Is your property generating short-term cash flow or building long-term wealth? Scott O’Neill of Rethink Investing talks to Tom Goodwin about why it can – and should – be doing both.

When it comes to commercial property, investors often harbour the misconception that there is a dichotomy between properties bought to generate cash flow and those bought to build wealth. But this isn’t the case, notes Scott O’Neill of Rethink Investing.

“People get confused about what ‘long-term’ means,” says O’Neill. “So they make poor returns for five years because they think they’ll get good returns after 15 – that’s not how it’s supposed to work.”

Rather, O’Neill advises, commercial properties should be treated in a similar manner to any other business – they should produce an income, while also generating equity for future deposits. Over the longer term, it means you’ll have properties in your portfolio that achieve either one of these goals to varying degrees, but it’s always important that they are doing both at some level.

“Commercial properties that I’d recommend to clients would always be growth heavy,” says O’Neill. “But you never want to fall too hard on one side or another. My own philosophy is to favour around two-thirds growth, one-third cash flow.”

Developing a portfolio that does this successfully can sometimes mean a rearrangement of other life priorities, depending on your individual circumstances. 

Some of the high cash flow properties that Scott has secured on behalf of his investor clients

In O’Neill’s case, it meant delaying buying his own home for a number of years in order to be able to invest more effectively.

“I live in Sydney, where property prices are through the roof, so I had to consider whether my money and time would be better spent on paying off a mortgage or should be funnelled into investing,” says O’Neill.

“Investing was the right decision for me at the time, but obviously it’s something that’s going to be influenced by your own circumstances."

“You never want to fall too hard on one side or another. My own philosophy is to favour around two-thirds growth, one-third cash flow”

People tend to have specifi c goals for wealth when investing, but it’s fair to say that most of them could be placed under the broader umbrella of financial freedom.

The primary issues that arise tend to come from making poor purchase choices or listening to the wrong people. O’Neill points to off -the-plan purchases as a common pitfall, due to the frequent lack of surrounding infrastructure that might create desirable property.

“Make sure you get a variety of advice before making a purchase,” he says. “Seek different insights from different people – it’s incredibly valuable. That way you’ll be in a rock-solid situation when you do start making purchases.”

O’Neill advises against expansion solely for the sake of expansion. It needs to be done with specific targets and goals in mind, often in consultation with your adviser.

“Having multiple properties is good – you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you lose your tenant and with that your income,” says O’Neill.

“That acts as a buffer and allows for more diversity too. But conversely, once you’ve got too many properties it can become a headache. You don’t want to spend all this time investing for financial freedom, only to find yourself with no free time!”

Scott O’Neill is the founder and director of Rethink Investing, a BRW Fast 100 property investing company specialising in finding rare positively geared properties all around Australia (commercial and residential).

Scott is an experienced and active investor who was able to retire from his day job at the age of 28. With a current portfolio of 32 properties worth $20m, he is one of the most successful young property investors in Australia. O’Neill has a passion for all aspects of property, especially helping others find great deals.



Rethink Investing helps everyday Australians enter the commercial property market with ease.

It also specialises in helping clients purchase high-yielding residential properties using the same successful investing strategy. Call 1300 965 551 or visit