He’s half the face of Seven’s Sunrise, but David Koch also has a business background and appreciates the value of sound advice.
Sunrise television presenter David Koch is lucky. His younger brother, Matt, is an investment banker and wealth adviser to seriously rich Australians.
Not that David, whose enduring appeal is to Mr and Mrs Average, considers himself one of those.
“I am a charity case for Matt – I am nowhere near the rich people he manages in his day-to-day job at Morgan Stanley,” Kochie tells us. “But my brother manages the equity component of my portfolio and I pay him for it.”
The self-made small businessman turned chairman of a family business, Pinstripe Media, is considered one of the poster boys of financial success. He was once known for driving a 1967 Ford Mustang to work. He juggles TV appearances with a thriving business.
How does he do it? He calls himself a conservative investor and is a firm believer in getting a good financial adviser – despite the cost.
“People often ask me: what is the most important thing you need to do to achieve financial success? “My answer has always been the same – get good financial advice. Next is the hard bit: how to pick the right adviser? By referrals from friends, relatives and business associates. And the financial adviser must be qualified and experienced for your age demographics.
“That’s why I like Adviser Ratings – because it helps people find the right adviser.” Indeed, he likes the company so much he bought a stake in it.
Kochie says many people complain about the high cost of financial advice. But if you don’t have the skills to do it yourself, then you have to get an expert to do it for you. He concedes that some advisers can charge a high fee for their financial advice.
“Some people may say fees are too much, but as an investor you have to make sure the cost of the financial advice is transparent and that you have all the information to make an informed decision on whether you’re getting value for money. The argument is not how much is charged, but how it is charged and whether it is transparent to you.
“There are good, bad and indifferent advisers – just like there are good, bad and indifferent lawyers, journos and tradies.
“A good adviser is worth every dollar they charge, because you are going to make money based on the advice.’’
However, Kochie strongly believes people must not surrender responsibility for investing their funds to an adviser.
“You can delegate some of the decision-making, but you should never, ever surrender control of your investments.’’
Kochie, who started the Rich List in Britain while working for Fairfax Media, describes himself as a conservative investor. With his wife of 37 years, Libby – herself a financial commentator in Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph – they split financial responsibility for running their money lives.
“Libby runs the day-to-day finances at home and I do the investments. I am a massive believer that both partners should be across all finances in the family and business. So she pays me a living allowance and I do the investing. But we keep each other informed on what we’re doing.
“Libby is very good at details, she does all the research and gets a buzz when she gets a good deal. She has recently changed our life insurance policies and got a really good deal – and I hope she still loves me (just joking!). The best advice Libby has ever given me is: do the homework to get the best deal before making the purchase.”
One cardinal rule for Kochie is keeping business risks separate from his personal assets. He has a mix of investments from high-yielding, blue-chip stocks in the top 200 companies, cash in US dollars because he felt the Australian dollar was overvalued, listed property trusts and syndicates and some in fintech start-up companies.
He owns the family house on Sydney’s northern beaches, which can accommodate his four children and grandchildren. Since the kids, three girls and a boy, have flown the coop, like most families they boomerang back to stay with Kochie and Libby when they need to.
His son, AJ, is general manager of the family business, Pinstripe Media, which includes a video-making arm; his daughter, Briana, has a young son and also works three days a week at the family business; eldest daughter Samantha runs Pinstripe Media’s Hong Kong division focusing on small business content. His third daughter, Georgie, lives in London and works in the music industry. She is the only one not involved in the family business. At 59, Kochie has no plans to retire anytime soon. “I don’t think I’ll ever retire. Right now, I enjoy everything I do. I am having fun, it’s diverse and I like working with people.
“I tell my kids that 9.5 per cent of their salary goes to superannuation. If they change jobs, they should always consolidate all of their super into one. They should also make it a habit to save a little amount of their salary – 5 to 10 per cent – and put it into an investment account. It’s one of the most powerful and simple habits of building up wealth.’’
On bad financial advice, Kochie quoted US investment legend Warren Buffet: “If you don’t understand the investment, then don’t invest in it.’’