"I'm grateful for the life I've been able to create for my kids through investing" - Ironfish

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“I’m grateful for the life I’ve been able to create for my kids through investing”


Here at Ironfish, we are proud to practice what we preach. Many of our staff are property investors themselves, and have kindly agreed to share their individual stories and their own personal property investment tips.


Michael Lawton

Senior Property Strategist, Ironfish Adelaide

“I feel grateful about the kind of life I have been able to create for my kids through investing – and that’s great. But it’s good to be able to give back, and to set a good example for my kids.”


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  • Owned home + 3 investment properties prior to joining Ironfish
  • Purchased a further 3 properties with Ironfish
  • Planning to buy and renovate in future
  • Keen supporter of Operation Flinders Foundation

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

It was Robert Kiyosaki’s personal finance classic ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ that first caught Michael’s interest and got him started in researching property and investment. He bought his first home at age 19, and his first investment property at age 23. By the time he joined the Ironfish team, Michael already owned his own home, as well as a further three investment properties, two of which he had renovated himself. 

“In my previous role, I was earning a decent income and it was pretty cruisey work – but I was bored, I needed a new challenge. I had a customer who said to me once: ‘I hate going to work, it makes me feel sick.’ And you never want to be like that. At Ironfish, there are days where I might come in at 7:30 in the morning and walk out at 9:30 at night – but I always feel excited about talking to more people and helping them to invest in property.

“I love my current role with Ironfish; the exciting thing is not knowing who you’re going to meet, not knowing where it’s going to take you or who your customer might introduce you to. You meet some really fantastic people; people you want to be connected with.”


Michael has worked with many investors since he first joined us back in 2012. But there is one couple that still stands out – Julia & Bruce.

“A few years back, Julia suddenly experienced some major health challenges. She recovered, but she realised she had been lucky to pull through. It was also a big moment for her realising that they weren’t prepared financially – they didn’t have enough for retirement.

“After her recovery Julia called me and asked if we could catch up the following week. They were keen to buy an investment property, but very nervous. Now, a few years on, they’ve just settled their 5th property! While they are both professionals, earning a decent income, even with the five properties, Julia says they haven’t noticed any real difference in their lifestyle – they can service their debt comfortably. I think now that they’ve come through the other end,  they feel like they’ve been looked after – I held their hands through each step of the process to really give them the confidence.

“I think it helps with confidence if you’re investing too. June and Bruce bought in Golf Links Estate, a development that I personally invested in as well for my family trust. I think that when you have a vested interest as well in a property, people have the confidence to follow along as well.”

Investment plan

After joining our Adelaide team, Michael purchased three properties in total with Ironfish: Golf Links in Queensland (pictured above), along with a further two properties in Adelaide. His next two purchases are also likely to be new properties – a townhouse in Queensland and then perhaps an apartment in Melbourne.

“Our approach here at Ironfish is new property – which makes it very, very easy to acquire property and find a good tenant. But believe it or not, I also want to renovate again. I’ve done it before so I know the process. When I speak to customers who are interested in renovating, I can put a good case for and against that option because of my experience. But I think down the track I would like to take some time off work to do another renovation. I just like the process – I’ve got a lot of contacts, reliable trades etc – plus I’ve got four kids, so I’ve got cheap labour!

“Although I have renovated properties in the past – I still own all the properties I’ve purchased – I haven’t sold any. For me I’ve definitely got my 15-20 year hat on. It’s a long term strategy.”

Epic challenges

Michael has never been one to shy away from a challenge and three years ago, he took on a big one – an epic 700km bike ride from Adelaide to a remote station in the Flinders ranges to raise funds for Operation Flinders Foundation. This is a not-for-profit which supports youth at-risk by offering a life-changing eight-day adventure program trekking through the far northern Flinders Range.

Next week, he’s about to take on the challenge again, for the third year running. Ironfish Adelaide is a key sponsor, with individuals across the wider Ironfish team joining in as well to support Michael and this great cause which helps young people build resilience to overcome challenges in their life.

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“I just think it’s such a great charity to be involved with. It’s entirely run by volunteers apart from a handful of paid people within the whole organisation. There’s a lot of ex army or police who give up their time to get involved. There’s just so many stories about kids whose lives have been turned around after the program. They have a very, very high success rate, but are very, very low on funds.

“When I was growing up – we didn’t have a lot of money. My mum worked as hard as she could but we didn’t have a lot, so I kind of get where those kids are coming from. Now I have four kids of my own and I feel lucky about the life I’ve been able to create for my kids. They appreciate what they’ve got but they’ve never had to ‘battle’ or struggle in their lives, so hopefully this helps to set a good example for them.”

Michael’s property investment tips:

  1. We talk about this a lot at Ironfish, but it really is important to build your team and your network.  Although I think I’m a pretty important piece of the puzzle, I think you need to have a good money man – whether it’s your bank manager or broker. I tend to lean towards an out-and-out broker,  because a good one is worth their weight in gold. Especially if you find someone who is investing as well. The guy I deal with down here, I see him as an educator – you learn and gain confidence as well.
  2. Stick to your own plan, goals are important – don’t let other people sway you. There’ s no point following people who haven’t done it before. Even in my own experience I’ve had family members say, ‘Geez I wouldn’t be buying that now.’ For example, I bought one of my renovators during the GFC – which went against what most people were doing. But I thought the opposite way: there was no one else buying so I probably got it $30-$40K under what it should have gone for. If your aunty or uncle is an investor, then by all means listen to what they have to say, but if they’re not, I wouldn’t even consider it – but that’s just my opinion!
  3. It’s better to start as early as possible. Unfortunately I’ve sat with too many 40 / 50 year olds who are really panicking about their future, because they just haven’t saved enough. My daughter has just turned 18 and has just started employment. I’m encouraging her to put a bit away every week so that when she’s ready, I can help find her a property. Lots of people can’t get their head around having multiple properties, but I always say – let’s get one put away first. The second can come later. It does compound on itself over time.

Want to find out how you can get started as an investor? Register for a personal strategic analysis, a free service Ironfish offers as part of our commitment to financial wellbeing and helping Australians achieve financial security through property investment.


If you’d like to join us in supporting Michael’s fundraising efforts for Operation Flinders Foundation – you can donate via this link. Check in at our Facebook or LinkedIn pages and we’ll share some progress reports and photos of his ride next week.