How to create wealth off your farm and generate money while you sleep
Andrew: Welcome to this podcast and we have a special guest on here today, Terry Tran. I want to firstly make sure you can hear me okay Terry?
Terry: I can Andrew.
Andrew: Welcome mate. Thank you very much for coming on board the ‘Profitable Farmer Podcast’, sharing your story and educating our farmers about investing and creating freedom and wealth off their farm. Terry, let’s just take a step back. I’d love to share with everyone how you and I met. I was trying to contemplate our first meeting. When was it? I think it was on a webinar that I ran? Would that be a fair assumption?
Terry: The very first time we met probably was on a webinar, because at that time, I know you were teaching people how to run webinars. You are my mentor on how to utilise the webinar platform, and over time I also attended a couple of the business live seminars. This is going back, probably almost…
Andrew: Several years.
Terry: Yes, many years. At least over five, six, seven years ago now. It was actually awesome. You were mentoring me on how to create a profitable business, from the business point of view.
Andrew: Yes, isn’t it funny? Because I know you were at one of our events and you spoke about what you do. Something about it Terry, really piqued my interest. I remember many years ago I thought “We’ve just got to get Terry in front of business owners”. Because as a business we work so hard, right? We work so hard for our money and I think we forget that we need to turn around and get our money working hard for us. I remember Terry, I was teaching you a system on how to run a business and you said, “Look, this is what I do. I just have a system to help people create wealth.”
Let’s just personally talk a little bit about your background. How did you get into trading shares? Why shares? And obviously, your business ‘Freedom Trader’.
Terry: Sure. My background is I came from corporate years ago. I was doing the 70-80-hour weeks and over time, my health deteriorated. I was with one of the big four banks. I was going up the ranks, promotion after promotion, so that was fine. But 5½ years in, one day going out to lunch, I literally blacked out at the top of a staircase. This is in Sydney. I rolled down two flights of stairs and ended up in the hospital. I realised that doing the 80-hour weeks wasn’t sustainable long term. I was working hard for my money, getting my promotions, but I needed something else that could give me the freedom. Because I didn’t have any, I was not really having the family life I wanted. I thought “Okay, let’s have a change. Let’s see if I can give this a go”.
I was always interested in investing but didn’t know where to start, so I attended seminars to learn as much as I could. The first 2 years actually I didn’t do well at all. I basically lost quite a fair bit of money, because I attended the wrong seminars, people who were teaching for a living rather than doing for a living. It wasn’t until I went out and sought the best fund managers around the country and learnt from them, the Warren Buffets of the world, a lot of the Australian fund managers that do very well and have great track records. Really learning from them and realising the mistakes I made and from there I slowly retrained myself and started again.
Once I became quite successful on my own, I thought, “Okay, why not now help other people by managing their money?”. I went out there and I raised capital quite quickly. I was running the fund very similar to Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s company, where I wanted to be fair, where I don’t charge any management fees. I’ll just charge based on profits, and I’ll be the largest fund holder of the fund as well. Therefore, we have our interests aligned and it just grew from there. Literally, it’s been about 15 years now and a good track record.
Then about three years ago, I decided to teach what I do to help people, especially in Australia. I thought people might be interested to learn how to invest safely, just like a fund manager. Where the first and foremost priority is protecting the capital you have, and once you’ve protected it, how do you then grow it? At all times, you basically minimise the risk to almost zero. Then grow the wealth from that foundation. Too many people come to markets and they lose what they have. I didn’t want that to happen.
Andrew: I’m a client of Terry’s. He was working as a client of mine and it switched and I’m now learning Terry’s Freedom Trader system. It’s interesting Terry, because if somebody says you should be buying, for example, Apple, I’d assume “Right, I’m going to have to get a big chunk of money that I’ve worked hard for and put it into Apple”, It’s almost a bit of impatience or risky. I know that’s a component that I’ve really learnt from working with you, that that’s quite risky.
Terry: Yes, it is.
Andrew: Putting too much money into one stock is risky so you’ve completely changed the rules. You’ve changed how I go about trading and investing. Not just in shares, you’ve also opened me up to investing in property as well.
Let’s just talk a little bit about this Terry. How easy is it for farmers to get really caught up in working hard for their money and not really thinking about “Well you can learn these skills to get your money working for you”?
Terry: Yes, that’s correct. I learnt that from the corporate life and now also seeing many businesses, especially hardworking farmers that slave away so many hours a day, at least 10-12 hours a day on their farms. Yes, you are working hard for the money but why not take the profits that you make from the farm, put that to work and allow the cashflow to accumulate and grow a portfolio that will sustain you long term as well?
For me, I actually see investing as very similar to farming, it’s literally like a seed. The job is to find a great seed, plant it and then allow time for it to do its thing, water it, prune out anything that’s bad and then allow that plant to slowly grow and then at the end you harvest it. It’s all about patience, yes.
Andrew: Yes, it’s a great metaphor. I just want to talk about working really hard for your money. Something that was taught to me many years ago is that ‘people who just buy stuff, end up with stuff all’. It’s interesting because a farmer might do well in a year so go and buy a new ute or a nice holiday, for example, which is fine. However, one of the great paradigm shifts that I had many years ago, which you’ve just amplified since learning from you, is this concept of using your profits to create wealth and then buy your stuff from the returns of that wealth. It’s such a powerful thing and that’s one component. Building wealth outside the farm.
I know that you’ve previously worked with farmers and you’ve got this big mission to help a farmer mitigate risk, correct? Because a farmer is so weather dependent that really if they learn to create money outside of their business, then this is a massive risk mitigation strategy. Can we talk a little bit more about that, aligned with your mission and the importance of creating wealth outside of your business?
Terry: Definitely. Like you said I’ve got a number of farmers that I teach now. Just from talking to them I realised there are 3 core risk components:
The 1st risk is definitely the weather. Currently of course, you hear about the drought. Potentially from time to time there’s flooding as well. From one year to the next you have no idea what the weather will be. That can wipe out a farmer’s financial stability in one go.
The 2nd risk is fluctuating commodity prices. I know a lot of farmers lock in their potential prices for the future in case it drops. This also happens with supply and demand for the crops.
Then the 3rd risk is the big grocery chains squeezing the farmers, especially on the food stuff.
For a farm to carve out a profit with all those three risks, it’s actually quite dangerous. Why not mitigate that risk and slowly build up a portfolio on the side?
Eventually, that grows to a certain size that the farmer, plus their family is always safe no matter what happens on the farm. That’s now what I see as my mission; I really want to help these hard-working farmers, make sure that they build this portfolio so going forward whatever the weather, whatever the commodity prices, whatever Woolies or Coles throws at them it doesn’t matter, that portfolio can now sustain them. In good times, both do well, great! But in bad times on the farm, this portfolio will always look after them. That’s my mission now.
Andrew: It’s such a great mission. Just for a moment, I want our listeners to imagine waking up in 10 years, imagine returning more money than what you can return off your farm. What you do, Terry, is help all of us, myself included, substitute our income. Not only that, substitute our income whilst working significantly less because I’m putting my money into companies where everyone else is doing the hard work. Additionally, I’m putting my money into successful companies and leveraging that. It’s just such a brilliant thing you do.
Now, I want to talk about your results. Because you have achieved a return that’s been greater than 20% per year on average over the last 15 years. Is that a fair call?
Terry: Yes, correct. We’ve been doing about 22.5% per year.
Andrew: 22.5% on average. Now, I just want to put this into context a little bit, Terry, you took, I think, $30,000?
Terry: Yes, from $30,000 after about six months, I thought “Okay, this system works now” so I added an extra $20,000 so it ended up being a $50,000 account.
Andrew: Okay. Let’s hypothetically say a farmer has $50,000. They might not have that available in cash but they might be able to borrow it as equity against their farm. A lot of farmers actually have what I call ‘lazy equity’; they’re not using leverage well enough. Let’s, for example, take $50,000 and compound that at your average 22.5% return Terry. I think you showed us 15 years later… what was the money in the account.
Terry: That one account ended up being about $1.5million.
Andrew: One and a half million dollars.
Terry: Yes. That was at 22%. We withdrew about half a million to pay taxes and also, obviously living as well. Basically, the seed that I planted 15 years ago slowly and consistently grew and over time we harvested $1.5million.
Andrew: It’s extraordinary Terry. That is the power of this compounding effect.
Andrew: Now, I’m probably putting you on the spot here, but I’ll test your mathematical brain. The difference between compounding at 10% versus 20%, just approximately, what’s that worth in 15 years?
Terry: Massive. For example, a lot of people think if you go for 7% but you actually do 20% or 21% that it’s triple the return at the end. But over a long period of 20 years, in actual fact, it’s not triple the return, your end result is about 20, just over 20 times the return, so that’s a massive difference.
Say hypothetically, a $50,000 account compounded at that 20% mark, by year 17, that $50,000 is now worth over a million dollars. It’s about 1.1 million. It’s logarithmic. Next year, it’s no longer $10,000 that you began with per year. It’s now $200,000 a year. In actual fact, by the year 17, say you get to a million. All it takes now is three and a half more years from that one million to now double itself to $2million.
It took 17 years to grow to a million dollars from 50 grand but now, only an extra three years to take it to $2million. Another three years to double that again to $4million. This compounding effect is very powerful… That’s why Einstein quoted it as the 8th Wonder of the World. Because it just grows logarithmically. Time allows us to grow things. Also, this is why I always say, don’t procrastinate and don’t wait. Start, no matter how small, just start and let that seed slowly grow. You’ll be surprised at the end result.
Andrew: I’m going to ask the direct question Terry; how do you get 20% returns? If you could offer three lessons from what you’ve learnt from this share trading. I know that I’m putting you on the spot, but what would be some great tips that you could offer to start getting returns up there?
Terry: The first thing is definitely having a systematic approach. Systematic means that it has to have what they call a positive edge. Every time you put a dollar in, you know systematically what type of average return you’ll be able to take out. For example, we’ve got 10 criteria’s and just utilising those 10 fundamental criteria’s of being able to methodically select the companies based on the criteria’s, you’ll literally wipe out 99% of the listed stocks or investments around the planet.
Just imagine, using the 10 criteria’s, only 1% actually passed all 10 criteria’s, only 1%. Then that makes our job quite easy. There are so many thousands of companies around the world but because only 1% pass, our universe now shrinks to only the best of the best companies that grow year in, year out. The Microsoft’s, the Google’s, the Facebook’s, they get selected and then only invest in those long term.
Once you’ve invested in them, of course, you need time.
I think the second lesson will probably be patience to allow it to do its thing and not rush it.
Then the third lesson would probably be temperament. Being unemotional about it. You’re almost robotic where you know when to buy, you know what to buy, take the action, buy it, allow time and when you make a profit, there’s no need to be ecstatic about it. When you make a small loss, it’s also no need to be depressed about it. The day goes on and you just go about your activities. Go about basically looking after the land on the farm and going about your day, simple as that.
Andrew: Follow the system. We teach this in business. In Farm Owners Academy we call it the ‘TOP Producers Program’ and when a farmer follows it and doesn’t muck with it, then they get the returns and they get the success.
Andrew: What you’ve done is you’ve created a system that when implemented and followed, you get high returns.
Terry: Another thing I want to say Andrew, this is why farmers are so good at investing, because they straightaway already have the patience. The farmers know it’s a patience game when they plant the crops, and they allow time to do its thing. That’s already a great trait, automatically, all farmers have it. Another is the following a system part.
We’ve got a number of farmers on our program and I look at their results and I’m wondering why is it that the farmers do so well? It’s because they follow the system and they’ve got the patience which a lot of city folks don’t.
Andrew: In addition to that, Terry, and this is a generalisation but I would say that farmers are so good at working in isolation. They are so good at being focused, they’ve got the logical mindset to implement and follow a system: step one, step two step three. I just think with that mindset, they have a much higher chance of succeeding with this.
Terry: I can’t agree more.
Andrew: Yes, it’s very cool. You mentioned a couple of stocks before Microsoft, Apple etc.
Andrew: I couldn’t help but notice they’re US stocks and this has been a big eyeopener for me, Terry. Coming into your program and having no idea how to buy a share on the US stock market. I can’t believe how simple it is to do this. Let’s just talk a little bit more about the US stocks versus Australian and why you primarily trade in the US markets?
Terry: I migrated to the US in the stock point of view well over a decade ago. The reason being is if you look around Australia, first of all, we are very tiny in terms of the economy, less than 2% of the global economy. In terms of the actual number of companies, you can easily count on one hand the Australian companies that have been able to operate in Australia well but also go overseas and grow. Most companies that need to grow do need to go global. A lot of our companies like Telstra, ANZ, they’ve gone overseas, lost a bunch of money, they’ve come back.
There are very few Australian companies that actually make it globally, for example, Cochlear or CSL. Most of them actually fail and come back. The US, however, it just opens you to a massive amount of opportunities with all the global companies. I mean, just think about it. Day to day what services and what products do we use right now that you think is only Australian. There’s not many. Every day we turn on a computer and we do our searches on Google, we use Microsoft or Apple as an operating system. Then you go on to the supermarket and you buy say baby powder or whatever – Johnson & Johnson. These are the global companies that are all listed in America.
That’s the main reason as most of the great companies are there. The other reason is in terms of available data. The US market is very transparent. You can easily see all the data that’s available for free, whilst in Australia, you actually have to pay for it. It’s cheaper just operating in the US markets and even brokerage, for example, is literally a small account, it’s a dollar to start buying your shares versus if you were to use some of the major brokers in Australia. To go overseas it costs you $30 to $70 per trade whereas in the US you can pay $1. You’re literally paying a fraction of it.
This is why I don’t even care about my brokerage I pay anymore because it’s just a dollar or two versus what I used to pay, in the hundreds and thousands every single year.
Andrew: Yes, it’s opened my eyes and the advice you gave me Terry, to “start owning the companies you’re consuming”. It blew me away! I think that particular day I was on Google, I was using Facebook with Microsoft open on the side. Thinking also about buying a book off Amazon.
All of a sudden, I’m like “These companies are mega companies compared to what we’re doing in Australia”. I wish that we had more ability to grow companies like they can in the States. Of course, I want to be part of these companies and not only that, Terry, they’ve got cash enabling them to acquire the next big companies. They’ve got big growth plans.
Terry: Yes, correct. Just look at Apple, for example. Apple itself, as it currently stands, has got about $250billion in cash sitting in the bank. With that cash, they could literally come into our country and easily acquire two of our major banks and have spare change. You can imagine the size of their cash position, not including the business itself, which is basically a trillion-dollar company now.
Even from the risk mitigation point of view, with these major companies, you can’t see them really having a major problem. In other words, going bust, because of their size and their dominance in the industry. Just from the safety aspect, investing in these global giants is actually safer compared to investing in the smaller Australian companies.
Andrew: Yes. There’s one more thing I want to talk about which really annoyed me when I first learned it from you, if I’m being really honest. The reason it annoyed me is I am a bit of a risk-taker; I think all business owners are to some degree. There’s a bit of risk in buying a farm or there’s a bit of risk starting a company because it could go wrong and you’ve put so much effort into one thing.
When I first started your program, I thought “Right! here I am with some money and I want to put the whole lot into, for example, Apple and Facebook” but you taught me about ‘Position Size’ – investing small percentages, for example, 2-5% of your entire portfolio. You also teach, “follow a company, wait for some negative news to hit and then buy some stock”. It was really annoying at first but I’m so grateful for it now. Can you talk a little bit more about position size, what that means, and why that’s so important in investing?
Terry: ‘Position Size’ is just one of my five risk mitigation strategies; no matter how good or how excited you are about the company, we only invest 1-1.5%. People ask “how can you make money from only putting 1-1.5% of your account into that one stock?”
Andrew: Sorry to interrupt. Just put that into context. If you have $100,000 you’ll literally only buy $1,000 worth of shares. So, you’ll own 90-odd stocks.
Terry: People say “Oh, that means you’re going to have potentially a lot of stocks” but that’s not true because when you buy the 1% in that stock sometimes you might get lucky and it spikes straight away, you make your money and away we go.
Sometimes it has further drops and this is why we position size; you never know, even great companies still have bad times. If it drops further, we actually want to buy more so we don’t mind stocks dropping. It’s like going shopping and you see groceries on sale. It’s great, things we know we need and we know we want, now it’s gone down a little bit more, we’ll buy more of it.
You’re slowly building up that portfolio with that one stock. We take multiple positions in that one stock and when we get to about 3-5% we stop on that one and now we’re happy. Then we move on to another company that we want to acquire.
Andrew: You mention selecting position size but also learning to value a company. Let’s just put this into context with farming for a moment. I want you to imagine that you know the value of some land to be $2000/acre. All of a sudden your neighbour rings you to say “We really want to sell. We’re desperate. We’re going to sell it to you at $1,000/acre”. You see this opportunity and you’re like, “Wow, I need to buy this”. Terry, this is essentially what you do.
You taught me to value a company and then have the patience to wait for the news or media to create a push down on that product/business, that’s when I can say “Hang on this business is valuable. This is a no-brainer. This business is doing very well based on your criteria. This is a top 1% business, it’s just undervalued right now”.
That’s the game-changer, when you understand that you’re just having patience to buy undervalued companies that have potential big upside.
Terry: Yes. Correct. The example you use is perfect. You know the value of the land is $2,000/acre. If someone offers you it for $3000/acre you wouldn’t buy it because now its over-value. Yes, you might have cash in the bank, but why would you even think about buying it? Normally, rationally, we wouldn’t, but a lot of people do that in the stock market. They get excited about a company’s prospects and they overpay for it. Whereas our job is to wait for that neighbour to finally want to sell the land for $1000 then we go “Okay, if it’s worth $2000 and they are selling for a $1000, we’ll take it.” No different to buying stocks that’s listed or a company.
We know what something is worth and then we patiently wait for the value to drop, which it will, it’s eventual and when there is some negative news or bad press we know it’s only temporary and it’s still a great business, that’s when we go in and we buy it undervalue. By doing that, not only will you make more money but in actual fact you are taking much less risk.
Andrew: Just to summarise what we’ve spoken about so far Terry, investing is a risk mitigation strategy. Respect the power of compounding over a 15-20 year period and respect the difference between a 10% return and a 20% return, it’s significant. Respect the US market and understand there are big companies over there to invest in. Respect position size. Learn how to value a company and buy it when it’s undervalued.
Now, is there one last tip or advice you could share with our farmers, Terry?
Terry: One last tip is definitely starting that investment strategy, no matter how small. The reason being, without starting it you’ll always be subject to the risks we spoke about; weather dependent, commodity price dependent, grocery store dependent and we want to get rid of those risks. Therefore, it might take time, but at least start the process, no matter how small because that seed will grow to become the oak tree that one day you are going to relax under.
Andrew: Yes, that’s great mate. How can our listeners learn more about Freedom Trader and what you do, Terry?
Terry: Usually, like you Andrew, we hold live online webinars or classes.
Andrew: Yes, come along to our webinar. I’ll put the details below this. Is that the best way for people to come and learn more?
Terry: Yes, or they can contact me via email but I think to learn more I’d recommend the webinar because it’s 90-minutes of pure gold education. It literally allows you to put everything we spoke about today into action. That 90-minutes is definitely worth the time. You can register at www.thefreedomtrader.com/farmwealth and I really look forward to being able to help the farmers on a big level as well.
Andrew: I really appreciate your time today. You’re gifted at what you do, you’re passionate about what you do. Putting it into context as closing thoughts, Terry is able to get a higher return than the likes of Warren Buffet. I remember when I asked you how, you just said because you’re moving such smaller money but you implement what these top people do Terry. You study them. You study more than anyone I know in this space. I feel like I’m sitting next to Warren Buffet.
Terry: Thank you.
Andrew: That’s what it feels like for me having access to your teachings. I think what you are doing is amazing and I appreciate your time today. Thank you so much Terry.
Terry: No, thanks Andrew for having me.
Andrew: Thank you, take care.
Terry: You too.
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