E29 - Sarah Riegelhuth Interview
Finance expert, entrepreneur, and author of “Get Rich Slow”, Sarah Riegelhuth shares:
- Why instant gratification is the biggest challenge for wealth creation
- How she leads a digital nomad’s life running a prosperous business with a global team
- The four factors that make wealth creation easy and fulfilling for her Gen Y clients
- Why the criticisms of Gen Y are wrong, and what they have to offer
- Tips on how to engage Gen Y
- Why her staff call themselves ‘Gladiators’ - this is gold!
Connect with Sarah via Linked In.
Sarah’s full bio on Wealth Enhancers:
Visit the Gen Y wealth creation membership community, Wealth Enhancers.
Read Wait But Why article, “Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy”.
Simon Sinek’s interview on Milennials in the Workplace.
BONUS: Two awesome books that talk about how to motivate your self and others:
Zoë: Hi, this is Zoe Routh and I'm really thrilled to have Sarah Riegelhuth on the show today. Sarah is a finance expert, entrepreneur and author of Get Rich Slow. Reading about Sarah and reading about her wonderful business, I can tell she is obsessed with showing Gen Y, how to live financially savvy. And she runs a unique business globally called Wealth Enhancers and we're going to dive a little bit into how Wealth Enhancers works and Sarah's amazing story and how she runs her world.
She is a roaming global nomad with a huge list of accolades and awards. Looking at her bio on her site, she's got award after award, after award, including IFA Excellence Awards Industry Thought Leader, AIM Excellence Awards for Owner Manager, AFA Female Excellence in Advice Awards, you name it, she's got it. And I think she must have thought "Oh, that's a big enough list" because you got a few years missing now, you're probably figured, "Ah, just carry on and do amazing things in the world" So, first of all, welcome Sarah.
Sarah : Thank you. Thank you for having me, I'm excited.
Zoë: Now also Sarah is up at 6:00 a.m. from the Philippines to talk to us. So, full credit to her to being keen to talk about money and how to live an amazing life ... Thanks also for showing up. It's a very challenging hour of the day.
Sarah : Not at all. If you hear any roosters in the background, you'll now have context. Literally though, I can hear roosters here. My get up time in the Philippines.
Zoë: Yeah, yeah. So a little bit of history in trying to line up this podcast interview, I have been chasing Sarah around the globe, she's been in the US and now she's ended up in the Philippines and we're just having a chat before we started the recording about, how she runs her world and she is originally Australian and hasn't spent that much time there. Sarah can tell us a little bit about, how you run your life right now with your business?
Sarah : Yeah, I guess I'm a bit of a nomad or a gypsy, as my family like to call me. I do like to be able to work from anywhere. In the first few years in my business that wasn't possible or I probably didn't think it was possible, so I didn't set it up that way. But about three or four years ago, I decided that it was possible and I started changing the business to be more flexible and more remote which was great for both me and my team. They really liked the flexibility, they liked being able to work from home and it allowed us to then start hiring people from all over the world versus just in Australia which has been really fun and exciting to just experience the amazing talent and diversity that exists in the world.
Bringing people into the business from different cultures is really fun as well. And it has challenges but we kind of have a good time around that as a team. So yeah, successfully transitioned to a fully flexible, fully remote team and that allowed me the freedom to get back into living a lifestyle of kind of moving around and spending time in different parts of the world which is what I've always loved doing since I left high school basically.
Zoë: It does sound like the dream life. I think there is, I have been reading about digital nomads being a major trend in employment arrangements. So, it sounds like you are leading the charge on that. Tell me a little bit about how you actually started your business, Wealth Enhancers.
Sarah : Yeah, the first business I ever started was actually a private wealth management firm. It's a very traditional high net worth portfolio management for older Australians, who're mainly 55 plus, either in retirement or planning retirement and managing large portfolios two million dollars plus and helping them plan for their retirement and feel comfortable and all of that ...
At the time I guess I was 27 and people started asking us, like people from my social circle sort of started asking us "Well can we get advice, like what should we be doing with our money" and I started looking around and I felt "Wow there's literally no one that is talking to us, to Gen Y" and at the same time I was having conversations with these incredible older, wealthier people and sort of saying to them, "Well how did you get ... Like it's one thing for me to manage your wealth now but how did you get to this point? How did you get to the point where you have this financial freedom and you're able to retire and you didn't just start yesterday?" and they were like, all said "Yeah, we started really young, we had advice through our whole lives, we've been just working on this for 30 years"
And I was like "Okay, that's something that is important to know" and I think that a lot of people don't really think about, when it comes to wealth. They imagine that it's just going to happen one day or if they work hard somehow they'll get wealthy and really that's not the case, it doesn't matter, how much you earn and I mean it's pretty easy to spend it all, doesn't matter how big that amount is, you can blow it. You read about these, especially in the US, you read about earning millions of dollars a year, in a sporting career or something like that or in entertainment and ended up broke, it's not what you earn, it's what you do with it. And these people really showed me that.
Finn, my husband and I, we started the private client firm. We started thinking well, what if we could provide an offer for younger people. After about two years in the private client business we launched, this sort of trial that we launched this offering to younger people, to Gen Y and it was just really well received and I could just see what an impact it would have. We were dealing people who where right at the start of their wealth creation journey and just had all this possibility ahead of them and it was just something that I felt incredibly passionate about and motivated by and so yeah, we went down that path and we ended up selling the private client business about two years ago so that we could focus completely on Wealth Enhancers which has been amazing.
Zoë: And you run it as a community, so that's really quite different from the usual financial advisor model.
Sarah : Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Zoë: How does that actually work? If I'm a Gen Y, I'm not, I'm Gen Z, no wait, I'm Gen X! Gen Z - wishful thinking.
Sarah : Gen X.
Zoë: I'm much older and grayer and so if I'm a Gen Y candidate or Gen Z, I guess they're moving into the market too now, the early guys. How does it work if I want to join your community and what do I get and what's the experience like?
Sarah : Yes, so firstly we specifically deal with Gen Y. Our intention isn't to go into the Gen Z market. Our intention is to move with Gen Y as they get older because we know and understand this segment of the market because we are them. All of our team members including and probably most importantly their leadership team are Gen Y and we know and understand the challenges and how we think and how we feel and how we want to live our lives more than anyone ever could if you weren't from our generation I guess. Just to kind of be clear on that because a lot of people do confuse that we give advice for young people and that they would need to then find another advisor when they get older but we're very specific to our generation. And then in relation to the community, so what we kind of realised were some pretty key factors to success and we really look at not just you making money because if you're miserable and you hate your job or you hate your family or whatever but you're rich, I mean that's not success to me.
Like success is being financially free to give you the life and having then, which will give you the life you want but it's also being happy and fulfilled in your relationships, being happy and fulfilled in your career or business. Being healthy and fit and all of those things really contribute to success, so we're a very holistic, we take a very holistic approach and what we realised was these sort of four things that will contribute to your success. One is receive really good financial advice and investment advice, two is get that stuff done, so the administration and implementation side which is a part of what we do as well, three is coaching and accountability, so actually coaching you toward your goals, keeping you on track, keeping you accountable on an ongoing basis and those are not just financial goals but other areas of your life and the final piece is community which you asked about.
It's that whole, you are the sum of your, the five people around you, your five closest friends or whatever it is. Because we deal with high performers, high achievers, particularly in Australia they tend to be the people that ... You know, you receive a lot of criticism, a lot of, it's hard sometimes for other people in your life to understand you when you're someone who's out there really pushing to be the best you can be, so what we want to do is create a community of those types of people and bring them together to support each other, connect with each other and just be a part of each other's lives because we know that there's such a power in surrounding yourself with similar people who are wanting to be better from a financial perspective but also in their careers, in their professions, in their spiritual lives, in their health, like everything really you just want to constantly improve yourself.
Zoë: It's a fabulous platform and I think "Wow I wish I'd had something like that when I was 15 years younger and starting my professional career" I mean, I remember when I first came to Australia worked at Out3ward Bound and they had the sense, the HR people had sense to bring in a financial planner to talk to us which is hilarious because Outward Bounders did not make much money.
Sarah : Yeah, I have a friend that used to work with Outward Bound.
Zoë: Oh really. Oh, really you have to tell me who that is ... So with financial advice what can we do with the two pennies that we earn? And the thing is, we actually earned quite a lot because we have a everything provided for us. We had our housing provided, we had our gear, and our food provided, so everything we earned was actually disposable income and ever since my first initial awareness of the power of money and the opportunity to do something with it as a young person and the guy who came in, really laid it out. It's like, if you start doing just a little bit now, the magic of compound interest will set you up and I think it's really hard to, at that age or I found or you may find it different with your generation, to really put that, to envision yourself at 50 or 60 when you're only 20 something because ...
Sarah : Oh it's really hard. It's really hard and I think the whole compound interest thing it actually is incredible and amazing but there's actually scientific evidence and I can't remember where I read it or can't cite anything for you, but there's scientific evidence that I can stand up and present you the chart on compound interest and you can sit there and go "Wow that's amazing, I must do that" but our brains actually can't hold on to it, because we live in the now and so we go back out into the world and our desire to spend that money now on our lifestyle overrides what we actually know to be true because we saw the chart and we saw the graph and we understood it and it's like our brains kind of can't hold on to compound interest, the concept of it, which is really quite interesting and challenging to finance people.
Zoë: And I think I've read similar article about this on the Wait But Why blog, which talks about this complex-, like he describes it as the monkey mind of the mammoth's brain, it's fabulous ...
Sarah : Yes, yes.
Zoë: I'll put a link to that in the show notes and the show notes for the podcast will be zoerouth.com/podcast/we and we'll have a link there to Wealth Enhancers website and Sarah's profile as well as the Wait But Why site. And what he talks about is, what you just mentioned which is that we live in the now, we have this urgent need to just embrace the experience now. It's kind of like an innate compulsion and this concept of delayed gratification, which is one of the major principles of compound interest and not spending everything that you earn, is quite a difficult skill and practice to develop.
As you were talking, I'm also curious about the criticism that Gen Y has received from a number of different areas and I love you to speak to this and one of the areas and Wait But Why has a poignant article in what's the problem with Gen Ys and Simon Sinek recently got interviewed about this and he's been speaking about Gen Y and basically both of them are saying Gen Y was brought up spoiled, they were taught they can be, do or have anything that they're stars in their own right and that they can just, they can have whatever they want now. And it's all unicorns and rainbows.
And Simon Sinek's advice and I actually went to see him in Sydney and a Gen-Y person came up and asked a question and she got a little bit slammed by Simon because his advice was " Stop being in such a rush, slow down, don't just leave your company at the first sign of distress, you have to put in your time, you have to be patient.
So, I'm curious about your perspective on Gen Y, are these criticisms valid or is there something else going on that the world needs to hear about your generation.
Sarah : I think that there is no right or wrong way to live. So saying that the way that we've grown up and the way, excuse me, that we approach life is wrong is not right. Because I could also just say, why would you stay in a job that you hate and a marriage that you hate? I'm just you know speculating or something that you hate because society just says that you should. And I feel like that's potentially what was more prevalent in previous generations. There was a lot of what you should be doing and there was a lot of sticking it out and toughing it out. Whether that was relationships or career or anything really. And so, my counter to it is, is it really so bad that we actually push for what we want and what makes us more happy and more fulfilled and more purpose driven. I, a hundred percent agree that we've been raised in a very blessed time. I think to say that we're all spoiled is not fair and not correct.
But I think we've been, by a large raised in a very blessed time if you particularly, obviously if you've been born in Australia or America or a like that. And people still have adversity and personal adversity and all of those kinds of things but if you're born in Australia after 1980, I mean things have been pretty rosy. We've had fairly good economic growth, employment opportunities. Like we haven't really been at war, obviously there have been wars in the world but not the way that they have in the past, we haven't had famine, we haven't had to worry about basic things like how are we going to get food on the table and all of that. I definitely agree that we've been born in a blessed time but with that comes it's own challenges. We probably are asking these of ourselves, these more deep existential questions at a much younger age and really challenging like what are we here on this planet to do, because we're not worrying about just feeding a family or just getting by.
We do live in a more abundant time than previously and we kind of know, we did grow up with the beliefs that we can do and be anything we want, which I don't think is a bad thing to think. And I understand the frustration of trying to work with people who kind of have this, as other generations I think to would see this like a sense of entitlement or whatever but I don't actually think that's what it is. I think what we're really seeking is a sense of purpose. And if you from an employment perspective, if you can engage Gen-Y with a sense of purpose, like why are we doing what we're doing every day? Why are we coming here every day? What's the bigger picture? What are we working on? How are we making the world a better place? How we doing good?
People will stay, that's what they want. Same in their relationships, in everything. Like if something is not good for them as Gen Y, I think we're much more willing to walk away from it and look for something that is good for us and you know there are areas of our life where that is challenging and I think we with finance were we were talking about instant gratification best of life gratification. There is a real challenge for our generation to balance the now with the future because especially with easy access to credit, so we can get credit so easily, credit cards, personal loans, financing for everything you could possibly want to buy.
And so there's a real ease of just like living this lifestyle that's probably, is a little beyond our means or well definitely is I should say actually. Like definitely living a lifestyle beyond our means financially has been made really easy for us. So, I think that's challenging. But going back to that sense of purpose and passion, if that's what we're really seeking and I don't think that's bad, that we want to make out time on this earth, mean something.
Zoë: I think that's a beautiful message and I see that a lot with the Gen Ys that I've come across too, is that they are much more socially minded, globally conscious than previous generations because of what they've grown up with. You know, the internet, global access to ideas and information and understanding the world, that it's quite different than any other generation that's come before. So the global consciousness piece is huge, the other thing ...
Sarah : Yeah, I think ...
Zoë: Sorry go on.
Sarah : Sorry, well I just think that we do, we know so much more about what's going on and because of that belief that we can kind of do anything and be anything, we take action. We don't just stand by and let things happen, we voice their opinion and we do things about it.
Zoë: Absolutely and I've been seeing this happen in many different organisations were the Gen Ys after a couple years are like I'm ready, I'm ready for more, give me some room. And the Gen Xes and olders are kind of like "Bide your time" and this is Simon Sinek’s message, he's like "Bide your time, you've got to get some experience" And the Gen Ys are like "Yeah, and I'm ready to get that, give that experience now, like give me a go. And what I see is ...
Sarah : Well, I think …
Zoë: I was just going to say, the thing that I'm saying is that Gen Ys are giving up on organisations that are holding them back and start going out on their own, just as you have done.
Sarah : Totally and obviously I'm excited about this topic, so I keep jumping in, so sorry. Yeah, I mean I think the whole experience thing, I mean what I've achieved, one of the experience I should say rather than achieved ... What I've been able to experience in my life through going on my own, starting my own company all that, is potentially much greater than what I would have achieved or experienced by working in a corporation potentially had I worked somewhere where they wouldn't get the opportunity.
Because I've just been able to take the reins and do it myself, so I've ended up with all of this experience under my belt. I mean it's actually by opening up those options and experiences that you're going to help someone grow and develop and I do think that, like you said we've had so much more access to information particularly, I'm at the older end of Gen Y, I just turned 36 but particularly the younger ones, they've lived with their whole entire life almost now with internet and access all this information like, they actually do know more than you at 22 than you did when you were 22 not you but old people, older, like they actually do know more because they've read more, they've learned more, they've seen more, it's just a fact.
So maybe give them a little bit more credit and a little bit more challenge and it doesn't mean handing over the keys but how can you give them incremental challenge, incremental progression like that's something that I think Gen Y really seek out is a feeling of progression. We kind of have this need to want to get better and know that we're doing better, know that we're pushing which again I don't think is a bad thing. Well, I do agree, like experience something and there are so many things that I didn't know five years ago and 10 years ago and 15 years ago that I know now, they'll be many more things in the next five and 10 years that I don't know now that I'm going to learn. But I mean, I think it's different. Like they say that a five year old has or something has the same has received the same information that a 70 year old has or something these days.
Zoë: Come on - that's crazy!
Sarah : Just in terms what they actually absorb doesn't mean they're smart or wise or have knowledge but the amount of media that we can consume now is just so different.
Zoë: You're absolutely right. And then it just kind of raises the question is, are our brains developing differently with this inundation of information and how can we more quickly change that into wisdom? Because, I think one of our key tenets is that wisdom comes with experience and age which is sort of what Gen Xers and the boomers have hung on to and sort of what like what they carry as a flag. It's like experience is the golden elixir and that's why Gen Ys and younger need to just hang on a little bit.
And I'm wondering if that's not necessarily the case anymore because our context has changed so differently and that maybe our brains and our world views are changing in a lot different way than it has previously with different generations. So I'm a leadership developmental specialist and one of the key tenets of that is that our worldviews tend to change and shift over time with experience, so I'm wondering if our context is, it's accelerating that development. So I think that's maybe ... Go on I'd love to hear perspective on that.
Sarah : I think it's a combination, I think we all hopefully feel wiser as we get older and have gone through more things because I think one thing is knowing things and having all of these information. The other thing is actually having lived through things and that self-awareness space. On the self-awareness which I think drives a lot of this wisdom because it's this reflective kind of attitude in looking at what's happening, I do feel like Gen Y potentially sometimes can reach self awareness maybe a little faster as well because of the fact that we haven't had to worry about all these other things, we do ask bigger questions of our selves potentially. I don't really know or like I'm certainly no expert on this but I know for myself I've been asking questions since I was quite young, because I didn't have certain stresses or things to worry about if that makes sense.
Zoë: I'm not sure it makes sense. If you're not worried about how to eat, you can wonder about the purpose of existence.
Sarah : Yeah.
Zoë: It kind of goes to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs a little bit, so all those needs are taken care of ...
Sarah : Exactly.
Zoë: We can now work on self actualisation a lot earlier in our lives.
Sarah : Yeah, so maybe that means, we gained some level of wisdom earlier, maybe not, I don't know.
Sarah : I definitely still think we should respect the wisdom and the experience of older people a hundred percent. I feel like though more often what's happening is that the older people are not respecting what the younger people may be able to bring and not necessarily always the other way around, if that makes sense.
Zoë: Yeah, I think you're right. I think it needs to be a mutual, a relationship based on mutual respect and the value that each brings to the table. So I'm curious because you spoke earlier about purpose as being central to Gen Ys and I noticed that you are heavily involved with Project Futures which I know a little bit about and B corporation. Can you tell us about your involvement with Project Futures and what it is and why you picked that particular foundation to support.
Sarah : Yeah, the reason that I picked Projects Futures, I guess it's very much Gen Y kind of driven organisation, the community around Project Futures is Gen Y, so I think I got introduced to it just through, sort of people I knew and that kind of thing. But once I understood what they did which is raising funds and awareness to end human trafficking. They're a fund raiser and they pass the funds on to service providers, sort of on the ground providers of service for people who are escaping slavery basically, human slavery, whether it's sex slavery or the other forms of slavery. And I think it was, it's actually back to some of the conversation we've been having, I have so much freedom, I'm so blessed and sometimes I sit around, you know, getting anxiety and stress about like, all these stupid little things because my life is so blessed and then to think that there are still people in the world that have no choice and no freedom and they are slaves, it just blows my mind and so for me it really aligns well for Wealth Enhancers.
The fact that it's Gen Y and the fact that we are all about being the best version of ourselves and helping people create all this freedom that we could give back and help people in the world that really have no freedom at all. So, mainly they work with organisations in Cambodia but they also have projects in Nepal and even in Australia because we do have slavery in Australia ...
Sarah : So I was, yeah we do, we do. And so I was on the board for a couple of years but since I kind of the last year I've been spending more time in America, I've stepped up the board but we still support them through the business and the CEO Stephanie Lorenzo who was the founder has recently stepped down but I mentored her, the last year as well. So I still very much stayed involved but essentially we, for all of our members who refer another member we donate 250 dollars to Project Futures, so it's part of growing our community and through that growth our communities contributing to this cause.
Zoë: That's awesome. It's one of the things I believe in terms of successful businesses is that contribution is got to be a foundational principle built into the fabric of the business and I love how you built that in. It's not just "We're going to do a one off fundraiser, it's like no, every sort of mechanical process of our business contributes to supporting this cause and so it becomes, it becomes like a life blood, kind of sustaining thing" I think that's wonderful.
Sarah : Yeah, exactly. And we used to do, before we found a cause that we really felt passionate about we used to do fundraisers for things that we cared about at the time but it's been really nice to find something that we can all rally around on an ongoing basis.
Zoë: Okay, so I have like, I have many, many questions. I'm trying to cherry pick the ones I really want an answer to ...
Sarah : And I've got to go too. But well ...
Zoë: It's been fabulous. Slavery in Australia, so this kind of shocks me. Tell me about that.
Sarah : So there is sex slavery happening in Australia, there is labour slavery, so people who are trafficked into the country and working in illegal brothels and even service provision like some beauty parlours and things like that. There are also instances of people working in these kind of places that are not being paid to be there and do not have any freedom or ability to get out. That's happening in Australia.
Zoë: Wow, okay. You know what, I will also include a link to Project Futures on the show notes page for people, if they want to check out and get involved with trying to end slavery ... You raised my awareness about something that's happening in my own doorstep, so thank you, thank you for that. One last fun question is, I see on your website, you've listed your staff as gladiators. You know, I'm obsessed with like Spartacus and that whole Roman era and the gladiator experience. Can you tell me about, why you call your staff gladiators? What's that about?
Sarah : You know, it's kind of funny. So, there's a US TV series called Scandal ...
Sarah : And it's really popular, it's got Kerry Washington is the lead and she plays this fixer called Olivia Pope. So, she's in Washington and she's fixing all the problems of the White House, all these big scandals, she's going to make them go away. And they take their job very seriously and in the first episode, they're kind of recruiting someone new for the firm and there's a saying were the guy who's recruiting the girl goes in and he was like "You got to be a gladiator, you've got to go over a cliff for Olivia, you eat, sleep, breathe Olivia. This is your life, if you do this there is nothing else" And we all love that show, we all laugh because and related to it because we really feel like that about what we do. So the team actually started calling themselves gladiators, they are like "Yeah we're going over a cliff for our members" like they just love it and the way that we run the company is a very like open culture, everyone knows the numbers, everyone knows everything, we have a profit share arrangement that's equally split between all staff members.
All of the decisions that I make as CEO, I have to run by the whole team because if it's money that I'm going to be spending, it's going to affect the whole entire business. And the way that we feel about the work that we do, because you know it is challenging trying to convince young people to get financial advice at this age, they all kind of think, "No, I want to do it later" and sometimes it feels like we're fighting the fight because we've got to get them on board so that they understand how important this is.
And we've recently had a big insurance claim of a member who didn't want to take insurance but we convinced them and thank God, they're just so grateful that we did. We've recently had a member go bankrupt due to unforeseen circumstances on their behalf to do with their business and we've been able to walk them through that whole entire thing. And there's another one that we're working on as well. It's just really big life changing things and for the team, those are the things that, that's why we come to work.
I mean it's amazing to be able to help people plan and grow and reach their dreams and goals, that's the primary thing. But also when stuff goes sideways, that's when our work really shines because without us they would have been in a much worse situation than they are when they've been working with us. So yeah, it was very passionate and so they all just said "We're gladiators" and now they wanted to put that on the website and I put it on their email signatures and they're fighting the fight every day.
Zoë: That's fabulous, that's wonderful. Thank you for sharing that story. I think any CEO can take a lot from the culture and approach that you take to inspiring your staff around the purpose of the business. Sarah, thank you so much for making this happen. We've had a couple goes at setting it all up. Thank you for getting up at a very early hour with the roosters to speak to me. I really appreciate hearing your story and keep on doing the amazing work that you're doing.
Sarah : Thank you so much. Thank you for having me, it's been fun.