bonus free car, would you switch companies?” With one exception, everyone on the call suggested that they would happily move.

The notable exception was a multi-multi-multi-millionaire who asked the pertinent question: “What kind of car do I get?” This question is further proof that millionaires are not just ‘lucky’ opportunists: they think differently (and this is a skill which can be learned).

One man asked the wise question, “Do I get a Ferrari or a Daewoo?”, whilst the rest of the callers were simply content with a 10% wage rise and a free anything. A free $10 000 car would be OK, but a free $40 Million car would be nicer… (just ask Ben Stiller’s character in the movie “Tower Heist”)

My reason for asking the question was an analogy about superannuation and it proved the point wonderfully. Most people are ignorant of the power of compounding and they are similarly ignorant of the control which they can exert over what is, and what shall be, their greatest investment. Someone who works without thinking and fails to choose their super will choose to fail with their super.

The employer will put you into the “default” fund if you fail to choose an option. It may be “safe as houses” (hang on, haven’t house prices dropped by 30%?) and your retirement money may be as solidly reliable as government bonds (yes, those big complex things that many investors are pulling out of, as major world governments accumulate debt which they cannot pay).

The default “balanced” fund for one of Queenslands’ major superannuation suppliers has had a barely positive result in the last five years: if you put $1000 in there in 2006 you would now have around $1020. If you think that you would have done better sitting in cash in the bank, you would be correct, and cash is the default option for many self-managed super funds (SMSF’s).

There are thousands of employer super funds to choose from and thousands of people who create their own SMSF’s to further direct their control of their monies.

Of the $430 Billion in Australian SMSF’s, it is interesting to note that only around 5% of this money is in “managed” investments such as managed funds or mutual funds. It would seem that the wealthier Aussies prefer to direct their own paths (around 88% of the $400+Bn is in direct shares, direct property and direct cash or trusts). [ABS 2011]

That “the rich get richer” is a cliché only because it is true; just not in the way that you may think. Those who are richest in education become richest in assets: it is all about knowing where to put the money and when (again, this skill can be learned: http://bitly.com/WealthClock).

With a plethora of investment books around, you may find it hard to read a handful of them and make an informed decision. We’d also suggest that if 90% of them agree on a point, it’s possible that the majority is wrong.

It would take a true contrarian to take cash OUT of the banks when everyone else is putting cash INTO the banks. It would take an incredible übermensch with nerves of steel to take money from cash IN the banks and put it into owning stock OF the bank itself.

Instead of leaving your cash in the super default fund and earning 4% per year for 5 years in a row, or putting the cash inside the bank and earning around 4%, you could have put your cash into bank stocks a few years ago.

In the last 3 years, stock in NAB has gone up 50%, as has Westpac. Commonwealth Bank is up 100% from January 2009 to January 2012, and ANZ is a smidge behind the 100% mark. We will not even mention mining stocks.

You can tell the people who do NOT own stock in their own bank; they are the ones who are constantly whinging about “the bastard banks” and lamenting the price of bank fees. If you owned part of the company and you just made 50% or 100% profit, you would not be whinging about it. So change.

How many times can we say “take control of your own destiny”, “stop being a victim and become an investor” or “buy a contrarian investment book”?

No excuses: for those who do not have the capital or the means to commence a SMSF, there are many funds around which will allow you to choose your own investments or even purchase direct stocks and shares inside of your “off the shelf” super fund. Just because your own fund said that they cannot do it, that doesn’t mean it is impossible. You just need to ask someone else.

Not only have I assisted clients to purchase stock with just $1000 in their work super fund, I have also opened super accounts for my kids whilst they were under 12 years old (another thing most super funds will tell you that you cannot do).

Rather than be accused of labouring the point or preaching to the choir, we will let it rest for now with some pointed yet sagacious advice: read something wise and make a decision now for a better future. The choice of a Daewoo or the Ferrari at 65 is entirely up to YOU; but you must decide now!

Jeremy Britton is an independent wealth coach and business coach who advises clients on all aspects of wealth creation. Find out more or purchase his best-selling investment book at www.24HourWealthCoach.com

No comments: