Australia 2015: Are You Financially Ready?

Switzer is a name synonymous with business, investing and commentary on the financial markets and the global economy. And with good reason – the Switzer Financial Group is a diversified media and financial services company that run everything from media to publishing to financial planning to lending.

Sought after for their expert analysis and commentary, we caught up with keynote presenter, facilitator and director of the Switzer Financial Group – Marty Switzer – to find out where our economy is heading in 2015, is there an Australian ‘property bubble’, planning for retirement, creating a small business that works and running the New York marathon.

Marty, one of your keynote presentations provides in-depth analysis on the Australian economy. What’s the overall outlook for the Australian economy in 2015?

We’re cautiously optimistic as to where the Australian economy is headed in the next 12 months. When you look at the Australian stock market compared to the U.S., the U.S. is at an all time high whereas our local market is at least 30% off its all-time high and historically markets do reach their previous high, so we believe there’s still value in the Australian market.

The key drivers to our optimism are unemployment is still historically quite low; we have record low interest rates and the Australian dollar looking like its coming down – these are going to be all good things that will help businesses and create jobs. Along with a stock market that is grinding higher and rising property prices we think that next year should be a fairly solid year for business and the economy in general.

The global financial crisis is still fresh in people’s minds. How concerned should we be about what happens in the U.S. and other international markets?

The U.S. is still critically important part to what happens back here in Australia. As the old saying goes ‘’if the U.S. sneezes, the world gets a cold’’ – that still is very much the case. The U.S. has pumped a huge amount of cash into their system through their asset purchase programs, although this has now officially stopped, which is a good sign that the Federal Reserve boss Janet Yellen believes that the world is getting better. That being said the U.S. are still going to keep interest rates low for a while yet which will be positive for the economy and world markets. The performance of the US stock market is still critical to the performance of the Australian stock market.

In terms of China, they’ve set an economic growth rate of 7.5% for the year, which is slower than the growth it’s achieved previously. That being said, economists actually classify expansionary economic growth as anything above 3.5%, so China is still growing at a rate of double ‘normal’ economic expansion, which is important for our miners.

The Australian dollar has declined in recent months, particularly against the U.S. dollar. Is this a good thing for our economy?

Absolutely! A weaker Aussie dollar helps Australian businesses that export – namely agricultural businesses, tourism and miners. A strong Aussie dollar makes us less competitive because it makes our export goods and services more expensive – that affects the real economy. So a weaker dollar is a good thing.

In respect of the stock market, which is a 6-month indicator of where an economy is going to be, a strong Aussie dollar makes our stocks more expensive and hence less attractive to international investors. When the dollar comes down international investors will see value and they’ll look to buy in because it will be cheaper for them.

We read a lot about the Australian ‘property bubble’. Are we in a bubble?

Our view – definitely not. Yes the markets have run hard in some parts of Australia, primarily Sydney. Melbourne has also run pretty hard, whilst Brisbane is growing at sustainable levels. The rest of the country hasn’t really been growing at all.

The fact that the Reserve Bank continues to keep interest rates on hold says they are confident with where things are at. There is also a shortage of supply in some markets such as Sydney which is having an impact. We do see the property market cooling off over the next 12-24 months but we’re not concerned about a property bubble.

You also present to small business owners about creating a business that works for you rather than because of you. Tell us a bit about that.

A number of years back, our business got to spend a lot of time with a guy called Michael Gerber who wrote a very famous book called – ‘The E-Myth : Why Small Businesses Don’t Work And What To Do About It’. Ultimately what that comes down to is small businesses don’t create businesses that work, they create a job that is dependent on the owner. So a lot of small businesses don’t own a business they actually own a job.

The presentation I give is about providing small businesses a framework that allows them to create a business that works for them rather than because of them – and that involves creating systems and procedures that will help them grow their business across all the different centre’s of management – sales, finance, marketing, management, leadership. We put together a presentation that gives a small business valuable take home insights that allows them to build and grow their business.

You also advise Australians on how to better manage their superannuation. Can you us a bit of advice on how to do that?

Ultimately when it comes to planning for retirement, the most important thing we advise our clients is to firstly establish goals and create a plan to help you achieve those goals. A goal is simply a dream with a date – successful businesses, sporting teams and individuals all have goals. Where lots of people fail when it comes to their personal financial situation is that they don’t create goals for their life and for their finances.

It’s important that people think about what they want to do when they retire and how much they’ll need to fund that lifestyle. Experts say $769 per week is what you would need for a simple retirement – you need to ask yourself if that would be enough for you when you retire? The point being, that people need to starting think about their retirement and their savings in a disciplined fashion. Figure out how much you need to retire on and then set goals and a plan to achieve to that.
Can you tell us a little about your MC / facilitation work?

I’ve done MC and facilitation roles for a number of clients ranging from the Australian Defence Force to corporate clients along with industry and community associations.

What I’m good at is conducting and facilitating presentations for business audiences, financial services and small business audiences. I can interview a panel of experts, authorities, business owners, CEO’s, professionals and really get the information out of them that the audience wants. That’s important, its about asking the right questions so you can give the audience valuable take home actions and information they can apply to their business or their lives. I’m good at asking the questions that the audience wants answered in a very considered, respectful and careful way.

From an MC perspective, I’ll conduct the event or conference in a professional and confident manner whilst at the same time ensuring I connect with the audience.

You ran your first marathon last year in New York. How did that go?

It was a fantastic experience. Your first marathon is always your hardest, but I thought if I was to do any marathon it would be the New York marathon – millions of New Yorkers clapping and cheering you on the whole way, it was an incredible experience. My time wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be but it was a pretty good effort all up and it was an amazing experience I’ll never forget. Hopefully my wife will let me do one more one day!

About the author: Keith Harwood is Managing Partner of Inspire Speakers, providing companies with inspiring keynote speakers, expert trainers and professional MC’s for their conferences, events and training programs. Please connect Keith on 0450 077 997.