Recognising your greatest asset: You!

Want to make 2020 your year? The year you reach great heights? Key to reaching those dizzying heights is recognising that you, are one of your greatest assets.

Being self-aware and knowing your worth is crucial to positioning yourself for both business and personal success, and living a more fulfilled life. Self-awareness helps identify any limiting patterns you may have picked up, such as downplaying your successes and positive attributes (whether they be professional or personal) and undervaluing your worth.

Here are some tips on how to better position yourself for success through self-awareness.

Your time is valuable

"Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it."

This quote, from psychiatrist and best-selling author M. Scott Peck, perfectly summarises the intrinsic link between the value we place on ourselves and our time.

Whether it's that quick phone call that has you on the line for most of the morning or that informal coffee date which becomes as hour long meeting, your time can be chewed up before you realise it.

It can be challenging to say no to requests for your time; extra projects at work, social clubs or perhaps to offer free advice. These opportunities can be valuable and for worthy causes, and if you can fit them in, they can benefit both yourself and the participant.

However while you can't put a price on every minute you spend, be conscious of how you're spending your time. Could it be better spent? The answer to this comes down to your values.

Be clear about your values

Knowing what to spend your time on and how is often is largely influenced by your values. You might be community-minded, which is why you regularly volunteer. If family is of prime importance to you, you'll prioritise spending time with loved ones. Or perhaps now your focus is advancing your career. There's no right or wrong way to spend time, but it should reflect your values.

You may already be living your life according to your values, alternatively, you may be unsure of exactly what they are. There are many online resources which can help you identify your core values; alternatively you can reach out to a life coach.

Recognising your achievements

Think back to when you last updated your CV, your bio page on your website or your LinkedIn profile. Were you able to proudly identify and reel off your accomplishments? Perhaps you struggled to articulate what you have achieved or felt self-conscious that doing so would come across as boasting.

These achievements have got you to where you are. Whether they are professional accreditations, recognitions or your work history, it's safe to say you have worked hard to build up these accomplishments so keep track of them and don't be afraid to share them with your networks.

The power of networking

Speaking of your networks, if you struggle to own your achievements, you're probably less likely to put yourself out there and network. One of the most powerful platforms for networking is LinkedIn. As early as last year, 590 million people used this professional networking community. It was also reported that the median number of connections was between 500 and 999 - a significant number of people to be linked to.i

Attending conferences and events and making an effort to talk with other attendees is also still a common way to build your network.

By not understanding your worth, you're less likely to put yourself forward and be seen, and these lost opportunities can limit your professional development and your career.

Being self-aware

As well as self-reflection, it's helpful to ask for feedback from others. In a professional capacity, this may be from a colleague, manager or client. Personally, you might turn to a coach, mentor, partner or friend.

You might be made aware of strengths you have that you hadn't previously been aware of. Understanding these strengths can bolster your worth and give you a new perspective to what you have to offer.

Be open to what you may hear. There will be things you can improve on, so use this as an opportunity for growth.

Self reflection can be uncomfortable, but developing an awareness of your values and recognising and appreciating your unique strengths can be a fantastic way to set yourself up for success in the coming year.

2019 Year in Review: a year of highs & lows

It was a year of extremes, with shares hitting record highs and interest rates at historic lows. Yet all in all, 2019 delivered far better returns than Australian investors dared hope for at the start of the year.

The total return from Australian shares (prices and dividend income) was 24 per cent in the year to December.i When you add in positive returns from bonds and a rebound in residential property, Australians with a diversified investment portfolio had plenty to smile about.

Humming along in the background, Australia entered a record-breaking 29th year of economic expansion although growth tapered off as global pressures mounted.

Global economy slowing

The US-China trade war, the Brexit impasse and geopolitical tensions weighed on the global economy in 2019. Yet late in the year optimism grew that US President Donald Trump would sign the first phase of a trade deal with Beijing.

The re-election of Boris Johnson's Conservatives in the UK also raised hopes that the Brexit saga may finally be resolved.

The US economy is in good shape, growing at an annual rate of 2.1 per cent in line with inflation and a jobless rate of just 3.5 per cent. China has fared worse from the trade tensions, with annual growth of 6 per cent its weakest since 1992.

In Australia, growth slipped to an annual rate of 1.7 per cent in the September quarter. Inflation, at 1.7 per cent, is well below the RBA's target and unemployment is stuck around 5.2 per cent.ii

Despite the global slowdown, higher commodity prices were a major contributor to Australia's healthy trade surplus in 2019.iii

Commodities prices mixed

Iron ore prices rose 28.7 per cent in 2019 following a mine disaster in Brazil which reduced global supply. Other major Australian exports to receive a boost were gold, up 18.5 per cent, and beef, up 32 per cent.iv

At the other end of the scale, thermal coal prices fell 34 per cent and liquefied natural gas (LNG) was down 44 per cent.v

Middle East tensions and tighter supply led to a surge in crude oil prices, with Brent crude up almost 21 As Australia is a net importer of oil, a jump in oil prices coupled with a fall in the Aussie dollar filtered through to higher petrol prices for motorists.

Interest rates at new lows

In an effort to stimulate the economy, the Reserve Bank cut the cash rate three times in 2019 to an historic low of 0.75 per cent. The US federal Reserve also cut rates to a target range of 1.50-1.75 per cent. This was the main reason the Australian dollar listed from its decade low of US67c in October to finish the year where it started, around US70c.vii

Rate cuts flowed through to yields on Australian 10-year government bonds which fell to just 1.37 per cent.viii However, falling bond yields result in higher bond prices and this lifted total returns from the government bonds by around 8 per cent.ix

Retirees and others who rely on income from bank term deposits has another difficult year, with interest rates generally below 2 per cent. After inflation, the real return was close to zero.x It's little wonder then that many looked elsewhere for a better return on their money.

Bumper year for shares

The hunt for yield was one reason Australian shares jumped 18.4 per cent in 2019, the best performance in a decade.xi The market climbed a wall of worries to hit a record high in November on optimism about a US-China trade deal, then eased back on concerns about slowing economic growth.

Despite low interest rates and personal tax cuts, consumers are reluctant to spend.

The Westpac/Melbourne Institute survey of consumer sentiment fell to 95.1 in December - anything below 100 denotes pessimism.xii

Property prices recovering

Australian residential property prices rebounded strongly in the second half of 2019, driven by lower mortgage interest rates, a relaxation of bank lending practices and renewed certainty around the taxation of investment property following the May federal election.

According to CoreLogic, property prices rose 2.3 per cent on average, led by Melbourne and Sydney, both up 5.3 per cent. Also up were Hobart (3.9 per cent), Canberra (3.1 per cent) and Brisbane (0.3 per cent). The only capitals to fall in value were Darwin (-9.7 per cent), Perth (-6.8 per cent) and Adelaide (-0.2 per cent).

When rental income is included, the total return from residential property was 6.3 per cent.xiii

Looking ahead

Property prices are expected to recover further this year but with shares looking fully valued and bond yields near rock bottom, returns could be more modest.

The Australian government is under pressure to do more to stimulate the economy in the short term to head off further rate cuts by the Reserve Bank. More fiscal stimulus could inject fresh life into the local economy and financial markets.

Overseas, the US-China trade war is far from resolved and could remain up in the air until after the US Presidential election in November. There is also uncertainty over the Brexit deal and its impact on trade across Europe.

The one thing we do know is that a diversified investment portfolio is the best way to navigate unpredictable markets.

If you would like to speak to us about your overall investment strategy, give us a call.

i Econonomic Insights: Sharemarket winner and losers. CommSec Economics, 2 January 2019
ii Trading Economics, viewed 1 Jan 2020,
iv Trading Economics, prices as at 31 Dec 2019 viewed 1 Jan 2020,
v Econonomic Insights: Sharemarket winner and losers. CommSec Economics, 2 January 2019
vi Trading Economics, prices as at 31 Dec 2019 viewed 1 Jan 2020,
vii Trading Economics, prices as at 31 Dec 2019 viewed 1 Jan 2020,
viii RBA,
ix Economic Insights: Year in Review; Year in Preview, CommSec 2 January 2020
x Canstar,
xi Trading Economics, viewed 1 Jan 2020,

Holiday on the horizon: maximising your break

Whether you're glued to your desk most days or have honed the work/life balance, we all need to take a break at some point. The end of the year is a great time to reflect on your achievements and recharge. But while December is when many of us are trying to wind down, it can also be a chaotic time, with holiday festivities filling up our calendars and mounting pressure to get everything done.

Here are some tips on how you can make the most of your upcoming break.

Read more…

2018 Year in Review

Investors started 2018 full of hope, with the global economy and financial markets in good shape, but by year's end they were uncertain and a little anxious about what lay ahead. Markets responded with last minute falls across all asset classes.

The issues that weighed heavily at the end of  2018 were the unresolved trade dispute between the US and China, confusion over the final Brexit deal, rising US interest rates, falling oil and commodity prices and the US government shutdown. Australians were also distracted by political instability and falling house prices in Sydney and Melbourne. With so much focus on what may, or may not, lie ahead, it was easy to lose sight of the solid progress we've made.

Read more…

New year - same you but better

We hear the phrase 'New Year, new you' bandied around a lot at this time of year. As if the current you were an apartment on The Block, getting ready for major renovation on January 1st.

The truth is you don't need to be a whole new you every year. 2018 may have been filled with lots of moments you really treasure. And I bet your nearest and dearest thing the current 'you' is just fine the way you are.

However, a life well lived is not a static life - we all need to keep growing and learning and part of this is understanding what we like about ourselves, what gives us joy, and what we're proud of. So, with this in mind, let's look at how this New Year you can be the same you, but better.

Read more…

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