Allen Chan

Allen Chan, director from Zenerg Finance has been in the finance and property industry essentially since his university days. Utilising his parent’s equity as leverage so that he could get into the trading world, Chan has always been quite savvy with how to invest. For the most part, this has led to wonderful investing outcomes, meaning that save for the time he almost lost it all by choosing to invest in options, Chan has been in more recent times, able to secure a new investment property every year.

Join us in this episode of Property Investory to learn more about how Chan’s been able to gain so much success, how he bounced back after investing in a riskier market, how his first job in one of the big four banks catalysed his break into the property world, and all the skills he’s learnt along the way that you could apply to your investing strategies too!

“One key thing that I learned is that it’s it’s not how much money you make. It’s how you manage your money.”
-Allen Chan

A director of a Zenrg Finance, Allen Chan describes what his job consists of and how long he’s been in his industry for…

We’re mortgage brokers. Got a good team of six mortgage brokers and a few supporting staff. I’ve been doing that for six and a half years and before that I was working in one of the big four banks. Ever since I was a graduate from university I’ve always been in home lending, interestingly enough. So I’ve been at that for over 10 years so maybe still young. But you know learn a lot of things along the way. 

With the knowledge that so many people need assistance when it comes to buying their first home, much of Chan’s day revolves around helping clients achieve just that…

We fulfill the dream of homeownership for clients looking for their first home, raise financial intelligence when it comes to property investing, so whether it’s buying your first investment property or accrue a portfolio of properties. Structuring as well, explaining to clients what’s the best mortgage structure to help them maximize their taxation. I don’t do that myself of course, you’ve got to speak to your accountant. Also different structures, so we can lend money in a family trust, self-managed super funds to buy residential or commercial. That’s probably a typical day at Zenrg for most of the guys and then some of their brokers are more specialised in certain areas but we look at the lending which I guess cash is what makes the world go round. 

Migrating to Australia back in 1991, Chan grew up in Sydney’s west, initially studying something completely unrelated to the field of finance and property….

I was born in Hong Kong came to Australia when I was in 1991. 

We grew up in the suburb of Parramatta which is in Sydney’s west. 

And funny enough studied in a high school which was Newtown Performing Arts School. So audition with the instrumental flute and band at the same time. Studied my six years and funny enough instead of going into the conservatorium which usually most of the students end up, I did a degree in mathematics and finance at the University of Technology Sydney. And then I was very blessed in getting a graduate program in one of the big four banks and that’s where my career started in 2005. 

With such a drastic change in his area of study, Chan explains what compelled him to go into a different career path…

One of the reasons is my family didn’t grow up very rich and that also leads to my property investment journey. 

So obviously we when we were young we had you know my parents would have challenges with money or usually argue about it. So one of my things, when I was growing up, was like look I need to learn how the rich do it right. And what better way to do it then you know going to the bank. I had aspirations working very specifically in a private bank which is looking at that top 1 percent of bank clients. So which I was able to do that in my career, fortunate enough. I’m gonna share some tips there as well and that I learnt from the rich and hopefully listeners today and can get some value out of it. 

Going back a little further, he adds to this by explaining what he believes were the key factors in his childhood that pushed him to pursue finance..

One of the key things growing up, you know, Asian background, that stigma with music, that hey it’s not that stable as a career. 

I was thinking you know what is something that I can provide for the family as well. So it’s obviously leading to more academic, you can always get a job and do your music. But you know if you were to do music and be the best of the best, is it going to be that financially sustainable. That’s the question that I always had in my mind. But lucky enough made that choice and look I’m still doing music right as a hobby or casually but you know having the finances and the income to back it up. So you know overall since the beginning age I guess that was a wise decision. You know in going into a more career path and investing I guess. 

He also explains the circumstances that led to his choice to study a degree in mathematics rather than one in commerce or more narrowly, finance…

That’s the mark for the course that I could get in at, the HSC mark at that time. 

Even though I aspired to you know do accounting at that time. However having said that I think the mathematics part gave me a bit more on the philosophy around solving problems that’s one and secondly by the end of the day in finance you’ve got to know your numbers on business which was you know if I look back to some of the successes now it’s probably knowing your numbers from a very early, early-stage which is important in business. 

Attempting to gain as much experience as he could while at University, Chan shared, that while he was getting educated, he was also working various jobs at the same time…

It’s doing different jobs I was unloading containers. 

So as a storeman I was in American Express on the call centre and so virtually picked up anything that I can get experience on at the same time fulfilling my studies or the bachelor’s degree. So I think that’s the basis in getting to a graduate program but also a philosophy in my investing as well to give things a try and get as much experience as I can. 

It was after he graduated from the University that he was actually able to land a position at one of the top Tier banks’ graduate programs, and gained an experience that he states taught quite a lot when it came to banking…

It was a few interviews before ending up in the graduate program and starting in the first year it was in the retail bank. 

So going into different divisions you know from the bank’s call centres all the way to document preparation and all the way to the front end which is the sales side. 

To be honest, one year was pretty long because we’re not getting into the job itself, we found it a bit boring. I always aspired at that time, like I said, wanting to look for jobs and get into the private banking sector after that one year which I eventually got. So that was the experience in the twelve months but learned a bit. But you know until you do things it’s very different to you know watching someone do it. If that makes sense. 

But when did he actually move into a full-time career, and furthermore into the area he wanted?

It was a twelve-month program and during that time there was no promise of getting a job. So it’s always going into the bank’s intranet or the job search to see what’s the next job that comes around but I was very specific and I knew in my head what I wanted. 

And again like I said in the private banking sector which is the top 1 percent. So I did an interview and then got the role. 

So I was very fortunate but that was the ground basis where I learnt the bank systems and everything in the three months, that’s why I thought the graduate program taught (inaudible) mean we learned a bit but I think we learned the bank system when I was thrown in the deep end and actually doing things which is the same thing in property isn’t it. 

Until you do it that’s where you really go, I understand this.

So was that with the same bank or did you have to change banks to go into that same particular area. 

It was the same bank. 

So I’ve been in the same bank for that. 

I mean obviously graduate program, private banking for the whole six and a half, seven years until I ventured my into my own business which is the more group mortgage brokering business now. 

Talking more about what inspired him to kickstart his own mortgage brokering business, Chan talks about when he knew it was time to move out of a full-time career…

I guess one of the key things, I’ve been into other departments like you know the brokering side of the bank and as a team leader and at that time it didn’t hit me until I was a mobile bank for the bank and realise, ‘Wow the banks do make a bit of money on their mortgages.’ Which was the last year and a half of my career as a mobile lender which gave me the confidence to step out? And at that time I guess it’s good timing. That’s when, with their property prices, there’s a demand on property. Probably six and half years ago which is probably early 2013-14. So that was the right timing to get out of the bank and then start my own ventures. 

And because you’re a mobile banking for that period you kind of have a lot more flexibility. Is that correct to say too?

Yeah definitely. 

I built it from scratch. From no clients at all. And then to a lot of clients with interviews, appointments and obviously built that relationship and always believed that the bank with the person which is me rather than the bank itself which is one product. 

So I’m very glad into transitioning to mortgage brokering as well because it offers the client a lot more choice and not tied to one particular product. 

Delving into his property investing journey, Chan shares that it was by building on what he learnt during his time in the bank that he was able to gain the courage to make that first purchase…

I grew up not being rich and I finally got into private banks. So excited to see how the rich people do it. 

You know how are they buying properties. And one key thing that I learned is that it’s not how much money you make. It’s how you manage your money and that was a key lesson that I took from private banking because I had a section of the private bank which was solicitors but on their assets and liabilities they may not show much. They’re willing to get into a private bank because of family relations and so forth. But you know every week I noticed that I had to extend their overdraft facility or the line of credit at that time. So then I realised, ‘Oh how come these guys are not doing so well compared to the other section of the private bank the solicitors that bought property or actually you know the structure that correctly.’ Then I see how do they actually buy one every year. So again it’s not how much you make is how you manage your money. So that was the key thing and that’s in 2007 where I got the courage to actually start my investment journey. I did convince my parents to access their equity so I didn’t build up a bit of savings because of the home that we were living in had a bit of equity that with my banking knowledge I could leverage and that’s when I first started accessing OPM or other people’s money or another term I put in there is OPE, other people’s equity. 

Talking about some of the clients he had, Chan explains how they were able to manage their money and purchase multiple properties every year… 

I think one of the lessons that I got from them is that these people are savvy with their money which ties into my mathematics degree, knowing the numbers. So in today’s terms probably budgeting. These people had excess cash on a monthly basis whether they’re saved. Firstly you got to get into your first property and subsequently if you’re paying it down. You build a thing called equity but then at the same time as the equity builds up then they can, with their salary or borrowing power, go again and leverage to get into another one. 

Which fascinated me. So I kind of studied them and in fact one of the private clients which I still talk to is like one of my mentors. 

So funnily enough.

Having learnt so much from others Chan shares how many properties he currently has in his portfolio…

I have 10 properties currently. 

And why he considers his initial decision to invest in options, to be his worst investing moment…

Well let’s start with the beginning because I mention I leverage my parents property. 

But an interesting story was I didn’t invest in property so I used that equity as leverage to actually buy options which were a risky product. 

You know six figures worth as well. And I was trading what they call these naked options in the US market

I remember the date that I was investing in a company that started the GFC riding naked puts and so it’s a really amazing story which I still know that day on the 16th of February because that’s when the options market in the US closed. The share price needed to close at a certain price and unfortunately, it closed a bit below. What that meant is that because I was highly leveraged, six figures of US money at that time disappeared overnight. 

And I know I lost that money. 

I was young at that time but I was in tears because not that I lost a lot of money but because I leveraged my parent’s home to borrow that money to invest in the wrong asset class and lost it all. 

What do I say to my parents?

Explaining what it is and why the high risk attracted him to invest in it, Chan elaborates on what an option actually is… 

I didn’t understand that much. Number one. 

Secondly, I think the ironic thing is that we all attract it into high returns without knowing the risk. 

I think that’s what you alluded to me. I’m actually seeing my parents money, I got to do it as quickly as I can. Then there was a vehicle that was returning high returns like it was like anywhere double digits for a month. So it’s 10 percent by writing these options or lending it out. So it’s a derivative and what that means is just say not buying the share or the property itself it’s just basically betting. 

So that’s a very brief overview of the options market because I studied it in Uni but it takes a long time to explain. 

Going back to his initial regret after losing the money he’d borrowed from his parents to invest in options, Chan explains why he was thankful he made the decision to invest in a high-risk asset class early on in his journey.

Once you lose money then you learn not to go into that asset class because there’s no get rich scheme and you’ve got to build it and that’s why I had to learn the hard lesson right early in the piece which I’m very grateful for. 

Having experienced such a great loss, and furthermore one that wasn’t his, Chan explains how he was able to get himself out of that messy situation…

I was still working, so I had to pay that off. I mean a $100k in US dollars is a lot of money back then. 

It’s a lot of money now. 

I guess that’s the turning point where I go, ‘Hey I’ve learned so much in private banking I’ve got all these mentors why don’t I use their excess equity in starting my first investment property.’ 

Despite the negative outcome that occurred from this early decision, Chan highlights that it was actually this rookie decision that led to his first investment purchase…

I bought a property in St Kilda which is a unit and even working in the banks and funnily enough, you do a lot of transactions for clients. Sometimes if you’re doing it for yourself you get so nervous because it’s your first transaction but it’s your career, you’ve been doing that with clients all the time. So that’s when I was signing the contract and I’d say is this right. 

All the emotions going through your head, am I going to do well at that time. These all played out in my thoughts and interestingly enough, of course, took the courage to go ahead and here is where I am today. 

He also shares how long it took him to recoup the money that he lost and how he was able to get into the property at the same time…

My parents have actually paid off their mortgage. So at that time working in the bank, I accessed a tool called a line of credit. 

So it’s like a big credit card but on a home. 

So at that time, I couldn’t remember the exact figures but it would have probably been around 300000. So in saying that, I’d use 100 or lost that but I still had a little bit less as a buffer to continue to invest. So it was still leveraging through my parent’s equity to invest in this first investment property even though I lost money. 

And how this buffer meant Chan was able to invest in the St Kilda property he mentioned earlier..

I invested in St Kilda which was a unit. Buying your first one is about testing all the borders. 

So understanding new things introduced to me, of course, doing your accounting. What is negative gearing? What is depreciation?

And so really understanding those concepts and the jargon and in fact, it was negatively geared in the beginning but in the end when I actually sold it before I got married, I made some good capital gains which is one of the things that allowed me to reallocate my capital into other investment properties. 

Having made enough profit to purchase his second investment, he talks a little about the skills he has learnt along the way…

I had to sell that Victorian property in St Kilda then that allowed me to have deposit and capital to venture into other investment properties. That’s an important skill that I had to learn as well because I think sometimes in property investing we think that we’ve got to hold it and there are some people that on one side that hold it till the end and never sell.

But then at the same time if you don’t do that there’s another way to access the equity which is through borrowing and if your capacity is tight then the third option is probably to sell it and incur the taxes. But because there’s so much gained and I can still use that capital for other use if that makes sense. 

Looking on the flip side of things, Chan talks about the moment in his journey that cemented how much property could do for him.. 

One of the aha moments I think is really knowing my numbers with a bookkeeper of mine. 

So there are these things you might ask when consulting with clients like do you know whether your investment property is, for example, negatively geared, neutrally geared or positively geared. 

And when that aha moment was understanding the optics, I was like, ‘Wow, maybe I need to do that with my properties because I’m positively geared or negatively geared and they say it but they don’t have the numbers to prove it,’ if that makes sense. I just give it to my accountant and he does it and I’m making some money. So a week [inaudible] enough in terms of the numbers and the optics to make an informed decision without investment property portfolio. So, for example, let’s say it’s negatively geared which my St Kilda property then did I continue to lose money or do I sell it. So with those optics then I can make a more informed decision in my investment process. 

Importance of Leveraging Equity Investment and How Portfolio Structuring Affects Lending Outcome

With a portfolio of ten properties, Chan talks about the initial strategy he used when he first got started in investing…

When I sold the St Kilda property I was very blessed to meet my beautiful wife. 

And before we got married, it’s utilising some of the government incentives. Which is first home buyers to buy property. 

So again we bought in the west which was at that time close to 400000, this house but obviously we’ve the intention to add value to it whether it’s renovation to improve the capital of that property. And that was the start because again that’s what we could afford after we sold the properties. 

And then once we did the renovation and revalued the property and we can ask the bank to borrow more money to capitalise another investment property. So that’s where you always start with one and then you either use other people’s money or you save up more deposit to go the next one then subsequently you grow from there.

Putting this into a timeframe perspective, Chan shares that he purchased his first two properties between 2008 to 2010 before building up his portfolio to include ten investment properties… 

I think one of the key things also in the beginning phase and I think investors don’t understand with your first one or second one, it takes a longer time. 

Right. It’ll be three, four years to build up equity. You’re either paying it down on a principal and interest basis. You’re saving a bit more then it becomes quicker if you bought the right asset and the equity has gone up. So I was fortunate enough that that property’s gone up in value when they’re able to build up more. 

Guess what I’m trying to say is that that gap gets smaller and smaller as you go to the next one. It’s like a snowball effect. 

Having purchased his first investment out of state, Chan explains what he looks for in a property to determine whether he should buy it or not, and where he looks for these investments…

Well, living is definitely in Sydney but in other investment properties it’s interstate. But for me another thing that through my investment journey is understanding the taxation whether it’s a land tax or what benefits in different structures I got to know a bit more in my mortgage broker in Korea. So I think you know we still always learning. I’m learning from other investors that are doing it. So I don’t like to use the word copy but I feel modeling ever since I was a young age in private banking was the basis that I got to where I did today right. So I mean there’s people investing interstate and I always ask them why they’re investing interstate. But then did you know this and they took notes and the main thing is about the implementation. So I started investing and also like residential and some people talk about all commercials is good then get out until you buy it then you won’t know isn’t it? 

With so many properties in his portfolio now, Chan shares with us the moment that he became comfortable to build and purchase properties at the fast rate of almost one every year…

I’m just blessed because of my business and injection of capital no doubt it’s allowed me to accrue more. 

But then as I accrued more then you become more choosy with your asset type like for example we’ve mentioned about the return. Is it residential, is a commercial, am I using my savings and am I using equity. It’s given me a lot more choice and a bit more pinpoint in terms of where the next investment is gonna be. 

So I mean no doubt build equity and who knows even investing with yourself or some of the things that you talk about as well is pretty exciting in terms of the JV groups or the property group. I’m interested in learning. I think that’s the key. 

Leveraging other people’s money or utilising his own capital to grow a portfolio, Chan shares more about how he utilised this strategy successfully and some of the outcomes he’s gotten…

I think the first thing is, it doesn’t matter if it’s an investor or a private bank client. You go back to what I said, it’s budgeting. So what’re the expenses that’s going out. 

Even when I said understanding negatively geared, neutrally geared or positively geared makes your investment decisions. So do I have excess money right? Where is that excess money going? At the same time, if you have one or two, my question would be is it structured correctly? So is it interest only. Is it principle and interest. If it’s principal and interest, which is good, it’s paying down the debt. That means you accrued equity. So we can actually, through any online calculator, in five years see how much you have paid off. Assuming your valuation is the same and the equity that you’ve built up. So that could be classed as part of your saving if it’s on principal and interest. So in answering your question, I think the first thing anyone should be doing, is no different from a business, is understanding your profit and loss, in business terms. What’s the income that’s going in and what are the expenses and what’s the excess. So that is the critical and the basis of how I have actually helped buy the next one because if you’re spending a lot more than you’re earning there’s no way we can invest.  

Chan answers the questions most people ask when it comes to loan repayments: Why should I be paying principal interest on an investment property when most people put interest only and put the extra money into an offset or something similar? 

You need to speak to your accountant in terms of the bank-based taxation structure because the money could be in better use. 

That’s number one. However in saying that, if you’re in a football game there’s always offensive and defensive, right? So I think one of the key things is understanding the market, whether at the moment if the property is going down and value is not going to go up, obviously you may consider principal and interest if you have extra cash and then you can manufacture that equity if that makes sense. But at that time when I first thought that the market was rising so maybe interest only on the cash flow. And at that time also when I was beginning I wasn’t earning that much like cash flow was a challenge. Then I was just really riding the wave on the property increasing and I sold it. You can re-leverage it and that’s how you get access to money. So I think everyone’s situation is different. But what I do suggest is always reviewing which I’ve got my spreadsheet or zero or some mechanism and I’m always monitoring if I’m on the right track and I think measurement is the key.

Talking more about his portfolio he also shares where his properties are currently located…

I’ve got properties in New South Wales, commercial and residential, and then also in Queensland also commercial and residential. I sold some properties, I did buy and sell in Victoria and that’s my personal preference. Then I haven’t looked in there since. For me also I’m an investor that if I’ve got extra money and let’s say 100000. What’s the next investment property that I can afford within my current situation now? So I’m always asking that question because we go for a different life stage. I’m just sharing now,  I’m very blessed my wife’s got a beautiful second daughter and I’m not gonna go proactively heavily buy another property right when there’s only one income so I think throughout understanding your life stage and your financial journey is very important. So that’s why we deal with clients or just in general you need to know where you’re at. What you’re going to be facing whether it’s starting a family. 

Am I gonna get married? So that means there’s another income which is great. You can buy another property and so forth, reassess the situation. So that’s my little tip  – to understand where you’re at where you’re going to go. 

You know in everybody’s situation is going to be different at different stages in life. So that’s the reason why it’s it’s kind of good to actually come and speak to somebody like yourself to get it. So like a financial check-in and giving them specific I guess recommendations on what they can do in their specific instance.

Sometimes I tell clients that no absolutely. 

You know we can’t be doing that because you’re spending more than you earn or we’ve got to go for a defensive strategy because you’re buying a lot and you’re over-leveraging. 

Which is one thing that we’ve got to be careful about as well or going to lenders which is what we call the lenders of last resort because they give you more borrowing capacity but I anticipate the road ahead that I can see them coming to me? Can you refinance?

Allen can you help me? Could you refinance, the lenders put up the rates and I specifically said to them this is the lender of last resort. You need to do something with your portfolio. So that’s why I love what I do because every situation the client is different and we all want to have the endgame which is having cash flow from our property. So hope that adds value. 

Another question I constantly get asked by from other investors is does it matter in the way you actually approach a bank to structure your portfolio. So for example if you’re looking to grow a portfolio from say three properties up to say 10 properties in the next 10 years is it important to actually go to a specific bank to start off with at the beginning and then work your way through or does it really does not matter.

It does because different lenders have different policies or criteria is right. So that’s why you can’t say ANZ is the same as Westpac or NAB in terms of lending policy. 

There are certain strategies to start off better with the big four banks and then work towards your second-tier or other lenders that will give you a higher borrowing capacity. No doubt. 

With this idea of working your way through lending tiers, Chan explains what this actually means…

Firstly lenders are basically your big four banks. 

Second tiers could be your Bankwest, ING and then non-conforming lenders like Pepper, Liberty. 

So there’s a different scale in terms of lending and they’re quite seriously different so what I mean is you maybe, hypothetically, a PYG which means salary earner pay as you go. The way that ANZ looks at it may be very different to how second-tier looks at it.

Hence why the assessment is different. They would never get the borrowing power to the exact dot but of course we need to ask expense and all that stuff. So what I’m trying to share, your situation is factual and everything’s the same. There will be so many different outcomes and that’s what we’ve got access to, all these lenders. 

 Chan adds that it is here where using a mortgage broker actually comes in handy…

Time and convenience and your data, I think that’s important for us so we’re very critical on privacy when it comes to your credit report. So you do doing yourself, that’s fine. You may not know the technology just like yourself, you’re a property expert, they should consult you if it comes to property. 

But you know if you’re an engineer you don’t do this every day.

So I think it’s going to the experts and getting the right advice rather than going to the banks directly because they just focus on one product. one policy. Whereas for us it’s multiple policies. 

Speaking about our currently re-elected Liberal government, Chan puts his take on how he thinks the policies released could potentially affect the lending requirements for investors in the next few years…

It’s funny enough that straight after the re-election of the coalition that APRA’s come out with some of the buffering rates. 

So for those listeners that may not understand what that is. There is a stress test in every bank. So I think like going back when we’re talking about first tier, second tier and third tier, different banks have different stress tests and at the moment just on an average basis I know it’s on the media it’s like seven percent is probably their benchmark. So in saying that if that’s lowered to say 6 percent or 5 percent guess what happens to our borrowing power. Is it going to increase or decrease. It’s going to increase. 

So therefore this is the showstopper I see at the moment with APRA or the regulatory company imposing on the banks which is kind of putting a brake on the whole borrowing environment. 

And if that’s removed by the coalition that will be amazing and that would be good news for our investors who are listening. 

Delving into the mindset side of things Chan shares that while his portfolio and business could sustain his retirement as is, there are certain things that keep him within the property game… 

I think what keeps me going is the ability to teach, just thinking back when I was losing all the money or a mentor showing up to the kind of show me the right path. 

I get juiced by that. I’m sure that’s probably one of your reasons with a podcast to share that value and expertise knowledge not so much from a book or like you can read what depreciation is about but actually hearing from people that have walked the ropes and some of the challenges along the way. That’s why I have a team of brokers, not just working for myself because I can easily do that because I can share my knowledge in terms of lending today and then and build their successful business which no doubt resonates to their community. Help charities because I’m a big fan of that or volunteering around the world. That’s my big passion. 

Able to give back to the community, Chan talks a little bit more about some of the stuff that he’s doing in terms of volunteering right now…

I’ve been building houses for the poor in the Philippines and funny enough this is my love story, how I met my beautiful wife. 

So you know there’s been a burning desire for me to be successful in business, not only in business but in property investing to generate the passive income to do the things that you want, when you want, who you want and how often you want to do it. 

And not what you’re thinking, it’s not what you want to do in terms of flying out, it’s what you’re passionate about. If you want to be the best farmer you’ve got the time to do that, the best father, the best volunteer. You have a choice. I think that’s the ultimate way for me. 

Asides from a lack of resources, Chan shares whether or not anything hold him back from purchasing that first investment and why he believes mindset was integral to his success….

Mindset is very important as well. 

“I like to study I guess successful people, it could be you know anyone that’s walked the path.”
-Allen Chan

You may know the things but until you have the right mind frame to push you to take that uncomfortable step or the fear of the unknown then you would never take that leap of faith anyway. So I always believe in business or even the property portfolio. 

You’ve got to have a different mindset or thinking to be a successful investor or be a successful businessman and so forth. If you’re doing the same thing that you’re doing it is just pure insanity. So I’ve grabbed that and that’s why I love being on your show or doing something new. You need to learn something and it’s that concept that will work in my property portfolio or it’s that concept that will work in my business. So I’m always open to that. 

Expanding on that, Chan shares that it’s not only his mindset but his determination that has added to his success…

One of the key things for me, hands down, trying. 

Not afraid to take a risk and losing, that’s part of the game. But the question is after you’re losing what did you learn from it and what are you gonna do differently. Because I often think people will go… 

I have lost a lot of money, it’s the end of the world. I’m just going to work for the rest of my life. I mean I have to decide that mindset of what I’m going to do. Lucky I chose that path of investing. So God bless for that and I’m very grateful for the success that I have today. 

He shares whether or not he had any initial resources or mentors that helped him when he first entered the property world…

One big fan of Anthony Robbins. What’s the mindset piece. I studied him very early when I was young. 

In fact my first year when I was working in the bank and that gave me that hope and inspiration that if you put your mind to it and constantly envision it, it will happen and all the things that I’ve envisioned when I was like 20 something, it’s all happened. So I guess the key learning from that is dare to dream. Even though you may not have the how or the mechanics, I think it really works. He talks about the other conscious mind or a lot of people call it subconscious mind is very powerful and I feel you may not know how at this moment. His famous quote is that people, 

They overestimate what they can do in a year but underestimate what they can do in a decade. So you know I’m a pure testament. 

You just got to keep at it, keep learning and that’s who I am.

Chan adds that it was more seminars rather than books that also assisted him along his journey…

So Steve McKnight, I was fortunate to attend some of his seminars, very property focused. Been to Mark Rolton some of his courses, understanding of property not so much in implementing his strategies because it’s a bit more advanced but I like to study successful people. It could be anyone that’s walked the path and why do I believe that? It’s because if they’ve done it and I do exactly what they say I believe I get 10 percent of their current results. 

I’d be a very happy man. 

And what things he learnt from these which have been helpful in determining his success…

Going back to Tony because I was in one of his groups, went to Whistler, and that was the distinction when you’re investing with your partner.

And I just want to share that, is that you really need to do this as a team effort and understand both your psychology. You mentioned about how the mindset is very important but if you’re investing with the other half, if you don’t know their mindset and we’re not aligned to it, because we think as a man… 

Increasing my portfolio, I was very aggressive buying a lot of properties but then I didn’t realize how it impacted my wife when she’s very conservative. The mindset is different to what I am. 

So Tony gave me a big lesson in reassessing my portfolio and then I sold some properties and took the money off the table and I’m very grateful for that because if I didn’t have that learning or the lesson I could apply over leverage which I mention in this podcast anyway will be very dangerous and detrimental to my investment journey.

Speaking in terms of advice, Chan shares what he thinks is the best advice he’s ever received. 

Clarity is power. One thing with my wife is clarify and verify. That’s been very important. 

We need to communicate and bits and pieces. But if you’re thinking about red and another person is a saying blue I think we’re not on the same page but I’ve communicated it’s red. But you’re thinking completely different things. 

So questioning. The power of questions to enter into the other conscious mind has been very important. 

So I love it when people ask me what where do you see yourself in twelve months, three years, five years, ten years is also a big, important part of my life in goal setting or just envisioning and thinking bigger. 

And the personal habit that anyone can adopt, that’s helped him maintain success in both the business and personal sector…

I think better use of your time. So I am a bit more religious in terms of my calendar. 

What’s happening in it. One thing that my wife taught me is like money you can make back. 

But time you can never get back like today talking to you. 

So I think that’s a resource that’s limited. So what you do in that time and how effective you are during that time. So what are the outcomes that you have achieved in that time? So again I feel even in property investing it’s all about the planning. So why should it be any different in terms of your day or your week or your month? I feel that’s important. 

With such an emphasis on time, Chan takes us back ten years to tell us the piece of advice he would have given himself.

Firstly believe in what you’re gonna do. That’s number one. Just keep trying and learn. But the key thing is to implement and reflect. I think we implement sometimes and we don’t reflect equity on what we could have done differently. 

Looking forward to the future, Chan also shares why he’s looking forward to gaining the power to make various investment decisions in the next five years…

Have more power to select the right type of assets that I’m going to invest in. So whether it’s residential or commercial. Knowing how to access money, other people’s money or other people’s equity to do the next thing. I mean I’ve been an investor so it is just a slow holding and buying and selling but we’ll be interested in more development. Building granny flats or something. That’s something I haven’t explored. So that’s on my horizon and in the business just growing and helping other people do the same. 

On a final note, Chan puts his spin on the question of whether his success has been determined by skill, intelligence or luck…

I think probably 70-30 skill and intelligence and planning and all that stuff. 

30 percent is luck because how do you know when the property is gonna go up or down. It’s all about timing. So I’ve been very blessed with timing I guess. But you’ve got to have that intelligence to take the action as well. So whether it is selling or keeping. So that’s what I would say that 30 percent luck comes from and doing charity stuff. If you’re giving and doing other stuff. 

That’s where the luck comes in. That’s what I believe anyway. 

This episode was produced by Ashlyne Ocampo with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.

Tyrone Shum
Tyrone Shum

Host of very popular podcast called "Property Investory". It is ranked #1 for Property Podcast on iTunes Australia with over 1.2 million downloads since 2017. The podcast shares the latest investor stories, strategies, and examples from Australia’s most innovative property experts. His been interviewed across 30 different podcasts from around the world, featured on numerous world-class blogs and invited to speak at numerous events with over 100 attendees.