Reflecting on his journey, Anthony joins hosts Alex Whitlock and David Stratford to discuss his saving and investment habits, sharing his own experiences as a risk-averse investor who built an impressive Nest Egg through grit and wit alone.
In this episode we learn:
- How to offset your risk
- Maintain focus in your long-term investment goals
- Adopting advice for your SMSF
Thank you Anthony for your time on the show, you can also stay up to date with the latest insights from Dixon Advisory here.
Alex Whitlock: Welcome back and thanks for joining us on Nestegg.com.au. I want to have a chat today really about the fundamentals of building long term wealth. It's obviously what we're focused on. I'm going to introduce you shortly to a gentleman who has been vastly successful in terms of building significant assets. I'm sure he won't mind me saying, he's worth in the region of six and a half million dollars right now.
But really, I want to have a look at the fundamentals of discipline around saving, understanding the value of paying down debt, and really just getting started and just getting on the pathway at an early age.
Before we get going, I just want to welcome back Dave Stratford. Dave?
Dave Stratford: Good day. Good to be here.
Alex Whitlock: Good to have you along. I'm really pleased to say that I'm joined by a gentleman called Tony Camillos. Tony has very kindly come along to share his journey in terms of how he has built wealth over the long term, and I think getting some insights into Tony's journey is going to be really quite enlightening.
Tony, thanks for coming along.
Tony Camillos: Thanks Alex and thanks David.
Dave Stratford: No worries.
Alex Whitlock: Good to have you here. Is this your first podcast?
Tony Camillos: Very much so, yes.
Alex Whitlock: Yeah, the purpose of this is really just to give ... I think hearing people's stories is very valuable. We've been very fortunate to have different people on who have spoken about their journey. I think that hearing about how people have actually got on and started to build their own assets is really valuable. So, Tony, just to give a bit of background. You're 60 years old now?
Tony Camillos: Yes, since last October, so closer to 61.
Alex Whitlock: There you go. And, just in terms of going back to the early days, what are your earliest thoughts? When do you think you first started thinking about starting to put some money away for the future?
Tony Camillos: I suppose early on. I had the misfortune quite young, at about 11 years old, having lost my father. I didn't need for anything; my mother worked several jobs to raise the family. Four kids. I suppose we didn't want for anything, but we had a simple life. We moved to a housing commission out in Warwick Farm, which at the time in the 70's and late 60's, that was quite a distance from Sydney and not something that we were familiar with. So, my background, my humble beginnings, and I suppose it gave me a little bit of an impetus to want to improve my lot and family's lot.
Alex Whitlock: Well it's good to hear that you didn't want for anything, but it's got to have been a big financial strain, losing one of the breadwinners. It's got to have made things quite tough. You must have had to think, as well as the hardship of not having a father in your life, but in practical terms, the whole family must have had to have think very carefully about what they spend and how they use their money?
Tony Camillos: Yeah, absolutely. We were given a strong work ethic, that particularly came from my mother. It meant that even from a young age, from about 14 years old, I was getting any sort of part-time job I could.
Alex Whitlock: At what point did you start to put money away? And at what point were you just sort of supporting your lifestyle and your journey through education?
Tony Camillos: I suppose it started probably after I gained my first role, a permanent role. I was still working part-time at a club. Apart from my day job, I had a part-time job that I was doing about four/five days a week in a bar and Saturday evenings. So I was saving to get a deposit. I bought my first house in around 1984.
Alex Whitlock: Okay. Give us a bit of a snapshot of the housing market in 1984, if you can think back to that time?
Tony Camillos: Quite a while ago, yeah.
Alex Whitlock: How much did your first house cost you?
Tony Camillos: It cost me $50,000.
Alex Whitlock: $50,000.
Tony Camillos: The interesting point around that is that at the time I could have bought a house or an apartment in Avalon, but I would have had to borrow over $40,000. It meant that, the interest rate at the time, I remember clearly, would have gone up an extra half a percent, and I was so debt averse, even at that young age-
Alex Whitlock: People were then, absolutely.
Tony Camillos: And I said, "No, no, I'm not getting an extra half percent. I'm sticking to just the $40,000 line." I had saved $10,000-
Alex Whitlock: That's a lot of money.
Tony Camillos: It was in those days.
Alex Whitlock: Yeah.
Tony Camillos: And so I looked out in the Blue Mountains. So my first house was in Springwood in the Blue Mountains. Everybody thought I had three heads, "What are you doing getting a house so far out of Sydney?" I said, "Well, that's all I could afford." But I stayed within my budget and that was my first home.
Dave Stratford: You just worked so hard throughout your whole life and that must have been a massive point in your life really, to capitalise all off it, and all that saving and all that hard work has finally paid off, right?
Tony Camillos: It seemed to at the time. It was very important for me to get something behind me. I wanted a home. I wanted something we had as a young child and lost after my father's death. So it was a turning point.
Alex Whitlock: It's a big thing I think, home ownership, more so than buying. I think there's just that sense of security with bricks and mortar that, historically, probably has gone up. The test of time has shown that it is a good investment. But I just think, emotionally, you just feel that you've got some stability. There's very much a feeling of coming of age I think, when you've bought your own home. I can certainly relate to that.
Dave Stratford: I think as well though, is going back to the whole being risk averse essentially, because you're protecting your assets, your nest egg that you've worked so hard on. Like with me for example, if I put effort into saving, I want to make sure that every single dollar that I've saved at least does something, you know? I don't want it to be wasted, I don't want to have a downward spiral trend of losing loads of money from making bad decisions.
Tony Camillos: Yeah. It was an older home on a 1200 sq metre block. In those days it was a very large block of land.
Alex Whitlock: It is, yeah. What was it Tony? Three bed? Four bed?
Tony Camillos: Yeah, three bedroom, log cabin fibro. One of those, full of character and full of maintenance requirements. As a young fellow in your 20's, it started to bite into my social life, I must say, because the maintenance on some of that.
Alex Whitlock: Tony, just to give a bit of a sense of proportion. So, you saved $10,000, you took a $40,000 loan. Do you remember, roughly, what your annual income was in those days, to try and service that loan? It was a long time ago.
Tony Camillos: Yeah, I wish I could, I really don't remember.
Alex Whitlock: In terms ... okay, let's frame this another way: in terms of servicing the loan, and you say that it was encroaching on your social life, were you putting most of your disposable income into servicing that loan?
Tony Camillos: Yes, I did. You might remember, in the mid 80's, the interest rates reached 17.5%.
Alex Whitlock: They did, yeah.
Tony Camillos: I remember a lady that I had as an accountant in those days, was just telling me, "Just hold on. Just hold on. The interest rates will come back to normal." She was doing everything to try and advise me to just try to hold on.
Alex Whitlock: So you thought about cutting your losses, did you?
Tony Camillos: Absolutely.
Alex Whitlock: In terms of the house value, was it worth around the $50,000 you'd paid for it? Had it gone up a little bit? Were you looking to make a loss on it, if you-
Tony Camillos: If I had to sell it?
Alex Whitlock: Yeah.
Tony Camillos: I probably would have made a small profit on the house.
Alex Whitlock: But not really got much out of your ...
Tony Camillos: Yeah.
Alex Whitlock: What a great decision that was, looking back.
Tony Camillos: Yeah, very much so.
Alex Whitlock: Good counsel.
Tony Camillos: Yeah, very good counsel, and it just meant that I had to do a few more shifts.
Alex Whitlock: So that was your first move to really put some pegs in the ground around investment. Just moving forward, was property something that you felt ... did you have a relationship with property moving forward, in terms of an investment vehicle?
Tony Camillos: Being of European descent as well, bricks and mortar seems to stand out. I knew nothing about shares, nothing about any other type of investing. Bricks and mortar was all I knew and so that was where my focus was.
Dave Stratford: Did you find after you found property to be a haven there, did you find that you wanted to explore other opportunities, other kind of investment asset classes, or anything like that?
Tony Camillos: Not really, to be honest. In my early/mid 20's my mind wasn't thinking around building an asset base at that stage.
Alex Whitlock: You just wanted bricks and mortar and something that was an appreciating asset. I think property is very tangible. The sort of people who ... I think if you don't see yourself as being an investor, I think there's plenty of people who buy property and see the opportunity to grow some wealth without necessarily viewing themselves as being an investor. I think it's a great way to start.
So from 1984, when did you decide to start to grow your property portfolio?
Tony Camillos: I suppose when I sold that property. I got the first glimpse that property provided a base for wealth creation. I'd bought it at $50,000 and within a period of five years, approximately, I sold that property for $129,000. So, it was the first glimpse that I had that it was an avenue and then a vehicle for wealth creation.
Alex Whitlock: And just to get, again, a bit of perspective, you hadn't refinanced that, you just carried on paying the loan down, so you're getting a nice ... And there's obviously no capital gains on your own home, so you're getting a nice return on that. So, 129,000 ... look, for the sake of simplicity, say you paid your $40,000 back, you're clearing in excess of $90,000.
Tony Camillos: Yes. And that then allowed me to move a little bit closer to the CBD. I went all the way from Springwood to the Sinclair and bought a brick home with aluminium windows. I think I paid approximately $165,000 for that home. So out of the-
Alex Whitlock: So you've got your 90k to put in, less your costs of purchase, so a really good LVR.
Tony Camillos: Yeah, and it was an air conditioned home. It had pools-
Alex Whitlock: I've got air conditioning, yeah, it's fancy.
Tony Camillos: So, it was a little fancy to-
Dave Stratford: You thought you'd splash out since moving over into the nicer space anyway. I don't blame you.
Tony Camillos: That's right, that's right. It was luxury.
Alex Whitlock: So that was late 80's?
Tony Camillos: Yeah. About '89 from memory. Yeah, '89.
Alex Whitlock: So you got a taste for growing wealth through property investment. How did this change the way that you viewed the opportunity now? What was your mindset in terms of the next step from here?
Tony Camillos: I was completely motivated by paying down debt. I was so debt averse, I just wanted to pay down the debt. So any spare capital that came to me via a tax refund, I found 10 dollars on the street, I would pump it into the loan. I also investigated ... at the time I was reading articles that suggested that you paid your repayments on a fortnightly basis-
Alex Whitlock: Yeah, the old 13 a year, yeah. That's the way.
Tony Camillos: Rather than a monthly. I immediately put that into action. I did little steps to try to bring down the debt.
Alex Whitlock: Because obviously no tax benefits with having debt on your own home, as opposed to investments as such. So ... sorry Tony, just to have a look at your life outside the investing: what job were you in at the time? What were you doing professionally at that stage?
Tony Camillos: At that particular time I was in the education sector. I was actually working as a teacher.
Alex Whitlock: Okay, what were you teaching?
Tony Camillos: I was teaching science and a few other subjects at the time. I was a subject master at a girls Catholic college.
Alex Whitlock: So again, just to sort of frame this, you're a chap who's built up quite a large amount of equity in a property ... look, teachers are not well paid, I mean they're not well paid now, so it's not a very affluent job, but yet you've got really sort of well ahead in terms of starting to build some wealth and focusing on paying down debt and really sort of good old-fashioned values in terms of just reducing that debt on that property.
Tony Camillos: The positive about a role, whether it be in teaching or nursing, whilst it's not an enormous salary, it does offer stability.
Alex Whitlock: It does, yeah.
Tony Camillos: And it does offer some regular income, so it allows you to budget, it allows you to plan with some focus.
Alex Whitlock: So you focused on reducing your debt. There's going to be a point in this story, I can sense, where you step out of just up sizing your home. What was the point where you started to look now at broadening your property portfolio, expanding that?
Tony Camillos: It came probably the step past the luxury home in Sinclair. I had a bit of a business idea, and being in the education sector, I came up with the concept of providing advice after hours for students.
Alex Whitlock: In what sort of ...
Tony Camillos: Just in general, like tutoring.
Alex Whitlock: Okay, tutoring, yeah.
Tony Camillos: The internet, most people will be aware, didn't hit home till about mid '95/'97. So in 1989, I was a little bit pre-internet, and was trying to work out how you could provide homework help or advice, how you could provide that. The only vehicle at the time was telephone. Telstra were working on 1900 numbers, and the long and short of it is, in my research, started working with Telstra as a vehicle for being able to provide advice and a billing mechanism. So, that led, by 1995, for me launching a company called Studyline. When it took off and launched in 1995, it was extremely successful, and I knew I had the tiger by the tail at that stage. It was just getting too big and unwieldy, because up to that stage, I'd spent five/six years by myself trying to put together all of the facets of the marketing, the human resources, etc. When I went to government with my business plan, they then looked at the concept and they launched the HSC advice line in New South Wales, and it ran till 2012.
Alex Whitlock: So you obviously couldn't do this on your own, you needed to bring a team of people in to start to work with you. In terms of revenue coming in through the business versus ... were you making enough money to hire people or did you have to dip into your own personal ...
Tony Camillos: At that stage I wasn't making enough money to cover expenses. The government really, whilst I approached them at the time when the Labor government came into office, my business plan was they provide a million dollar budget, against it, but they were only going to run it for six weeks over the high school certificate period. What happened at that time is they did not want, because of the Teacher's Federation, they didn't want a private company to run the service. So we ended up making a little bit of money because it ended up being some element of litigation, but the government was not subject to the Trade Practises Act at that time. So it ended up something that, emotionally, it impacted on me deeply because I'd spent-
Alex Whitlock: I imagine.
Tony Camillos: Six years developing something which was then taken from me and offered free.
Alex Whitlock: So what year was this Tony, just to give-
Tony Camillos: '95/'96.
Alex Whitlock: '95/'96, okay. So were you still teaching at the same time, or had you left?
Tony Camillos: I was a consultant in the Catholic education office, Sydney.
Alex Whitlock: And you're obviously still paying a mortgage on your property. So from this blow ... Look, do you mind if I call you a entrepreneur? It's an entrepreneurial idea, which didn't work out commercially the way you would have hoped it worked out. So how did you practically pick yourself up from that? What were your next steps to get your wealth building back on track?
Tony Camillos: In hindsight, they say that failure is a great learning. I didn't consider it a failure, but I did consider that I was little naïve.
Alex Whitlock: Well it sounds like what you built was extremely successful, it was really the financial control of it that didn't go to plan.
Tony Camillos: Yeah, I just didn't have the resource base behind me. I thought ... the naivety came in going to government with the expectation that I would get some element of support, but that didn't obviously eventuate. But to answer your question, it was a blow, but what it did provide to me is, I suppose, the basis for making sure that I was never put in that situation again and that I would learn and grow from the experience.
It would impact on me every year when the high school certificate came around and you would hear radio advertising about this great offering, and deep down I knew it was something that I created but nobody knew about.
Dave Stratford: That probably drove you to become more of an independent person anyway, because there you are trying to bend some arms and help yourself out for a cool idea, which essentially was something that went into a big idea.
Alex Whitlock: Let's look at this, this is helping students that can't afford tutoring-
Dave Stratford: Yeah, you know, that's what I mean.
Alex Whitlock: To be successful.
Dave Stratford: The mentality behind it.
Dave Stratford: And to be shunned and crossed off and move onto something else, I'd be the same, I'd be angry.
Alex Whitlock: So what was the next move from here? Where did you go from here?
Tony Camillos: Well, slowly, I tried to put that to bed a little bit and dusted myself off. But I did get some financial benefit from that period of time. What I did with that small amount of money is I had a little bit of a light bulb moment and I thought to myself, look, in reality I'm not doing too bad. I have a good solid employment, I have a good income. The light bulb moment was basically, what if I could get this income without having to work for it?
So, I set myself a goal. I thought, if I could earn $100,000 a year, without having to go to work, what a great goal that would be.
Alex Whitlock: This is back in '95?
Tony Camillos: Back in '95/'96.
Alex Whitlock: That's a lot of money. It's not a small amount.
Tony Camillos: I was in my mid-forties. I was roughly earning that amount of money as a salary. I felt comfortable with the salary I was earning, and I thought, well if I could replicate this without having to work 100 hours a week, my lot would be pretty good. What that did was basically reinvigorate my efforts to pay down debt and build an asset base for the future. So, I moved forward then with leveraging my current equity and moved to develop a small factory unit in St. Mary's.
Alex Whitlock: What made you decide to go commercial rather than going into the residential market?
Tony Camillos: Basically, because I looked at yields at the time and maintenance.
Alex Whitlock: And the yields are rising, typically, in commercial, yeah.
Tony Camillos: And because a lot of people talk about growing capital, as I said to you, the light bulb moment for me was passive income-
Alex Whitlock: Was yield.
Tony Camillos: So it was yield. So my focus became yield, not capital growth-
Alex Whitlock: So you would have refinanced ... Because of the hard work you put in the early days, you'd got good equity in your place, so how much did you need to release from your principal residence?
Tony Camillos: I had almost paid down the debt by that stage-
Alex Whitlock: That's incredible.
Tony Camillos: Yeah. And the little bit of extra money that I received, what I did was use that to build the property.
Alex Whitlock: So you bought the place for $165,000, approximately, what was the place worth around this time that you refinanced?
Tony Camillos: I'd say almost ... just under 300.
Alex Whitlock: And you'd paid down pretty much all the debt, so you're sitting on $300,000 worth of equity.
Tony Camillos: And the focus on yield was simply just my way of having a goal, having some sort of objective.
Dave Stratford: I think your objective as well, Tony, of kind of being in that mind space and mind set of saving, gave you those objectives and those opportunities to do things like this. You'd worked hard, you'd kind of got everything all underlined and then you can say, "Well, now I can do this because I've done all the hard graft before, so this actually allows me to do it."
Tony Camillos: I suppose, at the time, I really felt the need to, as I said, after the experience with Studyline, I dust myself off and-
Alex Whitlock: Get back in there.
Tony Camillos: And refocused.
Alex Whitlock: So how long did it take ... so from acquiring the lot of land to completing the development, what was the timeframe?
Tony Camillos: It was about 18 months to 24 months.
Alex Whitlock: Okay. Did you build business, like a unit based block where you could rent out individual units on this ...
Tony Camillos: Yeah, so it was built in an L-shape, and it was a half acre block just next to the freeway.
Alex Whitlock: How many units did you manage to put in there for rental?
Tony Camillos: Four.
Alex Whitlock: Four, okay.
Tony Camillos: Four yeah. Total cost around the time was around $600,000 / $650,000 complete. Interestingly, my sister was living in Earlwood, and I was looking at ... And houses in Earlwood at the time were 650/700, and the yield was about 3.5 per cent, and I thought, but I can spend 650 over here and my yield's 14 per cent. I thought, well you don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out, if you want passive income ...
Alex Whitlock: And the leases as well ... look, I'm not a commercial property expert, but I believe that you'd signed people on a longer term lease, three/four/five year leases, and from my understanding there would typically be written ... I don't know how it was then, but there'd typically be written in there would be incremental increases moving forward.
Tony Camillos: Correct.
Alex Whitlock: So you've got a lot of security around your yield-
Tony Camillos: Low maintenance.
Alex Whitlock: Low maintenance.
Tony Camillos: The thing though is the word of caution to moms and dads, investors in commercially, is you have to allow for the times where your units are vacant-
Alex Whitlock: The vacancies. Yeah, they can sit for a long time.
Tony Camillos: They can sit for three or six months. So whilst they are occupied then you really are in a good financial position. But you cannot allow yourself to be in a negative equity position or in a lot of debt in commercial, because the vacancy rates can be high, and that is where people can get themselves into trouble.
Alex Whitlock: Again, I'm not an expert, but commercial loans typically come lower LVR's than residential. I don't know if you remember what the LVR was. Was it sort of a 60 per cent loan? Or something near that?
Tony Camillos: I think it was 70-30 at the time.
Alex Whitlock: Yeah, 70-30, okay. So, that was ... look, you know, looking at 14 per cent yields, looking at the cost of, overall, acquiring the land and construction, coming in around the 6-650k mark versus residential property a few suburbs away. I'm guessing that that was sort of finished end of the 90's?
Tony Camillos: Yeah, end of the 90's, yeah.
Alex Whitlock: Were you still working education then?
Tony Camillos: Yeah, at the time I was still in education, probably in a little bit of a more senior role. I was also, at the time, still working part-time outside of my role.
Alex Whitlock: You're a grafter, a hard worker. Sorry, grafter's an English term.
Tony Camillos: Trying to, again, just that whole notion of paying down debt. I'd felt like I had ... to use the analogy of bunsen burner on my rear end, just paying down debt. I just had this-
Alex Whitlock: Driven.
Tony Camillos: Driven to pay down the debt.
Dave Stratford: And that goal never changed as well, so that consistency behind it is what actually made it beneficial to you, to be able to keep going.
Alex Whitlock: You're talking big debts on property, it's not like ...
Dave Stratford: Oh, I hate it.
Alex Whitlock: Car loans are bad enough, but you're talking big numbers. I think seeing that number going down ... I mean, look at today's property market with the price of property in ... in St. Mary's now is very, very expensive. Everywhere has gone up so much over the last five/six years.
Tony Camillos: Particularly with the airport being close. But people have to be reminded though, that whilst ... I probably am a little bit more left of centre on the risk averse element, but equally, people would say that's a not good thing, because you also need to leverage. There would be an argument that some people would say had I leveraged more, I had the potential now, in particular, to leverage more, and I could probably build my assets-
Alex Whitlock: But it's about comfort Tony.
Tony Camillos: Exactly.
Alex Whitlock: And you're right, hindsight's a wonderful thing and say yeah, I could have leveraged more, but at the end of the day, you've got to live with yourself, you've got to be comfortable with your decisions. You know what, the wind doesn't always blow in the right direction, the sun isn't always shining, and things go wrong. I think it's great looking back to say I could have more higher leverage, but there's plenty of people who've been over-leveraged who've come unstuck.
So we've got a good picture of the initial stepping stones, and a really quite ambitious move in terms of developing a commercial lot. What's your outlook now? You were very property-centric in the early days. Now at 60 and you're still working, you've got projects that you're working on at the moment, so you're not retired, but if you can just give our listeners a bit of a snap shot now. Let's just talk about ... what would be the value of your assets now, in terms of ... with less debt?
Tony Camillos: Probably around six and a half million.
Alex Whitlock: Okay, so you've got you're $100,000 a year, I would imagine, in terms of your passive income coming through that.
Where you are today, let's just have a little bit of a chat about. Are you still focused on property? What are your focuses now, in terms of your spread of assets?
Tony Camillos: I've had the opportunity to build a good asset base. Partly also, because I tend to have the personality to buy boats in winter, not in summer. I don't necessarily follow a general pattern. So even when I was purchasing property, I'd be there in the worst day of July looking for the property in a winter's day.
Since then, under this regulatory framework and the low interest rates, I have felt the need to really get more professional advice.
Alex Whitlock: Okay, so you've been self-directed all the way up until around about ... how long ago? A year or so ago?
Tony Camillos: 2016, with the big announcement from the government around all of that 1.6 cap and accumulation phase.
Alex Whitlock: You said ... so you went and sought advice for the first time. How has this changed the way that you view opportunities to protect and to grow your wealth?
Tony Camillos: I saw it, particularly from the point of view at this age, is to ensure that we have the ability to have a comfortable lifestyle coming from our investments, but also to try to maintain that asset base in the future. My wife's quite younger than me; I want to make sure that she, on my passing, has the lifestyle that she's come to enjoy. It's important for me to try to protect the income base coming from the assets.
Alex Whitlock: So for a chap who's taken very much control ... very independent, lost your father at a very early age, you've taken responsibility for yourself from an early age. What was the process for a year ago trusting somebody to give you advice? What sort of happened? What sort of prompted that? Or if not what prompted it ... you've given a good idea of what prompted it. What did you actually do? How did you seek advice?
Tony Camillos: I was reading a lot. I am a big reader of various magazines about superannuation and reading all the papers and magazines. I saw an advertisement providing some seminars around what was happening with the super changes, and so I attended. I got some very good insights to what was being sought by the government, in terms of superannuation and all of that. That gave me a little bit of confidence to come back for another meeting-
Alex Whitlock: That you're now getting ... what role do they play in terms of where you invest and what you invest in, and how has your outlook changed with their support?
Tony Camillos: They have primarily provided some element of education. When we started talking, you asked me about my understanding of the broader picture of asset classes, and I told you it was virtually nil. So whilst I've picked things up along the way, I still have-
Alex Whitlock: You're very confident, you've been very successful with property, but that's one asset class.
Tony Camillos: That was one class I felt more comfortable with, but what Dixon's have provided is they have educated me around other asset classes and the associated risks, the various advantages and disadvantages of dividends, franking credits, tax minimization, income versus capital growth. So I have a much broader understanding of the various asset classes-
Alex Whitlock: I think for a man who has been very focused on yield, property is very tangible in terms of yield, but unless you get an education ... There are yield, obviously, through owning shares and through various other asset allocations. I think understanding how those yields work is very valuable. But you don't know until you know.
Tony Camillos: And it's critical. You also have to value the feedback that you're getting, you need to trust in it. Whilst I explored financial planners in the past, I never had the confidence to move forward. I found it costly, and I found the advice dubious at best. I also found that it was agenda driven, it was product driven. I always felt that, in the few times that I had moved to get advice, outside of my accountant of course, that the advice had agendas, which were not focused to my personal objectives.
Alex Whitlock: The problem is that there are good advisers out there, there is some superb advice out there, the challenge for us is finding ... particularly if you're not a savvy investor, is really working out from a short interview from a short meeting from a short conversation with somebody, if the advice that they're recommending is going to be good. I think finding a trusted adviser is worth their weight in gold. But you don't know till you've found one.
Dave Stratford: I think it's a psychological thing as well. For you to step in that seminar room and think, I'm pretty successful, I've don't what I've done on my own, I've had a bad experience maybe potentially with advice and being flogged products as well, so that's a big thing to actually walk in there and actively do it. To you, that must have been, in a way, an enlightenment, to actually look at how you can expand your existing portfolio to someone else really, essentially?
Tony Camillos: I think the important thing is that you are at least open enough to listen. I think what I took away from that is that there are people with a lot of knowledge and expertise who seriously have your best interests at heart, and you need to allow or be open to hearing at least, or allowing somebody to provide and communicate how they might be able to assist, and then make a judgement . But closing the door doesn't help anybody.
Alex Whitlock: Yeah.
Dave Stratford: And I think that there's no right or wrong to having advice and not having it, in my opinion, but I do feel when you can speak to someone who understands your situation and can actually make it an enhanced situation, that's worth it's weight in gold really, essentially. Maybe even literally.
Tony Camillos: Yeah.
Alex Whitlock: So Tony, one of the first things, going back, one of the first goals that you set yourself was generating a passive income of $100,000 a year. Today, you're worth about 6.5 million. What's the future like? What are your goals moving forward? What are you looking to ... in terms of income, in terms of wealth, in terms of ... what are your goals moving forwards?
Tony Camillos: I'm still at the point where we're still looking at that as a potential base for an income.
Alex Whitlock: Are you happy with where you are, with what you've worked ...
Tony Camillos: I am happy with what we've got. We're very fortunate to be completely debt free at this stage of life, hitting the magic 60. I can get a, so-called, pension or transition to retirement, or whatever it's called these days. I do take the opportunity with the wife, these days, to do a little bit more travel and enjoy our lot.
The main thing is ensuring that assets and income, to some degree, are protected and will ... I suppose for most people, that they carry on to some degree.
Alex Whitlock: There's a legacy there?
Tony Camillos: Yeah. A little bit more to ... because we don't know if I've got 20 years or 10 years. I just want to make sure that, to some degree, it's maintained over a -
Alex Whitlock: That's really good to hear. What I'm hearing is that you've really achieved your financial goals, you're very comfortable ... you say that you're happy a lot, which is fantastic to hear. You're not looking to necessarily expand that exponentially, moving forward, but what you are looking to do is really now build some security around what you've worked very hard ... And you're a young man at 60, and to have that income, and hopefully for many, many, decades to come, that's a very, very, good position to be in.
Tony Camillos: It's come with a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but we've been very fortunate as well, along the way.
Alex Whitlock: So Tony, I'd love to talk all afternoon, because it's been a real pleasure talking to you, but just in wrapping up: Just talking to people who are maybe starting their journey, what advice would you give to people starting out? Maybe in their 30's, who are looking to start to build themselves a nest egg?
Tony Camillos: Two things come to mind. One is, not to over commit. You can start with a humble beginning. I know these days ... like I did, it's taken five moves for example, for me to live eight kilometres from the CBD. I started in Springwood. I read these days many people averse to travel, averse to moving ... don't over commit, make a start, get into the market and make a start. But make sure that you can not over commit yourself financially, and allow for interest rates to move. Allow yourself to have a little bit of scope for a two/three percent increase-
Alex Whitlock: So even if the lender says, "Great news, you qualify for a one million dollar loan," have a good understanding of what you can afford, not what you can borrow, and put in that buffer. The banks typically will put in, I don't know, a 1.5 per cent buffer in their calculations, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you can afford to repay that yourself. So what you're saying is have a very clear idea of your own comfort level with the debt that you're taking on and what you can afford to repay?
Tony Camillos: And when you're young, it might not seem that way, but time really is on your side a little bit. A little bit of patience, don't over commit, balance your life of course, enjoy the moment, enjoy the present, but we all reach 60 one day, we all get older, and you also have to think a little bit about the future. So, whilst living in the present, just have a balance, do what you can to pay down debt. If you do get a windfall, you get your tax dollars, think about your next trip to Bali or paying down $1000 out of your debt. Instead of going there every year, you might go there every three years.
And, you don't need the latest lounge or the latest television. Whilst we were growing up, we were happy to have a few hand-me-downs.
Alex Whitlock: Yeah. Can I ask you a question? What car do you drive at the moment?
Tony Camillos: Well, at the moment, I must admit I drive a Lexus.
Alex Whitlock: Oh, do you? Okay.
Tony Camillos: But it took me till my late 50's before I-
Alex Whitlock: Fair enough.
Dave Stratford: I think as well, like you say mate, keep your powder dry and don't always jump on those first opportunities, is absolutely key advice. I take that on board as well.
Tony Camillos: And beware the snake oil sales people who tell you that there's a quick silver lining somewhere-
Alex Whitlock: Eternal advice. Since the dawn of time, making a quick buck is dangerous stuff.
Tony Camillos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Alex Whitlock: Tony, it's been a real privilege and a pleasure talking to you. You've been very candid. For those that are listening, if you have a story that you'd like to share, we'd very, very, keen to hear from you. I'd just like to say thanks very much for coming in and we'll talk to you again next time.
Tony Camillos: Thanks for the opportunity.
Alex Whitlock: Thank you.
Dave Stratford: Thanks again Tony.