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Q: Tell us about yourself?
I'm Owen, the Founder of Rask Finance and Rask Invest.
Currently, I live in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn with my wife, Sarah.
Over the past five years, I have been very fortunate in my career. I’ve appeared on national television, had my finance tutorials viewed for thousands of hours and launched a rapidly growing news website.
However, my true passion lies with educating people to invest and get the most from their finances. Before I founded the Rask network I was an Investment Analyst for a prestigious Melbourne-based research firm and a writer/analyst providing coverage of Australian shares.
Q: What is Rask Invest?
Rask Invest is a website that includes all of my financial research, which we call the Rask Invest Strategy. It’s divided into bite-sized sections, such as everyday finances and budgeting, Super, insurance and investing.
The strategies in Rask Invest took me more than 6 months to research, refine and publish. My goal with Rask Invest was to create a strategy that can turn everyday Aussies into an investor. Whether it’s a person in credit card debt, a family of four, or someone rapidly approaching retirement.
Q: Why would someone want to become an investor?
There’s a finance saying, ‘you’ll never get rich investing in a savings account’.
I’d say it’s not impossible to get rich with a 2% to 3% interest rate (before tax), but I’ve never heard of it happening. You would need an incredible savings rate!
In my mind, everyone needs to invest to get ahead financially. Interest rates are at historic lows and relying solely on the family home to appreciate in price is a risky strategy.
Investing is about money making money, or compound interest. It’s boring but it’s true. Little bits of savings invested lots of times could work wonders over a decade or two.
It doesn’t matter if you’re saving 1%, 5%, 10% or 50% of your income, everyone needs to invest if they want to escape the rat race. But it’s never too late to start and there are plenty of free resources available online.
Q: Rask Invest is the third website of the Rask network. Can you explain why?
My passion and mission with the Rask brands is to empower people financially. It started with educating people via Raskfinance.com. It was fantastic to see how many people responded to the content. If you asked me when I started I never would have thought the free videos would be viewed for 2,000 hours in the first year. It’s fair to say that learning about finance isn’t at the top of most people’s weekly ‘to-do’ lists!
Rask Media is a separate website to Rask Invest and Rask Finance. It’s a place for free finance related news and analysis from third-party experts. I think the ability to access high-quality information is one of the most important pillars in getting ahead financially.
Q: Are you more bullish on shares or property?
Both of them have a role to play in a long-term portfolio. However, taking a ‘whole of market view’, I’m more positive about the prospects of investing in shares than Australian property over the next 5 years.
We’re about 9 years into the current bull market and it’s been more than 20 years since the last Australian recession. I’m not predicting doom and gloom – by definition a long-term investor must be optimistic – but I think better opportunities will be available in the sharemarket.
I probably won’t make many friends for saying this but I don’t think property prices will return to their recent price trajectory for a few years. There are good and bad pockets in every market, sure. And over the long pole, we’ve got population growth and urban density playing their part. But with interest rates, wages and credit growth where they are, I expect property markets to underperform a diversified portfolio of high-quality shares in coming years.
Shares are risky in ways property is not, of course. But I like having the optionality of owning small, liquid pieces of great companies, which I expect to compound my investment over many years.
In the current interest rate environment, the yields on some Aussie and international shares are also very appealing. I don’t target dividend yields as a rule per se. But if I receive 2% or more in dividends while holding shares in profitable businesses earning double-digit rates of return on their capital, to me that’s ideal. When the shares pay franking credits it’s even better!
Q: What do you see as the greatest risks for investors setting long-term financial goals in 2018?
Income is still the big issue, in my opinion. 10 or 15 years ago a term deposit and savings account would be paying more than 5% or 6% in interest. That was great for investors pre and post-retirement. Now we’re lucky to get 3%.
Meanwhile, yields on property have come right down along with interest rates. Many of the investors who were good enough to get ahead of the decline in interest rates are dealing with the effects of being ‘asset rich’ and ‘cash flow poor’.
With a stable income and a long-term investment horizon, the issue may not be as impacting. Unfortunately, for anyone who currently relies on income from investments -- or plans to do so in the next three to five years – finding income is a major financial headache.
In my opinion, the worst move someone could make would be turning up the risk of investments in an effort to capture better returns. Another problem would be stepping too far outside of what they’re comfortable doing, for example taking on debt to buy property or shares.
Another risk I see frequently is the issue of people failing to diversify -- not only inside their investment portfolio. I see many singles and one-income families whose breadwinner works in, for example, the construction industry. Then, they have a mortgage and an investment property. That’s far too much of a gamble on rising property prices, in my opinion.
Q: Can you tell us more about how you invest?
I’m not sure if you would call it growth or value investing but my personal investment strategy, and the strategy I follow for Rask Invest is a long-term one. There are a few things I look for in the companies I buy.
Firstly, a company needs high-quality management, who own bucket-loads of shares in the company they run. That keeps their financial interests aligned with mine. As the saying goes, ‘if you don’t have an interest you won’t have an interest’.
By way of example, for the first investment idea, I released to Rask Invest members the CEO has an ownership position of more than 13 times his annual salary.
The companies also need some type of competitive advantage. This could be a patent on a product, size, technological advantage, contracts or network efforts. Put simply, if a company cannot withstand competition its profit margins will quickly be eaten up by competitors or new entrants.
A company also needs long-term growth prospects. And, finally, I need to be able to buy it for a reasonable price. ‘Reasonable price’ are the keywords.
There are plenty of high-quality companies in the world but successful investing is about having a ‘variant perception’. It’s about asking yourself, ‘what do I know that other people don’t?’
This ‘edge’ comes from the ability to access information or from analytical insights. Another one that’s often overlooked is the ability to control your emotions and adopt a long-term investment horizon. I’m still amazed when I see seasoned investors getting spooked out of an investment and making first-level decisions, as Howard Marks might say.
When I’m investing I’m targeting above-average returns over 3 years (at a minimum).
Q: Do you invest outside of the ASX?
Yes. As part of Rask Invest I release investment ideas from the ASX as well as international markets. In my personal investing journey some of my best investments have come from outside of Australia in companies that most of us know and whose products we use everyday.
Companies like Google, ING, Berkshire Hathaway, Nestle, Nike, Unilever -- and more than 95% of the world’s stock investments – are not listed on the Australian market. So I think it’s a no-brainer to at least consider investing overseas. Having some international investments can also offer diversification benefits.
On the ASX specifically, I think there will be many good opportunities showing up over time, particularly for investors eager to get their hands on some fully franked dividends or those willing to look at the small-cap end of the market. Aussie investors can get started investing in ASX shares with a minimum investment of $500.
Q: Do you buy into the share ideas after they are released?
Yes. Our members get a 5-day head-start on me and my model portfolio. Meaning, our members will receive an email notification telling them that I have published a new investment idea (a buy, hold, sell, etc.). It’s up to them to consider if it’s right for them and choose whether or not to buy or sell.
I’ll buy into the share idea using the model portfolio at least 5 days later. As I said earlier, understanding a person’s financial interests are vital. I wouldn’t recommend something if I wouldn’t be willing to own it myself.
Q: Who would sign up for Rask Invest?
People often ask me ‘who it’s designed for?’ and I say, “almost everyone”. Whether or not you’re investing, I think there’s a lot of great content in there.
For example, I carefully designed a simple and potentially tax-effective strategy for getting the most from Super before retirement. That would some suit people but not others.
Rask Invest members will also have access to my research and strategies for Super, as well as my preferred home and contents insurers, the small – but award-winning -- health insurer that blew me away, and information on Centrelink and estate planning. So there’s heaps of other research and information on offer.
I also get enquiries from many young professionals like university graduates, tradies and the like. These people tend to be eager to learn about finance and investing which is great because time is on their side. No matter how small it may seem, small changes have the potential to make a big difference down the track thanks to the laws of compounding.
Many people are likely to join Rask Invest for my investing ideas. They might be highly successful and financially secure, near or in retirement, have an SMSF or a portfolio worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As you can see, the market for Rask Invest is clearly very broad.
In my opinion, the two biggest differences between Rask Invest and other types of financial services are the requirement of motivation and fees.
Rask Invest members need drive and motivation to improve their financial situation. We don’t offer personal financial advice, we provide general advice or information. Therefore, Rask Invest members should be the types of people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get stuck into their finances. It’s not an easy thing to do but I believe it can be hugely rewarding.
The other big difference is fees. Rask Invest costs $365 per year and we don’t take a cent from any product providers, like insurers, banks or other financial institutions. That is, we’re not aligned with anyone and we’re going to keep it that way. If you think about it, $365 is around $1 a day. A decent adviser might charge you that for the first hour!
Ultimately, if our members are prepared to invest in themselves, which I think is crucial to empowering one’s self, Rask Invest could be a rewarding way to get started and learn about finance and investing.
Q: Do you offer a money-back guarantee?
Yes. We have a 7-day full money-back guarantee.
I hope that provides some piece of mind for people considering joining Rask Invest. If they decide it’s not for them, that’s okay. I’ll refund their cash in full. Of course, I’d rather that doesn’t happen and I don’t think it will. But I know Rask Invest may not be for everyone.
Q: Ok, how can people sign up?
The best way to get started is to visit the Rask Finance website, www.raskfinance.com. Alternatively, simply doing a Google search for “Rask Invest” will help people find us.
I hope we’re one of the first search results!