The Experts

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.

The Apple of your eye

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Apple has been named as Australia’s top employer in the 2018 Randstad Employer Brand Research, with technology outshining our top two airlines for the first time in four years. 

Developed from a survey of more than 9,555 Aussies, the research recognised Apple for its innovation focus, financial stability and strong reputation. Virgin Australia and Qantas ranked second and third respectively for similar reasons.

Technology was seen as the most attractive industry, followed by early learning and engineering. The rankings reiterate the importance of organisations investing in innovation while maintaining their public image to keep employees and attract quality people.

Other points of interest from the research:

  • Companies need to work on showing a more human face to their brands. Personal values with a company’s culture is a key factor in employee satisfaction in a job, with research indicating 80% of employees left a company specifically because of its culture.
  • The secret to the success of Australia’s most attractive employers is that they present a true image of who they are and commit to that.



Meet the woman behind Peter Switzer

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Maureen Jordan may not be in the spotlight like husband and TV/radio personality Peter Switzer, but she sits firmly at the centre of Switzer Group. With International Women’s Day upon us, it’s the perfect time to get to know the woman behind the scenes.

Q: How did you and Peter first meet and have you always worked together?

Peter and I met at University doing our undergraduate degrees. I’d been travelling for four months through Indonesia at the end of my first year at University and I contracted hepatitis due to the water. Most of my travelling companions came down with it too so I was a late starter in my second year. I’d been pretty sick and not interested in anyone or anything but hey, you can’t stand in the way of fate.  There he was and many years later here he still is. I used to tell him so many times that I was leaving and he’d start singing “If you leave me, can I come too?” It was easier to stay! And no, we haven’t always worked together, though it wasn’t long before we realised that we complemented each other’s strengths and it made perfect sense (and always has) to be business partners too. 

Q: Peter is renowned for his positivity – what’s your view on Australia’s economy in the year ahead?

I did three years of Economics at University as well as studying Law. I loved Economics and I was the only female in my class at UNSW in my 3rd year. Peter went on to do his Masters and started a PhD and we’ve always shared a common interest in the economy. Now, I’m going to be honest here and say that I read his column in Switzer Daily every day before it goes to be uploaded (his grammar is pretty crook, so I make a lot of changes there) and I’m so influenced by his views. Firstly, his positive take on the economy is backed by years of training, lecturing and writing so I know he’s not blindly positive – there’s a lot of substance behind that nature of his. I’m a keen property investor so I follow his views on the direction of interest rates very closely, and for the last 30 years he hasn’t let me down. I’m not a woman who’d ever take on the views of her husband because I didn’t feel confident to have my own, but I agree with him that Australia is still in a good place for the foreseeable future.

Q: What was behind your decision to start a business in publishing and financial services?

One word: children. Having a business gives you flexibility when you’re a parent. We lived in London before we had kids and that’s where the writing and the books really started. And when we returned home and I was pregnant with our first child, we realised that we could have more control of our lives if we took a risk and left full time employment. My grandfather and a number of people in my family were accountants and the first thing I did was to get accounting advice from Mani Bonjourno  who was a great help to us in getting things set up. It was the early days of computing and accounting software and a friend of Peter’s came over and set us up and away we went. Opening up a financial services business came about because a nephew of mine was working as a planner for one of the banks, and he said that what caught his clients (or potential clients) interest was not what he was saying about financial products, but the fact that he was Peter Switzer’s nephew. Peter was pretty well known even back then because of his radio and TV work. And so many people started to want financial advice from him but we had no licence – so we went and got one. 

Q: When did you first become interested in financial planning?

I became a financial planner because we had a planning business and I wanted to be across the things that the planners working for us were. My first interest came about through my Mum. She had seven kids and just had to have a structured way of raising us. Dad was so big hearted that he’d give away his last cent but Mum managed the finances, paid seven private school fees, had no credit cards and crashed the mortgage quickly as well on one wage. I can still see her allocating money so everything would be paid on time. They were lucky because they were both left money when my grandparents on both sides passed away, but Mum never wasted anything. 

Q: What has been the hardest job you’ve ever taken? 

I worked with David Koch for a short time when he had his own publishing business. The idea was that I’d do his radio show Money Talks on GB from time to time so David could have a break – he worked very hard. I love radio and producing that show and then the prospect of doing the show live myself was so appealing. I used to listen to the radio with my grandmother when I was very small. I started off doing regular short spots with David but Peter was also working on Triple M at the time and they were rivals in a sense so it didn’t work out for me. It wasn’t hard work but it was the hardest thing to leave that job. But then I threw myself into our business and that ended up being even better.  

Q: As a mum and businesswoman, do you think women face too much pressure to do both? How can we make it easier?

Oh yes, far too much pressure. Dads face it too though. Not all Dads want to be at work for long hours and away from their families. I believe women can have a problem with control though – they want to control their family too much and can put unbelievably high standards on themselves. As someone wise said: we can have it all but just not at the same time. It would be great for women if they could learn to let go more.

Q: You’ve mentioned that it’s hard to get women interested in finance. What do you think are the main reasons for this? What do we need to change?

Perhaps the Cinderella complex is still around i.e. I don’t need to provide for my future because some prince will come along and give me the perfect life. That’s not going to happen to too many of us. You know the line: a man is not a financial plan – that’s so true. If you want to own a house, buy nice clothes, drive a great car – be prepared to learn about money and savings. The greatest satisfaction I get is not owning the actual material things but knowing that my hard work and squirrelling has enabled me to look after myself the way I want to. 

Q: What piece of advice can you give others wanting to start their own company? 

Take it slowly and listen to others who have done it before. If you get knocked down (and you will), take a deep breath and get up again.


Our 10 money rules for Christmas

Monday, December 21, 2015

By Maureen Jordan

1. Only buy what you can afford. It's best to set yourself a pre-Christmas budget plan.  Allocate how much you can afford for gifts and entertainment. Stick to it.  Remember credit cards have to be repaid and the joy created during the festive season can fade quickly when your statement comes in. Big credit card bills cause stress and take a long time to pay off, running up interest charges as well

2. Ask at the store if the products you're going to buy will be on sale or reduced after Christmas. Nothing worse than paying full price and a few days later they're so much cheaper. Think about giving loved ones cash and let them get the better deals after Christmas.

3. Consider opening up a Nabtrade or Commsec account for your older children to encourage them to get involved in the stock market. You could always put a cash amount in there as well so they can buy some shares to kick off their account. Always remember, money makes money. 

4. Consider giving a money education gift like the Switzer Super Report! Education is power and knowledge can make you wealthy.

5. Avoid impulse buying. You just don't need to overspend on food so those extra kilos stretch your girth but thin out your wallet. Think twice before you buy.

6. Ask for a 10% discount for cash. Sensible traders should be so happy to get cash and this way they're also not paying credit card charges.

7. Don't leave your shopping too late because you can't compare prices at alternative suppliers 

8. Use the internet or download an App to check comparative prices. There are many good comparative websites that can get you a good deal.  Some apps provide daily savings offered by restaurants and suppliers in your local area.

9. You don't need to stick to central business districts.  Venture further afield and Shop in suburbs where the rents are lower and prices should be lower.

10. Make a resolution to plan for Christmas 2016 by putting a small amount of money each week in a mortgage offset account. This has a double effect. Firstly it can just sit there reducing your mortgage - but don't touch it. If you simply leave it there, the added bonus is that you'll enter the 2016 Christmas season with a stash of cash to have a very merry Christmas without money being tight.


Summer reads - what I'm reading now

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

My favourite investment book is …The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder. Buffet has a proven track record as an investor and I like to learn from those who've done it well. 

My favourite book is Tolstoy's War and Peace. I was raised in a big family and my maternal grandmother lived with us as well. I often felt life was a battleground or a treaty.

I am readingAnton Gill's Art Lover. It's the biography of art dealer Penny Guggenheim. Oddball possibly but a woman before her time. I love art, its history and reading about the sojourns of the art elite. 

I am watching nowThe BBC series called he Seven Wonders of the Industrial World. Recently I watched the construction of The Brooklyn Bridge that spans New York's East River. An engineering triumph, its completion was largely due to an amazing woman Emily Warren Roebling, who was determined to see the Roebling family name honoured. Under her sick husband's guidance, she studied higher mathematics, the calculations of catenary curves, the strengths of materials, bridge specifications, and the intricacies of cable construction and spent 11 years helping supervise the bridge's construction. She was the first to cross the bridge. I love learning how our modern world was forged. 


Give shopkeepers a chance

Friday, August 01, 2014

by Maureen Jordan

I did something unusual yesterday — I bought a book in Melbourne despite the fact that the shop did not have the book! The very attentive and informed shop assistant knew the unusual book I wanted and said he could get it to Sydney in seven days but he also honestly said that I could buy it locally or online if I wanted to. The book is called Art Lover by Anton Gill and it’s Peggy Guggenheim’s take on America, Paris and Italy pre- and post-war.

I knew I could do it with Amazon, but I thought: “This guy has done a great job as a retail assistant. He was honest, knew his stuff and I’m too busy to deal with an online purchase.”

But it was more than that, as I do a lot of transactions online. I just thought I have to give this small business a go and he needed to be paid back for giving me an experience I can’t get online.

Here was a guy, who I presumed was the owner, who was paying rent at the Paris end of Bourke Street Melbourne, which wouldn’t come cheap. He had stacks of books and so had invested in inventory, and the place looked absolutely great when you walked in there.

It actually beckoned us to come in, and we had a really positive experience and, of course, that’s what retail has to be if it’s to survive. Apple has taught us this — retail is not dead as long as you give the consumer a good time.

The fact I’m writing this story proves it was a memorable experience, but some of my need to share this with you links to a concern I have about the new digital world.

Its great appeal is that it helps us consumers buy things a lot cheaper than ever before and it does that because it employs less people, it can tap into cheap wage rates in poorer countries and these businesses can achieve scale advantages that drive down costs even more.

It’s causing bankruptcies of smaller and more costly rivals, who might employ people on decent wages. It’s screwing big business producers as well, who then have the power to push the screwing down the line to smaller customer businesses.

It is a supply chain squeeze play that will eventually take away jobs and force wages down as well.

Now I know change like this creates jobs and wages might not have to be as high if prices are brought down. However, it could also bring down house prices and stock prices and this might be more than all of us are prepared to cope with.

I think it’s unfair that we go into shops, pump shopkeepers for information about a product and then buy cheaper somewhere else. It is ripping off a shopkeeper’s time and in business time is money.

If we want to buy cheaper online, which I have no problem with, we should not use shopkeepers in the process.



An artless response to Clover's Cloud

Thursday, July 31, 2014

by Maureen Jordan

One thing about art is that for such a passive activity, compared to footie and say boxing, it certainly brings out a fair bit of passion bordering on aggression. We’ve seen this upfront and it’s getting really personal with the media’s response to Clover Moore’s proposed Cloud sculpture for Sydney’s George Street.

The Daily Tele didn’t hold back, though it seldom does, headlining the paper with Cloud Cuckoo Land! It then followed up inside with Clover’s vision just plan Eiffel.

Certainly, the Cloud sculpture is a long way from the majestic beauty of the Eiffel Tower, which was built in May 1889 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.

It cost eight million francs at the time (or US$1.5 million 1890 dollars and in 2007 economists said that was about US$34 million!). Even that looks cheap judging what builders charge us for a home in Australia nowadays!

Maybe Clover’s first defence is that we’re only spending $3.5 million and that will only give us a wriggly metal tape, which will be an artist’s impression of a cloud. Apparently Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Ms Moore, thinks it will be a rival for the Eiffel Tower and I guess this is a real life example of the old saying that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

Certainly, the Cloud Arch has kicked off the important aspect of art in that it has got people talking and thinking about other things than footie, politics and all the bad news we’re endured daily.

Sure the $9 million that Clover intends to spend on the Cloud, the upside down Milk Crate and a creation called The Distance of Your Heart, could be spent more judiciously on childcare, education or helping the homeless but that always can be said about most kinds of government spending. And believe it or not, people do travel to see art, as Hobart found out with its ‘weird’ art in the MONA complex.

I know the Cloud can’t be compared to the Opera House and the Bridge, which are not only beautiful artistic creations they’re also useful. But you have to give Clover points for thinking outside the square.

My big problem with it all is that it looks ugly up against the beauty of the Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Building. I would’ve loved to see something more sympathetic with that great architecture — not just something big!

In fact, the artist’s impression reminded me of that weird Qantas ad, you know where it looked like a floating piece of toilet paper moving across our skies and into the many aspects of our lives.

The ad people behind that should not include that one in their CVs!

One final thing. Whenever I go to Athens or see the Acropolis on TV or in a book, I always ponder how they could have created such a thing of beauty that screams out how impressive mankind can be. And that was in the 5th century BC!

The Cloud Arch is never going to feature in the CV of mankind and that’s a pity.


Make an impression

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

by Maureen Jordan

While I’ve never really understood why multiplying two negatives makes a positive, I’ve always accepted that as fact and done the maths accordingly. One thing I would question is whether two negative people could ever create anything positive. I just don’t think they could.

Over recent years, I’ve turned my attention away from watching nightly news, particularly on the ABC. I used to watch it religiously, followed by the 7.30 Report, then Four Corners, even Q+A and Lateline. The list went on.  I used to think that being open to current affairs, world events and debate would make me more thoughtful. That’s not to say that there aren’t times (like last night’s Four Corners) that I’m so glad we have an ABC and would always fight to preserve it. But if I continued to spend my winter Monday nights watching the run of shows that currently screen, I think I’d need to consider going into therapy to overcome the negative bombardment. The only uplifting program is Australian Story. It more often than not makes me feel so good.

This next sentence isn’t going to be earth shattering: the world is full of negativity and negative people. I don’t know how anyone else feels, but it’s not good for my state of mind when I trying to build a business, motivate staff and be a good influence on my family.

So what do I do about it?

Well, for starters, I’ve turned to other mediums and one of them is books (and they’re not of the electronic kind). They’re beautifully written, sometimes beautifully bound books that tell me stories of triumph, of struggle, sure, but of success, of contribution to our world. I’ve gone up a notch in glasses strength, acquired a good reading lamp and so I spend several hours losing myself in the lives of others. My current love is the artist Henri Matisse and I’ve learnt more reading this book than I possibly could sitting in front of the idiot box — that’s aside from Switzer on the Sky News Business Channel, of course!

I’ve even been drawing out business principles and applying these to our business. Matisse was an innovator, a disruptor, and through his passion and persistence, he connected with those who knew how to market his daringly different work. He linked up with mentors who inspired him, the most important being the Australian impressionist John Peter Russell.

(Why haven’t we all heard about this great Australian who has paintings in the Louvre?)

He was focused, was always open to new things, put himself in places and circles of influence so he could continue to grow.

And he made money from this passion. I wonder when the media will realise that they’re doing no one any good with what is put out each evening on TV. And I don’t even venture beyond the ABC, SBS and Sky News Business Channel, so I’d hate to think what goes on commercial channels.

(Admission: I am not a sports-watching nut like the men in my family but at least with sport you have a chance of walking away from the invested time with a positive experience. Peter says I should finish this with “Go the Tahs!”, whatever that means? I’d prefer “Go the Impressionists!”)


On super

Friday, July 25, 2014

by Maureen Jordan

In the age of Google, we really think we know everything, or can find it quickly. The recent super returns, however, might prove the old saying: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

This was made clear to me after seeing the Chant West chart of super returns, since super became compulsory in 1993. As I looked at the chart, I thought how it would have been useful to show many a panicky Australian during those bad years of the GFC.

Then, people were so worried, they were exiting the stock market, putting their money into cash or term deposits for safety. Then, super funds lost 6.9 per cent in 2008 and 12.9 per cent in 2009. Many older Australians, in particular, wanted out of super funds as well. Of course, these were falls for the median returns. Some people had much bigger or smaller drops.

This panic was fed by scary news stories and I have to admit I was a little spooked at times though I was consoled by the words of Peter Switzer, who was a calming voice in the wilderness. He argued the stock market would rebound and that quality funds and investments would eventually show that bad news eventually gives way to good news.

He also pointed to the track record of good super funds and explained that panic was understandable but unnecessary.

The Chant West chart showed me that since 1993, the median growth super fund has had only three negative years! They were 2001-02 (that was the dotcom bust year, where the return was -3.3 per cent). Then 2007-2008 brought -6.9 per cent, while 2008-09 was the shocker of -12.9 per cent.

Since then, we’ve had five positive years, where the average was close to 10 per cent per annum.

As I pondered those very good returns, I thought about those who took their own counsel and played it conservatively. I must admit if I wasn’t a financial adviser myself and had access to experts I respect, I could have been easily spooked and played it safe.

That said, I always recall a chart that Vanguard put out showing what happened to $10,000 from 1970 up to 2009, that bad year of the GFC.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.


Beyond politics

Thursday, July 24, 2014

by Maureen Jordan

Who is Phil Stanton of Mullaway and why is he saying such horrible things about Peta Credlin? This was my reaction to a Letter to the Editor in the SMH yesterday.

It was short but shocking when you understand that this was written in the context of the tragedy that was MH17.

This is what poor old Phil thought could pass for fair comment: “At last!” cried Peta Credlin as she reviewed the MH17 disaster and planned Tony Abbott’s daily agenda. “A Tampa/Port Arthur moment just in time!” This is what simple Phil believed Credlin would be thinking. Shame.

Before even trying to understand vindictive and emotionless Phil, who could think this, let alone write it, without feeling they’re trivialising something that is beyond politics?

You don’t have to be Columbo to do the forensics on Phil but let’s sketch him anyway.

He is a Labor or Greens voter. He hates Tony Abbott and therefore hates Peta Credlin, who has been credited or discredited (depending on your political bias) for re-inventing the once hard-to-like Tony Abbott into a sellable electoral commodity by September last year.

I can understand why non-Coalition supporters don’t like Abbott. Let’s list the reasons why Phil could be so filled with bile that he would put pen to paper to get even with Peta and Tony.

Here goes:

  • The pair hounded Julia Gillard after she made the mistake of breaking her promise on the carbon tax.
  • They tapped into the Australian-wide negativity towards asylum seekers, who a majority probably think are queue jumpers, judging from the election result.
  • They are climate change skeptics cum deniers and have KO’d the carbon tax.
  • They used negative, harping slogans to win over the population and have undermined a basically noble Labor Government. (That is me being as unbiased as I can, though maybe I went too far!)

Maybe Phil could add to the list but this looks like a fairly good collection of reasons to hate Tony and Peta, if you were a non-Coalition supporter. I have left out misogyny and all that rot because I think most political leaders have these superiority tendencies, whether they be men or women.

I once evaluated all our recent leaders using the “would you have hung out with them at school?” test. Malcolm Fraser would have been an insufferable, patrician type — the complete opposite of the nice lefty we know today.

Bob Hawke would have been dodgy but a hell of a lot of fun but he would have got you into trouble and probably would have got off scot-free himself!

Paul Keating would have been the plotting kid you knew would win but he would’ve been scary to hang out with.

John Howard would have been the nerdy kid with enormous guts who always over-achieved but was certainly uncool — a real prefect type but likeable.

Kevin Rudd would have been a pain in the butt, who nobody liked except the stupid teachers.

Julia Gillard would have been smart and very political who could actually win you over, while Tony Abbott would have been up himself, good at sport and a good bloke if you were in his footy team. If you weren’t, he could be a tease merchant.

As you can see, the really nice guys of politics — Kim Beazley, Simon Crean, Joe Hockey and Julie Bishop — are unlikely to get the top job because as the old saying goes: “Nice guys and gals run last.”

Political leaders can win over the majority because the majority assess people on the wrong criteria but I never ever believe that these leaders don’t understand the majority.

Peta and Tony understand the majority of voting Australians while Phil, you don’t.

It doesn’t make it right but in a democracy, the majority rules even if it produces regrettable outcomes, such as Clive Palmer and the PUP team.

I thought Julia Gillard was treated badly by Phil Stanton types who held posters such as “Ditch the witch” but politics can bring out the worst in people.

I hope Phil is a lot better bloke than what his Letter to the Editor suggests.


The idiot box

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The last thing I want to do is add to the sad situation of Senator Jacqui Lambie and what she thinks passes as fair comment in the media, especially as an elected official of Australia.

However, I do have to ask, are we letting the new age of the media — which includes low-grade entertainment on traditional media such as radio and TV and the abominations that are now seen as ordinary fare on the Internet’s DIY media outlet, YouTube — go beyond the pale?

Unfortunately, over the past few decades the standards we expect in the media have passed through the old stuffy world of BBC/ABC stiff upper lip journalism and entertainment to a well-received more accessible kind of media, where a business such as Channel 9 under Kerry Packer could be No. 1 based on sport and top-rating news and A Current Affair.

But in the past decade, reality TV has come to haunt us, and we apparently like it, but this has given birth to low-rent, often pathetic, DIY media creations by wannabee media starts via YouTube.

I had an awful feeling a number of years ago when those daggy singers used YouTube to create a top-selling video while sliding on running machines. That brilliant Google informs me it was OK Go’s Here We Go Again.

It was May 2007 and this has given birth to millions of hopefuls who are trying to get their 15 minute of fame, as Andy Warhol once put it, but it's going longer than 15 minutes.

The ABC’s Four Corners looked at the out-of-control world thanks to YouTube where pests are behaving badly and filming it, where young girls are searching for ‘likes’ and unwittingly not only attracting other young ‘likes’ chasers but undoubtedly pedophiles as well!

Psychologists say we are looking at a tsunami of narcissists with grandiose expectations, and it isn’t helped when a Senator of Australia shows herself to be a YouTube star in the making.

I ‘d love there to be a wise regulator for the world but I know that is never going to happen. So I guess we parents, teachers and business, as well as society’s leaders, have to start setting better examples. Who knows, it might even get through to programmers at radio and television stations one day.



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