Expert investor: Charlie Viola – Financial Advisor responsible for $1.5 billion

HOSTS Alec Renehan & Bryce Leske|17 February, 2021

Meet your hosts

  • Alec Renehan

    Alec developed an interest in investing after realising he was spending all that he was earning. Investing became his form of 'forced saving'. While his first investment, Slater and Gordon (SGH), was a resounding failure, he learnt a lot from that experience. He hopes to share those lessons amongst others through the podcast and help people realise that if he can make money investing, anyone can.
  • Bryce Leske

    Bryce has had an interest in the stock market since his parents encouraged him to save 50c a fortnight from the age of 5. Once he had saved $500 he bought his first stock - BKI - a Listed Investment Company (LIC), and since then hasn't stopped. He hopes that Equity Mates can help make investing understandable and accessible. He loves the Essendon Football Club, and lives in Sydney.

Charlie is a Partner at Pitcher Partners, providing financial advisory and wealth services to high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals. Specialising in ongoing investment management and administrative services, Charlie’s is personally responsible for over $1.5 billion of funds. His expertise and client outcomes was recognised by Barrons when he received the accolade of the No. 1 Adviser in Australia in the 2018 Adviser Rankings, followed by 4th in 2019 and 15th in 2020. He has also been recognised as one of Australia’s 50 most influential advisors in 2018, 2019 and 2020 by Financial Standard’s Power50.

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Bryce Leske: [00:00:56] Welcome to another episode of Equity Mates, our aim is to help you on your investing journey, breaking down the barriers from beginning to dividend. Whether you're an absolute beginner or Warren Buffett, we guarantee Equity Mates. We'll have something for you. My name is Bryce and as always, I'm joined by my Equity Mates Ren. How's it going? [00:01:13][16.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:01:13] I'm very good, Bryce. I'm very excited for this episode. Financial advice is something we haven't really touched on that much. We haven't had too many advisers on the show and we're kicking off twenty, twenty one with not just one of the best, but according to Barron's, the best financial advisor in the game. [00:01:30][16.7]

Bryce Leske: [00:01:31] It is our pleasure to welcome Charlie Viola to the studio. Welcome, Charlie [00:01:34][3.6]

Charlie Viola: [00:01:35] G'day boys. How are you? Thanks for having me on. I've I think I've listened to virtually all of your content, so I'm actually a bit excited to be here right now. [00:01:42][7.1]

Bryce Leske: [00:01:43] And you're the number one financial advisor in Australia in 2018, which is pretty phenomenal. Equity Mates must be doing something right. [00:01:51][8.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:01:52] I like to think we were a key part of you getting out of all that. [00:01:55][2.8]

Charlie Viola: [00:01:56] Yeah, absolutely. No, I'm a bit of a geek for knowledge, I think. And I really like to kind of listen to and read as much stuff as I can. So whenever I find this type of stuff, I always kind of tune in and, you know, scream at the car radio. And I think it's done what you say now you guys are doing a cracking job. So it's really well done. You make it accessible. That's great. [00:02:20][23.9]

Bryce Leske: [00:02:20] Thank you. So for those of you who haven't heard of Charlie before, Charlie is a partner at Hitcher Partners, providing financial advisory and wealth services to high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals specializing in ongoing investment management and administrative services. Charlie is personally responsible for over one point five billion dollars. So pretty phenomenal. Charlie has been recognized, as we said by Barron's, as the number one advisor in Australia in 2018 and in 2019, the number four. So pretty phenomenal. One point five be under management. Must be pretty scary. [00:02:58][38.0]

Charlie Viola: [00:02:59] I know we hardly ever think about it, to be honest. It's one of those things where you just kind of deal with the client that's in front of you. It's the only kind of when you add it up to make yourself feel good. I think that you got to look at those big numbers. [00:03:12][13.1]

Alec Renehan: [00:03:14] It is a very impressive number and we'll get to that. But before we do, we like to start with a game. If you've heard our show before, we won't explain it. It's overrated or underrated. And we'll start with the Australian and the major Australian index, the ASX 200. Overrated or underrated, [00:03:30][16.5]

Charlie Viola: [00:03:32] I'm going to say underrated. I think over the last little while it's kind of been uncool just to invest in the ASX 200. I think everyone's kind of wanted to do this really kind of out there. Cool stuff. But, well, people tend to forget that, you know, investing in equities is really about driving income, about putting your money in places where you know exactly how those companies work. you know what the key competitive advantages are? You know you know what the continuity of earnings are. So and the ASX 200 is a fantastic place to get that. So, you know, especially if what you're looking for is good long term hold investments that produce a revenue stream and keep your capital rate, you know, reasonably safe and you want good returns over time. The ASX 200 is still a fantastic place to invest. [00:04:17][45.5]

Bryce Leske: [00:04:18] It's interesting because, yeah, I agree with the sentiment that it's uncool. [00:04:22][3.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:04:23] Yeah. Oh, you agree with that? [00:04:25][1.9]

Bryce Leske: [00:04:26] Buy everything else that Charlie said. But obviously, the Unkovic let's move overseas then. Overrated or underrated, the Nasdaq 100. [00:04:32][6.2]

Charlie Viola: [00:04:34] So I would say that's kind of equilibrated in that everyone thinks it's cool to invest there because, you know, it's got all those mega cap tech companies in it. But, you know, I'm still a big believer, especially in big US tech. So I'm still an investor there. And, you know, we certainly put a reasonable allocation of client money into those types of areas. So I wouldn't say it's underrated because everybody wants to invest there. But I'm not going to say it's overrated because I still want people to be investing there because it's the right thing to do with your money [00:05:02][28.0]

Alec Renehan: [00:05:03] from the Nasdaq 100 is definitely the cool kid on the playground. Yeah. So we're recording this interview on Tuesday, the 2nd of February. That's important context for the next stock I'm going to ask you about because so much is happening day to day that could be very outdated by the time I realize this. But overrated or underrated, GameStop, [00:05:24][22.0]

Charlie Viola: [00:05:27] let's go with massively overrated. We certainly wouldn't be investing in GameStop, but there's a cool story that I wasn't there. It was kind of one of those. It was a bit revenge of the nerds, really, wasn't it? You know, in terms of what happened there. And, you know, it was kind of one for the little guys in terms of buying it up and burying the hedge fund manager. We are certainly not speculative investors and. We certainly wouldn't be buying something into a kind of roaring momentum like that, you know, just to be kind of part of the flavor of what's going on. So, yeah, not for us, [00:06:01][33.8]

Alec Renehan: [00:06:01] just because we probably won't touch on GameStop again. I would like to ask if your client, you know, one of your ultra-high net worth clients calls up and is like I'm saying, what's happening with GameStop? I want in. What's your response? [00:06:12][11.3]

Charlie Viola: [00:06:14] Don't do it to stop it. Because you know, what goes up must come down in terms of obviously that type of thing if they become super insistent and we have to do it because we're just custodians of their money. So at the end of the day, we give advice, but, you know, they have to say yes or no and then they've got still their money. But we will absolutely counsel against it. You know, we're long-term investors of good quality assets over a long period of time. You know, and, you know, GameStop is an example because it happened in two days. But by now, pay later is you know, is an example of something that's happening over a longer period of time where the earnings in the by now pilade a space. They're not there yet. So we don't really want to be investing there. So, you know, counsel against it. But if they want to do it, then it's your money. [00:07:01][47.2]

Alec Renehan: [00:07:01] Well, you've just lost brier's talking about the latest. Yeah. [00:07:05][3.5]

Bryce Leske: [00:07:06] Now I'm a bit overrated or underrated, the Australian property market. [00:07:12][6.6]

Charlie Viola: [00:07:13] And I think you've got to kind of put Australian property in two buckets. I think you kind of got to put aside the family home piece. And we really don't see the family home as investing. So as long as you kind of put all of that lifestyle stuff aside, you know, we're still advocates of diversity. We're still advocates of buying good quality assets. And every asset class has got good quality assets. So as long as you're treating the property as an investment, so you're working your way through the investment thesis, then we're still buyers and we're still happy to you know, we still think it's fundamentally underrated. We still think there are earnings there. But, you know, for us, if you're buying residential property, then you need to be thinking about it in investment terms. If you're buying commercial property, then you need to be thinking about, you know, the supply-demand dynamic. You need to be thinking about where the earnings are coming from. You need to think about, you know, how liquid that's going to be if you need your money back over time. So short answer is, is underrated, but beware of the various different sectors that exist there now. [00:08:21][67.1]

Alec Renehan: [00:08:21] The final question on this overrated or underrated game, overrated or underrated bitcoin? [00:08:21][0.1]

Charlie Viola: [00:08:27] Oh, I'm going to say underrated. And I would and I would say that if you to ask me that question no more than like five months ago, I would have told you that it was overrated, that it was a game for kids, that it was some way for crooks to launder their money. But now when I think about it and I kind of put an intellectual hat on and I think about what currency actually is and what currencies had to be over time, you know, there are four or five fundamentals about currency, right? That durability, divisibility ability for it to be passed between people hard to counterfeit and a genuine store of value. And the reality is, is bitcoin is all of those things. And, you know, its lack of regulation at this point is clearly an issue and it's something that's going to have to sort out. But I think if we continue to ignore cryptocurrency and we continue to ignore it, it's at our own detriment. So I'm starting to become a believer, if I'm honest. Yeah. [00:09:26][59.0]

Alec Renehan: [00:09:27] I mean, I have to ask the follow up to any of your do you recommend any of your clients put any of their assets into a crypto know? [00:09:34][7.2]

Charlie Viola: [00:09:35] So and the answer that's no is still very traditional and vanilla in terms of the assets that we're buying. But I would say more and more clients are asking about it. And as a result, we are taking more and more allocation because they just specifically want to have some of it in there. And, you know, I listen to the episode that you guys did on your first episode back where one of you predicted that it was going to go to 90000 US dollars price. It was you. And, you know, it probably, you know, continues to compound the theme that it's going to become a real store of value over time. [00:10:12][37.4]

Bryce Leske: [00:10:13] So watch this space. [00:10:15][2.1]

Charlie Viola: [00:10:15] Watch this space. Yeah. [00:10:16][0.8]

Bryce Leske: [00:10:17] So, Charlie, we always love to get a bit of an idea about your background before we jump into the nuts and bolts of the interview. So always we start with the first investment. What's the story? Can you remember any major lessons? [00:10:30][13.1]

Charlie Viola: [00:10:31] Yeah, I can remember it. And it's a bit of a boring one. I started working for the CBA when I was eighteen or nineteen. I tried to get to university straight out of school and I think I failed on attendance within about four weeks. I just hated it. So I just wanted to get out and earn money. So I started working for the CBA in very junior role and. And as part of that, on an annual basis, we were given the thousand dollar tax for each airplane. So you got a thousand dollars of CBA shares and they were issued, I think, at the time at like ten point eighty or something back in 1996 and 1997 when I started at CBA. And I think I collected them for the first four years or so until I sold them and used it as a deposit on my first house at 22. So maybe I should have taken more notice of them because they're being issued at 10 and 11 dollars back then. So, yeah, [00:11:23][51.3]

Alec Renehan: [00:11:24] not bad, although it's not bad to get those shares and then put a down payment on a house of twenty two. Yeah, that's right. Yeah. So from there what's, what's been your journey into financial advice and into being the number one adviser in Australia. [00:11:39][15.1]

Charlie Viola: [00:11:40] Yes. Like I said, I started working at CBA when I was quite young, straight out of school and in very junior roles. And, you know, I grew up in Camden, which is, you know, sort of six southwest of Sydney, and started working at the CBA in Picton, which was another 15 KS further out and very junior, also bank teller customer service. And it was hard work like, you know, they're not very good jobs. Like, you know, everyone thinks you're a moron. And, you know, the only feedback you ever get is, is complaints in reality, when you're in those roles. But I think from a reasonably early age, it's probably a reasonably good talker and probably reasonably good at sort of selling things. So that kind of Dunia, you know, customer service rolls turn into a junior advice role from a quite a young age. I think it was 1998 and 1999 saw a sort of 20 years of age. And I remember that role. I'd sort of found my way into the city sort of by then. And the junior advice role was you couldn't advise people with more than 50000 dollars in the only thing you could advise to put them into it was for premixed CBA managed funds. So it probably wasn't exactly rocket science, but, you know, it was about sort of teaching young people about the benefits of saving and dollar cost averaging. And really the plan in those things was put ten thousand dollars in and then put a thousand dollars a month in to create that dollar cost averaging. So it was kind of good lessons in terms of young people and investing. That junior role turned into a more senior role in about 2000. And despite being reasonably young, I think I started to get bowled pretty young, you know. [00:13:20][99.8]

Alec Renehan: [00:13:20] So yeah. [00:13:21][1.1]

Charlie Viola: [00:13:22] So I think I've always had this issue where I've looked older than what I am. So, you know, I think I got to 22 and, you know, probably I looked about 40, so people kind of trusted me. So, yeah, the junior role became a senior role. And then really for the next three years, it was probably reasonably successful. Marseille's perspective in building up a client base and sort of building up a bit of a following in the CBA community in 2003, it was made very clear to me by one of the bosses that I had at the time at CBA that you might be a really good adviser, but we are very much a distribution network for colonial first state product, which was the CBA had just bought Colonial First State in the state bank at the time. And I remember it dawning on me at the time that, you know, I think I want to be an adviser. You know, I really want to sit down with people and understand their needs and objectives. And, you know, I want to be helping them in the context of what they're trying to achieve. So I then from CBA moved to the business that I mean, now we were called more savings at the time. And while I had no idea that we were doing this and, you know, in hindsight, you know, I had no idea you were an early mover, but all the things that the industry is looking to be now, you know, fee for service, product agnostic, you know, doing investments in the context of what the client's trying to achieve is all the things that we had created back then. And, you know, again, we had no idea where early movies. I'm not going to sit here and say that, you know, I had this vision for the industry. I didn't I just had a vision in terms of what I wanted to do and create and yeah, kind of eight years later and, you know, we're now sort of two point seven bill of assets under management, which is fairly amazing when quite literally, the day I walked in, it was a desk and a phone book. And, you know, I will always pick up the phone when a cold caller rings me because I was doing that. I was literally ringing people out of the phone book. I was ringing accountants and stuff, asking them to send me work. It was a hard track. I'll give you the tape that feels [00:15:36][133.9]

Alec Renehan: [00:15:36] like one of the hardest sales calls to have to make our new financial adviser. I don't have a track record, but trust me with your money. Yeah. [00:15:43][7.5]

Charlie Viola: [00:15:44] And so and in reality, you never call it the end client. You sort of you know, I was calling sort of centers of. So I suppose trying to get people to send me their clients, and I was very fortunate that one guy who was a it wasn't like an outsource guy who did redundancy planning for executives, you know, he took the call. He listened to me. He was quite a flamboyant sort of guy. And we got on really well. And he said to me and he was from Melbourne, so it meant nothing to me. You know, in 2003 in Sydney, he said, you've got more front than Myer. Myer wasn't even in Sydney in 2003. I think we were David Jones back then. He sent me one client who then sent me another client. And then it really, to be honest, it snowballed from there. So, you know, in terms of being, you know, the best adviser, I mean, that's like sometimes that stuff's rubbish, rubbish, rubbish. That means we've maybe we filled out the survey better than others. But in reality, it's all about the client service piece. The one thing that I will hold very dear to my heart is that we're very good at getting back to people. We're very honest with everybody. You know, we're fee for service only. So, you know, we never had to sell them something. But it's all about getting to know the client best you can. And we've made a real point of that over time. [00:17:08][84.3]

Alec Renehan: [00:17:09] I think for people who are new to the world of financial advice, it might just be worth defining what the term fee for service means and then what the other business models for advisors are. [00:17:18][8.8]

Charlie Viola: [00:17:18] Yeah, so there's probably only really a couple of ways as a financial adviser that you can get paid fee for services, specifically where you state to the client that we're going to take a fee, whether it's from the assets that we're managing as a percentage or a fixed fee. But it's agnostic in terms of or it's irrelevant to the products that they're in or the investments that they've made. The other way is being paid by the products are being paid a commission. So we don't take trials or commission. We purely get paid with the clients happy to pay us, which means that the advice is always impartial. We're not there to say the word independent. It's a proscribed word under ASIC. So because, you know, we do run an insurance business in a mortgage broking business and those businesses are commission driven. So we're not allowed to say the word independent. But in terms of our investment management work, we are purely fee-for-service. [00:18:17][59.2]

Bryce Leske: [00:18:19] So, Charlie, when we were researching for this interview, we saw that you'd actually done a bit of property development with no prior experience. Pretty amazing. Are you able to share that story with us? [00:18:30][11.1]

Charlie Viola: [00:18:31] Yeah. So a lifelong friend of mine, we went to primary school in high school and been friends throughout life. He's a smash repair had in and in Camden. And he probably quickly worked out over time that capital beats labor. So, you know, classic story. So he probably realized at some point that waiting for people to kind of crash their cars into each other so that he could bang out the dents, was never going to make him wealthy. What was going to make him wealthy was using that money to go and buy the factories that he ran his business from. So he did that. He bought a factory. He was running his business from it. The block of dirt next to that factory came up for sale. And almost in jest, Phil rings me and says, oh, why don't we buy the dirt and put up three factories and can't be that hard, can it? And I said, Oh, so. And we literally had no idea what we were doing. But with the help of a local builder and a local contact, we literally we bought the dirt. We had plans drawn up for a triplex. So three factories. And if ever seen these industrial units, they're just basically big concrete boxes with three offices above the main floor. So, you know, it's not exactly feats of architectural design or anything. You know, we managed to sell one-off the plan. We managed to rent one to Bridgestone for ten years off the plan. Phil rents the other one now for his business. And it was probably a lesson for us in residential development. The industrial development that was happening was a very small pocket within a big residential development. And what we probably learned was, is that if you go and put 10000 houses somewhere, they need somewhere to have a job, which meant that what was coming to the area was a whole stack of commerce. So it kind of really worked. And that's why the prices and that's probably why the development did really well, is because as they continue to have that Rezaee development kind of go nuts where they're building, you know, four thousand four-bedroom houses with two toilets, there weren't many industrial units. So those industrial units actually did really well. As a result, our capital values went up. We sold one off the plan, which means that we covered, you know, a bunch of. The debt we're now left with, the whole stack of equity and we can kind of do it again, so again, capital beats labor every day of the week, so [00:20:59][147.2]

Alec Renehan: [00:21:00] I like that. Now, Charlie, we want to turn to talking about financial advisers and getting some lessons for the Equity Mates team and then also talking about how you go about choosing fund managers. But before we do that, we're going to take a quick break and hear from our sponsors. [00:21:14][13.9]

Bryce Leske: [00:21:16] When you are all about getting fit, you've bought the garment, you bought the golf membership, you bought the gym membership and you're on the mind MasterChef and even in lock down last year, you bought those resistance bands of Instagram that from memory didn't even come. [00:21:30][14.0]

Alec Renehan: [00:21:31] No, look, they didn't come. But all of that effort really was canceled out by the numerous menu log orders that were a real staple of my lockdown experience. [00:21:40][9.5]

Bryce Leske: [00:21:42] Well, we've just entered into a new financial year, so I think it's time you get money fit with Virgin Money, our latest sponsor. [00:21:49][7.0]

Alec Renehan: [00:21:49] That's right, Bryce. With a high interest savings account bundled with a seriously rewarding everyday transaction account, you can manage your money easily on the go smash your savings goals, and be rewarded for it. [00:22:01][12.0]

Bryce Leske: [00:22:01] And with the Virgin Money Go transaction account, you can earn rewards on your everyday spending with zero monthly fees. Sounds like just what you need, right? [00:22:11][9.3]

Alec Renehan: [00:22:11] Yeah, the FBI. Twenty one get Rhen didn't quite work, but if y 20 to get reward money, it might be to go [00:22:20][8.4]

Bryce Leske: [00:22:21] back to your own Bayt Virgin money terms and conditions and monthly criteria apply. Now let's get back to the show. [00:22:26][5.8]

Alec Renehan: [00:22:29] Certainly many in the Equity Mates community are probably on the opposite end of the spectrum for the clients that you manage, you know, early in their investing career, not yet ultra high net worth individuals. Well, on the way to becoming them, they're lucky bloke. Yeah. And I think a common question is, when is the right time to engage a financial adviser or how much money do I need to engage a financial adviser? What what would you say to those questions? [00:22:58][28.8]

Charlie Viola: [00:22:59] Yeah, and I do get asked that question a lot. Look, I think it goes in phases, you know, in terms of when you get advice on what type of advice you get. Traditionally with financial planning and when I was learning to become a financial planner, it was very much that you kind of regardless of the age of the client, you kind of had to sit down. And then, you know, the first question you had to be, what do you want to be? What do you want to retire? What level of income do you want in your retirement? And you sitting down with the twenty five year old or a 27 year old or a 30 year old. And you're asking that question. It's just dumb. So by the time you've kind of produced the modeling and got all the information, it's kind of out of date. So I think the best way to engage an adviser is to do it in phases, understand what you actually want over the next two to three years. So and understand what your goals are for the next two to three years and then go and engage someone specifically with those two or three years in mind and what I mean by that. So if it's your goal, if you're 26 or 27 and you've now got a job and you're earning more than what you're spending, which is kind of a good place to start, and suddenly you now want to get into the property market, then go and engage someone in terms of what you actually need to do to get the loan to go and invest in the property market, understand what deposit you need. If you know interest in property, but you want you know, you're wanting to build up a portfolio of shares and managed funds or liquid style, you know, financial market style investments, then sit down with someone and work out what the savings plan actually looks like. You know, how much you can be putting in every month and what type of investments are important, you know, to kind of allow that that dollar cost averaging type over time. You know, sitting down and going through that whole kind of planning process, in reality, won't benefit anybody. You know, you're going to talk about things like retirement that just won't benefit you and you're not going to get any value. So from my perspective, it's all about luck. Nobody can tell you what you want over the next two or three years. Nobody can. You know, nobody's going to kind of make that really clear in your mind. So once you know what, that is going to seek that piece of advice and it doesn't always have to be a financial adviser sometimes, you know, good people to talk to if you're looking to get into the property market and mortgage brokers, because mortgage brokers will tell you what your deposit needs to be. And then you go, right, I've got a goal in mind. I need to I need to save myself 25 grand before I can. I need to save 50 grand before I can kind of get into it, you know what I mean? [00:25:39][159.7]

Bryce Leske: [00:25:39] Mm hmm. Although sometimes, you know, a lot of people in the community don't actually know what they want. They do want to be told like, you know, over the next three years, you've got X amount of surplus income. This is sort of what you should be doing with it. They don't necessarily have a goal in mind, if that makes sense. [00:25:57][18.3]

Charlie Viola: [00:25:58] Yes. So like in that scenario, you know, the idea is to sit down with an advisor and I'll make a comment in a moment about advice and where you can kind of get that advice and actually have the options put in front of you. Okay. You know, over the next three years, you've you know, you've now got the job. You know, you're probably still living at home. You know, the magic plate, the magic basket that mum or dad produces is kind of still there. You've got more income than what you're spending. You know, you're generating an extra 1000 or 2000 or 3000 dollars a month. You know, here are your options here, the types of investments that make sense here is the process with which to do that. And in three years time, this is what it's going to look like at that point in time. You can then pivot and make a decision. You don't have to make the decision right now. But creating discipline and creating a pathway of savings makes real sense because it creates that enforced, almost enforced saving. And it will give people some peace of mind that they're doing something. Because what you tend to find is that the more you earn, you tend to float your lifestyle up. If you create discipline in your life, if you create discipline around actually physically making an investment. And when I say making investment, actually making an investment, so buying something, buying something that'll change in value over time as opposed to putting it in the saver account, which just sits next. Your main account that after you've had the big night, you and draw the money back out anyway, kind of. So busted. Yeah, because once if you actually go and buy shares or committed to commit it to a managed funds or put it in an investment portfolio, it will feel gone if that makes sense. And that's actually a good thing because it creates that deprivation, which creates the savings pattern in the savings plan. And then after having done that for a year or two and you can see a pot of money, that's the point in time where you can pivot and make a decision buying a house. Am I comfortable doing what I'm doing? You know, do you know because between 27 and 31, life might change. You might, you know, meet the girl or the boy of your dreams. You might, you know, decide that you want to move overseas for a period of time. And nobody tries to make all these lifelong decisions at once. [00:28:23][145.5]

Bryce Leske: [00:28:25] Just on the cash. But how are you thinking about cash at the moment? [00:28:28][3.0]

Charlie Viola: [00:28:29] Yeah, so we see cash in reality, as you know, as a means of keeping the powder dry to to be able to purchase other assets when opportunities exist. We kind of say it is liquidity for people who are, you know, living off the revenue source. But in reality, we're big ones for investing. So, you know, I guess I have an I've got a contrary view to most in terms of how we view risk. I don't ever view risk from a normal traditional risk profiling since, you know, traditional risk profiling would suggest that every client has to have 25 per cent cash, you know, 15 percent fixed interest and then 60 per cent kind of growth assets. That's just dumb. That just means you've got 40 percent of your money not generating reasonable returns. In reality, the way that one should see risk is the risk of impairment, not the risk of volatility. So, you know, if you've got a good quality, large cap, defensive income-producing equities portfolio, the risk of impairment on that portfolio is actually pretty low. In reality, that's the low risk part of your portfolio and it's generating income. That portfolio is also reasonably liquid. So you can get back to it if you kind of need to. But, you know, cash really should only ever be there waiting for an opportunity to be invested. Nobody ever got rich adding a dollar to another dollar to it to another dollar. You know, use your balance sheet. People like getting out and actually invest, get out and invest the money. So if we [00:29:59][89.3]

Alec Renehan: [00:29:59] turn to the other end of the spectrum, the world that you play in the world of high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals, what's it like managing money for them? Are there any lessons that you just spoke about for the beginner investor that doesn't apply when you're talking about the other end of the market? [00:30:17][18.1]

Charlie Viola: [00:30:19] Yes. So how is it investing? For me, the biggest thing or the most enjoyable pieces, it's intellectually stimulating. So when you're dealing with ultra high Nevelson, certainly my client base, which are mainly investment bankers and company CEOs, I don't have a lot of kind of old money, I guess, or inherited money in my in my client portfolio. It's intellectually stimulating because you're always kept on your toes. You know, they're smart people. But also, you know, if a client's got ten or fifteen dollars million, there's only so many Qubein BHP shares on a board for the right. So, you know, in reality, they're looking for their capital to work a little harder. They're looking for different types of investments. You know, they're looking for access to opportunities that maybe other people can't get. So I know personally, I probably spend, you know, 25 or 30 percent of my time just looking for alternate types of investments, private credit, private debt, syndicated mortgages, syndicated property, private equity, so that we can provide the client, I guess, that alternate risk premia within their portfolio, but also make sure they've got genuine diversity and not kind of, you know, having all of their money susceptible to the same to the same risks and the same kind of volatility curve, you know, over a period of time. So but also it just creates good discussion, you know, so, you know, there's lots of clients, you know, far more about financial markets than what I do. So in some ways, it's about kind of counseling them and learning from them, but it's also about creating kind of good discussion. Like, you know, I'm of the view that the University of Life is kind of the best way to learn and osmosis is kind of the best teacher. So the more you kind of talk to smart people and the more you talk to successful people, the more you pick up over time. So, you know, there's that old saying that is, you know, if I'm the dumbest bloke in the room, I'm in the right room kind of thing. [00:32:20][121.3]

Alec Renehan: [00:32:20] So I'm just thinking about the network you must have been managing investment bankers and CEOs money. Yeah, well, you have to get your phone and [00:32:29][8.7]

Charlie Viola: [00:32:30] you about you're about to ask me what's something that I've learned from them. It's the power of network. That's absolutely it. So it's the power of network. So you'd be surprised how many of my client base just happen to know each other. You know, I said before about part of my job is to go and find those alternate investments, all those different types or specific investments it seems to be nowadays. Once was an investment banker, now as a fund manager. So, you know, what tends to happen with these guys is they you know, they work for one of the big investment banks. They get very wealthy. They get kind of burnt out from doing that, but they've got a whole bunch of their own money. Then they start running their own money in their own, you know, in their own kind of portfolios and then realize they're actually reasonably good at that. So they create a fund and then they realize they need scale. So they kind of lean over the fence to the guy who lives next door in Mosman and they say, hey, I've created this fund, have been running it for myself for two years. It's really good most. The money is, in their minds over blown up. You know, we're not going to blow it up because it's my money. Why don't you invest? And then my client who's lived next door will bring it to me and says, hey, the guy next door really successful. Can we have a look at this? And the networks that these guys have got is just off the planet. You know, it's just fantastic. So and it's created that sort of network for me. That peace around having my type of client bases is all about clients referring clients. It's all about, you know, those kind of wealthy guys saying, oh, you know, my bank doesn't seem to have two heads and he seems to be able to count. So you want to go and see him kind of thing. [00:34:06][96.2]

Bryce Leske: [00:34:06] So do you have any clients looking to invest in Australia's fastest growing media company? [00:34:10][3.4]

Charlie Viola: [00:34:13] There'd be a bunch of angel investors who kind of really like this stuff, to be fair. So the answer to that, I know the question was in jest, but the answer to that is, is probably yes. But, you know, there'd be a bunch of V.C. guys. You'd be all over this sort of stuff if they saw this awesome setup in this increasingly warm room and they'd be all over it. [00:34:36][23.2]

Alec Renehan: [00:34:36] That's why we actually need to raise money to get some better air conditioning in India. So obviously, you've got a very sophisticated client base, but I'm sure there's plenty of mistakes that you see both from your high net worth clients and also just more generally across the landscape. What are some of the biggest mistakes you say and how can the Equity Mates community avoid making them? [00:34:58][21.9]

Charlie Viola: [00:34:59] Yeah, so, you know, I probably said the word diversity about five times now in this since we've been recording here. I'm a big one for diversity. The probably one common mistake that you see with most high net worth people is that heaps of their wealth tends to be tied up in one asset or one type of asset, you know, especially in CEO land. What you probably find is that a significant amount of a CEO's wealth will be tied up in the stock of the company that he's the CEO or CIO or CFO of. You know, I'm a big one for diversity. I'm a big one for people holding different types of assets. I'm a big one for making sure not all their eggs are in the ER in the same basket. So, you know, my advice to every executive when they're, you know, participating in executive schemes is when the shares vest sell them because you're only ever selling about 25 percent of your total exposure, plus, you know, your employment income is exposed to it and know your or your incentives are. [00:36:03][64.7]

Alec Renehan: [00:36:04] And so it's an interesting one because as investors and the experts we spoke to, they often say you want to see CEOs with skin in the game and you want to see them holding their shares. But I guess your advice makes sense. But it is counter to that. [00:36:18][14.7]

Charlie Viola: [00:36:19] Yeah, it is. It's absolutely Canada remembering, though, that we're asking them to sell about 25 per cent of their total exposure because whatever they can sell, number one, they got minimum holding requirements, which is generally significant. So for most CEOs, it's kind of two times General Ram, which might be anywhere from sort of two to four to six mil kind of that they have to hold. And then about probably 60 to 75 percent of what they're holding is still unvested. So it's incentive that's to be paid based on the company's performance over a period of time. We're only ever telling him to sell that little sliver at the end that becomes available to them. So at least they can meet the tax liability and, you know, go and buy other investments or, you know, resources or race cars or whatever it is that they kind of, you know, you know, want to do in the context of their kind of life. So I think the other you know, the other the other thing that you learn, I guess, from these types of clients is just to be really analytical. You know, most of these people kind of get to this point in life because they're really analytical. So, you know, the thing that I've probably learned over time is just asked far more questions of kind of everything all the time, you know, so you will find that the best CEOs and CFOs and, you know, the smartest people, they're smart because they ask questions. You know, they're not smart because they know all the answers. [00:37:47][87.7]

Bryce Leske: [00:37:48] So so you mentioned, you know, sit down with the clients and ask them their goals, understand what they sort of want to achieve over the next number of years. You look at their risk appetite. Are there any other things that you take into consideration when constructing a portfolio? [00:38:04][16.0]

Charlie Viola: [00:38:06] Yeah, so I think I think every client is subtly different. So so the asset allocation and the types of assets that we might buy will be very specific to what the client's actually trying to achieve. So if they're still accumulating wealth, if they're still working, then, you know, liquidity, not as much an issue. You know, duration risk is clearly not as much of an issue. You know, we can perhaps hold assets that are a bit more illiquid for clients that are self-funded retirees and living off the revenue that the portfolio is generating, then liquidity is a bigger issue. So, you know, self-funded retirees will hold a bigger swag of cap defensive, you know, vanilla style equities within their portfolio. Then what? Maybe somebody who's still earning a couple of million dollars a year and doesn't need the income for production, you know, they may well be more heavily invested in, you know, syndicated property or syndicated debt or some of those more alternate style assets over time. You know, again, diversity is key, but it's really just a tweaking of those things at the edges and making sure that the portfolio production or the portfolio creation over time is in the absolute context of what they're trying to achieve. We really only ever ask our clients and again, we're sort of seeing big clients, two main questions, and that is what level of passive income do you need to make work optional and at what age would you like for work to be optional? Because we never say retire, because often people don't retire because they've often got enough money by the time they're 50 or 55 or 60. But retirement for them tends to mean, you know, getting bored and going mad. Right. So they end up doing consulting work or whatever it is. But it's about the option to retire. And we very much designed the portfolio around that revenue production because that's the big one. So every year when we report to them or every six months when we report to them, we're very clear about reporting what level of revenue has the portfolio been able to generate for you? And we make sure we're working that to what their goals are. [00:40:13][127.0]

Bryce Leske: [00:40:13] Nice. So, Charlie, we'll just take a short break to hear from our sponsors before we move to a conversation around fund managers. So a key part of the financial adviser role that you play is to actually select fund managers to manage the money of your clients. What are some of the criteria that you use when assessing these fund managers? Because it's, you know, all of our community equal. You have the opportunity to select fund managers as well. So it'd be good to get your thoughts on that. [00:40:40][26.5]

Charlie Viola: [00:40:40] Yeah, and there are thousands of them right there. You know, I remember when I started to underperform. Well, yeah. I mean, I remember when I first started, you know, there might have been, you know, 50 funds or 30 funds or whatever it is. And you look at it down, you can kind of you know, it's like four pages of triple spread kind of thing. So I think there are some there are some normal ones in the kind of quote unquote process that you go through, you know, key person risk, past performance. You know, you take it for granted that all of the compliance stuff is kind of there. The really big one for me is making sure that, you know, what's on the label is actually in the bottle. So, you know, we want our managers to be absolutely true to label. You know, if they say that they are deep value manager, then be deep. Don't go and buy the tech stocks just because they're running sort of thing. If you know, so if you say that you're large industrials only manager, then, you know, don't buy BHP and Rio because, you know, we're going to acquire commodity boom kind of thing. So we want them to be true label because we're fitting them into portions of a portfolio. For the Equity Mates community, though, there are lots of really good Large-Cap defensive managers where you can be putting that 1000 or 2000 dollars a month, or in reality, you can be kind of buying ETFs to do that anyway and gaining that type of exposure. [00:42:06][85.5]

Alec Renehan: [00:42:07] How do you think about that, I guess choice between an index fund, an ETF with low fees or a large cap manager that may just be tracking the index but may be able to get some outperformance but has higher fees? [00:42:20][12.8]

Charlie Viola: [00:42:20] Yeah. So for a long time now and one of the things that we decided to do when we first started out is, you know, we don't see a heap of value in large cap defensive fund managers, to be honest, because most of the time they do worry about their tracking error. They do just tend to track the index and, you know, to charge one or two per cent to do that. You know, we don't think that that's feasible or commercial. So, you know, we're a big believer that over time, you know, all boats rise in a rising tide sort of thing. So if you want Australian shares exposure done by the ASX 200, you know, via a cheap ETF and do it every month and, you know, get the benefit of that sort of dollar cost averaging, you know, just keep putting the money in there and sort of putting it away. We believe you use fund managers who can do things you can't do and who have got the ability to produce outcomes that you can't produce. So we use them for absolute value add and very much fund managers in our portfolios tend to be satellite to the core. So the call for us is direct equities will do it ourself, international direct equities, most of it will do it ourself. In terms of individual stocks and ETFs, fund managers have to add value because we're paying them, you know, one or one and a half or two per cent. [00:43:39][78.3]

Alec Renehan: [00:43:39] So, yeah, a big question in the Equity Mates community is, is when do you sell? And I'm interested to ask this in the context of fund managers. How often are you looking to change managers, especially if they've gone through a period of underperformance? How do you make sure you're not just chasing the performance of other fund managers and chopping and changing? [00:43:59][20.4]

Charlie Viola: [00:44:00] Because we use them because we tend to only use them as satellite. We actually don't change managers that often. But what I would say in answer to the question directly, if all you're doing is investing in a large cap industrials fund or a large cap Australian share fund with, you know, one of the big names I think over after a reasonably short period of time be critical as to the outperformance versus the index when you consider the fees. And if there is no outperformance, if you're not getting any value for it, then it's time to cycle out and go and buy the ETF and it's time to. So, you know, in terms of if you're buying a fund manager for that value add, then you need to give them time because, you know, they do need to be true to label. So but after a you know, after a two year period, you need to be looking at it critically. And we certainly are looking at that stuff critically. So when we do use a fund manager for genuine value, add for exposure or diversity that we can't get, we look at it very critically against the marketplace that they're in. So, you know, large old infrastructure is hard to get access to as an Australian investor. And there's only a certain number of, you know, managers, but there are at least a couple of them. So we will look at those critically at least every kind of 24 months and make sure they are actually very. Do you think the outcomes that we're looking for [00:45:23][82.2]

Bryce Leske: [00:45:24] such before we move to the traditional final three, are there any superstar managers in Australia at the moment that you I wouldn't say recommend, but are certainly loving what they're doing at the moment [00:45:36][11.4]

Charlie Viola: [00:45:37] yet? So none of this is advice. But, yeah, there are a couple. So the first fund or fund manager we really like is he's lost his peak. So they run the Loftus Peak Global Disruption Fund fund managers, a guy called Alex Pollock. So, you know, it's a fund that's probably only got four or five years history investing in disruption's style themes, which has probably been helped. He helped a little bit by the tech outcomes over time. But, you know, not constrained by size. It's only mega cap investments. They take this kind of really good sort of 15 or 20 or 30 year view of these companies, you know, and how they're going to benefit over time. You know, returns have been really good. Alex, himself, the fund manager, is a bit quirky. You won't mind me saying that which is kind of good because you want your experts to be unequivocal right now is absolutely that. So at the other end of the spectrum, Ierace International, which is run by a guy called Stephen Arnold, who's the complete opposite to Alex, he's like a full on accountant, you know, very analytical, but he's deep value, which means that purely investing in the business doesn't care what the share price says, doesn't care what you know, what the market's saying about the company purely looking through the fundamentals at the business and wanting to invest in good quality international businesses. Again, very true to label returns have been really good, even though tech markets have sort of gone mental in other marketplaces, you know, in a few of that kind of boutique spaces. And we spent a fair bit of time looking in that sort of boutique space. You know, credit is a really difficult market to invest in and one that people don't tend to understand. So you've kind of got to be backing the jockey best you can, especially when you're investing specialist credit. So there's a group of guys called Global Credit Global Credit Investments, Stephen Scherr and Gavin Shulsky, who were former I think they were former Deloitte Deutsche Bank or something, you know, made a whole bunch of money, created their own fund. You know, they just got you to know, they've just got a really good view on credit, how it works, protecting the client capital, generating returns and then in the property space, you know, we're not a big believer in the listed rates. We think they're just about investment banks. Right. They're using balance sheet and they're kind of using they're using shareholder capital to go and buy those assets and then trade in and out of them. So they're basically investment banks. We like funds that have actually got real assets in them. So we like fund managers who are really kind of discerning about the assets that they're buying when they're buying, you know, doing the investment thesis. So there's a group here in Sydney called Kingsmead Asset Management, which we really like just because they just you know, they've done a really good job over a long period of time in choosing the right assets. You know, they tend to be single asset unit trusts, which means it's just one asset in it. So not only are you sort of backing the jock jockey, but you're backing the horse because you can see the asset, why they've bought it. You know what? Demographics are kind of pushing the returns over a period of time. So the big one is, is when you are backing the jockey, when you are backing a fund manager to do a good job for you to kind of manage the money, then you need to make sure that you're really comfortable that they know their space really well. So the hardest work that you have to do is making sure that you're really comfortable with that. So, yeah, so they're probably three or four that we really like. [00:49:18][221.0]

Alec Renehan: [00:49:19] That was great. I think we've got to crack that question out more often because we love hearing about, you know, managers that we haven't heard of before. And that's for none of which I'd do yourself [00:49:28][9.0]

Charlie Viola: [00:49:28] a favor and get Alex Pollock on you. [00:49:30][1.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:49:30] Yeah, we are sure you'll [00:49:31][1.0]

Charlie Viola: [00:49:31] be in stitches in his Corky's. Hell, yeah. [00:49:33][2.1]

Alec Renehan: [00:49:33] That's a nice one. Well, Charlie, we're almost out of time, so we want to say massive. Thank you for coming and joining us today. Hopefully, we can keep in touch. If the Equity Mates community wants to find out more about yourself or pitcher partners, where should they go? [00:49:50][16.3]

Charlie Viola: [00:49:51] Yep. So just our website and search for me. I think you can probably Google me and photos of me all will come up, but our website pitch partners dot com that is you and yeah, I think it's pretty easy these days to find people's details. You know, again, customer service and client service are a big thing for us. So if you contact us, will definitely be getting back to you, even if it's just to push you in the right direction. So and like I said before, I'm a big one for getting invested in. I'm a big one for starting that journey, even if you feel like you kind of two years prior to being able to make any major decisions in your life, you know, start the journey, start putting money away, Luke, access to this stuff, you know. You know, there are brokers out there now that will allow you to buy shares for virtually nothing. Go buy the index, go and buy these ETFs and just start accumulating wealth. [00:50:46][55.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:50:47] Yeah, yeah. I like that message. So we'll rip through the final three. The first question is, do you have any must-read books and these can be investing or otherwise. [00:50:58][10.9]

Charlie Viola: [00:50:58] Yeah, I'm not I actually I'm not a big one for reading investment books because usually I kind of go, that's rubbish and that's rubbish. You know, I think I've got three pages prepared barefoot investor and went this. [00:51:08][9.4]

Charlie Viola: [00:51:10] so I should probably somewhere running a bit. So now I'm the big one for you. If I'm reading, I'm trying to escape. So I'm actually a bit of a nerd. I'm a massive Jeffrey Archer fan. I think I've read every single word that the guy has written. So, you know, a couple of his books like As the Crow Flies and Cain and Abel and the Fourth Estate, which I think is my favorite one, which I think was loosely based on Rupert Murdoch, actually. So I, you know, on the big one for escaping and trying to compartmentalize. And, you know, so Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham, those types of things, to be honest. So I've just probably lost all my credibility. [00:51:45][34.7]

Alec Renehan: [00:51:45] No, not at all. Now, the second one, and we're trial trialing a different question this year. So fingers crossed it goes well in 60 seconds. Can you tell us what the best company you've ever come across is yet? [00:52:00][14.8]

Charlie Viola: [00:52:00] This is not advice, so it's hot and it's hard. I'd say Macquarie to be honest. Macquarie So, you know, they're so well managed, the great use of the balance sheet, great ability to kind of pivot when they kind of need to overtime, you know, from the outside. They've got a fantastic culture in terms of that kind of high-performance culture. You know, and everyone who I ever meet there has, you know, just loves the firm, just loves the joint. So, yeah, I'd say Macquarie [00:52:31][30.1]

Alec Renehan: [00:52:31] Well, I'm actually really happy with how that question when I just thought we'd get Apple, Amazon, Google over and over again. [00:52:36][5.2]

Charlie Viola: [00:52:37] Those ones as well. I don't know those ones intimately. I don't know Macquarie intimately, you know, dealing with it and dealing with people who work there. And, you know, if you look at the quality of the management in that joint, they could run any company in the world. [00:52:47][9.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:52:47] So, yeah, they are a phenomenal business. All right. And our final question, when you think back to your earlier days, you know, starting at the Commonwealth Bank, getting that thousand dollars a year of CBA shares, what advice would you give your younger self [00:53:03][15.8]

Charlie Viola: [00:53:06] from an investment perspective? [00:53:06][0.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:53:08] from a life perspective [00:53:08][0.2]

Charlie Viola: [00:53:09] I think would have been having more fun. I think it got old too quickly. But I think that the two probably big ones for me is is maybe go harder a bit earlier, to be honest, in terms of the investment, you know, using the personal balance sheet, I think, you know, when I was 22 and bought my first time and already had equity in it, I should have used it. I should have used that balance sheet. At the time, I think I was just so kind of, you know, it was drummed into me by my parents to, you know, you've got debt now. You've got to pay it off. Well, that's rubbish, right? That's been cheap my whole life. Let people go on debt so cheap now. It's been like, you know, I was twenty two, twenty years ago. So it's been cheap for the last twenty years. We should be using that balance sheet to go out and grow your wealth and use it because money makes money and the other one is love learning for the purposes of learning. I remember when I was 20 or 22 or 23, I never wanted to learn anything ever again. I just wanted to kind of get out and earn money. Now, at the ripe old age of 42, I find learning fascinating and I wish I'd kind of taken some of the insights back then. I've been really fortunate the last couple of years. I've got across to the US and done some courses at Harvard Business School at M.I.T., where you kind of get to sit in a room for a few weeks and geek out with a whole bunch of other people and just learn about, you know, how they see capital and how they see life and how they raise capital and how they value companies. And it's, you know, the learning from that perspective is just, you know, it just makes me a better advisor. It makes me a better human being. And people should always take the opportunity to learn, learn from others, learn from people that have done it, learn from people that have buggered it up. You know, like I said, the University of Life and osmosis is absolutely the best way to learn and become good at things. [00:54:48][99.8]

Bryce Leske: [00:54:49] So nice try. Well, thank you very much. Left us a lot to think with and it's been a great refreshing insight to talk to someone other than an investing expert specifically. So I know that you would have helped answer a lot of questions from the Equity Mates community. So thanks for your time. Much appreciated. [00:55:06][16.9]

Charlie Viola: [00:55:07] Yeah. Thank you for having me. [00:55:07][0.8]

Bryce Leske: [00:55:08] And just a reminder to our community that Equity Mates doesn't stop. When you're finished with this podcast, you can email us at contact at Equity Mates dot com or follow us on all the social channels or equally visit our website, Equity Mates dot com. If you are stuck for podcast recommendations, though, don't forget about getting started investing, which is for all those beginner buffet's and also the latest podcast, which is comedian The Economist, which is absolutely booming. So I head over and have a listen to that as Thomas and Adam break down the world of macro economics. But we'll leave it there. It was an absolute pleasure. And keep in touch. [00:55:42][33.9]

Charlie Viola: [00:55:42] Thank you. Nice job. Thanks, guys. [00:55:42][0.0]

[3195.9]

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