What 20 Years of Financial Planning Can Do To You?

by Ben Handler

December 8, 2020

Buyer's Agent Paul Mollica on what 20 years of financial planning can do to you

Ben Handler:

Welcome to the Buyer’s Agent Institute Show. The purpose of the show is to bring awareness to buyer’s agents. To bring awareness around the career opportunities that the buyer’s agent sector is providing to people. To bring awareness around the value that buyer’s agents are providing to people who need help buying property. Our goal with the show is to really strip back and dive into the remarkable stories and journeys of buyer’s agents who are paving the way for the fastest growing career sectors in real estate right now. Our guest today is a special one, his name is Paul Mollica. He’s here from Sydney. He has 20 years experience. He’s been self employed in the financial planning space. He’s written a book on personal finance, he’s very passionate about property investment.

Ben Handler:

We’re going to talk and dive into this whole concept around leverage, which he really enjoys talking about. He’s got a very strong opinion on super, which we’ll also going to dive into and hopefully we’re going to really flesh that one out. And he really has had a passion to get into the buyer’s agent space, primarily to focus on providing quality advice. He is the director and founder and buyer’s agent at Wealthkey Property. Today I’d like to introduce Paul Mullica. Welcome Paul.

Paul Mollica:

Ben hi. Thank you for having me.

Ben Handler:

Pleasure to be here. I don’t know where we start. Do we dive into super or do we dive into leverage with property?

Paul Mollica:

Well, it’s your show Ben, so where do you want to start?

Ben Handler:

Let’s talk about super.

Paul Mollica:

He’s gone for the throat.

Ben Handler:

I just thought we’ll just dive straight in because you obviously, you’ve got a lot of experience in this space. A lot of people think they have experience and don’t. So it’d be good I guess, just get a bit of insight around I guess, just your perspective on super

Paul Mollica:

It’s a very interesting and highly regulated industry. There’s a lot of money in there. There’s a lot of what I would call a false sense of economy around superannuation. I spent 20 years as a financial planner. I have now left that business and I’m a full time buyer’s agent. I was a part time buyer’s agent before and I’m also a passionate property investor myself. So I’ve joined the dots between how people have created wealth with property versus how they’ve created wealth with superannuation and other assets and have landed firmly on this side of the fence.

Ben Handler:

And what side of the fence is that?

Paul Mollica:

The side of the fence that says, “Use leverage wisely and buy property and over time you’ll do fine.”

Ben Handler:

And when you were working as a financial planner, I guess if clients were coming to you saying, “Hey, we want to get into direct property.” Well how would you deal with that?

Paul Mollica:

The thing with property is that it’s not a regulated financial asset. So by default, there’s a strong bias against property from people that can’t make a quid out of it. So there’s this blind spot. And as the walls have calmed down and financial planners and accountants and mortgage brokers and other professionals have built wealth or seen wealth being built through property, their eyes have been opened up a little bit.

Ben Handler:

When you were working in the financial planning space, you were doing buyer’s agent work then?

Paul Mollica:

I was, yeah. Yeah I was one of the very few licensed financial planners that also had my real estate license. So I was very firm on that. About halfway through my 20 year career I started investing in property myself. And I joined the dots and thought all these clients that have a decent amount of wealth, they are Sydney homeowners and they’ve got 6, 7, 8, $900,000 perhaps in super and I was helping pre-retiree and retiree clients and wondering and asking the question, “How did you get there?” And a lot of the time they’d bought a property 10 or 20 years ago. They’d had a property that had grown their own wealth, the family home or they’d inherited property. Next to none of them saved their way to wealth which leads me on to leverage.

Ben Handler:

That makes sense though. I can say that especially where we are today with the world as it is. I mean consumer spending so high and people accumulating so much debt on credit card and there doesn’t seem to be like a new wave of like, let’s save. It doesn’t seem like it’s been there for a while either.

Paul Mollica:

It’s just impossible to save your way to wealth and interest rates are so low at the moment. If I can buy a quality asset in a growth area for someone that’s delivering say a 5% rental yield and they’re paying three and a bit in interest rates, it neutrals itself out. So the question to ask my clients, if fear isn’t holding them back and that they’re buying quality assets is, “If it costs you next to nothing per month to hold a 3, 4, $500,000 asset, how long can you hold it for?” And the answer is as long as you damn well please.

Ben Handler:

What do you see as common mistakes? And you might’ve seen this when you were working in the financial planning space with some of your clients, but where do you see people go wrong with buying resi property. Like investment, not on a rock where they’ve inherited or they bought a family home, but more when they’re investing?

Paul Mollica:

They’re sold schemes, they’re sold scheme. So crappy bill quality, investor slums, marketing companies that are offering 25, $35,000 in commission and buying solely on shiny new products that have a depreciation schedule. You’ve got some experience there.

Ben Handler:

Well I’ve seen it and people fall for it.

Paul Mollica:

They do.

Ben Handler:

It’s like their attention goes depreciation schedule and they forget about the product that they’re buying.

Paul Mollica:

Yeah, yeah. And it’s smoke and mirrors and a lot of it’s just bullshit and it’s rubbish stock. I’ve developed a system in the business called the ABCs. So when you’re looking at the ABCs, you look at the area, then you look at the building itself. What’s income? What’s in demand? What’s livability. Can I add value to it? Is there a decent block of dirt under it? So the area, the building and then cashflow is last and comparables.

Ben Handler:

I like it. [AB double C hey. 00:06:49] You’ve kicked off Wealthkey Property and now you’re kicking big goals and I knew it was going to move quick. So now working with clients, for example, that are coming to you specifically to buy property, how do you compare that experience? Because obviously you had 20 years in the fin planning space. How do you compare now the client experience, the journey, it must be different.

Paul Mollica:

It’s night and day, it is night and day. The amount of rubbish and compliance and complexity that was in that financial planning world that didn’t protect anyone. Because you can give bad advice in a compliant way. And there’s also dodgy real estate agents and dodgy market is out there for property as well. But the question was, how do I compare the experience? I jump out of bed, mate. I love it. I love it. And I love project managing the process. So I only make people two promises. One is that I’ll get you invested because time poured don’t know where to start. We’ve got this whole, what I call the circle of confusion house or unit? Regional, city, what price point et cetera. So the two promises I’ll get you invested and I’ll keep you safe. That’s it.

Ben Handler:

Powerful promise.

Paul Mollica:

I keep it.

Ben Handler:

It’s compelling.

Paul Mollica:

Yeah.

Ben Handler:

So clients, I mean you’ve obviously built up 20 years self-employed in the fin planning space. You’ve obviously built up a series book of clients who like and trust you and you’ve done work with, have you felt like a lot of your clients naturally have come from past dealings or is it a new wave of new clients coming to you?

Paul Mollica:

Yeah, I’m promoting my property business in its own right. So I can’t actively pursue for commercial reasons or can’t actively pursue my previous clients but maybe they’ll say this video. But yeah, a lot of new stuff and I’m working the business to business referrals. We’ve got I think some fairly realistic goals and that is to help 50 to 70 families per year to get invested safely in areas that have got good growth drivers where they’re not going to have high vacancy rates. They’re not going to have dodgy assets. So we manage the building and pest the, introduce them to conveyances and lawyers and all that sort of things that can be very confusing particularly when you’re buying into state. But the interesting thing is that a lot of the clients we’re working with now want to buy two and three properties with us immediately. So that’s a really nice feeling when you’ve just gone unconditional on a property and you get a text from the client saying, “Thanks can we go again?”

Ben Handler:

So is that stemming from your first initial discussions with them about a strategy or are they just coming to you saying we’re ready, we want to go again? I guess the question is, has that been pre-framed earlier on around, this is part of the plan and then they’re just comfortable to go again now or they just bring it up to you?

Paul Mollica:

It depends on the client. A lot of the times it is pre-framed. I’ve got a one page worksheet and I’ve been talking to people about their money stuff and their life stuff for 20 odd years. So I get the strategic intent and I get that you’ve been working your ass off paying tax for the last 30 years for a lot of my clients around 50. And you’ve only got X amount in super what the hell’s going on there? And I can overlay that with my own property journey and say, well I’ve got 200 grand in super and $2 million worth of property assets or whatever it is and show them real examples. But the beauty of this business is that no one needs to be sold on property, they get it.

Ben Handler:

But they’re getting extra value with you. Like when you said earlier around your experience with financial planning, talking about managing money and just lifestyle and understanding and getting awareness around super and just how to do things. I mean that’s an extra added bow they’re going to get when they come to you for the buyer’s agent.

Paul Mollica:

Look I’m not licensed as a financial planner anymore but no one can take my knowledge and my connections away from me. So like a really classic example is that if you’ve got, you’re alright for me to just unpack a bit of a case study for you.?

Ben Handler:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Paul Mollica:

So you’ve got a mum and dad that are earning 150 grand a year combined. So they’ve got say 15,000 odd going into superannuation each year. They might have $300,000 in assets there and there’ll be paying between 2 and 3% in fees. So that’s between seven and $10,000 in fees. If they took 150,000 of that money and used it as a deposit and costs against a $450,000 asset a property, then they still had 150 left over. They’re only borrowing 70 or 75% of the cost of the property. So it’s positive cashflow, it’s bidding off rent and they’re controlling $600,000 in assets that they’re not losing sleep at night over instead of $300,000 worth of assets that they’re getting [builted 00:12:20] on fees for. That is really exciting to be able to do that for people, for a long play, for a 7 to 10 to 15 year play.

Ben Handler:

How do they respond when you first break down an example like that? When they’re unaware of that example?

Paul Mollica:

Most people just ask if it’s legal.

Ben Handler:

Makes sense.

Paul Mollica:

Yeah.

Ben Handler:

This is all about board poll.

Paul Mollica:

Yeah, yeah.

Ben Handler:

Now that’s exciting. I guess this is the value that people get coming to Wealthkey Property. It’s not just about…

Paul Mollica:

Money is just an idea and it’s pretty basic when you break it down to its core which is why I wrote the book that I published a few years ago. But essentially if you and I are in a race and you’re earning 150 a year, I’m earning 150 a year and you’ve got $300,000 in superannuation going up and down with the market, getting fees taken out of it and I’m controlling property and both assets perform at the same rate, it might be 6% a year. I think actually ASIC money smart website says that direct property will perform over a 10 year average at 6.3% shares 6.5%. So you’re going to beat me by 0.2. But getting back to the race, you’re controlling 300,000 worth of assets, I’m controlling 600,000 worth of assets and we’ve both got 15 or 20 years till retirement. I’m going to beat you because compounding says that if something doubles twice over a period of time, you’ll go from 3 to 6 to 1.2, I’ll go from six to 1.2 to 2.4, I’ve just builted you.

Ben Handler:

Outperform.

Paul Mollica:

And all I’ve done, all I’ve done is use leverage and compound interest.

Ben Handler:

So yeah using property is of the vehicle.

Paul Mollica:

Absolutely, yeah.

Ben Handler:

That’s interesting. I don’t think there’s a lot of people who are, especially in the buyer’s agent space that I know of who are really playing and who really understand this space and applying it. So it’s obviously a big opportunity for you.

Paul Mollica:

Yeah. Well it’s a big opportunity for the mum and dad consumer more to the point.

Ben Handler:

So Paul you’ve obviously started Wealthkey, you’ve kicked off the ground quickly. A lot of quiet acquisition, a lot of purchases and no surprise. I guess with any new business, it comes a lot of learning. Do you mind sharing I guess maybe some things that have popped up that maybe surprised you, bit you in the ass, or maybe didn’t? Just I guess anything you think it’s worth sharing?

Paul Mollica:

I think control growth is really important. So once you deep dive into a suburb and you’ve got the area, you’ve got the building then you’ve got to negotiate. And then all of a sudden you’ve got all these different parts to manage. So having really strong systems and processes and a really good team is key. So I’ve got a great in house team. We do research, outsourced research but then due to the Rona, I’ve had to have acquisitions teams set up into state because that’s where I’m buying a lot of value for my clients. And that has proved to be really awesome because I can build in efficiencies. Not only have I got into state partners that will do video walkthroughs and have really good suburb knowledge but clients now are more accepting of doing a zoom meeting. So not having to go and pay for parking and spending three hours doing a one hour meeting is really good. So yeah, it’s just control growth and having some fun along the way but looking after each client from beginning to end.

Ben Handler:

Yeah I love what you said. You said teamwork, systems, processes. I mean the pillars of any business and you seem to have obviously understood that and nailed that early on, which is important. And that’s how you do grow. You talk about controlled growth, but when you do get that dialed in, you can grow at a speed.

Paul Mollica:

I had a little bit of a head start there Been because I’ve been working on this stuff for years as a part time proposition and now I’ve bitten the bullet and gone full time and I can simply help more people. It’s…

Ben Handler:

It’s so good. What’s the future of… I know you’ve just started, but obviously is it like next 12 months? I know you said you’re looking to, was it 50 to 70 families you’re looking to buy for? Is there anything else on the agenda for Wealthkey Property for this FY?

Paul Mollica:

We’d like to, I’ve got a really good support person at the moment that I’d like to get licensed up so that there’s two buyer’s agents and one support staff but like most areas of my life, I’m making it up as I go along.

Ben Handler:

I love it. Good stuff. And where can people find you?

Paul Mollica:

Wealthkeyroperty.com.edu and Wealthkey Property on Facebook as well.

Ben Handler:

I love it. And book, title of the book?

Paul Mollica:

Your Money Boat. I’ll send you a copy.

Ben Handler:

Yeah, I’ve got to read that one. I’m looking forward to it. It’s got your personality in it, then I’m ready.

Paul Mollica:

A lot of people have said to me, “Reading this book it’s like hearing your voice,” and it’s driving me a bit crazy. So I don’t know if that’s a compliment or not, but I’ll take it.

Ben Handler:

I think it’s a compliment. Thanks Paul, I appreciate it.

Paul Mollica:

Okay. Thanks Ben.

Ben Handler:

For those that are listening, it’s pretty rare that you’ve got someone like Paul with literally 20 years of financial planning experience. Obviously he’s not licensed as a financial planner anymore. However, I guess, going to someone like Paul, you’re not just getting the stock standard I guess buyer’s agent experience. You’re going to get a wealth of knowledge prior. And as Paul said, he’s focusing on investment, he’s buying interstate. So I’d highly recommend check out Paul at Wealthkey Property. It’s on the screen. As you can see, massive big personality, lovely guy. Hope you really enjoyed this episode. See you next week.

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