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What’s the cost saving for public vs private school?

Parents can save up to $750,000 in school fees for choosing public education over private a new study has shown.

A study on the typical costs for a public education versus a private education across Australian metropolitan regions was conducted by the Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) in collaboration with Monash University in early 2019.

The study factored in tuition costs, uniforms, transport, devices and other related education expenses over a full 13 years of primary and secondary schooling if a child were to start school in 2019.

Based on Census data for the average number of children per family in Sydney (1.9), Brisbane (1.9) and Melbourne (1.8), the total savings for choosing public over private schooling were $751,505 for Sydney families, $662,018 for Melbourne families and $254,617 for Brisbane families.

Total education costs for public vs private school

Of the eastern capital cities, for private education, Sydney was ranked as the most expensive per child with a total education cost of $461,999; followed by Melbourne ($438,391) and then Brisbane ($209,609).

Comparatively, for public schools, Brisbane recorded the highest overall public education cost ($75,600), followed by Melbourne ($70,603) and then Sydney ($66,470).

The study was based on data sourced from 2,300 members from the ASG regarding education costs, as well as publicly available information on school fees from the Good Schools Guide and My School online resources.

Strong demand for a good school catchment area

With the cost of schooling representing such a significant portion of household expenses, it comes as little surprise that properties located in top public school catchments are highly sought after.

Strong demand can add pressure to property prices in desirable catchment areas and factor into investor decisions.

“Buying in the right public school catchment zone can be a top priority for many families who either can’t afford or prefer not to send their kids to private school,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

“It’s interesting to see how a property’s investment performance may be influenced by the public school catchment zone it falls in – and the relative demand for properties situated in a preferred school catchment area.”

‘If a family knows they’re going to save $750,000 for Sydney school fees– how much more will they be prepared to pay to get into a top quality public school catchment suburb over an adjacent suburb not within the same catchment zone?”

Want to learn more about the fundamental drivers for property performance in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide? Download our latest quarterly market report.

“Attending many seminars helped build up our confidence to invest with Ironfish”

Eric Luo & Mandy Yang

Accounting, Insurance industry professionals

“Attending many of Ironfish’s events and seminars was not only educational and informative, but also helped us build up our confidence about Ironfish as a company to invest with.”


  • Experienced investors
  • Invested for tax purposes
  • Purchased one property with Ironfish
  • Building and growing their wine business on the side!

A passion for property – and wine

Eric and Mandy migrated to Australia from China over 10 years ago. Mandy is an accountant, while Eric has had a more varied business career, currently working in the insurance industry. His true passion, however, is Australian wine and he has started a wine business in his spare time. Prior to investing with Ironfish, Eric and Mandy were already property investors.

“We came to Australia when were in our mid-30s, so we knew we wouldn’t be able to rely on the pension or superannuation alone for a comfortable retirement. We always thought it was important to invest in property or the share market once we had saved some money.

“Before investing with Ironfish, we had already got started with property investment, primarily for negative gearing purposes.”

Building confidence and trust to invest

Eric and Mandy heard about Ironfish through a local newspaper. Mandy later met Ironfish Senior Property Investment Strategist Aidan Zhu at a Chinese community social event.

“Aidan invited us to an Ironfish Brisbane event and later a seminar presented by [Ironfish CEO] Joseph Chou. We’ve since become good friends with Aidan and his wife Irene, as well as many of their colleagues at the Ironfish Brisbane office.

“We’ve been to many more seminars and events since then and the experience is always very educational and constructive. The most important thing is that attending these events helped build up our confidence about Ironfish.”

A new home and an investment property

After joining Ironfish Brisbane’s ‘True Wealth’ VIP customer program, Mandy and Eric had the opportunity to view some of the finished properties that Ironfish had recommended to customers in the past. The quality impressed them both.

“After we were shown some of [property developer] Aria’s previous works, we had the confidence to go ahead. We purchased one apartment in Aria’s ‘Valencia’ building. We ended up deciding to move into Valencia instead of renting it out, which we love as the location is so convenient for work. Aidan helped us a lot with property selection.”

Service – above and beyond

Eric and Mandy have been very happy with their Ironfish service experience, right through to settlement and property management.

“Aidan is friendly, professional, constant and always provides a high level of service. All aspects of our experience with Ironfish has been great, with no problems at all. Additionally, Aidan and Ironfish Brisbane have been very supportive of my wine business, helping me to set goals and even hosting some of our wine club events. I think Ironfish staff have also grown a lot of their knowledge about wine from these events – so it has been a great opportunity for a knowledge exchange!”

The future

Eric and Mandy are glad to have started building on their property portfolio, and are keen to expand it further if possible.

“We’re planning to expand as long as it’s supported by consistent income growth in the next several years. The biggest challenge is always how to increase our income to sustain a long-term investment plan. We’re keen to invest more in Brisbane but would love to consider other cities as well.”

Eric and Mandy’s property investment tip:

“Listen and observe. It’s important to listen so you are learning more, but to observe means you are thinking and making your own decisions independently.” 

Keen to read more Ironfish reviews from our customers?

We have many inspiring customers who have generously shared their investment experience and property investment tips for the benefit of others. Click the links below to read more.

Which Australian city has the best universities and lowest housing costs?

Australian universities have a global reputation for excellence, with many of our universities ranking in the global top 100 or top 50 rankings.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, our universities are attracting a growing number of international students. In fact, Australia is now the fourth most popular country in the world for international students and the sector added $28 billion to our economy in the last financial year.

Enrolments across our universities are growing – from both domestic and international students – with Sydney and Melbourne, our two largest cities, representing the largest share of university enrolments out of all our capital cities.

Sydney and Melbourne also account for four of the seven Australian universities ranked in the QS World University Rankings top 100, with Canberra (ANU), Brisbane (University of Brisbane) and Perth (University of Western Australia) taking the other 3 spots.

The great rivalry – Sydney vs Melbourne

Sydney and Melbourne are known for a longstanding rivalry. Sydney has sunshine, beaches, the harbour, the biggest economy, the largest population and the oldest and arguably most iconic university campus.

sydney university

Melbourne is the nation’s cultural and sporting capital, with a population that’s set to outpace Sydney’s by 2026 and a university that outranks Sydney: The University of Melbourne.

Sydney and Melbourne’s global top 100 universities

  • The University of Melbourne ranked 39th in the world
  • The University of Sydney ranked 42nd in the world
  • The University of New South Wales ranked 45th in the world
  • Monash University ranked equal 59th in the world.

While higher education enrolments are up in both NSW and VIC, the latest data from the Australian Government shows that it’s our Victorian universities that are showing the strongest upward trend in enrolments.

Higher education student enrolments (domestic and international)


Our Victorian universities are also the most popular for international students. In the 2017 financial year, NSW added 129,653 international students. During the same period, Victoria added 156,952 international students.

Perhaps more significantly, since 2005, Victorian universities have outpaced NSW’s international student enrolments by a significant margin.

International student enrolments


Cost of living

Apart from its higher-ranking university, Melbourne also offers another appealing factor for students. Compared to Sydney, renting a home in Melbourne is significantly more affordable.


Students in Sydney would have to pay a 24% premium to rent a house, or a 29% premium to rent an apartment, compared to Melbourne. This is despite Sydneysiders earning only a 13% premium compared to Melbournians.

For a student who wants to live within walking distance of their university of choice, despite a pullback in the Sydney market, there is still a premium for living and studying  at the University of Sydney as compared to the University of Melbourne.

Renting within walking distance of University of Sydney vs University of Melbourne


“Higher education is a big business for Australia. Over $10 billion for the NSW economy and over $9 billion for Victoria. With Sydney and Melbourne universities offering a comparable global reputation, it will be interesting to see where students will choose to study, given the rental premium in Sydney,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

“This is a trend Ironfish Research will continue to watch, as we expect property in close proximity to top universities to benefit from the growing higher education sector.”


Want to learn more about the Sydney and Melbourne property markets?

A tour of the world’s second most liveable city – Melbourne

At Ironfish, we can make property recommendations across all the five major cities of Australia and we have our own specialist staff located in each of these cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

We also regularly invest in training of our strategists to ensure our staff are up to speed on the latest property market research and trends and have intimate knowledge of each of these cities – not just their home city.

Recently, our Head of Property, William Mitchell, took our Ironfish North Sydney and Burwood strategists on a tour of Melbourne.

The team explored the inner-city suburbs, stood at the top of Melbourne’s tallest tower and wandered through the epic stadiums that represent Australia’s sporting heart.

There was also the opportunity to devour delicious food right next to the Yarra River and enjoy an amazing coffee (or two) in some of the coolest cafes in Melbourne.

“Many of our investors may live in Sydney, but wish to take advantage of the Melbourne market,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell. “They also don’t necessarily have the time or desire to travel down to Melbourne themselves before they invest.

“Our national reach means our customers can invest with confidence in another city, whether that be Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth or Sydney without needing to visit the city first. We continue to invest in training and tours for our strategists, so they can gain a ‘local’s knowledge’ of living in another city, which can in turn, help their customers.”

Melbourne is currently Australia’s second largest city, and on track to outpace Sydney as Australia’s most populous city by the 2030s.

Want to learn more about investing in property in Melbourne (or simply find out where you can get Melbourne’s best coffee)? Book a free appointment with your local Ironfish property investment strategist, who will be able to answer all your questions!

What’s the one factor that will turn the property market around?

This morning, Ironfish CEO & Founder Joseph Chou joined several key industry titans in a panel discussion at the Credit Suisse annual residential property market conference.

Attended by over 80 Credit Suisse investors, including fund managers in equities, the panel of experts shared their views on the current property market, lending and new trends.

Panellists came from a range of sectors within the property industry representing companies such as ANZ, Mortgage Choice, Probuild, Multiplex, Mirvac, GreyStar, Boral and Crown Group, at CEO, Director or General Manager levels, providing unique expertise and insights from ‘the coalface’.

Joseph Chou sat on a panel with Crown Group Chairman Iwan Sunito and Metro Property Managing Director, Luke Hartman. Mr Chou shared some of Ironfish’s unique services and processes that have ensured our continuing growth and success, despite a slowdown in the Sydney and Melbourne markets.

“For us, the key is that we partner with our investors for the long term; helping them not only to build a portfolio, but also to hold that portfolio for 10, 15 or 20 years to achieve their investment goals and retire on this income along with their super,” said Mr Chou.

“Our national reach means we can also help our investors to take advantage of other market cycles, and now more than ever, properties we recommend must have owner-occupier appeal, and not ‘investor stock’.  

“Crucially, we put a lot of customer services, education and processes in very early on to help guide our investors and really hold their hand through to successful settlement.”

Mr Chou also noted that the partnership and trust developed with our customers helps keep our investors focussed on their long-term goals, without being swayed too much by sensational media headlines.

Mr Hartman agreed, saying, “I’m doing the opposite of what the Fin Review is telling me to do. Right now, I’m actively looking for sites [to purchase]. With Chinese companies exiting the market and greatly reduced supply, it’s opening up new opportunities.”

He also added that generalisations about market downturns are not helpful for investors. “You might hear someone say the US property market is down but try buy an apartment in New York… There are so many sub-markets – and of course, each development is different as well.”

Mr Sunito also noted long-term thinking as a similarity with Crown customers, stating: “our buyers are pre-conditioned to think of property as a long-term investment and they are looking to invest ahead of the game, for a longer time in the market. For us the key is location – Sydney is a global city, the factors that make a property valuable: quality, proximity to CBD, views, light – these will always be in demand.”

The million-dollar question

The final question asked by the panel moderator, Kateryna Argyrou, Credit Suisse Head of REITs, was perhaps the ‘million-dollar question’ for the audience.

“In your opinion, what’s the one factor that will turn the property market around?” Ms Argyrou asked.

Each of the three panellists offered a unique opinion.

Joseph Chou, Ironfish CEO & Founder:

“I think availability of lending will be the crucial factor. We have a strange situation where on the one hand we have banks willing to fund construction of new [residential] developments, but not funding property buyers.”

Luke Hartman, Metro Property Managing Director:

“I think government incentives will change the market. I lived in Melbourne at a time when there were significant first home buyer incentives introduced which changed the market; NRAS was another scheme that impacted the market. I think this will be more important than something like interest rates.”

Iwan Sunito, Crown Group Chairman and Group CEO:

“Personally, I think it’s already happening right now; with interest rates, government infrastructure spending, low supply. It’s already happening – there’s nothing else needed to do.”

Want to learn more about investing in property in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide? We have many investor resources online:

  • Download our latest quarterly market report

  • Watch our latest property market updates

  • Follow our blog and monthly newsletter for the latest messages from our CEO, Joseph Chou.

Ironfish recommended apartments win best in Australia

Congratulations to all our investors in “Oxley + Stirling,” a luxury apartment building in Brisbane developed by Aria Property Group.

Oxley + Stirling has taken out top national honours at the recent Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) Awards, winning Best High-Density Development in Australia.

This year’s win marks three years in a row that Aria Property Group has won the award in this category – the first time a developer has ever managed to achieve this feat.

“Since the national awards program started in 2001, no single developer has won any category two years in a row and it’s so humbling for myself and all of the Aria team to be announced as the winner of the award three years in a row,” said Aria Property Group Managing Director and Founder, Tim Forrester.

“All of this is only possible due to Aria’s longstanding partnership with Ironfish.  We will never, ever let Ironfish customers down and will always strive to deliver the best projects in Australia and the world.  This is only the beginning.”

The building was judged against 80 developments nationwide.

Aria is known for pushing the envelope in communal spaces in their buildings; Oxley + Stirling has its own Residential Rooftop Club with infinity pool, private dining room, theatre room, fitness centre, reflection pond, sunken lounges, barbecue areas, in addition to a residents’ library and wine cellar.

Oxley + Stirling also carries Aria’s signature residents’ services including concierge, personal training, yoga classes, fresh fruit and bicycles, as well as community groups in the building.



“Aria’s mission is to deliver properties which they will be proud to walk their families past in 20 years’ time. This commitment to quality, legacy and a desire to continually raise the bar higher is a commitment we share at Ironfish,” said Ironfish Director, Property & Research, Grant Ryan.

“Our aim is to help our investors build a portfolio of great properties in great locations – properties which we know investors will be proud to hold over the long term or perhaps even pass on to future generations. We have no doubt our Oxley + Stirling investors are as proud as we are to be associated with a building of this calibre. Congratulations again to Tim and the entire Aria team for creating a new Brisbane icon.”

At Ironfish, we work exclusively with developers who share our commitment to quality;  properties we recommend to our investors are subject to a rigorous selection process.

If you’d like to see which properties meet our high bar, you can register to access our list here.


How can I improve my career growth?

A little career advice from our CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou.

Last year, I helped my nephew, a recent university graduate, earn $200,000 in his first year.

Like many ambitious young people, my nephew had managed to do well at university and had secured himself a role at KPMG, which he was all set to take – until I convinced him not to.  Or more accurately, until I broadened his mind to larger possibilities.

For those of you who have come along to one of my seminars, you will know that one of my biggest passions is working with people. And more specifically, helping people build bigger dreams and then understand how to go out and achieve those dreams.

My nephew had dreams, but they were still well within the conventional scope – a global brand, a good starting salary and the ability to progress up the ranks over time.

While he is smart and ambitious, he is also young, with limited experience of working with people.

I often say that everyone needs to learn sales skills, at the very least, because you’re going to need to sell yourself at a job interview or for the next leadership role. But the truth is, having “sales skills” doesn’t have anything to do with “selling” at all, it’s actually about knowing how to communicate effectively with people.

My nephew took this advice, and instead of the KPMG role, he decided to spend a year in Australia (he lives in China) working at a retail property sales company. While I didn’t offer him a job at Ironfish – we tend not to hire family members so as to keep our company culture entirely based on merit – I did agree to be his mentor.  

We met once a month, and I would give him training and career advice. The first thing I said is that it’s important to trust me. “There’s no point asking me to be your mentor if you don’t trust my experience and my judgement. So please, just follow my advice exactly, and you will get results,” I told him.

“Secondly, let’s set a goal: to earn $200,000 this year – the equivalent of RMB1,000,000.”

He worked hard, though to be honest, he probably only worked at about 70% capacity – and still, he managed to meet his goal of earning $200,000 in his first year.

Two weeks ago, my nephew returned to China with a number of job interviews already lined up. After his year in Sydney, he has not only gained so much valuable experience of working with people, he also has a great story to tell at his job interviews.

Imagine turning up to an interview along with hundreds of other graduates, except that you can say, “in my first year of work experience, I earned $200,000.” Suddenly, you stand out.

While not everyone is looking to move into sales, the underlying principles of his success are universal.   

  1. Identify your career goals

Most people, when they start out in their career are looking for one of three things:


Perhaps by looking for a job at a large organisation or the government. However, job security may come at a trade off with limitations as to how far you could progress.


A Fortune 500 company or a globally recognised brand. These types of companies tend to attract very talented people. But the culture of the organisations doesn’t tend to support ‘exceptional’ growth. Many successful people might reach a bottleneck in their career, and find their dreams, income and career growth will plateau after a while.


To grow skills, responsibility and income; for this goal, a smaller organisation may be better suited. In smaller organisations you will be required to wear more hats, multi-task more and take on responsibility more quickly.

If you’re planning a new career, my first piece of advice would be to identify what your career goal is. This will help you narrow down the options of what type of company you may want to work for.

how can i progress my career

Are you looking for security, prestige or opportunity in your career? Identifying your career goal is the first step.

  1. So how important is money?

A great starting salary can be very tempting, but if you’re looking for opportunity or growth in your career, it shouldn’t be a top concern. In fact, I’d say, don’t worry about your starting salary at all. Instead, if you get to your interview, when it comes time to ask questions of your interviewer ask them these questions:

  • What is the organisation’s vision and values?

If you’re ambitious, there’s no point working for a company without a vision for its future. As we often say, if you stop dreaming you stop learning and if you stop learning you stop growing as a person. The same applies to a company. You also want to ensure that you’re going to be putting all your efforts in for an organisation that means something to you. Do you align with its values? Is it a workplace you can be proud of?

  • Is there a good working culture here?

Is it a collaborative culture, where people help to build each other up? Is it a happy place to work – consider, you’ll spend 8 hours a day at work, the workplace culture is important.

  • What kind of person is my boss – what are his or her achievements?

Does your boss have good values; can you learn from them; do they have a generous outlook and are willing to share opportunities or is it just about profits at all cost?

  • Who is in the team – who will I be working with?

Will you be going home with a smile, or bringing home negativity from work? What are your team members like? What are their achievements, what can you learn from them?

Or if you’re thinking of going into business with someone, do you have shared values and vision. If a partnership – of any kind – is formed on short term things like money or looks, it’s not going to last.

  • If I give it everything I’ve got, is there room to grow?

This is an important one: as long as the company you choose provides a platform for growth if you prove yourself, then your starting salary doesn’t matter. Consider the long-term potential instead.

  1. Adding value

I am a big believer in adding value. Imagine if you’re renovating your house, and you have a tradie come to fix the plumbing. You then discover there is an electrical issue, and your tradie has the option to say: “hey that’s not my job,” forcing you to search around and book in another tradie. Or they might say, “oh I know someone who could do that for you” and organise to get it done. Most people are very willing to pay for the service.

how can i progress in my career

Look for ways to add value to the business; have an ‘owner’s mentality’ to your work.

If you can add value to the business that is quantifiable, sooner or later people will start to recognise your value and will reward you accordingly.

I often say to people, “If you had invested $1 million of your own money into the company you work for, would you work differently?”

No doubt, the answer will always be yes. Having an ‘owner’s mentality’ will transform the way you work, and this will help you stand out.

Many people ask me, but what if I do all the above, give it everything and I still don’t get the recognition? If that’s the case, it’s still not a problem, because your time has been well spent; you’ve learned so much, you’ve grown so much, and you have results that can be replicated again at another organisation that values your contribution more!

How long should I stay? / Why should I leave?

Once you’ve been with your chosen company for some years, the next thing many people consider is whether to stay or whether to move on.

Most people will stay with a company if their needs and goals are being met. They will leave when they’re bored or they don’t like the people anymore or they didn’t get a pay rise.

The right team

Having the right team around you is essential. You’re at work for eight hours a day; you want to be with people you like, share some laughs, share the workload. You don’t want to go home with nothing left in the tank. For me, working with the right people is so important. If I don’t like the people and don’t feel confident that we’re aligned in our values, then we don’t do business with them, no matter how good the deal might be.

That said, no matter where you go, you’re going to encounter people who are difficult to work with. You could change jobs to avoid certain people but there’s no guarantee you won’t have the same experience at your new workplace. What’s better is to improve yourself – learn how to work with people. Find ways to work with people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.

If you can understand people’s intention it can help you see beyond the behaviour and remain calm. Life is all about finding ways to solve problems.

Are you still dreaming?

If your problem is that you’re bored, then you’ve probably stopped dreaming. Everyone needs a dream in life, it makes life interesting and purposeful. It keeps us focussed and helps us to elevate our lives above an endless repetition or routine.

Every time you work, you’re creating your life story. Think about it – are you realising your full potential? This may be especially relevant to those who’ve already been working 10 – 15 years, are earning a good income, but have plateaued. Without the right mindset it’s hard to break past that.

More money?

If you decide to move companies to get a payrise, it may add an incremental amount to your income, but it’s not going to dramatically change the way you are valued in an organisation over the long term.

Instead, find ways to add value, think like an owner, approach your work as a career – not a job, improve yourself, your communication and leadership skills – ie the way you work with people – these are the fundamental factors which will drive your career success, your personal career satisfaction, and of course, your income.


Joseph Chou delivers workshops on career, mindset and investment at a range of events and seminars around the country. Many of these events are free to attend – book your seat at Joseph’s next speaking engagement here.


What does the NSW election mean for Sydney property investors?

The Coalition has won its third consecutive term in NSW government, led by its first female elected Premier, Gladys Berejiklian. The Coalition win has been largely welcomed by property investors, due to two key policies, which while not directly impacting property, are underlying drivers for market performance over the longer-term in Sydney.

  1. Transport infrastructure in Sydney’s growing west

Transport was a key theme in Premier Berejiklian’s pre-election promises, with the announcement of new key transport projects set to directly benefit Sydney’s western suburbs.

In recent times, a large part of NSW’s infrastructure planning has been guided by the Greater Sydney Commission’s Three Cities Strategy, which delivers concentrated benefits to the Sydney’s West and South-West regions to support the Western Sydney Airport planned to open in 2026.

One of the main election promises was the delivery of the Metro West project — a new rail line from Parramatta to the CBD which is expected to commence construction in 2020 and cost $18 billion in total.

The Government also promised additional Metro rail routes which are expected to commence planning over the next four years. They include:

  • Westmead to Western Sydney Airport
  • St Mary’s to Rouse Hill
  • Western Sydney Aerotropolis to Macarthur, and
  • Bankstown to Liverpool.

Future Metro routes

Sydney property prices

Image source: Liberals NSW

Roads were another key spending area, with commitments to upgrade arterial roads such as the M5 through Sydney’s South-West and the M4 to Sydney’s west.

Outside the west, the Government also promised to start building the Northern Beaches tunnel (now known as Beaches Link) in 2020. The $14 billion Beaches Link project is a proposed tunnel linking the Northern Beaches to the Warringah Freeway and south across the harbour the Western Harbour Tunnel to Westconnex.

According to the NSW Government, the Northern Beaches Tunnel will reduce travel time by:

  • 41 minutes: Dee Why to Sydney Airport
  • 27 minutes: Brookvale to the CBD, and
  • 13 minutes: Olympic Park to North Sydney.

Beaches Link entry and exit points

Image source:

Construction of the Beaches Link is expected to begin in 2020, however this is still subject to planning approvals as well as finalisation of financing and procurement arrangements.

  1. Economy and Budget

Prior to the election, the State Pre-Election Budget release showed positive signs despite house price pullbacks in Sydney.

Projections from the NSW Treasury showed that the 2019 financial year state budget would be in surplus by $846 million.

Future forecasted surpluses for the State are expected to average around $1.3 billion over the next four years.

The NSW Treasury expects state economic growth to trend at 2.5% annually over the following three years.

The jobs market is expected to remain healthy buoyed by infrastructure spending. NSW Treasury modelling released in March 2019 showed that public infrastructure spending will support more than 100,000 direct and indirect NSW jobs each year over the next four years, translating to 400,000 jobs to 2023.

The unemployment rate was 4.1%, corresponding to a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.9% – the best result in more than 4 decades.

NSW’s net worth remains the highest of any state or territory in Australia. The state’s net worth is projected to grow to $312.3 billion by June 2022.

According to the latest CommSec State of the States report (released January 2019), NSW is now tied with VIC as the best performing state economy.

The NSW economy has benefited from solid population growth and strong job markets which helped to drive retail spending and business investment.

“Sydney property prices continue to be a major point of concern for many investors, yet the NSW economy remains strong, jobs growth is healthy, and the State Government is continuing its commitment to deliver the infrastructure needed to support rapid population growth along Sydney’s west, South- and North-west,” said Ironfish Head of Property William Mitchell.

“The Sydney market is currently being impacted by affordability and access to credit off the back of the recent credit crunch. When access to credit and wages growth improves, this is when we would expect affordability to improve and when we’d see a more buoyant market.”

Want to stay up to date on the latest news impacting the property market? Subscribe to our monthly property investment newsletter.

“Ironfish has helped me take my life to the next level”

Shelley Zhang

Senior Property Investment Strategist &

Team Leader, Ironfish Glen Waverley

“Ironfish is a group of good and honest people. Everyone works towards one firm belief, that is, to work hard in order to help more people build wealth through property investment. It’s a belief we have to help each other, as much as helping our customers.”


  • Former Kindergarten teacher
  • Started investing after joining Ironfish
  • 5 investment properties purchased with Ironfish

A winding career path

Shelley has had an interesting and highly varied career. Back in China, Shelley was a civil servant, working as a policy-maker at the Guangzhou Municipal Finance Bureau. After migrating to Australia around 20 years ago, Shelley worked part time as a kindergarten teacher, while also supporting her husband in his business. It was only after attending a school reunion in China that a desire for another major career change ignited.

“Going to the reunion and seeing how much my peers had accomplished made me take stock of my own career and made me realise that it was time for a change. Working with kids at kindy was rewarding, but I realised that teaching isn’t where my passion lies, and it wasn’t making the best use of my skills. And while money certainly isn’t everything, the ability to earn a higher income would certainly be a big help for my family. After thinking long and hard, I settled on real estate as a good path to take. I am multi-lingual, I’m good with numbers and I love meeting new people and helping others – I thought these advantages would set me in good stead in the industry.”

Finding a mentor

Shelley got her real estate license in 2012, but didn’t join the industry till two years later.

“After I got my license I just wasn’t able to find a good mentor to help me get started. In 2014, I met Michael Du, the Managing Director of Ironfish Glen Waverley, through some friends. It turned out he was the mentor I’d been looking for. Under his careful guidance, I officially joined Ironfish and became a Property Investment Strategist. Five years later, I am now leading a team of my own, with seven Strategists under my wing. I’ve had the opportunity to help hundreds of Ironfish customers and I have also been able to build my own property portfolio and realise some of my own financial dreams and goals alongside my customers.”

Getting out of my comfort zone

Taking the plunge to enter the property industry was a clear step outside Shelley’s comfort zone, but so was investing.

“I always knew property would be a good investment and every time prices would rise, I’d again regret that I hadn’t got into the market. I knew I should have started investing 10 or even 20 years ago! But at the same time, I was a kindy teacher, my income was very limited and so was my time. Most importantly, there was no strong urge to get me out of my comfort zone and start investing.

“After I started working at Ironfish, my income improved but the most important thing was that I began to think seriously about my plans for retirement and the need to put some investments in place to make sure I could enjoy the lifestyle of my choice at that time. Understanding the ‘why’ eventually helped me break through my comfort zone and become a property investor. I have now purchased five investment properties, one has settled, and the rest will settle this year. After years of lost opportunities, I now take every good opportunity that comes my way! I also have so much confidence about my final stage of life now, knowing that I don’t have to worry about money in my older age!”

Never looking back

Shelley is one of our top strategists at Ironfish, and is well known for her immense work ethic; always studying the market and looking to improve her investment knowledge, and meeting customers at any and all times of the day.

“Ironfish Burwood Managing Director, Linda Lu made a strong impression on me, quite early in my career at Ironfish. She said, if you want to live an exceptional life, then you have make an exceptional effort ie you have to go above and beyond what others will typically do. Ironfish has helped me take my life to the next level, giving me a fulfilling career both in terms of personal satisfaction with the work we do, and also in terms of career and income growth. Ironfish also helped me change my mindset – giving me the power to change and the determination to invest. For all these things, I am full of gratitude to Ironfish.

Shelley’s property investment tips

  1. Come talk to me about how I did it! Honestly, I know exactly how hard it is to sit on the fence, knowing you want to do something, but not knowing how to push past your comfort zone and just do it. Practically speaking, I can also help with the numbers, and show you some cash flow scenarios with an intended property purchase.  
  1. While it makes sense to invest with market cycles, it’s worth knowing that no one can predict the future or what will be the perfect time to buy. While you wait for the perfect time to buy, it’s like the market has quietly rebounded, meaning you miss out on the opportunity again. If you’re investing for the long-term, the ‘perfect time to buy’ really doesn’t matter so much. It’s about getting in as soon as possible, and then holding for the long term.


Want to take your life to the next level?

Our latest E-book is out now! 

“6 ways to take your life to the next level” is full of practical tips and insights on how to get to your next level of success, be it your career, investments, finances or personal development.

Download your free copy  of the latest E-book by Ironfish CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou

take your life to the next level


Perth at the centre of global lithium boom

When you think of Australia’s vast mining or resources sector, iron ore, coal or perhaps even uranium typically come to mind.

However, in the space of only a couple of decades, Australia – or effectively Western Australia – has quietly become the world’s largest producer of a different mineral, and one which is experiencing a massive surge in global demand: lithium.

Lithium – growing global demand

Lithium batteries made worldwide headlines when Elon Musk famously made a pledge on Twitter to deliver the world’s largest lithium battery at an Adelaide wind farm in ‘100 days or it’s free’.

But the growing demand for lithium spans beyond renewable battery and energy storage – it’s also the driving force behind a fast-growing industry: electric vehicles.

The global popularity of electric cars is soaring, with global manufacturers, especially in China, producing new electric vehicles at an exponential rate.

As global demand for electric cars reaches new heights, so too does demand for lithium, which is a key ingredient of electric car batteries. The surge in demand has driven up the price of lithium four-fold in just four years.

The exponential growth of electric vehicles

perth lithium electric cars

Electric Vehicle Production | Source: EV Volumes

Australia: largest global market share of lithium

In 2000, Australia’s market share of raw lithium production was 13%. By 2018, Australia owned more than half of the world’s total market share of lithium output.

The number of jobs in the sector has risen almost seven-fold in just three years, according to the Western Australia Government.

Chief Economist at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Mark Cully, estimates lithium to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars for Perth and the wider Australian economy.

Australia has strong potential to move to the centre of the global lithium supply chain given its geological advantages, its experience in rolling out mining investment, and the skills of its workforce,” Mr Cully said.

Australia’s lithium boom

Perth lithium mining

Lithium Jobs Growth, Market Share Trend, and Price Growth | Source: WA Government and Australian Financial Review

Lithium mines are spread out across the country in South Australia, Queensland and Northern Territory, though Western Australia (WA) holds the most significant deposits. WA has announced several new mines in the last 12 months alone. To provide a sense of the scale of these projects, the five largest of these WA mines have a project value of $2.8 billion.

“Australia is now the lithium capital of the world and Pilgangoora is one of the biggest lithium mines on the planet,” said Neil Biddle, Co-founder of Pilbara Minerals, which opened its mine and processing plant in February 2019.

“We [Australia] are already global leaders in gold and iron ore and we can do the same with lithium.”

Iron-ore price surge

While the lithium industry charges full steam ahead, global demand for iron ore has also spiked.

A recent suspension of major iron ore mines in Brazil has driven iron ore prices up significantly higher than Government predictions only a year ago.

The 2018 Federal Budget originally forecast the price of iron ore at $US55 a tonne; however, it is now hovering at $US86, representing a 56% premium to last year’s forecast.

The global iron ore price spike is expected to add an additional $6 billion to this year’s Federal Budget, to be released early next month.

perth iron ore mining

Iron Ore Price Trend | Source:

As the global demand for electric cars and new-generation batteries continues to surge, the impact on the Perth economy is expected to be impressive. Further supported by a strengthening resources sector, the Perth economy over the medium term will be a hot topic amongst keen investors.

Property investment in Perth

Keen to learn more about the fundamental drivers of the Perth property market? Download our latest quarterly market report or watch our latest video market update below.

Is this Melbourne’s hottest new inner-city suburb?

Anyone who remembers the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills 20 years ago, will know how much the suburb has changed. Surry Hills is incredibly well located – bordering the CBD; it’s close to many public transport options including Central Station, all the major universities and easily connected to local parks and beaches.

Over the last two decades of gentrification, Surry Hills has transformed into a ‘place to be’ – with some of the best bars and chic restaurants in Sydney. Old warehouses have been converted into smart apartments, more families and professionals have moved in, and property prices have soared alongside the increasing demand.

If you look for parallel suburbs in Melbourne – a city now outpacing Sydney in terms of population growth – there is one suburb that comes to mind.

The inner Melbourne suburb of West Melbourne offers the same walk-everywhere lifestyle, ‘hipster cred’ and vibrancy of city-living as Surry Hills – and like its Sydney counterpart – it is transforming fast.

West Melbourne

Situated right at the north-west edge of the city, West Melbourne has all the charms of the city right at its doorstep. Like Surry Hills in Sydney, West Melbourne borders the CBD and it’s also only a 750m walk to Australia’s top university, the University of Melbourne. Residents can walk to Flagstaff Gardens, Victoria Markets and the waterfront at Docklands.

West Melbourne is also similar demographically to the old Surry Hills, with a lot of young professionals in residence. Currently, 65% of residents in West Melbourne are aged between 24 and 39; well above the Melbourne average of 31%. The vast majority (84%) of West Melbourne residents are employed in white collar industries.

A growing suburb

Melbourne as a whole is already the fastest growing city in Australia, with a population growth rate of 2.7%.

West Melbourne’s population is projected to grow at more than double this rate: 5.8% per annum over the next two decades, increasing by 15,300 people by 2036.

Why is West Melbourne changing?

West Melbourne is a suburb in transformation, evolving from its light-industrial past to a lively residential suburb with its own ‘destination’ dining and retail.

With its growing population, the City of Melbourne Council has developed a West Melbourne Structure Plan to guide the suburb’s future development.

“Melbourne is growing fast and there is increasing demand from people to live and work in our inner city neighbourhoods,” said City of Melbourne, Cr Reece and Cr Leppert.

In accordance with this growth, the vision for the West Melbourne Structure Plan was created:

“West Melbourne will retain its unique identity, varied areas of character and mix of uses as it evolves into one of Melbourne’s distinct inner urban neighbourhoods, and a counterpoint to the central city. Its wide green streets will provide excellent connections and a network of local places and spaces to rest and play with Spencer Street as a vibrant local high street.” – West Melbourne Structure Plan 2018.

The vision for West Melbourne

best suburbs to invest melbourne

Source: West Melbourne Structure Plan 2018

According to the Plan, five new precincts, each with their distinctive character will be created within West Melbourne. Central to the plan is to transform Spencer Street into a lively and dynamic high street. The new Spencer Street vision will feature: modern restaurants, cafes, cosmopolitan retail experiences and increased pedestrian, cycling and transport access.

The Five Precincts of West Melbourne

best suburbs to invest Melbourne

West Melbourne Structure Plan 2018

One of the most exciting aspects of this is the proposal to extend the CBD tram network along Spencer Street, right through the heart of West Melbourne.

Before & After – West Melbourne

Source: Images from City of Melbourne, West Melbourne Structure Plan | Prepared by Ironfish Research

Further to this, the existing North Melbourne train station will be renamed West Melbourne station – to better reflect its location.

The West Melbourne Structure Plan has already been endorsed by the Future Melbourne Committee, and is now seeking community feedback.

“West Melbourne as a suburb has flown under the radar for some time now, however the new West Melbourne Structure Plan is sure to change that,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

“The suburb has been given a new direction, one that will create better transport, greener streets, and importantly a bigger and more vibrant retail scene and community atmosphere. As the plan is adopted over the coming years, it will be fascinating to watch West Melbourne transform. As new cafes, restaurants, parks and potentially a tram line along Spencer Street arrive, more and more Melbournians will realise this is an incredibly well-located suburb, with big potential.

“Being adjacent to the CBD, and a stone’s throw from Melbourne University and the hospital precinct along Flemington Road, this undiscovered pocket won’t stay undiscovered for long.”

Want to find out more about West Melbourne, along with our recommended properties within the suburb? Register to access our list of recommended properties here.


$370M investment into Gold Coast Airport

Off the back of a growing tourism industry and an increasing local population, the Gold Coast Airport is undergoing significant upgrades and expansion to the tune of $370 million.

The first stage of the expansion was completed last year, ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, adding an extra 20,000sqm for aircraft parking space to help boost the airport’s capacity.Stage two of the expansion is the development of a new three-level airport terminal, including aerobridges, at the southern end of the current facility.

gold coast airport property investment

By 2037 the Gold Coast Airport is expected to contribute $818 million annually to the region and support an estimated 20,000 full time jobs.

Infrastructure giant Lendlease has been appointed to deliver the project, which is expected to generate up 1,500 jobs during construction and be open to passengers in 2021.

By 2037 the Gold Coast Airport is expected to contribute $818 million annually to the region and support an estimated 20,000 full time jobs.

“The [airport expansion] is good news for the Gold Coast and Northern NSW, where the population is forecast to grow significantly in the next 20 years,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.

“This will continue to open the region to connections for tourists and locals, with a modern and efficient airport to keep pace with the increase in demand over time.”

“Gold Coast Airport looks after 6.6 million passengers a year, and this will more than double by 2037,” said Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills.

“The existing terminal is currently operating beyond capacity. This expansion will not only help us meet demand, it will create an entry point to the city, befitting the nation’s leading tourism region.”

A boost for the local economy

Tourism is a $4.7 billion industry for the Gold Coast economy, employing nearly 42,000 people. It’s also a growing sector and a key focus for ongoing jobs growth.

The current Queensland state government is spending more on Gold Coast tourism than ever before – adding an extra $180 million in last year’s state budget to underpin continued growth in this area.

Gold Coast property investment

Tourism is a $4.7 billion industry in the Gold Coast

Gold Coast’s economy remains robust overall, enjoying an economic growth rate of 3.2% which outperformed the national economic growth rate of 2.9% in the 2018 financial year.

According to ABS data, the Gold Coast also recorded a low unemployment rate of only 4.3% for the Sep 2018 quarter. This is a significant improvement from three years earlier, when the unemployment rate was 5.6%. The Gold Coast’s unemployment rate is also now much lower than both the state and national averages of 6.2% and 5.2% respectively. 

Over the 12 months to Nov 2018, the Gold Coast added 20,600 jobs, bringing the total number of jobs to 340,200 across a wide range of industries.

More retirees and interstate migrants

The Gold Coast property market has also been resilient, with the latest vacancy rates sitting at a very tight 1.4% – a sign of strong rental demand.

New residents, primarily from NSW, as well as retirees continue to be attracted by the relative affordability and lifestyle that the Gold Coast has to offer.

According to the ABS, the Gold Coast recorded the highest regional internal migration, adding an additional 7,077 residents in the year ended June 2017.

Retirees (people aged 65 and over) already make up a significant proportion of residents in the Gold Coast at 16.4% and this percentage is set to increase to 20.2% by 2036.

“Over the medium term, these popular coastal destinations with good infrastructure are likely to continue to attract people for the lifestyle and affordability,” said Domain research analyst Nicola Powell.

Investing in the Gold Coast

If you’d like more information about the Gold Coast property market feel free to book an appointment with your local Ironfish Strategist who can answer all your questions. Or you can access our list of selected properties in the Gold Coast by registering here

Is Australia’s economic outlook really so dire?

The latest GDP figures show the Australian economy grew by only 0.2% for the December 2018 quarter – a result below expectations set by the RBA.

The media has also been widely reporting a ‘per capita recession’ – with Australia recording its second straight quarter where the economy shrank on a ‘per capita’ basis.

But what do these metrics really mean within a longer-term context?

On an annualised basis, Australia’s economic growth for the 2018 calendar year is now 2.3% – this is below expectations of 2.5-3%. However, it is still a positive result – not a recession.

The ‘per capita recession’ refers to two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth per person. However, it’s worth noting this isn’t a common metric or one that is typically used in policy making terms.

As the ABC reports:

“Australia hasn’t had a “real” recession for so long that economic commentators have to search hard to find the next best thing.

It’s been close to 28 years since the nation had a “technical” recession — that is where the Bureau of Statistics’ key measure of economic activity, gross domestic product (GDP), falls for two quarters in a row.

The last one of these was the “recession we had to have”, which it turns out took place in the first half of 1991, even though then-treasurer Paul Keating uttered those words in November 1990.

You have to go back all the way to March 2011 to even find a single negative quarter, and that one was sandwiched between two strong quarters where GDP growth started with a 1.”

While the ‘per capita recession’ is not a common economic metric used for policymakers, it does offer a convenient opportunity for Labor or opposing political parties to take advantage of strengthening their campaign ahead of the Federal Election this year.

Politics aside, it’s important to note our overall GDP growth is still positive and this comes despite a slowdown amongst our key trading partners, such as China.

Australia also remains on track to record 30 years of continuous economic growth according to BIS Oxford Economics – an unprecedented achievement.

“It’s important not to underestimate this milestone – what Australia has achieved over the past 30 years is nothing short of impressive, considering we’ve experienced serious economic challenges, such as the GFC and the Asian Financial Crisis during this time.” Said Ironfish Head of Property William Mitchell.

According to AusTrade (Australian Trade and Investment Commission), Australia has achieved had the longest period of recession-free growth for any developed country in the world – again, quite a remarkable achievement.

At the same time, Australia is now the wealthiest nation in the world by median wealth per adult according to the study by Credit Suisse, outranking countries like Switzerland, Belgium and the UK.

Australia’s trend unemployment rate was recorded at a low 5% according to recent ABS data. It is currently at its lowest level since 2011.

A major driver for employment is Australia’s current infrastructure boom, with almost $120 billion worth of construction work in the pipeline. This is expected to continue to support strong jobs growth and further economic growth as major infrastructure projects continue through to delivery.

“Without discounting the GDP results, it’s important to step back from the headlines and political agendas and look at the bigger picture,” added Mr Mitchell.  “The real picture is always more nuanced.”

Property investment Australia – News & Updates

Want to stay ahead of the latest news and trends relating to property investment in Australia? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter full of the latest property news, research, trends and stories delivered directly to your inbox.  

A guide to capital gains tax – what’s changing and how are property investors affected?

Along with negative gearing, Labor’s proposed change to capital gains tax has been a key point of contention ahead of this year’s Federal Election.

But if you look past the political spin and media headlines, what’s really likely to change and how might this impact your investments?

What is capital gains tax?

A capital gain is the profit made from buying and selling an asset, such as property or shares.

Capital gains tax (CGT) is the tax you pay on the capital gain that you made from the sale. (Capital gains tax is only payable when the asset is sold.)

If you make a capital loss from the sale of an asset, you can carry this loss forward indefinitely and offset it against any capital gains.

According to the ATO, most personal assets are exempt from CGT, including your home, car and personal use assets such as furniture.

CGT also doesn’t apply to depreciating assets used solely for taxable purposes, such as business equipment or fittings in a rental property.

How much is capital gains tax?

Despite its name, CGT is not a separate tax, it forms part of your income tax.

If you buy and sell your investment property within 12 months, you get taxed on your profit at your marginal income tax rate.

As a simplistic example: John has a taxable income of $80,000 a year. He buys an investment property for $500,000 in July 2018 and sells it just a few months later for $550,000. John’s new taxable income for FY2018 is $130,000 ($80,000 + $50,000).

However, if you hold your property for more than 12 months, the profit you make when you sell your investment property is typically taxed at only half the rate of other income.

For example, John has a taxable income of $80,000 a year. He buys an investment property for $500,000 in July 2018 and sells it in 2020 for $550,000. Being eligible for the CGT 50% discount, John’s taxable income for FY2020 is only $105,000 ($80,000 + $25,000).

This 50% discount on capital gains was introduced back in 1999, to replace the former, more complicated ‘indexation’ method. This taxation advantage for future capital gains adds to the appeal of residential property investment for many Australians.

What are the proposed changes to capital gains tax?

If elected, the Labor party has plans to halve the capital gains discount for all properties purchased after a yet-to-be-determined date after the next election. In effect, this will reduce the capital gains tax discount for properties that are held longer than 12 months from 50% to 25%.

So, as per the second example above, John would have a taxable income of $117,500 ($80,000 + $37,500) instead of $105,000 ($80,000 + $25,000) if the proposed changes go through.

If you sell your investment property in less than 12 months, you’ll continue to pay the full capital gains tax – ie no change to what’s currently in place.

Any changes will be grandfathered, which means they won’t apply to any properties purchased before Labor puts its changes into effect.

What’s really going to change?

These changes, along with negative gearing reforms have been proposed to tackle the issue of housing affordability – which has been a major issue, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. However, critics warn that it may have the opposite effect, and public sentiment about Labor’s housing tax changes have been wavering.

According to Goldman Sachs economists, if they are passed, Labor’s proposed negative gearing and capital gains tax reforms will in reality only have a small effect on individual investments, and residential property will remain attractive. There is also doubt as to whether Labor will be able to pass the changes if elected.    

“We are also somewhat sceptical of the ability of the ALP to pass changes to the capital gains tax arrangements through the Senate given the likely make-up of the cross-bench – which in our view is the most impactful aspect of the reform package (as opposed to the changes to ‘negative gearing’).” – Goldman Sachs, ‘Fear vs Fundamentals’

capital gains tax

Goldman Sachs says Labor’s proposed negative gearing and capital gains tax reforms will only have a small effect on individual investments, and residential property will remain attractive.

Regardless of whether or not the reforms go through, it’s important to note that investors still make up only a small minority of Australian taxpayers.

Further, many property investors in Australia, use residential property as a means of saving for retirement – providing an ongoing supply of rental properties, and creating many self-funded retirees, who do not expect help from the government.

As CGT is only payable if you sell your asset, for long-term investors, any changes to the discount will have no immediate application. Investors also don’t need to sell their property to realise gains – they can simply refinance and use their equity to build their portfolio further.   

“If the changes were to be implemented, it is anticipated a proportion of investors will elect to hold investments for longer periods of time, or even elect not to sell,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

If these changes do pass, and investors do need to sell, their future capital gains will continue to be preferentially taxed to other income, albeit with a smaller discount.  

Whichever way the penny falls in the upcoming election, at Ironfish we continue to advocate a long-term buy and hold strategy, and to ensure you build a diverse portfolio of quality properties, with strong owner-occupier appeal in great locations.

While the market will always fluctuate over the short term, and policy changes will come and go, we expect long-term demand for good properties in the right locations to remain strong.

We hope this blog has given you a better understanding of the general concept of capital gains and CGT. But if you would like more information about these or other taxation matters, please seek advice from your qualified finance professional. We are happy to provide some recommendations of finance professionals if you need – just drop us a line


“Adding value” – Ironfish Annual Conference 2019

“How can we consciously and strategically add value to our customers right from their very first contact point with us?”

This important question set the tone and theme of this year’s Annual Ironfish Conference.

Hosted in a different city each year, the Ironfish Annual Conference is an opportunity to recognise the efforts and achievements of our outstanding team members, reaffirm our values as a company and learn more/grow our skillset as a group.

This year, our annual conference was held in Bangkok, Thailand at the beautiful Peninsula Hotel on the Chao Phraya river, bringing together 85 of our top achievers across Australia and China.


Over three busy days – from February 28th to March 2nd, the team gained new inspiration, insights and tools from the Ironfish leadership team on how to better connect with and add value to Ironfish customers.

“Everybody has had an experience where someone has served you – but hasn’t really ‘served’ you,” said Ironfish Director, Property & Research Grant Ryan.

“So how can we ensure we are listening, asking, learning and giving our customers what they want and need?”

Ironfish CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou, kicked off the discussion on Day One, with an overview of Ironfish’s own journey – from a single office with 12 staff, to today, with 14 branches in two countries, over 350 staff and more than 13,000 customers served.

property investment consultant joseph chou

“Life is about building stories. What’s so powerful about the Ironfish platform is that we can help our customers realise their dreams while also realising our own dreams along the way. We want all our customers to have their own ‘Bicycles to Bentleys story.”

Joseph also pointed out a powerful statistic about Ironfish employees – whereby 85% of our staff are property investors themselves. By comparison, in Australia, only about 8.5% of Australians are property investors.

“Through the example you set for our customers, and through your dedication, we can not only help our customers to see a bigger, brighter financial future for themselves, we can also show them how to achieve it through investing. We can help them to feel confident to take action.

“Property investment is a long game; through our long-term support, through our portfolio building strategies and our services we can help customers to hold their portfolio for as long as it takes to double in value.”

Our attending Strategists heard stories not just from our CEO and leadership team, but also from our Senior Strategists: Priscilla Cheung and Bruce Guan for some first-hand advice on how they have grown trust, credibility and loyalty amongst their own customer base. 

property investment consultant

“I have a customer who experienced multiple hiccups and challenges with one of the properties he purchased with me – all issues outside of Ironfish’s control. But because he felt genuinely supported and valued, he didn’t have a single negative thing to say about the experience or about our company. He chose to believe, he chose to make it work.” – Ironfish Chief Investment Strategist, Priscilla Cheung

property investment consultant

“One of my customers had experienced water damage from an upstairs neighbour in her own home (not an Ironfish property). It was creating a lot of anxiety for her. Since I work in the industry, I have a great network of contacts – I sent a building inspector (at my own cost) to write up a report, I briefed her solicitor to make a claim with her strata. I make my customer’s problems my problem – whether they directly relate to investing or not.” – Ironfish Senior Investment Strategist, Bruce Guan.

On Day Two, the entire team also undertook an extensive briefing by our Head of Property William Mitchell, on each of the five major property markets in each city.

Mr Mitchell provided a comprehensive update on each city, their sub-markets, new trends, performance indicators and data for the short to medium term – but added an important clarification.

“You hear a lot of noise everyday from the media. You even hear it from myself and the research team, but all you really need to focus on is helping your customers hold their portfolio over the long term – ie 20+ years. Then really, none of these short-term fluctuations, trends, updates really matter.”

In between the many presentations and educational sessions, attendees were treated to unique cultural experiences, including a Thai-themed dinner, a bike ride through Bangkok back streets, temple visits, turtle feeding and a memorable Muay Thai performance. A couple of our own attendees had an opportunity to try out their skills in the ring also.

The event culminated in a Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony to recognise the achievements and service of our team members.

“Ironfish is a people company at its heart and we’re very proud of the talent we’ve managed to acquire here, and to keep with us over the last 13 years. Our conference provides an opportunity not only to help our people to keep growing and developing, but also to reward their hard work and outstanding achievements,” said Ironfish CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou.

Our Strategist of the Year award went to Chen Chen from Box Hill. In a very honest speech that resonated with many in the audience, Chen Chen talked about how much she herself had changed as a result of joining Ironfish and how her goal for the upcoming year is to work more on herself – to become a better person- kinder and more patient and to help more customers change their mindset as the first step to changing their lives.


Our bronze and silver awards went to Priscilla Cheung of North Sydney and Shelley Zhang of Glen Waverley, Melbourne.

In addition, Shelley Zhang  and Jason Jin (from the South Yarra branch) entered the Ironfish Hall of Fame for their long-standing contributions.

Three Ironfish staff celebrated a momentous anniversary of 10+ years of service with the company: Teresa Liu from Head Office, Julian Stevens from Adelaide and Li Pan from Box Hill.

All three talked about how much their time with Ironfish had changed their lives for the better.

property investment consultant

Teresa Liu: “I was thinking to myself – ten years is a long time to stay with a company, especially in this day and age. So what made me stay? Is it the great team around me? Absolutely. Is it a belief in the company and its vision? Absolutely. But the stand out thing is how much my mindset has changed. When I started, I tended to be more of a pessimistic person. After joining Ironfish, and being surrounded by the positive culture, now this positivity and can-do attitude has become not just a habit for me, it’s part of my DNA.”

Our outstanding teams of the year: Ironfish Glen Waverley, Box Hill and North Sydney branches

Next year, Ironfish’s annual conference will be held in Sydney, the city where Ironfish was first founded back in 2006, with the opportunity for attendees to experience some hospitality from our founding city and Head Office. We look forward to welcoming our interstate and overseas team members here in Sydney next year. 

We would also like to thank all our conference attendees and event organisers, and also send a big congratulations to our high achievers. We’re so proud of your energy, integrity and your dedication to helping families make significant financial progress in life. It is truly life changing work that we do, and we feel lucky to be able to do it together.

Are you ready to start building a portfolio for your future? Our team is now back from Bangkok, energised, inspired and ready to make 2019 your year.

Make an appointment today for a personal strategy and analysis session with one of our amazing Strategists. This is a free service we offer, here at Ironfish, as part of our commitment to helping families achieve long-term financial wellbeing through portfolio investing. 


“We didn’t know where to invest on a limited budget”

Mahsa Razdan

Retail Assistant

“If we didn’t have our Ironfish strategist to help us, I’m sure we would still be wondering today about how to start investing within our budget. Instead we now own two investment properties.”


  • Former economist / new migrant
  • Wanted to invest but struggled to find information in a new country
  • Locations restricted by limited budget
  • Purchased 2 properties with Ironfish

ironfish sydney review customers

From Iran to Sydney

Mahsa and her husband Sharam migrated to Sydney from their home country of Iran nine years ago. They have been busy raising two sons, now aged four and seven, and establishing themselves in their new country and new home. Mahsa holds a Masters in Energy Economy and was an Economist in Iran. Here in Sydney, she now works in retail as a sales assistant at David Jones.

“Actually, in Iran we used to invest our money into buying investment properties because we always thought that’s the safest way for investment. In Australia we were very busy settling in new country as immigrants, and also taking care of little kids – plus we didn’t have the money to invest. So, we couldn’t even think about investing in Australia until last year.”

Where to buy an investment property in Australia?

Once Mahsa and her husband had managed to save enough to make investing a possibility, they were then faced with another challenge.

“After we could save some money we decided to think about investing in property here in Australia as well. The problem was we knew that our money still wasn’t enough for Sydney and we were struggling having no information about investing in Australia. Also, we couldn’t get our foot in the market as we didn’t know any professional person who could help us invest with our limited budget in a good area.

Finding a property investment specialist

School networks are often an important way to transition well into a new school or community. For Mahsa and her husband, her kids’ school network was also how she found out about Ironfish – through our North Sydney-based Property Investment Strategist, Ilinna Avni.

“We first heard about Ironfish from Ilinna. We knew Ilinna from my son’s school and we had built up a nice friendship together. In one of our family activity days with the kids, we talked about our jobs. When we found out her line of work, we asked her if she could help us in this area.

“Ilinna was so kind and welcoming and as we trusted her completely, we decided to organise a meeting with her to discuss our property investment goals and options.”

“In our meeting, Ilinna kindly explained everything to us and showed us all the property options we could choose. We had a limited budget and we needed information about properties in other cities, not Sydney. She gave us all the information we needed, and since we completely trust her, right away we chose an option in Melbourne and now we are really happy and thankful about that. Because if she didn’t help us, I’m sure we would still be wondering today how to start investing within our budget.”

Working for our best interests

Mahsa’s confidence to invest was based on a strong foundation of trust with her strategist. But since then, she has been grateful for the many service and support she’s received from Ironfish – even well after the property purchase.

“Our Strategist Ilinna is very kind and is ready to help us whenever there is any need or questions. She gave us all the information we needed from the first day and still she is ready to help whenever we ask her. I know she is doing her best to help us and she wants the best for us – working within our own budget and situation.

“As a whole we really appreciate Ironfish’s professionalism and their information and knowledge about properties in different areas. We also appreciate the services they have provided even after purchasing as well. This service is why we were able to buy a property and manage a property without even being in Melbourne or even visiting the property. The most important thing is we are totally happy with the result and we are buying our second property right now.”

ironfish north sydney reviews

Mahsa and her husband at our recent customer appreciation black tie event.

The next investment property

“We really want to expand our portfolio depending on our budget, because we believe a portfolio of properties will help put us in a better financial position in future. Now we are buying our second property – in Melbourne as well – and we are trying to plan for buying more in future. We cannot buy very quickly as we have two little kids and limited income now. But we will try to do our best to save for this purpose. Ideally we wish to save enough money to buy in Sydney or at least Brisbane for the next one.”

Mahsa’s property investment tips

  1. I think investing in a portfolio of properties is the safest way to invest your money – especially when you’re prepared to invest for the long-term. I don’t think anyone would regret it – especially if they have the correct information and professional help to invest.
  2. I recommend Ironfish to anyone who wants to get into the market, especially those who don’t have information or time themselves. I’ve recommended Ironfish to all my friends so far. Investment needs specific information and professional views on that market and the Ironfish team is really professional and caring during the process of buying and even afterwards.

Ironfish reviews

Want to hear from more of our customers, in their own words? Find more customer stories and Ironfish reviews here.


Investment property research – 2019 property market update

With the Federal election around the corner, the Banking Royal Commission findings now released, housing supply on the decline and Australia’s population growth remaining strong – 2019 promises to be a very interesting year for property!

Take a look at the key trends to watch as the year unfolds, along with some of the key drivers of each of the major capital city markets.

At Ironfish, we have a dedicated property and research team which regularly publishes property market research, data and analysis in a variety of printed and digital publications.

We also produce property market update videos, covering the Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide property markets to provide quick, informative snapshots for our investors.

These videos cover a range of factors relating to capital city property market performance, including economic and demographic drivers, supply and demand, as well as housing and apartment market performance.

Our videos are presented by Ironfish Director, Property and Research Grant Ryan.

More Ironfish investor resources can be found here:


Ironfish Property Market Update – 2019







Wealth vs happiness

A message from our CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou

This month, as many of you probably know, we have begun a new lunar year: the ‘Year of the Pig,’ according to the Chinese Zodiac. In China, the pig is a symbol of wealth and abundance. At Chinese New Year, we give out red packets filled with ‘lucky money’ as gifts and would wish others “Gong xi fa cai” – literally, a wish for wealth and prosperity for the year ahead.

In Chinese tradition, as you can see, we do not shy away from the idea of ‘wealth’ – in fact, we proactively wish it for our friends, family and colleagues as part of living a happy and successful life.

There are a lot of Australians, in our experience, who also would wish for more wealth in life, but simply don’t know how to make it happen or don’t believe they can – because they’ve been told for so long that it’s impossible or have never learned how.

It strikes me that in Australia, wealth is considered a taboo topic. We don’t talk about money, we don’t teach wealth at school, and we certainly don’t wish others good wealth or fortune at Christmas or on birthdays!

But I believe that everyone deserves more wealth. I also believe that most people, in their heart of hearts, would probably want a bit more wealth too – even if they may not voice it out loud.

Imagine if you’d been taught at a young age or at school how to save, use credit cards properly, look into your super, invest in income-producing assets – how different life might be today?

Wealth vs materialism

Historically, wealth has had a negative connotation; centuries ago, most wealthy people made their money through feudalism, war and violence. While in today’s society, we see materialism and excess flaunted in all aspects of the media and celebrity culture.

While there may be a section of wealthy people who fit this stereotype, it’s certainly not a wholistic picture.

what is important money happiness

In his book, ‘The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy,’ author Thomas J Stanley interviewed a number of American millionaires. He ultimately drew the conclusion that 95% of millionaires in the US actually live a relatively simple and modest life.

In my own experience, I have noticed the same. The wealthy people amongst my acquaintance live relatively simply and are very humble and generous in nature. Those with kids tend to be even more disciplined with them, very careful not to spoil them and ensure they learn the importance of working hard towards their goals.

They also see their wealth as a responsibility to build opportunities for others – through business and through contributions to charities. This is certainly how I see it for myself as well.

The universal formula for happiness

Wealth doesn’t have to be a negative thing, or something to reject. In fact, wealth is an essential part of living a happy life.

We do many things to find happiness in life. Love is a major one; we will pursue happiness through love, only to find that love can fade, and love on its own doesn’t make us happy.

Good health and wellbeing are also important – exercise, eating well, taking care of yourself – all of this makes us feel good. But again, on its own, it’s not enough.

The last factor that tends to get overlooked is wealth. Like health or love, wealth on its own will not equate to happiness, but it can certainly contribute in a big way.

For example, if you hate your job, but you need your job to pay the bills, then you might bring that stress home, where it will start to affect your relationship or your mental health. If you had a bit more money it would make it easier to change jobs and find something else that you may find more fulfilling.

There are many everyday things can be solved by having a little bit more money – to take any financial pressure off your relationships, to help you access resources – good, nutritious food, or exercise facilities – to live a healthier life. Or the flexibility to have more time to spend doing what makes you happy and spend more time with your kids or loved ones.

The universal formula for happiness, therefore, is the combination of these three elements: health + love + wealth.

Thinking beyond ‘me’

While there’s no doubt that wealth can remove your own worries or struggles, and enable you to live your own dreams, it also has the potential to do something much greater.

The more wealth you have, the greater your ability to look at the bigger picture. Your family will likely be first in mind; I myself felt good to be able to look after my parents, and my siblings as well and my friends. But beyond your own circle, you also have the capability to help many, many more people.

I had a friend who had some acquaintances working very hard to raise funds to improve a community park and playground. They had been working at it for months, and my friend, once he found out about it was so glad to be able to just write a cheque and solve the problem.

wealth millionaire happiness ironfish

On the top end of that scale, you have something like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It holds $50 billion in assets and through investments in health, agriculture, education, and other sectors has helped innumerable people – including the most vulnerable people in the world. For example, since 1990, 122 million children’s lives have been saved – due mostly to getting more vaccines out to kids who need them but can’t afford them.

There’s no doubt that wealth can be a very important resource to bring about the positive change you want to see in the world.

Pay the price

With wealth also comes knowledge and experience – and that too, feels good to give away. This is one of our great passions at Ironfish; to remove the veil of secrecy that often shrouds wealthy people. We want to share our knowledge and experience of investing, so others can benefit too.

But whether you want to build more wealth is a personal decision; not everyone is going to want to and not everyone is going to succeed at it if they try. There is no certainty in life; it would be great if someone could just offer you a guarantee that if you did these 10 things – all of which are legal, ethical, doable, but hard work – then you will 100% become a millionaire. But it’s not going to happen that way. And without that certainty, it’s hard to push past your comfort zone to give it a try.

But if you decide that you do want it, then the next steps are relatively simple: find out what the price is i.e. find out what you need to do to achieve it, and then pay that price.

If that sounds like you, and 2019 is going to be the year you start focusing on your own wealth: know that we at Ironfish are here to help. To those who are already Ironfish investors, we thank you for choosing to build your dreams – and your wealth – with us.  

And on behalf of Ironfish, we wish everyone wealth, good fortune and happiness in abundance in the Year of the Pig!


Ironfish property investment seminars, events & workshops

Ironfish CEO & Founder Joseph Chou regularly travels around Australia presenting at a range of events on the topics of entrepreneurship, mindset, success and investment. Many of these events are free to attend; take a look at our events page to see where he is speaking next. 


3 reasons to invest in Brisbane’s West End

A fusion of cultures and a lively, eclectic village vibe give the inner-city Brisbane suburb of West End a unique charm. But there’s an x-factor which has seen demand for property in the area increase by up to 30% in the last six months alone.

  1. Location

West End is only 1km from the Brisbane CBD, and while it has every urban convenience, it enjoys a more laid-back vibe than the heart of the inner city.

Apart from being a stone’s throw to the city, West End is also an easy and convenient distance to some of the Australia’s most prestigious universities including The University of Queensland (UQ), Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Griffith University.

Natural beauty abounds, as West End’s unique positioning means that residents can enjoy a combination of park, river and/or city views. Orleigh Park and Davies Park are the perfect natural vantage points and Riverside Drive provides a fantastic riverfront vista for a morning walk or run.

Council is investing in the suburb as well, with a $2.1 million upgrade to Davies Park, expected to complete by January 2020.

  1. Lifestyle

Described as Brisbane’s artistic and cultural enclave akin to Paris’ Latin Quarter, New York’s Greenwich village or even Sydney’s Erskineville/Newtown, West End is where you go for vintage fashion, craft beers on tap, great dining options, and a lively music and bar scene.

Brunch is an event in West End, with a plethora of amazing cafes where great coffee is a given. Some of the most popular spots include Plenty, West End Coffee House and Morning After.

On Saturdays, Brisbane locals head to West End’s iconic weekend markets in Davies Park, to stock up on organic produce, snap up a unique piece from up and coming fashion designers, or to enjoy a good coffee and a bit of live music.

  1. The perfect school catchment area

For young families and couples, West End has another major drawcard or ‘x-factor’. West End sits within the catchment area for the coveted Brisbane State High – the best public school in Brisbane, and the second-best Brisbane school overall, according to Better Education rankings.

Brisbane State High is the only public school ranked in Better Education’s top 10 Brisbane high schools. When you consider that the other nine private schools in the top 10 have fees of over $20,000 a year, it’s easy to see why demand for a West End address is strong – and buyers are willing to pay a premium for it.

where to invest brisbane state high

Luke O’Kelly of Ray White – West End told News last month that buyers were willing to pay up to $100,000, or around 10% more, for a property in the Brisbane State High School catchment. While, Michael Hatzifotis of Place Estate Agents – Kangaroo Point said demand for properties in the catchment had increased by up to 30% in the past six months.

Because of its great lifestyle appeal, inner-city location and desirable catchment area, West End has a very broad appeal.

“In many ways, West End is one of the suburbs that represents the very best that Brisbane has to offer, in terms of location, with its combination of great parks, river views, lifestyle and close proximity to the CBD, and Brisbane’s best educational institutions,” said Ironfish Brisbane General Manager, Irene Liu.

“If you go to West End, you’ll find two major demographic groups. The first is the under 30s group – a lot of single professionals, who love the lifestyle – being so close to work and having an array of choice when it comes to great restaurants, cafes and bars to head to over the week or on the weekend.

“The other major group is families, who live here for access to Brisbane’s best schools and educational and cultural facilities – the QPAC library, for example, or Southbank’s museums – as well as amazing parks and the quiet, ‘riverside’ lifestyle. You’ll find a variety of luxury apartments along the river, and residents here are primarily families or retirees who want that mix of riverside living with all the great lifestyle benefits,” Ms Liu said.

Ironfish Property investment Brisbane – West End

We have a very exciting new investment opportunity coming up in West End. Take a sneak peek at some of the designs below.

If you’d like to be notified once details are released, you can register here.

where to invest in brisbane west end

With thanks to our customers – from Ironfish

Last Saturday evening, Ironfish North Sydney and Burwood branches hosted a wonderful night on Sydney Harbour, celebrating the beginnings of a New Lunar Year, alongside nearly 400 of our valued customers.

ironfish north sydney

In a black-tie event aboard the luxury ‘Starship Sydney’ cruise liner, our customers and Ironfish Sydney staff took the opportunity to enjoy a great meal, some good music and the opportunity to meet and mingle with like-minded investors. The event also took the record for the largest crowd ever to come aboard the Starship.

ironfish north sydney

“This event was really important to us because at Ironfish, our aim is to create customers for life. We aim to be there for the long haul, to support our customers through the life of their investment journey – and part of that is taking the time to truly appreciate and value the trust our customers place in us,” said Ironfish Director, Property and Research, Grant Ryan.

“The cruise was a great opportunity to be able to thank our customers; to celebrate our customers’ achievements and bring in the Year of the Pig with a bit of style and fun.”

Mr Ryan also applauded the vision and courage of guests who had recognised the need to take action with their finances and start building a portfolio to safeguard their future.


Ironfish CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou delivered the keynote speech for the evening, starting with a new year’s wish for 2019.

“The Pig is an auspicious symbol to the Chinese, representing prosperity and many blessings. We wish our customers joy and prosperity in the year ahead,” Mr Chou said.

“We also thank our customers for their loyalty and trust in Ironfish over many years. Regardless of how the market may change, or other factors may change, Ironfish will continue to strive harder to improve and work alongside you to ensure you achieve your dreams.”

Ironfish Burwood Managing Director Linda Lu took the opportunity to emphasise how important property investment had been in realising her own personal financial freedom and personal development over the last decade.

ironfish north sydney

Over the course of the evening, guests and staff alike were treated to a musical performance by Ukrainian musician Larissa Kovalchuk – who also happens to be an Ironfish customer, herself. Ironfish North Sydney’s newest Strategist Astrid Chalken also gave an impromptu performance with the big band – unveiling another hidden talent amongst the Ironfish team!

Trivia and games followed, with special congratulations to our customers Oleh Klochan, Stanley Darmawan, Portia Chang, Vijiyata Sharma and Shara Jamei for their prize wins.

ironfish north sydney customers  

We also congratulate our Instagram competition #ironfishsydneyvipcruise winners:

Most creative post: japorms_olif

Most liked post: Sophia_have


Best styled post:

ironfish north sydney instagram

Thank you to our customers for coming along on Saturday night, and of course, thanks to all our customers, nation-wide, for coming along with us on your investment journey.

Wishing you all the very best for 2019 – The Year of the Pig.

Ironfish property investment

At Ironfish, we measure our success by the success of our customers. Take a look at some of our inspiring customer stories.


Australian Space Agency: “One small step for Adelaide…”

Move over NASA, Australia now has its own Space Agency, and it’s set to open for business in brand-new headquarters in Adelaide, South Australia.

The Australian Space Agency will be located at the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site in the ‘Lot Fourteen’ precinct, situated at the north eastern edge of city, adjacent to Adelaide Botanic Gardens. It’s expected to open its doors by mid-2019.

With an established reputation for technology and innovation, Adelaide beat out rival states for hosting rights of the new Agency.

Technology and innovation hub

Although it is one of Australia’s smaller capital cities, Adelaide has made worldwide headlines for its innovation culture, ‘smart city’ status and its race to renewables – including the world’s largest lithium battery installed by Tesla to store wind farm energy.

South Australia is already home to over 60-space-related organisations, with more than 800 employees working in the sector. The move to establish a Space Agency in Adelaide also complements major sectors such as defence, which currently boasts an $89 billion project pipeline for submarine and shipbuilding.

Adelaide space agency

The location of the Australian Space Agency in Adelaide complements South Australia’s growing defence sector

“South Australia is the ideal location for the Australian Space Agency with a range of local space industry businesses already established here as well as a rapidly growing defence industry sector,” said South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall.

A boost to Adelaide’s education sector

The Space Agency’s location, Lot Fourteen – Australia’s first ‘creation and innovation precinct’ – will become home to thousands of residents and workers. The precinct is designed to drive jobs growth across major growth industries such as artificial intelligence, cyber security, robotics, as well as defence and space technologies.

This location is also strategically positioned near Adelaide’s three most prestigious universities (The University of Adelaide, The University of South Australia and Flinders University). The Australian Space Agency is expected to bolster Adelaide’s higher education and research sector as well.

property investment adelaide

The Australian Space Agency is expected to bolster other local sectors, including higher education and research

The University of Adelaide’s Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Pascale Quester said the University had already been playing a significant role in Australia’s space industry for over 50 years.

“With the announcement of the new national Space Agency, the University of Adelaide is uniquely placed to build on years of expertise in the fields of engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics and law, and their application to space,” Professor Quester said.

The University’s Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences Anton Middelberg added, “The University of Adelaide is already delivering the technological expertise and graduates necessary to re-build Australia’s space industry.”

$476 billion industry

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the new Australian Space Agency would be pivotal in helping Australian businesses access the $476 billion global space industry.

Australia has a number of space related industries across multiple states and cities. The Federal Government is investing $41 million into the new Australian Space Agency, with the aim of tripling Australia’s domestic space economy to $12 billion.

The Government estimates that the new Space Agency will create 20,000 new jobs by 2030.

Australian Space Agency Director, Dr. Megan Clark told the ABC: “We’ve got a pipeline over the next three years of over $1 billion of capital being invested into the space industry, half… of that is inbound capital coming in from industries and space agencies around the world.”

“National coordination and international partnerships are absolutely key to our success.”

Ironfish property investment Adelaide

Want to learn more about Adelaide’s economy, population or infrastructure? Download our latest quarterly market report or request your copy of our comprehensive ‘My City – Adelaide’ research publication when you book a free appointment with your local Ironfish strategist.


Royal Commission Final Report – what it means for property investors

Justice Hayne’s much anticipated Royal Commission Final Report was publicly released by the Government yesterday.

The aim of the Royal Commission – which is the highest form of inquiry into matters of public importance – was to expose any wrong-doing in banks, insurance and superannuation companies.

The Royal Commission Final report contained 76 recommendations to improve consumer outcomes across multiple areas including banking, financial advice, superannuation, insurance, as well as cultural governance and remuneration.

The Government has since agreed to adopt 75 of the 76 recommendations, the key exception being a recommended change to the mortgage industry.

Mortgage industry shake up

Currently, mortgage brokers receive upfront and trailing commission from banks and other lenders. Justice Hayne recommended:

  • that lenders be banned from paying trail commissions to mortgage brokers for new loans
  • mortgage brokers to act in the best interests of the intended borrower, not the bank providing the loan – with fines for any breaches
  • borrowers rather than lenders should pay the mortgage broker for their services
  • expanding the Banking Executive Accountability Regime laws to track those responsible for any breach of lending laws

However, the Government will not immediately adopt a borrower-pays model, saying it may decrease competition in the mortgage industry. The Government initially said it would ban trail commissions on new loans from July 2020, however in March 2019 revised its position.

“After consultation with the mortgage broking sector as well as small lenders, the Government has decided that the trailing commission issue will now be the subject of the review by the ACCC and the Council on Federal Financial Relations in three years’ time… so the abolition of trail commissions from July 2020 won’t proceed as first announced,” said Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced on 12 March 2019.

The Government says it will conduct a review in three years to consider the implications of removing upfront commissions and moving to the borrower-pays model.

Impact for Property Investors

We see three key factors which will likely impact property investors over the short, medium and long-term as a result of the Banking Royal Commission.

  1. No further tightening of lending

One of the key themes of the Final Report was evidence of irresponsible lending practices by the banks.

Responsible conduct obligations require that banks take reasonable steps to verify a borrower’s income and expenses. However, the Royal Commission revealed that banks do not always follow these obligations, which leads to unnecessary risk for borrowers and the broader financial system.

The Royal Commission has brought a renewed focus on the importance of ensuring that all lenders comply with Responsible Lending conduct obligations.

The Final Report did acknowledge that some banks had already improved their lending practices over the past six to nine months, in anticipation of the Royal Commission Final Report.

The Report contained no recommendations for further tightening of lending practices, noting only that existing lending standards should be maintained.

As a result, the Royal Commission is expected to have little to no further impact to lending beyond what has already occurred.

  1. Underlying market fundamentals remain sound

Although credit conditions are anticipated to remain constrained in the short-term, interest rates remain at historic lows and supply and demand fundamentals are robust – evidenced by the national vacancy rate of only 2%, the lowest level since early 2014, according to SQM Research.

At the same time, population growth remains strong and new residential building approvals are down by a steep 24.7% year on year, as at November 2018. These broader trends suggest that future supply is declining, while demand is continuing to strengthen.

Meanwhile, macroprudential policies aimed at reigning in house prices, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne – such as APRA-driven limits on investor lending, and interest-only loans – have now been removed, as the desired impact has already taken place.

  1. A more resilient and robust financial system

For investors, the Royal Commission should be seen as welcome news as it will help to strengthen, what is by international standards, an already strong and stable financial system in Australia.

The Royal Commission revealed that there is still much to do to ensure the resiliency and strength of our financial system over the long term. Maintaining public confidence in the nation’s lending institutions will be paramount, however the Government will be aware of the potential implications that any practical response may have on the economy and the free-flow of credit.

Ultimately, the recommended changes in the Final Report are a sensible and necessary approach to improve on current practices. Banks have been shown to prioritise profit over its customers to the detriment of the wider economy. The push to increase regulator powers and oversight would help to ensure that existing legislation and regulation is prudently followed in the best interests of society at large.

As a whole, this will mean that our financial system will be more stable, robust and reliable moving forward – and this is something that everyone (including property investors) will benefit from.

At Ironfish, we support the greater and necessary emphasis on prudent lending practice and serviceability, which will ultimately benefit Australian property investors and the broader financial system.

Ironfish Property Investment Australia

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*This article was updated on March 13 to include new information and updates from the Government.

What is negative gearing – and how do changes affect you?

With the Federal Election only months away, negative gearing remains front and centre as a major point of debate and contention between Australia’s two major political parties.

Bill Shorten’s Labor Government has promised to overhaul negative gearing rules for investment properties should they win the election. The current Liberal government stands firmly opposed to the stance. So, what are Labor’s proposed changes, and how could they impact property investors?

Negative gearing: explained

Gearing is a term that tends to be used primarily in relation to property investment. The income you earn from your investment is usually either positively or negatively geared.

A positively geared property is one where your incomings i.e. rental return is higher than your outgoings i.e. interest repayments, repairs, strata fees etc.

An investment property is negatively geared when the incomings are less than your outgoings. The shortfall can be claimed as a loss when you do your tax return – essentially to reduce your taxable income and therefore tax payable.

Many investors use negative gearing to reduce their taxable income over the short term – as the loss can be deducted from other earnings. These investors are typically targeting long term capital growth above their accumulated losses for when the property is ultimately sold.

As a simplistic example of negative gearing: John Smith earns a salary of $70,000 a year. Out of which, he would pay $15,167 in tax.

If he purchases a $650,000 investment property, with a rental income of $650/week and outgoings of $750/week, then he has a weekly out of pocket expense of $100/week. If John claims this as a loss, he reduces his taxable income to $64,800 ($70,000 – $5,200). This makes John’s tax payable $13,345, a saving of $1,822, which reduces his weekly out-of-pocket expense to $65/week.

If John’s property has depreciation claimable as well, then this would be counted as an ‘outgoing’ – even though it’s not an actual ‘out-of-pocket’ expense. This would increase John’s shortfall, which would in turn further reduce John’s taxable income.

For example, John’s brand new $650,000 unit has annual out-of-pocket expenses of $5,200/year. His first full year depreciation claim is $13,832. Therefore, John’s total ‘shortfall’ in his first year is $19,032, making his taxable income $50,968. This would reduce John’s tax payable to only $8,366 – a saving of $6,801 – or roughly $130/week – therefore putting John $30/week ahead overall.

What are the proposed changes to negative gearing?

If elected, the Labor party has plans to limit negative gearing to new residential properties only. The plans will take effect from a date that is yet to be determined after the next Federal Election, which is likely to fall in May.

They also propose to halve the capital gains discount for all properties purchased after a date (also yet-to-be-determined) after the next election. In effect, this will reduce the capital gains tax discount for properties that are held longer than 12 months from 50% to 25%. If you sell your investment property in less than 12 months you’ll pay the full capital gain tax – this is what is currently in place.

All changes will be grandfathered, which means they won’t apply to any properties purchased before Labor puts its changes into effect.

The policy has been proposed to tackle housing affordability, while also boosting construction to keep up with Australia’s strong population growth. Critics of negative gearing reform suggest it may have the opposite effect or be a repeat of 1985, when Bob Hawke’s Labor government entirely abolished negative gearing only to reintroduce it 18 months later.  

What’s really going to change?

According to a poll by The Australian, in April 2017 54% of respondents supported negative gearing reforms. By November 2018, this figure had fallen to 47%.

Public opinion on the issue continues to be mixed to the point where the Labor Party recently indicated that a negative gearing re-think is possible. Earlier this month, Mr Shorten confirmed that proposed timings for the reforms will be deferred till after an election win.

If the reforms do go through, for investors of new property, changes to negative gearing will not apply, and for long-term investors who are holding properties for retirement or later in life, the capital gains tax change will also have no immediate application.

Regardless of whether these reforms go through or not – or whether or not Labor wins the Federal Election – it’s important to note that investors still make up only a small minority of the Australian taxpayers, only 8.69% according to the latest data available from the ATO and they also play a valuable role in providing rental properties to the market for those that can’t afford to buy, or simply prefer to rent.

At Ironfish, we recommend a buy-and-hold strategy and to ensure your investment properties represent quality, with strong owner occupier appeal. You want to ensure your property appeals to the widest possible market when it comes time to sell – and as the above data shows, owner-occupiers are the majority by a significant margin. Owner-occupiers may also be more willing to pay a premium for something they fall in love with, compared to an investor.

“If Labor gets elected this year and upholds their promised changes to negative gearing – which will favour new property – then owner-occupier appeal will be even more important for investors when and if they decide to sell,” said Ironfish CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou.

“We have seen from experience that short term market fluctuations, or policy changes will always come and go. The key is to ensure you are investing in quality properties in good locations and prepared to hold over the long-term,” Mr Chou added.

Ironfish property investment resources

  • Did you know that Ironfish has custom portfolio analysis software and tools which can help you to visualise and quickly calculate different cashflow scenarios for your investment property? Just book in a free appointment with one of our Strategists to take advantage of this and our other great investor resources.
  • We hope this blog has given you a better understanding of the general concept of negative gearing. But if you would like more information about negatively geared property investments or other financial matters, please seek advice from your qualified finance professional. We are happy to provide some recommendations of finance professionals if you need – just drop us a line

Which up and coming Brisbane suburbs are tipped for 2019?

With many analysts dubbing Brisbane as the ‘quiet achiever’ of 2018 and the one to watch in 2019, the question that follows for many investors is: ‘which Brisbane suburb will be best to invest?

At Ironfish, one Brisbane suburb firmly within our own sights is Rochedale. This southern Brisbane suburb benefits from excellent connectivity, being adjacent to the M1, M2, and M3 motorways which allows residents to access the CBD in 15 minutes, the airport in 20 minutes, and the Gold Coast in 45 minutes.

The suburb is also within 10 – 15 minutes’ drive from three of Queensland’s top universities including QUT and University of Queensland as well as over 20 public and primary schools.

Rochedale has its own Coles and town centre already under construction, and a neighbourhood retail centre has also been approved. It’s also just a five-minute drive from Westfield Garden City – the 7th largest shopping centre in Australia.

Over the last five years, the suburb has become increasingly attractive, with the latest Census reporting Rochedale’s population has tripled in the five years to 2016. In terms of demographics, Rochedale residents are most commonly of Asian ancestry, with 60.8% of residents reporting both their parents were born overseas. The top three countries of origin were China (28.5%), followed by India (6.3%) and Korea (4.9%).  

Interestingly, Rochedale boasts an average housing value that is either on par or even significantly higher than coveted inner-city suburbs such as Kangaroo Point, Indooroopilly, Grange and Windsor. According to CoreLogic data, the latest average housing value for Rochedale as at October 2018 was $1,031,649. By comparison, Grange recorded $894,018, Indooroopilly $978,897, Windsor $830,277, and Kangaroo Point $1,046,072

Rochedale has three key fundamental drivers: excellent infrastructure, access to employment both locally as well as in the CBD and strong population growth.

Brisbane house prices increased nearly 300%

A report by the Queensland Productivity Commission last year found that Brisbane house prices have increased 299% in real terms since 1986 – second only to Sydney, in terms of increases. Most of Brisbane’s increases occurred in two bursts, between 1987 and 1992, and 2001 and 2009.

Since 2007, 11 of the 12 Queensland local government areas that experienced the strongest house price growth were in South East Queensland, with prices increasing the most in Brisbane.

Yet, compared to Sydney, Brisbane’s housing market remains significantly more affordable, which has sparked a recent wave of interstate migration to the Sunshine State.

The latest Deloitte Access Economics business outlook report, released on Tuesday, reveals that the state’s growing population along with its strengthening economy signals an ever-brightening future ahead for Queensland.

“…gas exports are leaping, and Sydney’s stupid housing prices are underpinning a resurgence in population gains back above the national average,” Deloitte says.

“So State growth has recovered from tricky times amid the downturn in resource investment of just a few years ago.”

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad welcomed the report stating: “Sydneysiders are saying goodbye to NSW and hello to our sunshine state lifestyle and who can blame them?”

“Queensland offers a more affordable and liveable lifestyle, incredible weather and booming new industries in research, LNG exports and renewables.

“Tourists are also flocking to our beaches, cities and regions, with the longest period of sustained tourism growth since the 1990s, delivering a welcome boost to the retail and hospitality sectors.”

Ms Trad said the report also outlined significant investment into the state’s infrastructure. Queensland’s $16 billion infrastructure program represents another key driver for the state economy. Big ticket infrastructure projects already underway in Brisbane include the $3 billion Queens Wharf Casino, the Brisbane Airport expansion and Cross River Rail.

Would you like to learn more about the Brisbane market? Download our latest quarterly market report.

You can also access our list of Ironfish recommended properties by registering here.


Top 5 books to read in 2019 – and how to get the most out of them

A message from our CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou

At the beginning of a new year, it’s so common to hear of people joining book clubs, making reading lists, or resolving to read a new book every week for the year. And every day you find someone sharing an article on social media that ‘you simply must read’.

Everyone reads for different reasons; for some it’s for pure literary enjoyment, for others it’s to gain more knowledge, skills or for personal development.

I myself, am an avid reader. At university I majored in English literature, and enjoyed fiction, poetry and short stories. Ever since moving to Australia and becoming an entrepreneur and investor, I now primarily read non-fiction, to learn more and enhance my own skills and knowledge in business. I also read a lot of biographies as well as history to learn from the past or from other people.

For me, reading is an important part of developing and growing as a person. Because, I believe that, as leader within the business, if I don’t learn and grow, then I’m doing a disservice to my colleagues and to our customers.

Going beyond a good quote or social media share

It’s important to be selective about what you read, but even more so, you need to be able to get the most of what you’re reading.

You don’t want to read just for the sake of it –  to be able to tick off a list, or spout a great quote at a party, or to be seen saying, doing or sharing the ‘right’ things on social media.

social media share

If you’re reading motivational or personal development books, it’s really not important how many books you read, but what you take away from them, and what you do with that knowledge.

Have they made you a better person? Have they helped you grow a bigger heart, widen your perspective, be a better leader?

Many people say to me: “Oh I don’t read personal development books, because they all say the same thing.” That’s true, they do – because the principles of success are universal. But reading multiple books may offer a unique perspective on the theme. You may pick out something new from each one. Or an idea you’ve read before may suddenly become more relevant to you because you’re in a different life stage when you’re reading it. I’m a firm believer in duplicating success formulas; if you read a biography about a successful entrepreneur or an Olympic gold medallist, you’ll find their road to success in one form or another is actually quite similar.

But before you’re tempted to start quoting great passages or sharing article links or books with others, ensure you’re taking the time to read those books or articles carefully yourself. And that you are applying the principles you learn to your own life first. Unless you do so, your shares or quotes are not really coming from the heart, and if it’s not coming from the heart, then you’re not really changing or growing as a person. Other people will also quickly lose interest in what you have to say, when they see it’s not genuine.

My top 5 books

The list of books I’ve put together here were essential reading for me, in my early days as a migrant, business owner, leader and investor. They’re great foundational books on mindset, EQ, wealth-building and investment and have been highly influential in my own success. If you’re looking for books on these topics, I think they’re worth a read. I also think that for parents, they’re great books to encourage your kids to read or to gift to them as a ‘coming of age’ birthday present. I certainly encouraged my own children to read these as well.

top 5 books how to win friends

  1. How to win friends and influence people – Dale Carnegie

I’ve mentioned before that this book is like a bible to me. I must have read it nearly 100 times by now. And the reason why I think it’s such an important read is because in life, whatever job you do, or whatever your background, you’re going to need to work with people.

To be able to work with different personalities, to bring out the best in yourself and others, to work to people’s strengths rather than weaknesses – all this ‘EQ’ stuff is so important.

For me personally, I made a concerted effort to apply Carnegie’s principles in my daily life – initially this was a conscious effort, and later it has become unconscious. Most importantly, it has come from the heart – from a genuine desire to change and a genuine desire to relate with others better and see the world from another perspective.

top 5 books 2019

  1. The magic of thinking big – David J. Schwartz

Because of our upbringing, background, where we live or a whole host of other factors, for many of us, we tend to have modest dreams. This book is great in helping you to expand your horizons, so you can open up new opportunities in life. The other thing that I personally got out of this book was a small section towards the end which discussed social situations.

I’ve always been an introvert and used to be very shy. In a party or group event, I would never be the first to go up to someone and start talking, I’d usually just wait for someone to approach me.

This book made the point that in such situations, it’s usually the most successful person, the most important person, or the person who holds the highest position in the room, who makes a point of going around and introducing themselves – because they’re likely to have the most confidence. After reading this, I started forcing myself to start doing the same thing. Of course, I quickly discovered that it didn’t need to be so daunting, that everyone is just like me – keen for someone to approach and strike up a conversation.

top 5 books 2019 grow rich

  1. Think and grow rich – Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hill’s classic talks about the great power of the subconscious mind. It also contains the success formula developed by Andrew Carnegie – the richest man in the world at the time – and reinforced by the author’s 20-odd years of studying the most successful people in America. These people include Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, J.P. Morgan as well as the President and even movie stars of the time.

For many people, lack of self-belief or self-confidence is what holds them back from achieving their goals or the success that they’re pursuing. I often ask people: “If I could provide you a government guarantee that if you do these 10 things (all of which are legal, ethical etc but might be uncomfortable and require you to step out of your usual routine) you will achieve your goal, would you be more likely to do it?”

For most people, the answer would be yes. But of course, life isn’t like that, there are no such guarantees on offer, which is why you tend to stay in the safe zone: you’re not confident of your own future success.

To be honest, the first time I read this book, I wasn’t really ready to take it in; it was only on-re-reading, when I’d gone away and grown as a person that it started to become relevant. I’m now a firm believer in the power of the mind and the law of attraction!

Many successful people, including celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, credit this book to their early success. I can certainly attribute this book to where I am today and where I will be in the future.

richest man top 5 books

  1. The richest man in Babylon – George Samuel Clason

This is a great book which explains the basics of managing personal finances and wealth-building. It’s essential reading for anyone who aspires to be financially successful and it’s written in a format that’s very easy to grasp: as short ‘fables’ or ‘parables’.

Sometimes I find that books can be written in a style that’s unnecessarily complicated, which makes them too difficult to read. If you’re writing a literary narrative, then you probably want to craft your language beautifully and with greater complexity. But for non-fiction, I believe you just want it to be as accessible as possible. With my own book, this was also important – the point wasn’t to show off my writing skills, I just wanted the messages to come across as simply and effectively as possible.

rich dad

  1. Rich dad, poor dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki

This is another great book about wealth building that provides some clear financial definitions, for example, between an asset or a liability. But ultimately what it explores – and challenges – is the traditional path of getting an education and going on to get good job versus achieving financial success through greater financial literacy, through investing or choosing to become an entrepreneur.

I read this book when I first started as a strategist and it was crucial in helping to open my eyes to the importance of wealth building through investing in assets, including property investment. I  regularly gave a copy of this book to each of my customers back at that time as well.

Ultimately, while it’s interesting to find out what successful people are reading, it’s important to note that everyone is different. Books that others are reading – even if those people are very successful – may not be relevant to you. I certainly don’t go away and read all the books on Bill Gate’s reading list – because many are simply not relevant to me, my life or my business.

The books I’ve been reading recently are on the topics of artificial intelligence and its effect on business and the workplace; innovative ways of marketing as well as autobiographies – two of my favourites are Shoe Dog by Nike Founder Phil Knight and Principles by Bridgewater Associates Founder, Ray Dalio. Apart from books, I also make a daily habit of reading the Australian Financial Review, Forbes and Fortune to stay up to date on business, news and trends.

Be smart about what you choose to read and of the books, articles or publications you do choose: try to devour them. Take in the most important points. Re-read the relevant sections. Don’t feel like you need to read a book cover-to-cover for the sake of it. I often scan the contents page of a book and read only the sections that I find most interesting or relevant. If you start reading a book and find it un-readable, go away and find a better one on the topic.

Take the time to enjoy the pursuit of reading in the moment, and then take what you learn and genuinely master those concepts. Doing this will truly make your life better, and perhaps more importantly, will become a way of making other people’s lives better. One of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned from a book is to try to make other people you meet leave you feeling better about themselves. That is one of the best feelings in life.

Joseph Chou regularly tours the country speaking at a range of events including property investment seminars and workshops. Take a look at our seminars page to find out where he is next presenting.