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Catherine's Chat

Wholistic Financial Solutions provides information and updates regarding the property investment industry. Learn more from Catherine's chat here.

WFS In the News

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Catherine Smith from Wholistic Financial Solutions comments on the Canberra Property Market

Stuart Westhoff From Wholistic comments on the current state of the market

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Is there any reason to be positive on stocks?

Right now there’s apprehension over the economic growth of China, the US and the world economy. If everyone was positive on these economies’ outlooks, commodity prices would be higher and groups, such as OPEC, would actually cut supply, knowing that businesses and consumers of the world can take higher energy prices. Instead, we have a lower growth expectation for these economies. Until that view changes, stocks will have a tendency to fall rather than rise.

Some recent rallies needed to be followed up by good news but instead oil slipped under the psychologically important $US30 a barrel level. The Beige Book put out by the Federal Reserve — America’s central bank — found that in nine of its 12 economic districts surveyed there was only modest growth. If it was spectacular growth, then Wall Street would be up and would keep going up!

The same goes for China — it needs to show that its transition to a more service-oriented economy will still produce good economic growth rates.

It’s funny that we’re focusing on Chinese manufacturing data and how its reduction has hurt iron ore and oil prices and the shares of BHP, Rio, Santos, etc. However, there are changes, such as the tourist numbers out of China to Australia, which this week were 1,013,700 in the year to November. This is the first time annual tourist numbers from the country have breached one million.

This shows us the work of a lower dollar that will help Australia’s economic growth. There are changes like this happening all around the world but markets often concentrate on old rules of thumb that maybe less relevant nowadays.

One big issue being ignored is the fact that one of the world’s most important business costs — energy — is falling and that has to be helping the bottom lines of businesses.

CommSec’s Craig James points out that for many families, the weekly petrol bill is their biggest outlay so the price of petrol has to be a plus for the economy, which (along with the dollar and low interest rates) should ensure our growth rate this year is good, which has to help job creation.

The Yanks have the challenge of a rising greenback but that’s because their economy is doing well. So the big hope for the next month — the time for the earnings show-and-tell — is that US companies, which have been employing large numbers over the past year, will actually come out with better-than-expected profit numbers.

It would help if China’s economic numbers start to look better too but that could be asking for too much in the short-term.

One final point. With interest rates so low and dividends still much higher, shares are still viable and the likes of fund manager, Kerr Neilson of Platinum Asset Management, aren’t worried about a cataclysmic China slowdown that has been spooking stocks this week.

Content sourced from:

It’s Time To Switch!

Monday, November 16, 2015

GUEST POST BY Tim Slarke - Mortgage Broker and Credit Licensee at Wholistic Financial Solutions

Have you taken the time to take a look at your latest mortgage statement from your bank lately? Most people just accept it as a piece of nuisance mail and may not even open the envelope. But if you take the time to have a closer look at it, and you’re with a big bank, you may be in for a surprise, and not a pleasant one.

It’s an unwritten fact that unless as a consumer you say something, or express dissatisfaction with something, nothing will happen. And the Big 4 are no different to any other major organisation in that they will not give you as a customer anything of benefit to you willingly, even if you are entitled to it.

So borrowers should take control and actively seek out the exceptional deals that are available now in the mortgage lending market. There are an enormous number of smaller lenders that are offering exceptionally low interest rates and other incentives for new clients to join them. In the past 20 years there has never been time to look beyond the obvious and really consider your borrowing options.

At WFS we have over 50 years combined of finding the best loans for our clients. Not only finding the best deal available, but also using our vast taxation experience to structure loans to maximise the tax effectiveness of our clients’ borrowings to improve their wealth and therefore their lives.

At WFS we have over 25 lenders on our panel, all looking for new clients. Combined with WFS’s experience and professionalism, the best possible result is guaranteed for the home owner and investor who is prepared to allow WFS to find the best loan for them.

Whats really going on with the Banks and Property Market?

Friday, October 30, 2015

So what’s really going on with the banks and the housing market?  It’s complicated to explain but when banks assess loans they use what they call a ‘servicing interest rate’.  So even if the loan is at 3.99% the banks use a different rate to assess the loan and the banks are being ridiculous and using rates like 9.5%.  This is no reflection of reality – as in the banks don’t think rates will go this high.  What they are doing is playing a chess game on behalf of the government with us borrowers as the pawns.


The Government is concerned about the ‘property boom’ happening and are trying to slow it down.  This in itself is ridiculous as the so called ‘property boom’ is limited to Sydney and Melbourne.  As we in Canberra know, it hasn’t happened here, that’s for sure.  And similarly Brisbane has only just started on the incline.


So…. Governments normally raise interest rates to combat property booms but they can’t do that this time because fundamentally the Australian economy like the rest of the world is not looking so healthy.  If they raise rates – they could sink Australia.  So instead of sitting back and letting the markets do what they should do, as in correct themselves, they are using borrowers as pawns and putting pressure on banks to make borrowing much more difficult. 


They are also putting pressure on Valuers and valuations are coming back ridiculous.  I just had a property value come in $140,000 under value as to what the purchaser was willing to pay.  I have never in my life seen this happen as a value is ‘what the property will sell for on the open market’ so if a purchaser is willing to pay the purchase price – then that’s the value.  But no, once again the banks are using Valuers as Pawns too and requesting them to value as low as possible so that borrowers can borrow less.


This is all temporary and could turn around next month once the Government wake up to the fact that their intervention could do far more harm than good but in the meantime we can only work with the rules the banks set.


I have been told I should go into politics but no bloody way.  I couldn’t handle working with the peacocks.


I hope that makes some sense.  Probably not as it seems a crazy way to run a country.

Positive Thinking in a harsh reality

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It can be really hard to maintain ‘positive thinking’ and belief in ‘whatever is meant to be’ when bad things keep happening. As you probably know my middle Son broke his face in four places 6 weeks ago requiring major surgery. Now my oldest Son made the Raiders squad only to find out he has damaged 4 discs in his lower back an may not be able to play.  This week we find out that a friends beautiful Alaskan Malamute best friends were shot dead by a famer in an act of senseless cruelty and yesterday I find out a good friend is having surgery due to self-harm she caused herself.  That’s just my small circle in turmoil.  Let alone what’s happening out there in the rest of the world.

So for those of you that need a reminder of how to apply ‘The Secret’ repeat after me:

                I promise myself

                To be so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.

                To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person I meet.

                To make all my friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.

                To look at the sunny side of everything and make my optimism come true.

                To think only of the best, to work for only the best, and to expect only the best.

                To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.

                To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature I meet.

To give so much time to improving myself that I have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of myself and to proclaim this fact to the world not in loud words, but in great deeds.

To live in faith that the whole world is on my side, so long as I am true to the best that is in me.

(Christian D Larson)

The Realistic Money Mindset

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

By now I am sure most of you have heard about the power of ‘The Secret’.  According to Dr Joe Vitale ‘You can have, do, or be anything you want’.  According to the contributors to the best-selling book and movie ‘The Secret’ we can all have as much wealth as we want....(click here to read more)


we just need to ‘attract’ it into our lives by believing that we can. Many spiritual advisors, authors, songwriters, etc have picked up on this theme and the literature is abound as to how to make the ‘Law of Attraction’ work for you.  It is said that you just have to visualise your dream, over and over, and most of all you have to ‘believe’ in your dream.  They also say that if you do visualise your dream over and over again and it doesn’t come true then it is just because you didn’t really ‘believe’ it would happen.  Believe harder and it will all be Ok. 

Is this really true or is it just new age mumbo jumbo.  Can I ask you all – have you applied the power of the ‘secret’?  Did it work for you?  If not, why do you think it didn’t work?

Property Hotspot

Thursday, October 01, 2015
South East Queensland



• Strong population growth
• Nation’s 10th largest city
• $2 billion University Hospital
• $5.3 billion Oceanside Kawana
• $350 million expansion of
Sunshine Plaza
• $2 billion light rail
• $150 million private hospital
• Caloundra South development
• Economy based on tourism,
retail, healthcare, construction
and education 


The Sunshine Coast market in 2014 returned to growth for the first time in six years.


Having previously been hampered by a struggling tourism economy, an over-­‐supply of dwellings and poor affordability, the coast has now moved into a strong growth phase.


(Source: Terry Ryder - Hotspotting)

What is Financial coaching services

Thursday, February 05, 2015

A new and fast growing advisory service - Financial coaching services


Financial coaching definition


So what is Financial Coaching?  The industry is so new there is no accepted financial coaching definition.  One can turn to Wikipedia for a definition of Coaching.  Coaching is defined as ‘training or development in which a person called a "coach" supports a learner in achieving a specific personal or professional goal’  So how can this definition be expanded to a Financial Coaching Definition? 


Wiki further goes on to outline a sub category of Financial Coaching being ‘an emerging form of coaching that focuses on helping clients overcome their struggle to attain specific financial goals and aspirations they have set for themselves. At its most basic, financial coaching is a one-on-one relationship in which the coach works to provide encouragement and support aimed at facilitating attainment of the client's financial plans. Recognizing the array of challenges inherent in behaviour change, including all too human tendencies to procrastinate and overemphasize short-term gains over long-term wellbeing, they monitor their clients’ progress over time and hold the client accountable. This monitoring function is hypothesized to boost clients’ self-control and willpower. Previous studies in psychology indicate that individuals are much more likely to follow through on tasks when they are monitored by others, rather than when they attempt to ‘self-monitor’. Although early research links financial coaching to improvements in client outcomes, much more rigorous analysis is necessary before any causal linkages can be established. In contrast to financial counsellors and educators, financial coaches do not need to be experts in personal finance because they do not focus on providing financial advice or information to clients.


The obvious flaw in Wiki’s Financial Coaching Definition is that it states that financial coaches do not need to be experts in personal finance because they do not focus on providing financial advice or information to clients.  It is correct that Financial Coaches cannot provide Financial Planning advice as they would need to be Licensed Financial Planners to do so. However, I fail to see how a coach can coach someone on their financial life without having any expertise in personal finance issues.  Even the term personal finance is ambiguous.  The term ‘personal finance’ financial management which an individual or a family unit is required to do to obtain, budget, save, and spend monetary resources over time, taking into account various financial risks and future life events.  When planning personal finances the individual would consider the suitability to his or her needs of a range of banking products (checking, savings accounts, credit cards and consumer loans) or investment (stock market, bonds, mutual funds) and insurance (life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance) products or participation and monitoring of individual- or employer-sponsored retirement plans, social security benefits, and income tax management. Are these not highly specialised areas in which advisors need experience, qualifications, registrations and licenses to advise? 


To my way of thinking using a ‘Financial Coach’ who has no experience, qualifications, registrations or licenses in financial fields is akin to paying a sports coach who has played football all their life to coach a girls netball team.  Why would you pay financial coaching fees to someone who is not able to provide financial planning advice, tax advice, or finance advice?


So who do you turn to for Financial Coaching Services? 


If you are seeking financial coaching services or financial coaching packages you would be wise to turn to professionals or a professional advisory firm that are experienced in their field of advice, and licensed, qualified and registered with professional bodies such as NTAA, CPA, FBAA, MFAA, PIPA, PIAA.



Coaching and mentoring program's


So when looking for Financial Coaching Services I think I have made my point clear enough that the individual or business should be experienced, qualified, licenced or registered.  I also think you should be looking for and individual or firm that offers financial coaching software, financial coaching tools and financial coaching packages.   Coaching and mentoring program's can greatly assist you develop wealth creation strategies.


Financial coaching fees can be worth paying if the financial coaching fees are paid to suitably qualified professionals whose advice can greatly assist you create personal wealth.  Financial coaching fees can be reduced via subscribing to coaching and mentoring programs and financial coaching packages as these tend to be cheaper than one on one financial coaching services.  However coaching and mentoring programs and financial coaching packages as they are not one on one take more commitment as you have to be self-disciplined enough to follow the coaching and mentoring programs and financial coaching packages.



What if you are looking for the coaching definition business?


If you are seeking financial coaching for business there is once again no accepted coaching definition business. Some business coaches talk about leadership coaching definition, performance coaching definition or executive coaching definition.  But once again nowhere in all these definitions or explanations do you actually find a requirement for a coach who is holding themselves out to be a business coach to be experienced, qualified, licenced or registered.  


Personally I would not take business advice from someone who is not, at the very least, a CPA, NTAA of Chartered Accountant and preferably someone who is also a Registered Tax Agent.


What is the purpose of coaching?


As explained above coaching is ‘training or development in which a person called a "coach" supports a learner in achieving a specific personal or professional goal’. In terms of Financial Coaching Services financial coaching means to coach a client on their personal finance issues which should include topics such as

  • Protection against unforeseen personal events, as well as events in the wider economy
  • Transference of family across generations (bequests and inheritance)
  • Effects of tax policies (tax subsidies and/or penalties) on management of personal finances
  • Effects of credit on individual financial standing
  • Planning a secure financial future in an environment of economic instability

All of these topics require the financial coaching services person or business to be suitably experienced, educated, registered and licensed.  Don’t sell yourself short or waste your money paying financial coaching fees to someone who is qualified only as a life coach.

Wealth Creation Strategies for the Average True Blue Aussie

Thursday, February 05, 2015


Wealth creation strategies for the average true blue Aussie

When the average person thinks of wealth creation strategies they generally think of ‘financial advice’.  However, there is a fundamental flaw in the financial advice industry in that it relates very little real wealth creation strategies.  In addition, it is neither accessible nor comprehendible for the average Australian family.  So the very ones that need financial advice, the average Australian family, cannot access it or understand it.  Even those that are lucky enough to be able to afford very basic financial planning, aka wealth creation advice, find it overwhelming and not comprehendible because the very term financial planning is misleading. 

Wealth Creation Strategies Definition

So what is the definition of ‘wealth creation strategies’?  One financial dictionary defines it as Accumulation of assets (especially those that generate income) over a long period of time.

Let’s see if real wealth creation strategies actually relates to financial planning.  It is actually very had to find an agreed definition of the term ‘financial planner’.  However, a ‘financial plan’ is defined as  ‘a comprehensive evaluation of someone's current and future financial state by using currently known variables to predict future cash flows, asset values and withdrawal plans

Yet when the average Aussie thinks of financial planners they generally think the person will be a highly educated and experienced professional that can assist them across all areas of their financial life.  Someone who can help them budget and save, then invest these savings in various investments including property, and also someone who will be able to reduce all the complicated financial strategies into a simple to understand no easy to implement plan.  However, this is not what happens when they see a financial planner. 

Financial Planners

Financial planners are basically product sales people getting paid commissions based on how much they sell. Worse still, some of them, are not highly educated at all, as a financial planning diploma can be obtained via internet based training courses. Some of these courses are quick and easy to complete and are more designed to make the supplier of the course money for course fees as opposed to ensuring a high quality financial advisor.  Financial planners also do not advise on property investing which is a key investment for financial wealth building and an investment that average Aussie wants included in the 'financial plan'.

Why is this such a problem? Clients want wholistic advice cross all financial fields. They want financial coaching that includes saving, budgeting, investing in shares, super, property, tax minimisation, asset protection, finance and more.  But each of these topics is dealt with by different professions.  A financial planner will sell you share or superannuation investments and convince you to take our high commission insurance policies.  But they won't help you invest in property.  An accountant may help you minimise tax, my even explain how to do this by investing in shares and property, but they can't actually advise on investing in such.  Mortgage brokers can advise on the best finance but can't advise on anything else. And the of course are the Property spruikers.  They will advise on property investing but they are generally unlicensed, uninsured and uneducated. They also get seriously high commissions on anything they sell you.  So can you trustee advice.  I think not. 

So why aren't their advisors who are licensed, insured, educated and experienced across all financial fields?  There are, but they are few and far between.  The difficulty for such advisors is the complications that the various governments have introduced via legislation that make it near impossible to give wholistic advice across all financial fields. 

Buying Property in an SMSF

Let's look at an example.  Say you want to buy property in an SMSF.  A very common and effective wealth building strategy at the moment.  Who do you turn to for advice?  If you see an Accountant they can set up an SMSF do you but they can't advise whether you should or shouldn't do so.  You can see a financial planner who needs to do a very complicated and expensive Statement of advice SOA to advise whether you should or shouldn't set up an SMSF.  The price of this Advice alone puts most clients off.  If you’re willing and able to pay for such and they do advise you to set one up, they can't actually set one up, you need to go back to the accountant for that.  Then you need to find a suitable investment property.  The financial planner and accountant can't assist you with this.  So you end up trying to hunt for one yourself and getting caught up with not so scrupulous real estate agents and property spruikers.  Once you find a property you need a loan. A mortgage broker can help you with this but the broker can't advise on whether you should do this and the banks require you to get advice so you are now back to the financial planner for another very expensive SOA to recommend you should take out a loan to buy the property.  Then you need an accountant to account for the SMSF accounting and taxation needs.

Does the process above seem overly regulated, overly complicated, overly off putting or is it just me that finds it ridiculous?  From my own experience what generally happens is that the wealthy who can afford the advice persist and get the right advice and grow wealthier.  The Average Aussie family can't afford the advice or even if they could, it just gets so overwhelming and complicated that they give up and don't get the advice they need to grow wealth.  And so, the divide between rich and not so rich continues to grow. 

So what is the secret to wealth creation?

Find a professional advisory firm that is licenced to advice across all financial fields.  A firm that can assist you create real wealth creation strategies.

The Importance of a Valuer when Purchasing an Investment Property

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

A valuer can be the linchpin to the transaction.  A valuer can make or break the transaction.

A valuer is used to assess the market value of a property.

The first thing to look for when appointing a valuer is to ensure they have the correct accreditation.  You need a valuer who can provide reliable, accredited assessments on the value of all types of real estate property.

When will you need a valuer?

If you are applying for finance your bank or lender may require a valuation of your existing assets to ensure they are able to calculate the actual equity you have within your real estate investments.

The bank providing finance will usually require the usage of their own valuers and they will generally err on the side of caution when making a valuation of your existing assets to ensure they are well-covered when offering you loaned money.

Valuers use a combination of market information, land values, development investigations and other analysis techniques to come about the valuation for the property.

Why do I say Valuers are the lynchpin?

The sale of a property is often dependent on the valuer.  Often the purchaser needs to raise finance against the property being purchased and possibly against their existing properties.  If the valuation on the properties fall short than the purchaser if often unable to raise enough finance.  Also a purchaser may decide to back out of a purchase if the valuer says that the property is worth less than the sales price.

So why aren’t valuation precise?

Valuations are an ‘INEXACT SCIENCE’.  There is no set value for a property.  The value is heavily dependent on the individual expertise and opinion of the selected valuer.

Valuers are poorly paid and need to do many valuations.  Pumping them out quick is the only goal.  They don’t take the time to examine all of the specific aspects of a property that add value. To make matters worse, the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) has caused lenders concern and lenders are specifically instructing valuers to value properties at FIRE SALE value as this reduces the lenders exposure to loss. Fire sale value is what the properyy would sell for in a quick, urgent sale and this is often far less than the achievable sale price in a normal market.

Valuers are also protecting themselves from personal litigation by adopting a conservative. 

How to possibly avoid a bad valuation on a property you are selling:

  • Try to develop a personal relationship with a valuer in the area
  • Sometimes it is possible to request the bank to use your chosen valuer
  • In any event, prepare a report for the valuer that contains
    • The house plans
    • Photos of all the special features of the house
    • A list of all the special features of the house that add value
    • Most importantly – a summary of comparable sales in the area that support the estimate of value that you are aiming to achieve

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