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Investor Stories: Nathalie & Ross Ong

With ambitious goals and a growing family, Nathalie and Ross are always looking at how they can diversify their portfolio while taking a lower risk, long-term approach to investing. Their investment portfolio consists of property with a side of index funds, but as they learn and grow it looks like it might be starting to tilt the other way.

The journey started with property

Like most Kiwis, Nathalie and Ross’ investing journey started with property. In 2013, they purchased their first home at the ages of 22 and 23. A big achievement so young and one to be proud of having grown up as migrants without much financial support.

They purchased their first home for $500,000 with a $50,000 cash deposit which they had saved (excluding their KiwiSaver). 

Fast forward a few years and their family started to grow, meaning they were in need of a larger family house. They decided to have their first home re-valued, which came in at $980,000 with a home loan of $290,000 and a rental return of $620-690 a week. 

Because Nathalie and Ross had developed good saving habits right from a young age (paying themselves first), they were able to find ways to reduce their living costs and pay down the mortgage as fast as possible. At the same time, they managed to save enough to put a 20% deposit towards a second home.

Then came index funds…

Nathalie and Ross are always looking at how they can diversify their portfolio so they don’t have all their “eggs in one basket”. Like many, it took a while to take that first step to start investing in the share markets purely due to the fear of the unknown. But knowledge is certainly power and the best thing they ever did was simply get started – in their words. 

The way they look at it, index funds are a lot like your KiwiSaver. You regularly contribute to it and your investment can be spread across a range of companies. The main difference however is that it is much more accessible than KiwiSaver, meaning you can enjoy your money a lot earlier without being bound by the restrictions when it comes to withdrawing your KiwiSaver.

They started investing a small amount and once they got the hang of it, began increasing their contributions each fortnight. They chose to invest in index funds as it requires a lot less effort, meaning they can keep putting money in and forget about it, knowing that over time it is going to do its thing and keeps on growing. Being able to choose which sector to invest their money in is an added bonus too!

So, how does investing in index funds compare to property?

To start, Nathalie and Ross noticed there were a few key differences between investing in property and index funds, which took them a while to get used to. These included volatility (as we’ve seen with COVID), which can be somewhat difficult to comprehend with property where they don’t see the value change from day to day. Not to mention the extensive choice of companies and jargon which they found perplexing.  

If they had been asked which they prefer a few months ago they would’ve said property (this was before the government changes regarding interest deductibility). Initially, property investing was an attractive option as the concept of renting it out was easier to grasp. There is also the flexibility to add value to it and use some of the equity to leverage and purchase more properties in the future. 

Nathalie and Ross feel that property investing offers a wide range of opportunities to either create or maintain wealth through renovating, flipping houses, long term hold, developments etc.

Index funds take the cake

On the other hand, and as previously mentioned, Nathalie and Ross enjoy investing in index funds as it requires a lot less effort, meaning they can set and forget their contributions and investments. They also like the fact that you don’t need a lot to get started and get to choose which sector to invest your money in. Knowing which sector they’re investing in helps them understand what they’re investing in. 

The conclusion? Right now, Nathalie and Ross prefer to invest in index funds as it gives them comfort in knowing that their exposure to risks is reduced. By this they mean their money is spread into different companies rather than trying to pick individual stocks to invest in.

Why start investing in the first place?

Nathalie and Ross got into investing purely because they like the idea of being able to retire early, achieve financial freedom and create wealth as well as passive income for their future. Unfortunately, the advice they received growing up had always been to save money and there was no emphasis on investing. They soon recognised that saving their hard-earned cash and leaving it in the bank was not going to help them achieve financial freedom.  

For the vast majority, the fear of losing that hard earned cash far outweighs the joy of being wealthy. To Nathalie and Ross, it became prudent that they needed to make our money work for both them and for their daughter’s future.

When Nathalie & Ross met Kernel

Nathalie and Ross knew they wanted to learn about the share markets, however were a bit hesitant to start. Market volatility and the overwhelming amount of choice out there is what held them back. After a couple months of learning and contemplating to start investing in shares, they were introduced to Kernel through a friend. A few conversations about Kernel later and they were sold on the idea of investing in index funds. Nathalie and Ross love that Kernel is so user friendly, simplified and you’re not too overwhelmed with choice up front. Oh, and not to mention the low fees plus friendly and knowledgable team!

A conservative approach to investing

As investors, Nathalie and Ross are fairly conversative, taking a lower risk approach to investing. Their strategy has always been to buy and hold and take a long-term view (10+ years at least). Ensuring they’re using data and research to make decisions, crunching the numbers of possible scenarios before making an investment is something they place high importance on also. 

More, they only like to invest in what they understand, and love investing in index funds for exactly this reason. Index funds give them the ability to take a lower risk approach as their money is spread across multiple different companies rather than speculating and betting on individual stocks.

Nathalie & Ross have a few investing tips

Short and sweet, here are a few tips to think of whether you’re just starting out or have been investing for a while: 

  1. Don’t be a FOMO investor, do your own research and don’t follow others blindly.
  2. Surround yourself with those who inspire you. 
  3. Don’t overreact when the market/trend changes if you are in it for the long term.

If you’re a young investor planning for your future, they’ve also got a couple of golden nuggets to share… 

From Ross: Take that first step, START NOW. Be patient and enjoy the learnings that come along the way, there’s no such thing as getting rich quick! 

From Nathalie: Don’t be afraid to take risks. There are good debts and bad debts and make sure you know the difference.


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