READ - What to do before picking a winner?
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Your advice today is coming from Erika Jonsson. Erika is Six Park Finance’s Head of Communication. She is an accomplished storyteller who has worked in writing and editing for more than 15 years. She studied journalism at RMIT and has worked in rural and suburban newsrooms as well as for the Victorian Government as a ministerial policy adviser. Erika loves travelling and running, and is an avid reader.
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As part-owner of a handful of promising horses, Grant Austin takes even more of an interest in Spring Racing Carnival than most punters.
“It’s always a fun time of year,” Grant says.
In March 2017, he and two friends bought a five per cent stake in four-year-old filly Aloisia, a Thousand Guineas winner who racked up eight group 1 races last season. The same friends share an interest in another horse, while Grant and his wife (pictured below) own a share of three further horses.
“I think my wife’s probably more interested in the racing than I am now,” he laughs.
Grant classifies his equine interests as a hobby rather than an investment. He says it’s important to ensure your financial foundations are stable before considering anything risky.
“I believe in a full, balanced approach – I’m willing to take calculated risks at times, but only because I know that I have a solid foundation. I’ve been lucky with owning horses so far, but never went into it expecting to make money.”
The Austins’ solid foundation comes in the form of a self-managed super fund (SMSF) established almost 18 months ago. Grant says he and his wife had been thinking about managing their own super for a long time but needed to make sure their balance was cost-effective – something that was harder before the advent of low-cost SMSF offerings.
“I wanted the flexibility that comes with making your own decisions – I know enough to want to look after my own investments, but I needed to be able to do that in a low-cost environment.”
The Austins use Six Park and its administration partner for their SMSF, and Grant also has a separate investment account with Six Park.
“It’s been really good – I feel much closer to what’s going on, I’m more connected, and I look at my returns more often because it’s easy to do. Super used to be this thing that we never saw, except when we got annual statements. Now we can see it working and building and want to put more into it, rather than feeling annoyed that it was being taken out of our pay.”
The Austins have achieved about 11% returns since setting up their accounts, aided largely by exposure to global shares. They are also saving several thousand dollars a year on fees compared with their previous retail and industry funds.
Grant began his career at an accounting firm, where he met his wife Linda during their graduate year. He worked in mergers and acquisitions (M and A) before a stint in digital solutions for Coles that led to his current role as head of Australian operations for a US-based digital marketing company.
It was his M and A background that led him to Six Park, via a triathlon connection to Six Park CEO Pat Garrett.
“Pat and I had similar backgrounds and we’d talk shop while we were training,” Grant recalls. “As the business started to develop I was really interested in the concept and I saw it as a more balanced way to invest than property, which feels overvalued at the moment.”
As for his carnival tips, Grant suggests keeping an eye on Gregorian Chant on Oaks Day (noting he’s probably a bit biased given his interest in her) and also thinks Avilius is well priced in early markets for the Caulfield Cup.
“Attorney’s another horse to watch out for, but more likely for next year’s Melbourne Cup Festival.”