If there is one word that defines Richard Crabb’s approach to business and investing it’s relationships.

Strong relationships formed the foundation of his success in leadership roles within a diverse range of businesses, and that ethos is now a keystone of Richard’s new business, the ASPIRE Network.

Richard told Bushy Martin on the Get Invested podcast that after working in financial services it was relationships that allowed him to carve out a lucrative niche sourcing finance for medical and dental practices in the Adelaide market.

“Adelaide’s a very niche market, it’s very small … everyone knows everyone in Adelaide,” Richard said. “It took the first 18 months, but it was just about relationships. I pretty much knew every dentist. I’d go to every dental seminar or medical seminar. It was about word of mouth.

“The first one was always the hardest, but you treat every client the same whether it for a $1,000 laptop or a $2 million practice fit out with surgery set up. You treat every client the same. You give them that personalised service. You actually get to learn about the person … you help people grow their business and became their trusted advisor.”

Over seven years Richard built up the South Australian branch until it was more profitable than the company’s branch in Victoria, where the market was five times the size.

“It actually got to the stage where I didn’t take on new clients because I had too many … anytime they’d needed finance, they’d say ‘Hey, Rich. I need this.’”

Richard’s ASPIRE Network is an independent property research and investment firm that acts in the interest of investors, not real estate agents or builders and developers. He is also a Director of Property Professionals Australia, the country’s peak association for property investment professionals.

Using his experience from financing and running businesses to property investment and development, Richard is doing everything he can to introduce a culture of ethics and professionalism to an unregulated industry.

“What we wanted to try to do is actually create a framework with structure, actually based on the principles of financial planning as if the industry was regulated. How would that look? Very similar to 20-odd years ago when the banking and finance industry went through regulation and change. We wanted to apply the same principles to the property investment space.”

Richard’s biggest piece of advice for his clients is to not buy with emotion, and to make decisions based on data and research.

“Part of what we do with our platform is we use all the different independent research that we pay for … I don’t look at marketing brochures. They’re a waste of time. What you look at is the census data. You look at the areas that you pick. You look at the ratio of owner and occupiers to renters. You look at the type of demographic in the area. Look at the population densities.

“We look at all that data very carefully … what type of jobs are around? What type of people are living in the area? What’s their median income … You look at the number of cars per household. If you have two cars to a household and you go and build a one-bed, one-bath apartment, that might not suit the demographics of that area.”

While many of the guests on Get Invested have advocated for investing in old housing stock and adding value through renovations, Richard sees more value in new builds.

“All we do is brand-new property,” he said. “There’s so many more benefits we’ve found with buying new. You get the most amount in tax deductions, which can enable you to actually pay off personal debt sooner.

“Some of the other key things are cost savings … you save significant amounts there, along with also the lower maintenance and making sure it’s a more desirable product … (this) can certainly help offset those tax bills you get from the ATO and (produce) a more desirable product that people want to live in.”

Richard is growing APIRE nationally, and helping more and more businesses and investors each month. In addition to the desire to run a successful business, relationships are still the driving force behind what Richard wants to achieve.

“I actually get more enjoyment from seeing first-time investors or people who are trying to build a portfolio actually implement because we’ve been able to work together with them and coordinate the team with all the right professionals … (providing) a rewarding and enjoyable experience so that they’re excited to go on and build or buy the next investment in the portfolio because it has been a good experience.”

Listen to the full interview here.

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