Toby Young from Que Models at Palazzo Versace, Main Beach. Follow them @quemodels. Picture: Jerad Williams
Toby Young from Que Models at Palazzo Versace, Main Beach. Follow them @quemodels. Picture: Jerad Williams

How you can become a millionaire

SO you're not heir to a trust fund, haven't become famous and are probably not going to win the lotto. We talk to a high net worth accountant, developer and entrepreneur to find out how you can make your fortune

James Marshall doesn't drop the names of his rich list of accountancy clients, but even if he did you probably haven't heard of half of them.

The MWM Advisory director specialises in high net worth individuals who have an eye-watering number of zeros to their often little known names.

"I'm a big fan of staying off the grid," James says.

"There's a lot of wealthy people in this world who we've never heard of because they get on with the job."

But how do they make this wealth they then choose not to flaunt? James says the bad news is for most people it doesn't come easy.

"When people go to the racetrack or casino and win money you don't hear about the losers and it's the same with business," James says.

"No one wants to hear about someone who is in the office six night a week until midnight banging their head against a brick wall.

"But if you're passionate about what you do, have the right people around you and are willing to take calculated risks it can be done."

James says the first step is to make sure you're choosing the path you're genuinely interested in - not just one you think will make you money.

Throughout this process you must constantly network and, much like a Prime Minister's cabinet, surround yourself with those whose experience you value and opinions you trust.

"It's hard work so you've got to genuinely like it and if you don't like it when it's too hard you'll quit," James says.

"Build good relationships. Don't burn bridges because you never know when someone might come back into your life for a different reason.

"Establish what your moral character, your moral fibre, is and stand up for it. As much as we've lost some of that I think there's now a trend towards being morally and ethically honest in business and people appreciate it more than you being what you think they want you to be.

"There's a couple of quotes that I think sum it up really well. Knowing the right person at the right time for the right thing. Success is where preparation meets opportunity."

Building a property empire while negative gearing laws are still in favour of investment property owners could be tempting, James says his thinking on the matter is in line with popular international business speaker Kerwin Rae's philosophy on the matter.

"His theory isn't that the rich invest in property. It's that the rich park their money in property but they didn't make it there - they made it in business.

"In property you might get six to seven per cent in rental return and there's capital growth.

"But in business you can deliver returns of 20 to 30 per cent. It's harder work and you're taking calculated risks for a higher return."

What could make or break your bid for financial success is not how you conduct yourself when the good times are rolling but rather how you choose to ride out storms.

"I've always thought that no matter where we are in the cycle good operators will find ways to make money," James says.

"I genuinely think we are becoming a global business these days, everyone is, and that's changing how we historically make money. There are industry shifts but the right people adapt and find a way to be ahead of the game. Cream always rises to the top."

JAMES' TOP TIP: Surround yourself with good people and make your money in business - then invest it in property.


He might have a net worth exceeding $200 million but legendary Gold Coast developer Norm Rix sometimes forgets he's got money to spend.

This statement is initially baffling considering the lengthy list of subdivisions and commercial developments the 82-year-old is behind.

But if ever there was a true tale of Gold Coast rags to riches it is Norm's and once you experience the rags you never want to go there again.

"My father died when I was young and my mother remarried so I was out by myself from about 14," Norm says.

"I buy a bag of potatoes and boil them and eat them with butter and milk. That bag of potatoes would last me five days.

"Even now every now and again believe it or not I buy myself a chocolate milkshake and for me that's something to look forward to. "

With such harsh lessons about what happens when money is sparse forced upon him at a tender age, Norm embarked on a career defined by his financially conservative values.

While he was building beautiful homes for others, Norm and his young family lived in a much more modest dwelling long after they could have afforded to upsize.

Unlike many businessmen he is extremely debt aversive and believes it is the cornerstone of his success.

"I don't believe in debt. It will get you started but you need to get out of it as quickly as possible," Norm says.

"So many people get some money and all of a sudden they want to become a Kerry Packer but very rarely do you get a rags to riches story immediately. It takes time to build your fortune people become impatient.

"I'd say about 80 per cent of people who want to become successful buy a nice home for themselves early on when that money should have been invested back into the business.

"A lot of people don't realise you can't have the luxuries of life at an early age and still become successful because what you've done is spent your capital on yourself."

It's therefore no surprise that Norm believes personal sacrifice is the best way to grow wealth.

"If you want to become successful you must have tunnel vision," Norm says.

"You must not lose your ambition of what you're trying to achieve.

"When I was young I'd start work at 5am and then after a full day I'd go home and do the invoices."

While the days of enforced belt tightening are long behind Norm - he has a weakness for luxury cars and now has a beautiful home - it seems old habits die hard.

Norm still goes into the office years after he could have retired extremely comfortably.

To not still be working would go against his other core business value, which is to be excited by what you do.

"It's been a wonderful journey for me," Norm says.

"I've loved every house I've bought and every block of land I've developed.

"I look back on my business career and I loved every second of it so although I made a lot of sacrifices I also had a lot of fun."

NORM'S TOP TIP: Don't get carried away by early success - reinvest the money into your business instead of spending it on yourself.


Randall Deer isn't sure when exactly he realised he was rich but he knows the moment he discovered what is priceless - when he learned no amount of money could save his baby boy.

It was the father of three's middle son, little Ethan Arjay, who died aged seven months after battling a mystery brain condition for most of his life.

The Deers still don't know why their otherwise perfect baby started suffering seizures from six weeks old.

But one thing the managing director of Ignite Travel Group does know is that his concept of success is forever changed.

Randall's biggest personal challenge came at the same time as his business took a mammoth blow - airline Air Australia had folded and Ignite was responsible for rebooking thousands of passengers on replacement flights.

"We went from a roaring success to barely hanging on," Randall says.

"We were Air Australia's biggest unsecured creditor and it took us an entire 12 months to return to profitability.

"I was working 100 hours a week, we'd just had a son and bought our first house in the space of a month. I was really going hard.

"I was saying to him, 'I will give it all up if I could only make you better'. But it wasn't like that; I couldn't fix him.

"Post that challenge any business challenge seemed insignificant."

Randall went about rebuilding his life at home and work.

That meant footy games with the family on weekends and a renewed focus on the core values of Ignite.

When Randall originally decided to start the company he left behind one of the most sought after roles in our tourist town - chief financial officer of BreakFree Holidays prior to its sale to Mantra Group.

With a generous salary and promising future in the corporate world, leaving to start his own venture in 2005 was a risk, but Randall says it was a calculated one.

His big idea was like nothing else available on the market - "holidays in a box", which included airfares, accommodation and sometimes even a day trip at prices to rival online travel agents such as Expedia for products rated highest on platforms like Tripadvisor.

Few people would have heard of Ignite but almost everyone has stumbled across one of Randall's "hot deals" advertised across the media and posted on websites My Fiji or My Maldives.

Like a fine-dining restaurant, Ignite only has a handful of destinations on its menu and unlike the pages long list of dishes you're presented with at a pub you can be sure everything is top notch.

Randall says entrepreneurs need to ensure their concept ticks all the boxes before they go hell for leather.

"Ask yourself what problem is it solving? What gap is it filling?" Randall says.

"Is it doing something someone else does better?

"It could be the world's best idea but without the scale or volume it could be the world's worst."

Knowing he had a genuinely good idea, Randall says his next step was to run it by some friends with business acumen before taking the leap.

He says bringing a true gamechanger into a long-established industry was the best way to strike it rich, but also the hardest.

"Tourism is a very traditional industry with very distinct rules on rate structures," Randall says.

"My biggest challenge was to convince firstly the resorts that we were going to step outside the models and commercial arrangements in a way that had never done before to receive benefits never seen before. With change can come great prosperity but also great risk."

When the Air Australia crisis hit, Randall worked 48 days straight and many of his executives followed suit.

He says this would never have been possible if he hadn't surrounded himself with the right people in the first place.

"Hire for attitude and train for experience," Randall says.

"It's not a blanket rule but once people have a certain level of skills I always take attitude over experience.

"If they already think they know everything you've got zero chance of getting them on board.

"I love coming to work every day and I hope everyone else does too."

So now heading up a company which is expected to generate more than $100 million sales this financial year is Randall successful?

"I felt successful when I had that first resort convinced to do something they'd never done before and the first customer I convinced to buy it," Randall says.

"Once I had my first tiny success on a single scale I felt successful because I knew the money would come.

"I will not be successful if just my business succeeds but family doesn't.

"Balancing those metrics in life means that I see my son play footy on a weekend which might also include a board meeting. It's my new measure of success."

RANDALL'S TOP TIP: Thoroughly research your idea first. Make sure someone else isn't already doing it, especially if they're doing it better. Ask yourself: would you buy it?

This article originally appeared on the Gold Coast Bulletin.

News Corp Australia

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