Is Property an Addiction with Luke Moroney

by Ben Handler

September 30, 2020

Buyer's Agent Luke Moroney on whether property is an addiction

Ben Handler:

Welcome to the Buyer’s Agent Institute Show. The purpose of the show is to bring awareness buyer’s agents, to bring awareness around that create opportunities that are provided to buyer’s agents around Australia, to bring awareness around the value that buyer’s agents provide to people who need help buying property. Our goal of the show is to strip back and dive into the remarkable stories and journeys of buyer’s agents, who are paving the way forward, in one of the fastest growing career sectors in real estate, right now.

Ben Handler:

We’ve got a special guest today. His name is Lachlan Vidler. He’s based in Canberra in the ACT. He was an officer in the Royal Australian Navy. He worked on four ships. He also won awards for innovation and leadership. He then left the military. He went into the corporate world. He worked as a management consultant for Accenture and Deloitte. He’s also studied an undergraduate, a postgraduate, a Master’s, across finance, business, and properties. He’s also over 10 years, built a property portfolio spread over different asset classes. He’s also shifted into luxury developments. Today, I’d like to introduce Lachlan. Welcome Lachlan.

Lachlan Vidler:

Hey Ben. Thanks for having me today.

Ben Handler:

You’re welcome, mate. You’ve got a good backstory.

Lachlan Vidler:

Yeah, look, it’s a bit unique. Isn’t it? I think there’s probably not many people, that’s particularly in the real estate of buyer’s agent sector, that probably have a background similar to mine. So it’s nice. It’s a good way to, I don’t know, meet people and have something to talk about.

Ben Handler:

One thing I forgot in my intro for you was, whilst you were deployed, I believe you were studying some of your degrees. Right?

Lachlan Vidler:

Yeah. So on one of the deployments I had. I was always out in some of the more contested areas of the world, in our region. And I was studying my Master’s Degree in Finance, trying to study at night, be up during the day. It was certainly hard, but it’s a good memory to look back on, I guess.

Ben Handler:

What does being an officer in the Royal Australian Navy mean?

Lachlan Vidler:

There’s lots of different jobs, so you can do things like warfare, where you might be driving ships, logistics, engineering, and a few others. And basically what it means is that, you’re in charge of people. You have your job where, like I said, you could be doing logistics or warfare, whatever it might be. But then, you also have a team leadership and people leadership component to it. And there’s high standards. There’s a lot that’s expected of you, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s a really good career.

Ben Handler:

I’m sure it would have taught you a lot. You obviously won, as I said, awards for leadership and innovation. What do you feel like you came away with? Especially, and then you migrated into the corporate world. What do you feel like it taught you in some key skills?

Lachlan Vidler:

I think it really taught me a lot of leadership, and I just spoke about that. But I think you can’t really put a price on knowing and learning how to lead people, how to lead teams. It teaches you the teamwork side as well because good leaders are good team members. And then also. A lot of planning. And I think all those things, you can apply that to any business, you can apply it to any sector, for buyer’s agents or as an investor. You need the leadership to be able to make decisions about things. You need the teamwork to be able to build a good team around you and then be able to operate within that team. And then the planning, because without plans, you’re just sort of shooting in the dark. You don’t really know where you’re going and what you’re doing. And you won’t know when you’ve reached a goal or a point along the road to a goal. So plans are also pretty important.

Ben Handler:

That’s awesome. And then you transitioned into corporate, working for the big names, Deloitte, Accenture. Was that always the plan when you were in the Navy? Were you thinking about going in that direction? Or…

Lachlan Vidler:

I think over my time in the Navy, you grow, you mature as you learn things. Your outlook on life changes. And I think when I joined, I probably always thought that I was never going to be in 30 years. I was probably never going to be an Admiral, but I knew I wanted to start there. And I wanted to learn some of the things and have some of those experiences. And then, when I was looking to leave… you spoke about how I’ve studied finance at a Master’s level. I always wanted to go down, maybe like a banking or a finance or a consulting pathway. And for me, my opportunity with Deloitte just fell into my lap. I had a recruiter that was helping me look around. I had some people that had worked in that sector. And I got offered an opportunity to interview, and I just went for it. And then I kept going back and back. And eventually they said, “Hey, would you like to come work for us?” And that was that.

Ben Handler:

What was the key difference you learned, especially from that transition, going from the Navy then into corporate? There’s politics in both, but I guess, was there any key fundamental differences you noticed moving between the two?

Lachlan Vidler:

Maybe not a lot. I think like you said, there’s similar dynamics of everything in lots of workplaces. I think I really loved the teamwork aspect of the Navy. And that’s not to say you don’t get that in some of the places I’ve been or something other corporate jobs. But it’s certainly very different to when you’re living on a ship. The ship could be anywhere in the middle of the ocean. You look around and all you can see is the horizon out there. And that’s all you see for days. And you’re with maybe 150, 200 people as low as 20 on some of the ships that I was on. And you can’t really put a price on that sort of teamwork and that bonding, that you get from just being in that environment.

Ben Handler:

And so, you then worked at Accenture. Was that after Deloitte?

Lachlan Vidler:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

So you were a management consultant at both?

Lachlan Vidler:

Yeah.

Ben Handler:

And was that something that you saw more progressively, that was going to be your future? Or was that something that you thought, I now need to transition again into something else after those gigs?

Lachlan Vidler:

I guess my move to Accenture, it was just a bit similar, a little bit, to Deloitte, where it was just an opportunity that was put in front of me. And it had some good progression opportunities for me. And it was before I was looking at things like opening my own buyer’s agency business. And it was just a great opportunity, and I’m a big believer that when you get offered something, as in an opportunity, you don’t necessarily have to take people up. But you should always hear them out. You should always see what’s out there. It might be to your benefit. It might be to their benefit. But you don’t really gain anything by being closed minded and not being willing to see opportunities that are out there.

Ben Handler:

So after Accenture, did you then just decide, you’re going to commit to opening your own buyer’s agent business, or were you going to consider looking at other opportunities?

Lachlan Vidler:

No, I still work there. I’m still working in a nine-to-five role with them, and running the business as a part-time thing at the moment, as we continue to grow it and make it bigger. And it’s important to make sure that you’ve planned, one of the things that I learned in the Navy. You’ve planned out the things that you’re going to do well in advance. Because you don’t want to make rash decisions. I wasn’t ready with my own life circumstances to necessarily leave full-time employment, just yet. But I also saw the great opportunity that I had through BAI and opening a buyer’s agency, that I couldn’t turn down either. And I’ve just had to find ways to make both of those things fit well within my life.

Ben Handler:

I love it. We’ll get to Atlas Property Group soon. I just, I guess, want to dive into… So you’ve built a property portfolio with your partner.

Lachlan Vidler:

Yeah.

Ben Handler:

And when did that commence?

Lachlan Vidler:

We’ve been going over the last few years, a little while. And by no means are we 50 millionaires or something like that. We have a nice portfolio. We keep looking to grow it. Like you said, we done some stuff in the luxury development space as well. And we just wanted to make sure that we were putting in place good things for our future life.

Ben Handler:

Good on you guys. And so is ,your partner going to join you in Atlas?

Lachlan Vidler:

She will. She will, eventually. I think that we want to make sure it’s nice and established, and we’ve got a good rhythm going. And she’s already helping out behind the scenes. And we’re hoping in the not too distant future, she’ll be able to come on as a full-time face. Be out there, dealing with our clients a lot more, and not just sort of being the workhorse behind the scenes and helping make me look good.

Ben Handler:

Great. So whereabouts are you going to be focusing on with your clients? Because I know you’re up and running. But where are you focusing on at the moment?

Lachlan Vidler:

We’re taking a national outlook, I guess you could say, where, like you said, I’m based in Canberra, but I did a lot of my time growing up in Sydney. So I always do lots of travel between the two. And because we’re quite focused on the investment side of the house, and we still help owner occupies, but predominantly in the investment side, we help people from all over. We get people calling in from Queensland, from South Australia, East South Wales, all over. And if we feel like we can help them, and they would like to work with us, we’ll help out and work with anybody.

Ben Handler:

And development stuff, are you going to be finding sites, doing any of that stuff?

Lachlan Vidler:

Probably not at the start. With a little bit of our own personal background in it, I’m sure we have a natural progression as we keep growing the company. I think we’re just focusing on established property at this stage, matching investors with sound investments. But development is something that [inaudible 00:08:57] and I’m pretty passionate about. And I think that it would be a really nice place to keep moving towards, into the future.

Ben Handler:

Yeah. Do you see a development division opening up within the Atlas Group?

Lachlan Vidler:

I don’t want to give it too much away this early, but it’s always nice to dream. Isn’t it? I think there’s lots of big property developers in Australia. And there’s always space for good people to enter any sector or any industry. And who knows, maybe you’ll see Atlas Developments before too soon.

Ben Handler:

I guess, did you envision yourself being an entrepreneur growing up? Is that something…

Lachlan Vidler:

No, I can’t say I really did. When I look back, I can see, maybe, some little indications of where I was willing to be a little bit outside the norm and do things that you may want to expect from people at the ages that I was, when I looked and tried to do certain things. But I never sat back and went, I can’t wait to be an entrepreneur. Over my time in the Navy, and then now working in the corporate sector, I’ve started to envisaged a dream for myself and my partner, where we’re our own bosses. And we can make our own company, our own legacy. And it’s ours, we’re not building it for someone else. We’re building it for us.

Ben Handler:

Yeah. And you’re so primed for the entrepreneurial journey. I mean the Navy, I’m sure there’s just so much, you’d learn there on that journey. And then obviously, the study that you’ve done. It’s been, obviously, really tight what you’ve learned. And then, you’ve obviously went into the corporate world, which you’re still in now. And you’ve had exposure, obviously, with management consulting. And then, you’ve bought property over the years with your partner. You’re so primed for this buyer’s agent business, to be running it. I think you’ve done the work. And so, it’s going to be just incredible to see how you guys fly over the next few years.

Lachlan Vidler:

Oh thanks, Ben. I think when you say it and you rattle things off like that, it makes it sound maybe a little bit better than what it is. And there’s been lots of hard work, and we’re just excited to be able to keep moving along our pathway. You talked a bit about some of my education, and I love studying. I think that it keeps you sharp, keeps you current on lots of things. We spoke earlier about how I’ve done my finance Master’s. I’m now into a Master’s of Property Investment and Development. And it’s funny because before the BA business was even looking… before the idea had even been created, I wanted to do that just for my own personal reason. I thought this would just be great. It’s an interest. It’ll help us out in our own investing journey.

Lachlan Vidler:

And then now, with the BA business, it’s such a natural fit. And it’s going to be great for our clients, where they’re going to know, not only does he have some runs on the [inaudible 00:11:30] his own investing, and some of his other story of his life. But he can also show us that he’s done some formal education in it. And he’s got a bit of a standard, and he’s out there looking out for our best interests.

Ben Handler:

Yeah. And I guess a lot of that theory, you’re going to put into a lot more practice now, working with a lot of the clients you’re working with now. You’re going to be buying a lot more as opposed to just accumulating properties for your own portfolio. It’s great when you do put that theory into practice. What inspired you to become a buyer’s agent? Did you see publicity in papers around buyer’s agents? Or when did you first, I guess, get a glimpse of it?

Lachlan Vidler:

As soon as you become active in a space, like real estate or whatever it is, your social networks, your internet, everything starts showing you certain things. And buyer’s agents have always been around my newsfeed for Facebook, for example, in different different respects. And buying property, you hear about it. And I don’t know if there was ever a specific point where I was like, I want to be a buyer’s agent. But my partner and I, we always said, if we’re going to start something, what should we do? And we always said, “well, real estate just is so natural. It’s fun. It’s exciting.” We get up excited about it. And then, when I found out about the Buyer’s Agent Institute, I couldn’t believe this opportunity that was in front of me. And when I started looking into it further, and I realized what a great course you’d set up, and some of the successes, some of the students it had, I thought, look, I’d be crazy to not give it a run. Maybe it doesn’t work out, maybe it does, but at least I tried.

Ben Handler:

Let’s talk about ACT. So you’re not obviously from there, you’re a Sydney boy?

Lachlan Vidler:

Yes.

Ben Handler:

So did you move there, obviously, for the consulting work?

Lachlan Vidler:

Yeah, so I spent some time there when I was in the military, and I quite liked it. And then, as I was coming to the end of my time in the military, my partner was working down there. So when I had my job opportunity with Deloitte, it happened to be for the Canberra office. And I thought great opportunity. We can finally come back together because we’ve been living apart for a little while, just from our different postings. And we moved there. But we’re really excited to hopefully come back to Sydney soon. Because we both love it, the Harbour, the sites, the vibe, everything. Sydney’s just such an exciting city.

Ben Handler:

Yeah, I think it’s a bit more vibrant than Canberra.

Lachlan Vidler:

Yeah, absolutely. But I will say some of the best nights out I’ve ever had in Canberra. The bar scene is amazing. The food scene is amazing. And I think Canberra gets a bit of a bad rap around the place.

Ben Handler:

Yeah. Listen, it looks beautiful. You drive around there, it’s very green. It’s looks very clean. It seems like a very peaceful place to be. What’s the vision for Atlas Group? I know you guys recently started. Obviously, it’s a startup, it’s a new business. But what is the vision for you guys?

Lachlan Vidler:

Going back to some of those things I learned in the military and planning. The plan would be, let’s grow a billion dollar company. Who knows? But being realistic, we want to keep growing it. We want to keep helping our clients. We’d love to move back to Sydney, once we’re satisfied that the business is in a great place. We can stop doing some of the travel between the two cities. And we’d just like to keep growing and keep helping people.

Ben Handler:

And Deloitte… Sorry, not Deloitte, Accenture. What is the plan to slowly transition out of there? Or are you going to look to keep both running simultaneously? Or…

Lachlan Vidler:

I think it’ll probably just come down to how the business has going. I think if we were doing, I don’t know, 10 deals a month or 15 deals a month or we had the capacity to be doing that, it might be hard to keep maintaining other full-time employment. But if we’re going at a slower trajectory and we’re growing on a slower pace, we’ll make sure that we’re just in a good, safe place. So that we can not put the business at risk and not put our own selves at risk.

Ben Handler:

We know putting your planning hat on right, part time works really smart. And if you look at some of the best entrepreneurs in the world, that’s what they did. So like Phil Knight from Nike, he was running his accounting job when he launched Nike. The Google guys, they were studying, I think, at Stanford, PhDs when they launched Google. And so, a lot of these entrepreneurs, really, they hedge their bets. And so, they’re actually, one foot in one foot out. And that’s exactly what you’re doing. I think it’s really smart. There’s this whole notion that you’ve just got to go all in all the time, but it’s actually not entirely correct. I think it’s awesome what you’re doing.

Lachlan Vidler:

Oh thanks, Ben. I think putting me in the same sentence as some of those guys, I think is ambitious. But I love that. And who knows what Atlas Property Group will be. But I think you’re right. I think in today’s day and age and seeing what’s going on in the world around us, I think has really shown people that sometimes people get overextended, or they take risks that maybe they shouldn’t have. And there’s nothing wrong with taking things at a slower pace, if there’s some additional security that’s worth it. And I think any business owner, entrepreneur, full-time work, or whatever it is, I think that everyone wants to make sure, you’ve got a stable paycheck. Your family life is good. Your career or business opportunities are sound. And you’ll just try to make the best decisions to keep all of those ticking along nicely.

Ben Handler:

It’s been crazy times, obviously, since March, like the pandemic. The whole world’s gone through a transition. What have you learned just generally, just with life during that time? Obviously, you’ve been working for a big corporate, what’s come up for you during that time?

Lachlan Vidler:

I think one thing that all been so impressed with and quite happy about is, how a lot of these big corporate companies and smaller companies and pretty much just the whole world, has taken to working from home. And trying to get a bit of work-life balance back. I think you can look up statistics, you can look up academic reports about how everyone has just been so go, go, go for so many years. And people have been working longer hours and reductions in productivity from those longer hours. And I think that with COVID going on and some of the other things in the world, it’s made people reevaluate how they can do business. How can we do it better? I think the BA business is a great example of that. You could meet people in a shopfront or an office, but you could just as easily meet people online. And I think that the world situation’s helped to normalize some different business practices that are going to set everyone up for the future, far better than perhaps what we were doing beforehand.

Ben Handler:

Where can people find Atlas Property Group?

Lachlan Vidler:

Well, you can find us at our website, which is atlaspropertygroup.com.au. And we’re across all the social medias. We’ve got our Facebook account. We’ve got Instagram. And we’ve got LinkedIn. We don’t have a TikTok yet. Who knows maybe as the company grows, and we have more people working for us, we could get some good stuff going on that. But they’re the main platforms that you can find us on.

Ben Handler:

Awesome, dude, it’s been super and great just talking with you. You’ve got a really inspiring story. You’re kicking big goals in your business, man, and hopefully, you’ll be out of the consulting work soon. You’ll be full-time in the BA business. Congrats man.

Lachlan Vidler:

Oh, thanks for having me Ben. And thanks, for everything that you’ve been able to teach me as we’ve been going on. It’s been great. And I don’t know if I would have been able to get to the point that I’m at now without everything that I’ve learned from you and BAI.

Ben Handler:

Thanks man. Appreciate it. Well guys, Lachlan’s got a super inspiring story. He’s the planner. So if you’re looking for the plan, he’s your man. He’s got so much experience, so much, I guess, diversity to what he’s learned. And I think that’s one of the most incredible things about business owners, is the different skill and talent they bring to the table, just life and knowledge.

Ben Handler:

And so, if you are looking for investment properties on a national level, Lachlan is based in ACT, but he’s running a borderless investment model. So reach out to Lachlan, reach out on his details, check out his website, see you next week.

Please watch the full episode here:

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