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5 minutes with Lisa Dudson

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Since making her investment debut 16, Lisa Dudson has been a busy lady.  These days Lisa is being celebrated in the business community as a prolific investor, author, entrepreneur and seminar speaker.  Over the years Lisa has played a pivotal part in helping ordinary people achieve extraordinary financial success by helping them identify their financial and investment needs in order to grow their wealth.  Lisa is the author of several seminal investment books of which The New Zealand Property Guide is her latest offering.  We caught up with Lisa for a quick chat about her new book, the key to investment success and what is the biggest mistake investors make: 


APIA: Before we get started, tell me a bit about yourself and what you do.

LD: I operate within the financial industry with a particular focus on property. Business wise I wear four hats. I have a business called Acumen which is a consultancy that provides a financial sounding board for people wanting some financial direction. I do some professional speaking and writing. I am a director and shareholder of Saturn Portfolio which is a nationwide firm of investment advisors. I am a co-owner of iFindProperty which is a nationwide firm of buyers agents for residential investors and also Property Ladder which is a real estate agency aimed at selling new builds to investors.


APIA: You are the author of several property books of which The New Zealand Property Guide is your latest. Why this book? Why now?

LD: The last property book I co-wrote with Andrew King was back in 2003. That was quite a long time ago and some of the information is understandably out of date. I felt that there was a need for a more up-to-date A-Z guide on property investment which takes a practical approach to investment for the everyday investor.

This book also gives me the opportunity to draw on my 20+ years experience in the financial industry to give a board perspective on using property investment to achieve your financial goals.


APIA: You have always been quite vocal about focusing on your end goal rather than the number of properties in any given portfolio, can you elaborate on that?

LD: Yes, that is right. What is important for most people is achieving a particular lifestyle, having the freedom to choice to do what you want, and for money not to be something that stops you.


APIA: There are many mid-term investors who lose sight of their lifestyle goals and end up being in a position where property investment is purely an accumulation exercise to see how many properties they can keep on buying. What can you remind these investors to get them back on track to focus on their goals?

LD: To me, the number of properties is a little irrelevant as at the end of the day it is about your net worth. Your net worth is what gets translated into an income which then translates to giving you the lifestyle that you want. Just because you have a lot of properties it doesn’t mean you have a high net worth, nor the income you may want.


APIA: Tell me why you have used case studies of 10 investors at the end of your book? Why do you think they are important to the reader’s experience?

LD: Because people are nosy. [laugh] People love to know what everyone else is doing, it is human nature.

Secondly I think it is inspiring to see what other people have done and that is why I have included 10 stories in this book. You have got Sarah and Sam who started in their early 20s, she used to be my PA right out from university, they are onto their 6th property now. There is Dr Bob Stewart who is the most amazing man who started a lot later in life. You will see that John Bolton from Squirrel probably has a very similar philosophy to me where his portfolio is a combination of business and properties. There is Darryl who is a long term holder and a couple of traders. I try to include a range of stories so that the readers can relate to at least one or two of them and have an appreciation of how the theories in the book can be applied in real life.


APIA: There are so many property investment books out there, what do you think is unique about The New Zealand Property Guide?

LD: I don’t do hype. There are a lot of investment books out there in the market place that are hype-y. Really property investment for the most part is actually a lot of hard work and time, and I think people need to be aware of that. I have seen a lot of people over the years who have gotten their fingers burnt financially often due to a lack of knowledge, patience or good advice. If you don’t do your research and homework properly then property investment is not all it is cracked up to be. I want people to understand the great things about property and also the potential risks.


APIA: You spent the majority of your career helping investors to get to where they want to be. What do you see is the number one mistake investors make?

LD: Probably a combination of not getting enough education and advice. The thing about education and advice is that they are tied in together. If you build up a lot of education then you need less advice. If you do not have a lot of education then you will need more advice.

I often notice that people are afraid to spend a bit of money to get some really good advice which is going to save them even more money in the long run. When you scrimp on good advice, you are often cutting off your nose to spite your face. The thing is good quality education and advice is worth every cent, you just have to do a little bit of homework to make sure that you are getting the right advice from the right people. But be careful though, this industry is full of people who blow their own trumpet and are better at selling themselves than they are at giving good advice so you need to do a bit of checking.


APIA: How would you suggest an investor go about checking whether something is good advice?

LD: It always pays to get some recommendations from trusted sources. I think if you are going along to something for free then obviously there is a hidden fish hook in there somewhere, you can’t expect people to work for free. Also contextualised advice is very important. Everyone’s situation is different. You can't expect a generic statement made on a seminar stage to suit your situation exactly. As an example; just because you read in a book somewhere to have interest only loans, that doesn’t mean the strategy will get you to where you want to be. Everything always comes back to the context and your personal situation. People need to start treating good advice as an investment rather than an expense.


APIA: Complete this sentence - the best tip your book offers is ….

LD: … do your numbers. Pay attention to the finer details, make sure you know what your yields are, what your actual cashflow looks like and how all of that relates to your overall goals.


APIA: Finally, I would be remiss if I let you go without asking this question: Where do you see the Auckland marketing heading?

LD: You know what? I don’t actually pay too much attention to the market and I will tell you why. There are a lot of theories. On the one hand there is the camp that draws confidence from low interest rates, a lot of offshore investors, a strong NZ economy and high net migration. On the other hand, the doomsayers talks about our terrible housing affordability and some of the pretty scary things that are bubbling away in overseas economies which can have an impact on New Zealand. To me, I have always believed that if you are clear about your long term goals and you can afford to hold the properties you have got, you make the best possible decisions you can today then you just ride through the ups and downs. If you look at Auckland, there is historically a strong long term capital growth and I think that is what you are doing your investment on. If the market goes sideways, or down temporarily it doesn’t matter because you are holding for the long term, you just have to make sure that you can afford it throughout and cope with changes such as interest rate rises. There may well be a correction at some point and no one can predict what it looks like. At the end of the day if you can afford your properties and fund the cashflow then it doesn’t really matter does it?


Lisa Dudson's The New Zealand Property Guide - Everything you need to know about investing in residential property PLUS how 10 Kiwis made their fortunes is now available at all good bookstores.  Click here to find out how you can get a complimentary copy of this A-Z investment bible.  


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