Your Investment Property’s 8th Annual Reader’s Choice Awards asked Australian property investors to nominate their favourite experts in the five different categories including:
  • Buyer’s agent
  • Property investment advisor
  • Tax advisor
  • Mortgage broker
  • Property manager

Property Investment Advisor of the Year 2015.

Winner: Ben Kingsley, Empower Wealth.

After winning last year’s title, Ben Kingsley, director with Empower Wealth is back to take the 2015 award for Property Investment Advisor of the Year category. Kingsley reveals his tips for avoiding spruikers and scam artists.

How important is it to have a trusted advisor when investing in property?

You would like to think that anybody that is about to put their financial future on the line by investing in real estate must surely think about getting some professional property investment advice, but you would be surprised how often it doesn’t happen. For me, I think it is critical.

A ‘trusted’ Property Investment Advisor is one who is interested in helping you prioritise your personal and financial goals, educate you on the risks as much as the potential rewards and give you balanced and objective insights based on facts, in their efforts to achieve the best financial outcomes for a client.

I know when people seek advice from me, that advice is tailored to their individual circumstances.  It’s independent of any sales pitch and it’s backed by my formal qualification as a QPIA (Qualified Property Investment Advisor) and over 20 years of property investment experience.


How can you tell that you’re dealing with a trusted advisor?

The easiest way to tell whether they’re a real deal or not is to ask the following probing questions.

  1. Do they hold any ‘formal’ property investment qualifications?
There are plenty of property investors with a couple of properties or more in their portfolio, but that shouldn’t automatically qualify them to give advice to others, without formally assessing a client’s risk profile, goals, objective and providing ‘balanced’ advice. Too often these unqualified types just say ‘copy me’ rather than outline the many options a prospective investor might have open to them.

A formal qualification is one that comes from a reputable source such as a University, TAFE or industry training association.   Its syllabus should explore all facets of property investment, laws, regulations, as well as personal risk and financial profiling and professional conduct when giving general and personal advice about clients’ financial and personal goals.


  1. Are they telling you the truth?
Are they explaining the upside rewards, but also the downside risks? Are they asking lots of questions about you, your finances, future plans and giving you options, advising, guiding and educating you on this journey?Are they being honest in assessing you and telling you “you aren’t ready right now”, “it may not be the right time” or “yes, it’s the right time, but we need to do it right the first time”?


  1. Will they put it in writing?
Are they willing to document what they say in a detailed property plan, including your financial situation, your goals and objectives, their advice, strategy and recommendations, supported by real facts and figures, which will hold them accountable to some degree?


  1. Does it feel like a sales pitch?
Do you feel like it’s a set sales presentation and they are trying to sell you a certain property ‘product’ from a set stock list?


  1. How are they getting paid?
Are they free for services or are they promoting a free service? If they are promoting a free service, are they fully disclosing just how much they are getting paid and by whom? My favourite question to ask those who receive commissions or kickbacks is – Are you willing to show me your bank statements to validate what you are getting paid?If they have nothing to hide they will show you.


What are the signs that they might be dodgy?

You can tell a spruiker by the following tell-tale signs.

  • They usually are only offering one investment option: the easiest for them to source and sell to you.
  • They will try to create a ‘sense of urgency’, hype or scarcity to get you to act or sign up right away.
  • The more questions you ask the more impatient they get, as they sense the ‘sale’ is slipping away.
  • They try to close the ‘sale’ on the first meeting.
  • They have no formal qualifications to do what they do.
  • They aren’t involved in the whole process – meaning they (the business) has someone to sign you up, someone to sell you the property and someone to look after you post sale, so you can never get a straight answer when things go wrong.


How does it feel to win this award for the second time running?

I’m absolutely thrilled to win this award two years in a row. It means a lot to me to be recognised to this level for the work I do in helping others become financially independent.  I’d also like to thank my great team here at Empower Wealth, without their help and support I couldn’t do what I do.


What readers said

“After some fairly poor advice from real estate sellers dressed up as advisers you could say we were sceptical of anyone in the property investment advice industry. Ben Kingsley was someone who was willing to listen, someone who, with his team, was able to carefully tailor a plan specifically for us and then be flexible enough to change that plan as our situation and ideas changed. Ben's ability to speak plainly and clearly explain some of the very complicated ideas and practices gave us confidence when that confidence had been destroyed by others. There were no promises of quick riches. We highly recommend Ben to our family and friends. His honest and open approach gives him integrity and his professionalism is a light in an industry that is often seems shady and inaccessible.”

-Emma Palmer


Runner up: Cherie Barber, Renovating for Profit

Cherie Barber has become one of the most sought-after renovation experts in Australia thanks to her deceptively simple, yet proved to be extremely lucrative approach to renovating.

She quit her full-time job, just after her first professional renovation project leading her to work full time as a professional renovator. A regular cast member on Network Ten’s The Living Room and now has her own renovation shows in Australia and the US, Cherie has completed 58 renovations worth $50 million.

“I think to be a great property advisor; you have to be doing what you preach and doing it day in and day out for years on end. To be taken seriously, you have to have track record. In that way you can talk with real experience or come from a place of experience, not just theory.

The ability to relate to the people you’re mentoring and to be able to put yourself in their shoes and understand what they are hoping to achieve are important. I’m also recommending safe strategies that require asset but achievable for everyday Australians to do.

What makes me proud as an educator is seeing my students changing their lives. That’s the greatest rewards for any educator. You don’t want to be touting systems that don’t work. People part with good money attending property seminars. There has to be at least five-fold return on their investments.”


What the readers said

“Cherie Barber, to me, is like the parent I never had who guides me, educates me and supports me every step of the way to ensure I am a success when it comes to renovating for profit. I know I can trust her guidance as my results have proved it. Cherie gave me, an ordinary Australian, hope to an amazing future by following her guidelines.”

- Kylie Nolan

Runner up: Kate Hill, Destiny Crows Nest

Kate Hill is the branch manager and Qualified Property Investment Advisor at Destiny Financial Solutions in Sydney. Hill has overseen over 200 property purchases for clients in the last two years alone.

“I just focus on client results. I personally have a significant portfolio of properties, so I’m involved in property investment for the same reason as most of my clients.

I believe a property advisor needs to be a good communicator, have a proven methodology and really understand why their clients are investing in property in the first place.

They need to understand a client’s financial position, risk profile and long term goals before making any recommendations.

To make sure you’re working with the real deal, always choose a property advisor who charges based on fee for service and avoid advisors that offer you off-the-plan properties. Property advisors should also have minimum relevant academic qualifications (QPIA) and own a significant property portfolio themselves.”


What the readers said

“Kate has been nothing short of inspirational. Her passion towards property and more importantly towards helping others achieve their goals has meant that I have been able to enter property investment and have a real mentor to whom I can turn to. Kate is always responsive and available to talk to and provides balanced advice and views and knowing how thorough Kate is in her research gives me comfort of mind that I am getting the best advice in the industry. Not only does Kate have incredible industry knowledge but her attitude and relationship building is something I have applied to business myself.”

-Shaun Rutherford

Follow the links below to see who else Australian investors voted as the most trusted property professionals for 2015!

Buyers Agent of the Year 2015.

Tax Specialist of the Year 2015.

Mortgage Broker of the Year 2015.

Property Manager of the Year 2015.