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Peter Switzer Switzer Group

established 2005; twenty-three employees; $4 million-plus turnover

As a nifty prop with a desire to wear an Easts' rugby league jersey, Peter Switzer was faced with a momentous decision when the curtain fell on his teenage years.

He could chase a sporting career he knew was well within his reach, or hit the books and get a degree. For his business-minded father the choice was clear. But for the young Switzer it

was an agonising dilemma. The league life wasn't his only sporting option, either: he played first- grade water polo and won a Sydney title in the early 1970s with North Bondi Surf Club. 'I had a choice: President's Cup or a Master of Commerce. Thankfully I chose the latter,' he says.

Thankful is probably an understatement clothed in humility, given the accolades Switzer has garnered as one of Australia's leading business commentators and advocates. His brand and his pedestal is Switzer Financial Services, which he founded under the motto of 'trusted provider of accounting, business and financial advice'.

But he admits that it wasn't his own business that propelled him into the millionaires' realm but some smart property purchases in the 1970s.

Raising a young family, Switzer and his wife Maureen didn't have much cash to spare. 'We moved into Paddington in 1979, when it was not a trendy suburb,' says Switzer. 'I recall my father-in-law seeing our purchase—an old Victorian cottage—and saying: "Oh, love! Sell this as quickly as you can." But the home launched our interest in real estate. We bought old homes in great suburbs and renovated them. Your principal property is capital gains tax-free when you sell it, and that makes it a great way to build wealth.'

After completing his Master of Commerce, Switzer worked as a teacher at several private schools before moving on to the economics faculty of the University of New South Wales and starting his first business, an economics coaching school.

After thirteen years in academe he was, as he puts it, seduced away by Radio Triple M's then ratings-leading breakfast radio host, Doug Mulray.

As he expanded from radio spots on finance into TV and newspaper columns, Switzer transformed his coaching school into a media company. On the side, he and Maureen also created a publishing firm which at first they ran from their Paddington home, all while raising their young family.

The rewards for those years of toil took a while to show. 'We added financial planning and business coaching to our media and publishing business because there are great synergies,' Switzer says. 'After years of writing about personal investment, we decided to create a financial planning business that upholds the highest standards of honesty and transparency. That gave us a competitive edge. As a natural progression we created Switzer Business Coaching, which teaches principles I have been taught and admire. So our business is now about providing business information, education and

advice to media organisations, corporations, small businesses, investors and consumers.'

Though his array of roles keeps him busy, Switzer has maintained his love affair with real estate. It is about diversifying his financial portfolio, he explains—something he frequently instructs clients to do. 'Most people are amateurs when it comes to investment and wealth building. I hate people treating investment like punting,' Switzer says. 'Day traders can be on the spot and, if they are smart, make more good decisions than bad ones. But a lot don't. I tell my clients and readers that we're in for the long run. We buy great blue-chip assets, especially when they are well priced, and we hold on to them. It works for all asset classes and

І

brings good returns.'

But Switzer never wants the enterMost people are amateurs when it comes to investment and wealth building. I hate people

prise to depend on treating investment like him alone.

His sons punting. Martin and Alex also

work in the business, a source of solidarity and support that Switzer finds especially valuable in difficult economic times.

For Switzer, the chief benefit of wealth is that it expands one's choices. 'The funny thing is I could retire and relax, but I love writing, building our

business, educating Australians and helping our clients to create wealth and great businesses,' he says. 'I always say you should do something that you are absolutely passionate about, which means you can play to your strengths. And don't be afraid to seek expert help to get the best out of yourself.'

Once, after Switzer had given a speech on the importance of business coaching, he was approached by a woman who asked if he had had any business coaching himself. When he said no, she quoted him saying moments earlier that we all need someone else's objective eyes to get the best out of us. Undone by her quiet reasoning, Switzer took the woman up on her offer of three months' free business coaching. Now she is a Switzer Group business coaching partner.

After the financial crisis Switzer's firm has received fewer inquiries about business coaching, but the people who make them are much more likely to follow through and enrol. 'They can see it is a false economy not to invest in improving themselves, especially in such uncertain times,' he says.

The financial planning division has held up well, in part because Switzer has always charged a flat fee rather than a percentage-based one. As fund values have fallen, percentage fees have too.

But Switzer has been in great demand for speaking engagements and on television and radio. He now has an eponymous slot on Sky Business four nights a week, interviewing experts about investing and economic forecasting.

Switzer is advising his business coaching cli-ents to go back to basics and devote themselves to making sure their best customers are happy. 'Show your customers consideration and it gen-erates great loyalty,' he says.

'One great salesman I know sends his clients little newspaper links or cuttings if he thinks they might prove useful. That's a terrific idea. It shows real concern. Another good piece of advice is to network more. Turn up to more events, and don't go anywhere without business cards. And when you are at an event, have a quick script in your head to let you succinctly explain your business. That could generate work for you straight away.'

Finally, Switzer says, analyse your marketing to see if it's doing all you need it to. 'Use the purple cow principle,' he says. 'The American marketeer Seth Godin says our marketing messages can be like black-and-white cows in a field—all looking the same. But imagine if the farmer painted a cow purple. People would all point and say, Look at the purple cow!'

With marketing like that, the sky is the limit.

Andrew Carswell

golden rules

Market like never before.

Make sure cash flow is fantastic.

Make sure you communicate with staff to engage them.

Make sure the vision of your business is understood by everybody in the business—and don't be afraid to tell customers about the need for feedback.

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Источник: Nick Gardner. How. I made-.my first million. 26 self-made millionaires reveal the secrets to their success. 2010

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