The Experts

Maureen_jordan
Maureen Jordan
Women's Business
+ About Maureen Jordan

About Maureen Jordan

Maureen Jordan holds a Bachelor of Arts (Economics) and a Law Degree (Honours) and has carved a niche in the media to balance her world of work and family.

Her company, the Switzer Group, owns divisions in media and publishing, financial services and business coaching.

During her 20 year involvement in media and publishing, Maureen has held Editor in Chief roles for esteemed publications such as Charter Magazine for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and has authored several books including Women Entrepreneurs, which she wrote for the Federal Office of Women, Small Business Start Up Guide published by Allen & Unwin and Finding And Managing Your Mortgage, Wiley Publishing.

As group publisher of Switzer Media and Publishing, Maureen has initiated and managed the publication of specialty books, magazines and content for some of the country's leading organisations. Clients include Optus, Mortgage & Finance Industry Association, IBM, Hewlett Packard, the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, AMP, IP Australia, Yahoo 7, the University of NSW and law firm Griffith Hack.

Such is Maureen's commitment to business that in 1996 she was inducted into the Australian Business Women's Hall of Fame in Melbourne, as well as being a finalist in the Sydney Business Review's Business Women of the Year 2003.

Early in her career, Maureen taught in both the secondary school system - public and private - as well as teaching at the University of New South Wales.

Maureen's knowledge of small business and the economy, combined with her legal skills, has enabled her to not only put a firm footing under her own long established business, but has also given her the credibility to assist others.

Your Questions Answered

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Q. What’s the best — a loan with a redraw facility or a mortgage offset account attached to a loan? Lucy, Taren Point, NSW.

A. An offset account is an account linked to your home loan in such a way that it reduces the amount of interest you have to pay. With a mortgage offset account, you don’t earn interest on your savings but the interest on your savings is used to reduce the amount payable on the loan. Let’s say you have a loan at 5% and an interest rate of 5% on the offset account. If you had $50,000 banked in the account, the $2,500 worth of interest would be deducted off your total interest repayments. So if your loan repayments were supposed to be $20,000 a year, she would only pay $17,500. And because she doesn’t earn interest, there’s no tax slug. Clearly, these mortgage offset accounts work better the more money you have in them. Also you can take money out more easily, provided you keep meeting your monthly repayments. With a redraw facility, you can put extra amounts in but redrawing can sometimes have restrictions on them. Both a mortgage offset and a redraw facility mean that the extra amount you link to your loan reduces the principal owed before interest charges are calculated. Also, some lenders add on fees for these services so you might pay higher effective interest rates because of these extras.

Q. Are there any catches I should be aware of with low interest credit cards? Angie, Windsor, VIC.

A. The lowest credit card rate I could find was Nexus Mutual Low Rate Platinum Credit Card, which has an interest rate on purchases of 6.64%. The real rate is a little higher because there’s an annual fee of $49. If you transfer a balance of debt from another card, there’s a 0% charge for 12 months. Other catches are there is no interest-free period and a $10 late payment fee. You can’t use BPAY to make payments nor an ATM but you can pay on the phone. Oh yes, there’s a limit between $6,000-$8,000. Most of the information you need to make up your mind is available online. These cards don’t offer all the bells and whistles of cards that give you points for flying or buying ‘stuff’ but they do the job and the rate of interest is low compared to others that can slug you with a 20% plus interest rate!

 

What me? Caught watching X-rated videos.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

On Wednesday I received an email that had the subject heading “maureen – george”. 

(The bad grammar has not been changed to not protect the dummies who send these pathetic emails!)

I get a lot of emails but the name George is very special to me so combined with my name I opened this one, even though I’d never heard the name of the sender.

“I know george is your pass. Lets get straight to the purpose. There is no one who has paid me to investigate about you. You do not know me and you are most likely thinking why you are getting this mail?”

Indeed, I was thinking just this. Full of typos as this email was, I was a tad worried as I did have a “pass” that I use for general log in social purposes that has the name of my much loved black Labrador in it – so while the password wasn't the full one, I was intrigued how the word “george” was known. 

The unsolicited email continued:

“Well, i actually placed a software on the adult streaming (sex sites) web-site and there's more, you visited this web site to experience fun (you know what i mean). While you were viewing videos, your browser began operating as a RDP having a key logger which provided me with access to your screen and also web cam. Just after that, my software program gathered your entire contacts from your Messenger, Facebook, and e-mailaccount. Next i created a double video. 1st part shows the video you were viewing (you've got a nice taste ; )), and next part displays the view of your web cam, and its u.”

Now I always try to see the lighter side of things so I looked over the top of my glasses and said jokingly to my rather well-known partner: “Have you been logging into these porn sites with my password?” Wondering what I meant (but not denying it!), he sat closer to me to see what I was reading. 

“You have just two choices,” the email from the mysterious Robbyn Opanasets (ogojannaplf@outlook.com) continued. “Let us review these choices in details:”

Well I probably should have bailed out at this point. Curiosity is supposed to kill the cat but I’ve never seen one die by this means, so I read on:

“Very first solution is to just ignore this email. Then, i most certainly will send your very own recorded material to each one of your contacts and also think concerning the awkwardness you will get. and likewise should you be in a romance, how this will affect?”

Mmmm…bad grammar but seriously, would my contacts really be startled by what the email described as “you’ve got a nice taste” selection? So I continued reading!

“in the second place solution would be to give me 7000 USD. i will name it as a donation. as a consequence, i most certainly will straight away discard your video. You can keep your life like this never happened and you would never hear back again from me.” 

Mmm…donation. I wonder if that would be tax deductible? I should call Fred (my accountant) about that but let me see where this is going…

“You'll make the payment via Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search 'how to buy bitcoin' in Google). BTC address to send to: 1EzcNKDed7XpcEb2LRrx4U8WrHf8dRecQS 

[CaSe-SeNSiTiVe so copy & paste it]. 

“if you may be making plans for going to the police, good, this e-mail can not be traced back to me. I have dealt with my moves. i am just not trying to ask you for very much, i would like to be compensated. You now have 48 hours to pay. i've a special pixel within this email, and at this moment i know that you have read this message. if i don't get the BitCoins, i will certainly send out your video recording to all of your contacts including members of your family, colleagues, etc. However, if i do get paid, i will destroy the video right away. if you need evidence, reply Yup then i will certainly send out your video recording to your 12 friends. it is a nonnegotiable offer, that being said please do not waste mine time and yours by responding to this message.”

Payment by bitcoin? Not sure if I know how to do this but Peter might be able to help. Could I trust Robbyn though to “destroy the video right away”? So many things to think about…

Now you know that I’m taking the mickey out of this scammer and 48 hours have passed and my family haven’t called me in disgust at my new found past time. But these kinds of emails are disturbing, and could suck in some people. 

After writing yesterday about a young woman who was actually ensnared by a scammer, I received comments from readers that said:

“Q. What is done to arrest or curtail these scammers and fraudsters?

A. Nothing.

The ATO knows it is going on but it is too difficult to track down. The scammers are on Skype or VOIP. It appears that Interpol is not interested because it is happening in other countries as well e.g. USA.”

I’ve been talking with police and others who deal in cyber crime and in the next episode of “Meet the Scammer” I’ll try to get answers to the question immediately above. Are these fraudsters as elusive as Osama Bin Laden? Why can’t they be found? Stay tuned! 

 

Want more out of life? Try these 7 things

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Start the week with a positive attitude. Yesterday’s gone. Tomorrow never comes. All you have right now is “the now” so toss yourself into it. Start developing good habits today. Write down your goals for the week. Check your progress each evening and revisit your goals every morning. Here are 7 simple steps to success:

1. Go online and commence a yoga course, learn a new language, take a surfing lesson. Commence a good habit now that will help you develop physical and/or mental fitness. Get your online or paper calendar out and put the weekly lessons/times into your diary. Do this for just one month and build a habit slowly if you must. “When you schedule it, it’s real,” says performance coach Anthony Robbins.

2. Get out of your own skin. Talk to people. Ask them about their weekend. Show genuine interest by listening not talking about yourself. Ask more questions. Watch how happy successful people interact with others and learn to mimic their behaviour until it becomes more natural to you.

3. Never think of yourself as too old, too fat, too depressed to get out and do things that will make you happy and give you a better life. “Create a vision and never let the environment, other people’s beliefs or the limits of what has been done in the past shape your decisions. Ignore conventional wisdom, ” says Robbins.

4. Go for a walk/run during your lunch break. Most offices have showers if you do decide to do something more strenuous. Sit by the ocean, the river, in a park. Take in your natural surroundings. Come back refreshed for an afternoon of solid work and learning.

5. Pass by the fatty foods, canned soft drinks, sugar filled treats for real food and water that your body needs. Go now and listen to Dr Ross Walker’s excellent videos on health and well being on this website. The guy is a walking, talking medical genius and funny to boot.

6. Call a friend or someone you haven’t seen for a while and book in a time to meet. Have you ever said to someone “We must catch up,” but you’ve never called? Start following up – or don’t tell people you’d like to see them in the first place if you don’t mean it. Keep your word.

7. Toss out 3 things you’ve been hanging on to for no good reason. Unclutter your life bit by bit.

Keep repeating steps 1 to 7 until they become habits that will lift your performance and your well being. Remember, the person who doesn’t think they need better habits, better skills and a happier life is the person who desperately needs to embrace change.

 

I’m from the ATO and I’m coming to arrest you.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

This is Part 1 of our story on scamming and the financial and emotional effects it has on innocent Australians. Only the names have been withheld to protect the innocent. 

“I was left a voicemail message from a man claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office,” Ms X said.

“The voicemail stated the Australian Tax Office had found a fraudulent amount in my tax from 2012-2017, a mistake made by either myself or my previous employer. I was told they had sent out a warrant for my arrest. The scary thing is, these people knew my name, date of birth, my home address, and even where I work (which isn’t advertised anywhere public).

“I immediately rang this number back, as I didn’t think scams normally leave a voicemail.

These people continued to tell me I had to pay an amount of $4,000 to erase the warrant. I immediately panicked, as I didn’t have this amount in my immediate bank account, and all reasonable thoughts went out the window.”

Ms X was told to go to an ANZ bank and deposit the money straight into a specified account.

“I thought it sounded very official, as I kept being transferred to people who I thought were solicitors. I also went into absolute panic mode, as at the beginning of the conversation I was told my phone had been tapped and that I couldn’t tell anyone, otherwise I would be arrested straight away.” 

Ms X tried to call the ATO to confirm the call but was placed in a queue, and her anxiety was intensifying.

“I waited on the phone for over 20 minutes and didn’t want to risk if this was true, so I hung up from being in a queue to the ATO and rang the number back. What was truly sickening about this call, is that I was in absolute hysterics, crying and hyperventilating to these people on the phone, thinking I was about to get arrested.

“I was told “it’s fine, darling, just take deep breaths, as long as we’re on the phone to you no-one can harm you”. 

Ms X said that on reflection, the thought that people could still go through with this, while someone was so distressed, disgusts her.

“The scammers “settled” for a much lesser amount after three hours of being in absolute hysterics on the phone to them,” she said.

Miss X learned later that this was indeed a scam and has since spoken to the police and the ATO. While wanting to remain anonymous, she asked that her story be told because she didn’t want this to happen to someone else.

Tomorrow’s story involves an innocent woman who was told that she’d been caught watching X-rated movies and would be publicly exposed if she didn’t pay up! These are true stories. The author asks: what is done to arrest or curtail these scammers and fraudsters?

 

Firm spending in the lead-up to Christmas

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Last week I was in the Baytree, an upmarket homewares shop in Sydney’s east, described on Facebook as “an institution in kitchenware and dining, a mecca to delight every cook.”. Owned for many years by a long-standing friend of mine, who works tirelessly like most small business owners, Susan went through the movement from store to online shopping, braved the challenges that the GFC put before us, battled gruesome landlords and engaged in the endless search for great staff. And she lives to tell the tale, one that has seen a smile on her face of late. When I asked her how business was, she nodded continuously and said, for the first time in few years, “Great.” And with more nodding. “Yes, great.” 

One swallow doesn’t a summer make, that’s true. But this morning I opened my emails to find a report out from the Commonwealth bank that led with the title “Firm spending in the lead-up to Christmas.”

In the last few days, like me, you might have noticed that shoppers are out there engaging in Christmas festivities. Hairdressers are booked out (I know this because the recent humidity has turned my mop into a ball of frizz and I’m needing some help on this front). Restaurants have no space. Have you tried to book an airline flight recently? Good luck! Cabs whizz by and shops are full of people, if not buying then at least browsing. 

“Consumers and businesses continue to spend. The strength of the broader economy, especially the job market, is supporting spending as is positive sentiment and benign inflation,” the Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator (BSI) reported.

“The growth pace started lifting in March 2017 and over the period from November 2017 to July 2018 the BSI consistently recorded monthly gains of between 0.9-1.3% a month. Growth in sales has held between 0.6-0.8% a month for the past four months, still above the long-term average pace of 0.4%,” it went on.

The BSI is obtained by tracking the value of credit and debit card transactions processed through the Commonwealth Bank merchant facilities. It includes transactions made at traditional retail establishments such as supermarkets, clothing stores and cafes and restaurants. The Indicator also covers businesses such as airlines, car dealers and utilities such as water and electricity companies as well as motels, business, professional and government services and wholesalers. So it’s fairly comprehensive and more regular.

Hopefully, retailers are encouraged by recent spending trends in the lead-up to Christmas. And while you might think this buoyancy will put pressure on domestic interest rates to rise, AMP is still of the belief that the next movement in rates will be down, while CommSec continues to expect stable interest rate settings until late in 2019.

 

The accidental investor

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Meet AC-2, a talented young individual who started at Switzer with a lot of knowledge about film, video and photography and an attitude of team work and positivity. AC-2 had been employed by a multinational company but was looking for a change. They say it takes a genius to spot talent and I saw the talent in AC-2 from the get go – so read what you want into that!

We hired AC-2 on attitude and for that he got a big tick. As for knowledge about finance, much to his Dad’s lament, there just wasn’t much there – though he’s the rule not the exception. His job was behind the camera not in front like Peter Switzer so we didn’t see that as a problem.

At the interview he did intimate that he had a willingness to learn, and that’s exactly what he has done.

Last Friday, after filming our inaugural education class on the previous Tuesday, AC-2 announced that before Christmas he was going to buy an exchange traded fund.

This a guy who had no idea what an ETF was until he started hanging out with Peter and Paul (Rickard) with a pile of camera gear and lights. However, he had two characteristics that were always going to help him win.

The first was that he was aspirational and the second, he has a willingness to change, which of course, keeps him open to positive influences of a Switzer kind.

There’s an old proverb with a modern take that goes like this: “Keep company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined.”

AC-2 has not only hung out with a wise Switzer and Rickard, he’s had the benefit of filming and listening to the likes of Gerry Harvey, Tim Gurner, Charlie Aitken, Shane Oliver, Geoff Wilson and countless successful investors and entrepreneurs and he has been learning from some of the best.

And there’s been a family pay-off, with his admission that he and his Dad are now talking investments. I can’t recall who first made this clever observation but it’s so appropriate to the story of AC-2. “A young man should have a hobby and collecting money is a real good one.”

Few of us increase our wealth through luck and when you look at the Rich List, few have got theirs from being a CEO of a public or private company, unless they were big owner/shareholders.

The Rich Lists in The Australian shows wealth comes from starting businesses, investing in property, IT and other assets such as shares.

AC-2 has been paid to hang out with some of the best money collectors this country has seen. And he often hears Peter quote the famous line from the comedian Sophie Tucker, who once reflected on her life and said: “I’ve been rich. I’ve been poor. Rich is better.”

We can learn about investing many ways. Most people can learn to be independently wealthy if they’re exposed to the right kind of influences.

 

Lest we forget

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Last Sunday was a beautiful sunny day in the small country town of Blackheath, less than two hours drive west of Sydney. On the second Sunday of the month, there’s a growers market that attracts suppliers and health-oriented customers from all the bordering towns. We spend a fair bit of time in the Blue Mountains and particularly in Blackheath – it’s a relatively short drive but a far cry from the hectic pace of Sydney life.

It was also a Day of Remembrance, a day we call Armistice Day.  It marked the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War 1, described by H.G. Wells in 1914 as “the war to end all wars”.

In this small park, the monthly venue for this alternative market, stood Corporal Tom Newkirk. The shrine of Remembrance borders the park and the highway and as we strolled near it, with our bags full of organic fruit and vegetables, our sour dough hand-kneaded bread, sugar-free fig and chocolate jam and other products carefully made with the same care of a bygone era, the crowd was gathering. It quickly became obvious that speeches were about to begin and Corporal Newkirk, who fought for his country in Afghanistan, dressed in uniform decorated with numerous honours, obvious signs of courage in battle, stepped towards the microphone to begin his tribute to those who had fallen, giving us the ability to stroll peacefully around markets, sipping coffee and listening to music.

Tom Newkirk joined the Army later than most, at 26, but it had always been in his family. His father, both grandfathers, grandmother and great grandparents all served their country.

This is Tom’s speech:

“I feel very privileged to be speaking on this Remembrance Day. The 100th Anniversary of Armistice day. Where on the 11th of the 11th 1918, the guns fell silent after four horrific years of war.

We’re here today to honor our heroes, to remember their achievements, their courage and their dedication, and to say thank you for their sacrifices. Thinking of the heroes who join us in this group today and those who are here only in spirit, a person can’t help but feel awed by the enormity of what we encounter. We stand in the midst of patriots and the family and friends of those who have nobly served.

The Greek philosopher Thusidides once said, “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”

The service members we honour today came from all walks of life, but they shared several fundamental qualities. They possessed courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity – all the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than one’s self.

They didn’t go to war because they loved fighting. They rose to the call to be part of something bigger than themselves. They were ordinary people who responded in extraordinary ways in extreme times. They rose to the nation’s call because they wanted to protect a nation which has given them, us, so much.

In my early military years in training as a solider and then as combat medic, I trained hard alongside so many good mates, and, this is where I met my wife. Military life wasn’t easy. It tested me. The extreme heat, the heavy backpacks and rifles, the extremely long hours and the time away from family and friends. It was in the Army I learned about resilience, fortitude, pride, courage and integrity. About Comradeship, brotherhood and my new-found military family.

Later I served in Afghanistan with the Australian Special Forces, deploying with the 2nd Commando Regiment and again found myself away from my family and friends, in the heat, carrying extremely heavy loads and fighting alongside my brothers. I was now married and expecting my first child, a son. It was in Afghanistan I probably came closest to experiencing what the soldiers who had gone before me a long time ago experienced, however the conditions of my service when compared to theirs was very different. We had regular food, sanitary water, regular resupply of ammunition and other stores and were able to be relieved from the front line at a moment’s notice. Upon return to Australia, we have been treated with compassion and cared for by the Defence Force…. Another crucial component of service not afforded the Australian heroes that served before me. But today is not about me.

On this Remembrance Day, I’m reminded that we share one crucial thing…we both took into battle the values and ideals that we as Australians hold dear today. For example, the importance of teamwork and the way we look out for each other; The Australian sarcastic humour; the opportunities we have to teach our children; a community fresh food market; a BBQ and a beer.

My time away reinforced my belief that this country we live in, is the best country in the world.

Today, people throughout our country will gather together to remember, to honour, and to pay gratitude to those who have served our country. Our gathering is just one small spark in the flame of pride that burns across the nation today and every day. It’s not a lot, but it’s one small way we can honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live in freedom.

Your presence here today and that of the people gathering all across Australia is a tribute to those lost troops and to their Families.

It is a way to say, we remember you.

From the Soldiers who shivered and starved through the winter, crouched in the muddy trenches of France, to the platoon who patrolled the hazy jungles of Vietnam, and the young man or woman patrolling the mountains between Indonesia and Afghanistan, we remember and honor them all.

In short, I would like to remember what they fought for. They fought for this country, Australia.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak, and I can say I’m proud to be Australian and to have served for my country alongside those who have gone before me but never came home.

We will remember them. Lest we forget.”

It would take a hard heart not to be moved by such words from a young man who risked his life so we can stroll freely.  I know we say and hear “Lest we forget” on occasions such as Anzac Day and Armistice Day but for the rest of my life I will never forget Tom Newkirk, who took me out of my daily complacency to think about the heroes who have gone out to meet danger for us — a danger I’d not thought about deeply until the 11th of the 11th in a park in Blackheath. Financial markets rise and fall. Prime Ministers and Presidents come and go. But men and women who face the horrors of war and too often fall, should never be forgotten.

 

Pre-Cup Pony Tales

Monday, November 05, 2018

Are you one of those people who leans in to other people’s conversations? Do you find yourself accidentally listening to the strangest stories on buses, trains, trams, movies theatres etc. that lure you in, even though you know you’re trespassing? 

People who become an uninvited party to other people’s conversations are called eavesdroppers. Under California Penal Code 632, eavesdropping is a crime, can be prosecuted as a misdemeanour or felony and can carry up to several years in state prison! And in Utah, it’s also illegal to trespass with the intent to eavesdrop.

Down under, Aussies can eavesdrop at leisure, with the only possible consequence being filthy stares from those into whose chatter you intrude, if you’re caught. Of course, it’s illegal to record a conversation between parties without their consent and you can understand the criminal nature of the act, if you deliberately stood under the eaves of someone’s home with the purpose of hearing information that could be used for no good purpose. I can wear that. 

But if someone was sitting innocently in the foyer of a plush Melbourne hotel (as I was a few years back ahead of Cup Day) and accidentally overheard a conversation (that led my ‘worse’ half to win a small fortune on the GGs) well, surely they wouldn’t be imprisoned for that?

Let me put my case before you, and you be the judge. 

Here I was on this typical Melbourne racing Carnival day, waiting for Pete to finish a speech he was giving to ‘adoring’ fans. I flew down from Sydney to meet him and we’d planned an OTT weekend (that’s “over the top” and it’s the way I like to spend my breaks) outside the city. I’d booked it, so it was bound to be special, with a hefty price tag attached!

While sitting in the hotel lobby, I realised I was in the company of race goers – all dolled up to the nines, with those crazy half-hat, half-headband fascinators, which never cease to surprise me how aptly named they are.

One lady, who looked particularly fascinating, was directing flowers, chocolates and champagne by the crate load to various rooms, instructing the eager hotel staff to place them in numerous suites in correct positions. A celebration was in toe and my curiosity juices were flowing. This particular woman spoke so loudly that it wasn’t a case of me eavesdropping, more a case of her not been discreet. And maybe I should have tuned out but I was keen to know the reason for the planned festivity. When her loud voice dropped to whispers, I admit I started leaning in – and perhaps this is where I could have been done under 632 of the above code. All was revealed in those few minutes of sotto speech and I had this gut feeling that I was onto a winner.

Armed with my ‘inside’ information, I positioned myself far from the maddening crowd and watched the happenings from a distance.

When Switzer arrived, I grabbed him by the arm, dragged him out of the hotel, pulled his ear closer to my mouth and whispered “Find a TAB and back number 4 in the 9th at Flemington”. He was astounded, as I’d never shown any interest in the GGs but like the good man he is, he did what he was told. 

The horse romped home, we pocketed our winnings and celebrated in style in our out-of-town getaway, returning home with a fist full of dollars. Howzat!

My second pony tale has nothing to do with eavesdropping, more with listening. Again I was meeting Switzer but this time we’d been invited to a function at the Inglis stables at Randwick. As Pete couldn’t get there on time (doing another infernal speech!), I went along to a pre-lunch treat, where a small group sat in the stands while the horse trainer, Chris Waller, spoke for 30 minutes. I’d never heard the name Waller before but found him and his story leading up to his success so inspirational. At the very end, by popular request, Chris gave us his tip for the day’s race meet. When Peter arrived, I told him that I’d been completely engrossed in the speech by this amazing horse trainer. Of course, Peter knew him but smiled when I revealed that Waller’s suggestion was to follow the progress of this mare (which sounded something like Blink), the likes of which Waller said he’d never seen before. This was in the days when the odds on this neddy (her name was actually Winx!) were still in a punter’s favour. An initial bet was placed on this magnificent filly and over time, we made several trips to the TAB to collect, until the old racing maxim of “don’t run down stairs and don’t bet odds on” influenced our occasional try at what the great Aussie author, Frank Hardy, called a “four-legged lottery.”

So what’s the moral of my pony tales? Well, if you’re going to be an eavesdropper, don’t waste time tuning into those who don’t have anything valuable to say! And if you’re in California or Utah, don’t get caught eavesdropping, if you want to avoid the slammer!

Good luck in the Cup tomorrow. If I overhear some good oil, I’ll be sure to let you know!

 

Put the bat down, Wendy

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Have you ever been treated so poorly by a business when you have a genuine complaint that it flicks on your anger switch? The way some businesses treat a complaining customer can really stir anger in an otherwise mild-mannered individual.

If temperatures do start to rise, who’s at fault? Should the business just expect a reaction when they’ve treated a customer’s complaint with indifference? Or should the customer be controlled and prepared and calmly sock it to them rather than threaten to clobber the business, metaphorically speaking of course!

According to a study by Dr Kiju Jung, senior lecturer and marketing professor Donnel Briley at the University of Sydney Business School, consumers who complain politely about faulty goods or services are more likely to get a satisfactory response than those who get angry. 

The Sydney Uni duo said they conducted the research because they wanted to “turn marketing on its head.”

“Marketing is generally about how businesses persuade consumers to love their product; to buy their product.

“The question we wanted answered was: how do consumers effectively persuade companies to give them restitution when they are unhappy.

“We found that parents are right when they say that it’s important to be polite and when you are not, you often don’t get what you are looking for.

“When you are angry you convey all of the wrong type of emotional tones to the recipient. You have to bear in mind that there are humans on the other end of the interaction. The more irritation you direct at a person or their organisation, the less likely they are to see your point of view,” Professor Briley explained.

Dr Jung added that anger rarely works but “sometimes it can be effective if you get really mad in some face-to-face interaction. 

“Store managers may just want to avoid the situation as soon as possible and give you what you want. But going mad usually doesn’t help.”

After analysing more than 200,000 complaints about services and products in the US finance sector, the study found that customers were more likely to get favourable treatment, if they provided lots of detail in support of their complaint.

“Business decisions are usually made based on facts and supporting record.

“The longer the narrative is, the longer the written complain, the more likely it is that you are going to get restitution,” said Dr Jung.

Professor Briley and Dr Jung chose to study customer relations in the financial services sector because of the “pivotal role” it plays in the life of most families.  

“We are talking about mortgages; we are talking about banking; we are talking about large amounts of money that can cause large amounts of financial stress,” said Professor Briley. “A successful complaint that is able to get some sort of financial restitution can be tremendously important to individuals and to families.”

Dr Jung added that around 80% of complaints in the US financial services sector failed to win any form of compensation.

“It is important to treat people the way you would want to be treated,” the researchers concluded. “If you have a complaint, be thorough. Make sure you properly lay out your case in terms of what the problem is but don’t convey anger. You want to retain politeness.”

A contrasting view is held by a seasoned speaker and trainer in the customer service area. Since 1985, at over 2500 conferences and meetings, Martin Grunstein has been presenting and training businesspeople to increase their profitability through improved customer service. While the University of Sydney Business School advised the consumer to be nice, Grunstein has always been a crusader for the business to be nice to its customers. 

“It is obviously true that if you are nicer when complaining and people find you easy to deal with they will try to help you more. BUT as I am a business advocate rather than a consumer advocate, I believe that whether the customer is nice or not, they should still receive quality service in all areas including complaints,” he said.

Grunstein studied Psychology and Marketing at the University of NSW. He spent four years in sales and marketing with Colgate-Palmolive before setting up his own business, consulting to the broad spectrum of businesses on how to provide outstanding customer service.

“There is no law that says customers have to be nice for us to deal with them. If we deal with these people poorly, even if they are unpleasant, the revenge they can exact through word-of-mouth and social media can be very damaging and when people listen to their stories or read their posts, they believe them, even if they are exaggerating or lying.

“If you choose to go into business, not every one you deal with will be “nice”. Accept that, deliver quality service and enjoy the success that come from that,” he concludes. 

If you are at the receiving end of poor treatment by an uncaring business, maybe a better line, to quote Jack Torrance from the Shining once again, could be: “You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in.” But perhaps they could send the police to arrest you so best to avoid lines like that and keep calm and prepared, like the good professors in the above study suggest! 

 

Crazy rich Asians + the Aussie property market.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Saturday three weeks ago proved to be a warm one in Melbourne, where anyone who’s spent time in this world-class city knows that living in hope for continuous bursts of good weather is living in vain. 

My buddy and I love the place and choose to spend every week living between two great Australian metropolises to tell the tales of each. This particular Saturday, we wandered down Ferrars St from our place in Albert Park, cut through South Melbourne markets (grabbing a burek as we passed from the ‘cash only’ strict owner of the outlet that boosts us with carbs) to get us to Flinders Lane in the heart of the city. These precincts are property hot spots for Melbournians, full of cafes, period houses and proximity to just about everything.

My mate had already convinced me that the film, Crazy Rich Asians, awarded 99 points from critics including the harsh taskmaster Rotten Tomatoes, was worth watching. His two bad calls of late led me to inform him that three strikes and he’d be ousted from his Saturday selection post (maybe even ousted from his abode if he gets too bad). Luckily for him, he still holds this coveted position of ‘who in the Switzer household gets to pick the flick’.

Small theatres can add a certain appeal to film watching. You get to see audience reaction and the room full of young Asians was filled with intermittent laughter as the crazy antics of these rich older Asians emerged. No doubt they found many things the film explored close to home.

Nothing in the film fell into the exclusive territory of crazy rich Asians. Parents and even grandparents thinking they have the right to interfere in the mate selection process of their offspring is nothing new. Just ask Romeo and Juliette!

What the film captured was the wealth, the extravagance and the property portfolios of Asians in Singapore and Malaysia. And it’s this wealth and desire to secure property abroad that is the focus of several businesses that have sprung up here in Australia.

Monika Tu is no crazy rich Asian. Tu’s property services company smooths the way for high net worth Chinese investors and immigrants coming down the Yellow Brick Road to Oz.

With Black Diamondz, I created a concierge service to provide new migrants, predominantly from China, personalized assistance to help them settle into the Australian lifestyle. I noticed that while many real estate agents were happy to sell Chinese migrants a luxury property, they were not providing them with what they really needed: assistance in integrating into the community.  My team and I help our clients navigate the challenges new migrants face.  Anything from finding the right schools for their children, introducing them to relevant business connections and connecting them with like-minded people.  Finding a home is one thing but creating a life for your family is another and we are the best at doing this for our clients,” she said.

Tu is well placed to comment on what’s happening on the Australian property scene.In the past five years, I’ve witnessed a change to the investment landscape for my buyers, yet only a small change for my buyers wishing to live here in Australia.  These buyers represent the majority of the clients I work with.  My buyers are generally looking for a friendly and safe neighborhood, in close proximity to good schools and amenities.  The trends extend to the business opportunities in the areas as well as the potential resell value,” she added.

With the market falling, most Australians know that there are buying opportunities in certain suburbs in particular.  The majority of my Asian buyers are looking for established homes in sought after areas such as the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, Mosman, the North Shore and Upper North Shore.  They want properties that are relatively low maintenance yet still offer the lifestyle they crave.”  

I asked Tu what drives Asian buyers in their selection of where to buy real estate. “A big factor when it comes to migrants purchasing property in Australia is the Significant Investor Program Visa (SIV Visas).  Since the program’s launch in November 2012, there have been 2,022 of these visas handed out and each of the holders is given the right to buy property here in Australia.  These new arrivals are generally looking for properties in excess of $5 million.  The SIV program contributes extraordinarily to the Australian economy and has delivered over $10 billion in complying investments to Australia since it began!

But Tu admitted that there has been a slowdown in the investments market, mainly due to the changes in government policy both here in Australia and in China. 

The residential market will continue to be strong as long as we continue to offer a world class lifestyle and a safe environment.  Australia is in a unique position for the Chinese, as it has all they are looking for within a relatively short flight from home, making it ideal for business people looking for a better lifestyle for their families,” she said.

Despite the residential market slowing for Asian buyers, Tu sees buoyancy elsewhere. “We are starting to see the institutional and private companies show strong interest in commercial, industrial and retail real estates.  In the next year, Black Diamondz will focus on these areas,” she said.

Spoken like the award-winning entrepreneur Monika Tu actually is.

 

MORE ARTICLES

Oh no, caught again, this time “soloing”.

All my friends are getting married

Malcolm called Wentworth

Want to be richer and more confident?

Coles splits from Wesfarmers

Do we really care about first homebuyers?

Interest rates: up, down or stay the same?

Mortgage stress: who’s feeling it the most?

We built this business on rock‘n’roll

The Voice and The Biggest Loser

The return of the ‘nasty little bitch’

Who’s the “nasty little bitch”?

Do you suffer from FoMo?

The Apple of your eye

Meet the woman behind Peter Switzer

Our 10 money rules for Christmas

Summer reads - what I'm reading now

Give shopkeepers a chance

An artless response to Clover's Cloud

Make an impression

On super

Beyond politics

The idiot box

The babysitter's club

A brush with celebrity

The politics of politics – tall poppies and Stepford wives

Men behaving badly

Is the RBA acting in your interest?

The magazine whisper

Sliding doors and business breaks

Big business behaving badly

Help! You need somebody

A little less conversation

A Russh of business

A bite out of the Big Apple

The elephant in the room

Gail Kelly - superwoman or simply a super banker?

Are you being served?

Equal of any man - but what about any woman?

Handle the truth

Take the credit

Table for one

Independance, at all levels

The Cinderella complex

The crying game

Sex, lies and blog posts

Women in focus

Look what they done to my brain, Ma

Sisters are doin’ it to themselves

Gimme, gimme, gimme (a man after midnight)

Bonfire of the Vanities

Never miss a sale

Get up, stand up

From orphan to entrepreneur extraordinaire

Why do women shy from the limelight?

Ms Entrepreneur