Philippe Brach nearly lost an eye when he was young, but that didn’t stop him from going on to become CEO of Multifocus Properties & Finance. He talks travel, Richard Branson and tips for new investors.
What are two little-known facts about you?
Originally from beautiful Alsace (east of France), my first contact (literally) with Australia was when I was 12. One of the kids I was playing with got a plastic boomerang with a comic book he bought and was trying to learn how to throw it. I just happened to be in the way … and nearly lost an eye. The good news is that I fully recovered and developed a fascination for this faraway place 14 times the size of France. Later on in life, my work brought me to Australia and I never left! It must have been an omen …
I developed my passion for property when we first arrived in Australia and I was still in the corporate world. Developing a portfolio was such an exciting adventure! I realised quickly that most people do not really understand how property numbers work, so much so that I ended up starting a niche business in this field and I never looked back!
What’s one thing you are passionate about outside of property?
I have a big passion for travel. When I finished my education in France, I left straight away for London because my dad told me that if I wanted to be successful in this world I needed to speak English. I never returned to live in France after that. I spent many years polishing my English whilst travelling around the UK (found a wife too!) and became an expat in corporate finance for a major international hotel group. We lived in Bangkok for a few years and travelled extensively around Asia, then moved to Australia for a few years and then moved to Tokyo. We finally decided to settle down in Australia in 1997, and the rest is history!
What are your tips for managing cash flow in the current market?
In this market, like in any other market, the key to cash flow management is to have a buffer in place and to always keep a tab on your numbers. A buffer can be in the form of cash in an offset account or in the form of a line of credit. Knowing that you have some safety funds available is key to avoiding being caught out by events that we do not control, such as interest rate increases. When I say keep tab on your numbers I mean that from the outset, for every investment property in a portfolio, investors need to know what cash flow they can expect now and what cash flow they will have to cope with if interest rates increase to, say, 7%. This exercise has to be done before any investment is made.
If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, who would it be and why?
Definitely Richard Branson. His sense of vision is just awesome! His mind keeps evolving and creating new ventures or products, and he manages to combine his business success with his personal adventures. It sounds so effortless, although there must be a lot of hard work behind the scenes.
What’s some advice you would give to investors before they make their first purchase?
Before jumping into action, a first-time investor has to fully understand what they are about to do. Education is the key, and this means getting expert advice. Trying to do it alone is fraught with danger. It’s a bit like trying to do some plumbing work around the house; you think it is easy – just connecting some pipes – but invariably things go wrong. I saw a plumber’s motto that sums it up: “We repair what your husband tried to fix”.
Remember it is all about creating wealth, so understanding numbers come first. Of course, cross checking any advice given and extensive reading is a must!
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