Mentored in property by a friend’s father for over 20 years, OpenCorp co-founder Cam McLellan is now passionate about giving our newest generation the same ‘light-bulb moment’
It was a high school teacher who first introduced Cam McLellan, now 44, to the concept of investing when she asked the class to choose some shares from the local newspaper listing. While the exercise piqued Cam’s interest, he also quickly realised his well-meaning teacher didn’t understand the strategy behind it at all.
“Essentially, the approach was as bad, if not worse, than gambling – especially if you’re gambling your whole life savings, not just a couple of dollars,” Cam says, recalling that the class became his ‘light-bulb moment’.
“I started seeking out old-school property investors. My friend’s father, Steve, sat us down in our early 20s and showed us how to invest and do a couple of small developments. Twenty years later, we’re still doing the same thing!” he laughs.
Throughout the two decades he spent building an extensive property portfolio, Cam has been passionate about sharing everything he knows with others. His ‘information sharing’ approach to property eventually led to the foundation of OpenCorp in 2005 and the publication of a how-to book that freely gives away all of his trade secrets – one that was originally aimed at passing on his knowledge to his own children.
NEW LAUNCH: RESI FUND
» OpenCorp will soon reveal a new breed of Investment fund, designed to give young people and investors the opportunity to invest in bricks and mortar.
» “I believe it will be difficult for future generations to save deposits and buy property, and that’s where the Resi Fund will be able to help,” Cam says.
» Resi Fund will be “a large managed fund holding properties for the long term, and people can buy and sell shares – essentially, they’re buying a piece of Australian property without having to own one,” Cam says.
» The fund is designed as a true alternative to joint ventures, and investors will “reap enormous benefits from carrying out developments within the fund as well”.
CAM’S YEAR 12 FINANCIAL LITERACY CLASS
What started off as a one-time Year 12 seminar has turned into a regular gig at secondary schools across Australia. Cam’s Financial Literacy program teaches high school students how to make the leap into the ‘real world’ by understanding the fundamentals of smart money stewardship, assets and liabilities.
“I break it down into simple terms: depreciating and appreciating assets, and good and bad debt, and I get them to question things and be discerning, using examples they can understand, like an iPhone – is it worth more or less when you leave the store?” Cam explains.
“We talk about cars and their depreciating value, versus houses and land. I tell them that in the beginning they need to drive the cheapest car their ego can handle! I wish someone had done this for me when I was in school, so I actually love spending my time helping these young people.”
The program has been so successful that Cam was asked to teach his program to the A-League football (soccer) teams, the National Basketball League, AFL players and many other professional sporting codes as well.
“The story of OpenCorp is that [co-founder] Allister and I were spending every weekend having coffee with people and teaching them about property, as well as running our own Telco business and running our developments, so we had to employ people to look after our portfolios, and it built up from there,” he says.
“My friend’s father, Steve, sat us down in our early 20s and showed us how to invest”
“Basically, OpenCorp is a mentoring service that helps people understand how property investment really works; to define a strategy, structure finance, find and acquire a specific property; and looks after their portfolio for them. I think one of the reasons OpenCorp took off so quickly is because I’m very open, and I’ll expose the scams. A friend of mine lost his house after investing in an off-the-plan development scheme many years ago. More than 3,500 Australians collectively lost $60m in this scam alone. I love the property industry, but I despise property sharks.”
Becoming a dad in 2007 – he’s now a father of four – gave Cam even more incentive to make property knowledge available to the next generation.
“I wanted to have a way to pass everything on to my kids, but a lot of books were too sophisticated or lacked strategy, so I wrote a how-to of investment that they could read as they grew up. It was published into a book called My Four-Year-Old the Property Investor, because my daughter Hannah was four at the time.”
The book received a sensational response, staying at number four in News Link’s bestsellers list for nine months. “The book shares absolutely everything: it outlines the property industry, some core cycles, my Market Area Property (MAP) strategy for finding the right property any day of the week, and essential check sheets that I use to check properties against and manage a portfolio,” Cam says.
“We get lots of great feedback from it, but for me it’s about how good it will be to hear from these people in 20 years’ time, saying that it changed their life. That’s what the book is for.”
Even though OpenCorp continues to expand and grow, Cam intentionally sets time aside for mentorship, even visiting secondary schools every few weeks to run a Year 12 workshop he designed on financial literacy. He’s also working on two other how-to manuals: My Four-Year-Old the Property Developer, and My Four-Year-Old the Business Owner.
“When it comes to my kids, I don’t mind what they choose in terms of their career, but the one thing I will teach them is to be a smart investor as well,” he says, adding that even after 20 years in the property industry, his own mentor, Steve, continues to be his trusted sounding board. “Even we still need to have someone to keep a good head on our shoulders!” he laughs.
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