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The Richards Report episode 12: John Stensholt

Trr Episode 12 Sixpark

Click to listen to the latest episode of The Richards Report featuring John Stensholt.

In this episode of The Richards Report I speak with John Stensholt. I always enjoy reading John's fascinating articles: he currently writes for the Australian Financial Review but will soon move to The Australian newspaper. He writes on business, news and personal finance, but John is probably most well known as the editor of the Financial Review Rich 200 and Young Rich Lists and writing about the business of sport.

We speak mostly about the 2018 AFR Rich List and at number 1 is the cardboard king, Anthony Pratt, with a wealth of $12.9 billion.

John tells the story of how he flew to Mar-a-Lago in Florida to have dinner with Anthony Pratt for a story that he was putting together. Donald Trump has built his political campaign on the back of bringing manufacturing back to the US, and Pratt’s cardboard business employs a lot of people from Trump heartland, so Trump is very appreciative of Anthony Pratt's growing business employing so many Trump voters. So when it happened that Trump walked into the Mar-a-Lago restaurant and saw Anthony Pratt and John Stensholt having dinner together Trump came over to say hi to them both and bought them dinner.

Second on the list is Harry Triguboff, who is the founder of Meriton Apartments. Harry initially made his money building apartments and then selling them off. He stopped selling the apartments when the market cooled and began renting them out. With this business model successful he then started offering serviced apartments, which have been reaping the benefits of the tourism boom in Australia.

Third on the list is Gina Rinehart who made her money in iron ore but has diversified into agriculture with wagyu steak. Clive Palmer is back – he thinks he’s the richest person in Australia due to a recent win in a protracted legal battle. However, he still has some ongoing issues with ASIC that could change his standing on the list.

Atlassian founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar are on the list with wealth of more than $5 billion each; due to the continued rise in the Atlassian stock price they could be worth even more if the list was produced now.

The average age is 65-66, with Ruslan Kogan the youngest on the list at just 35. As there hasn’t been a significant correction in the markets for a while the list has been relatively consistent in recent years (unlike during the financial crisis of 2008-09, when some people's wealth diminished or disappeared).

What traits do Rich List members share? 

Yes, they’re rich – but they’re fiercely competitive. Most people on the list are not interested in retiring due to this competitive streak and it keeps them occupied. Despite what they say in public about remaining private about their investments, they’re fairly open with John about the investments they own and the value of those investments (for competitive people everything is a competition!). Jack Cowan (founder of Hungry Jacks) said to John once: “It’s not the money, it’s the score card.” For most of them, being on the Rich List is a measure of success.

John has said most of the members of the Rich List share a combination of cleverness and toughness. I asked John what seems to be more important of the two strengths. He replied: “Everyone is clever, but not everyone is tough.”

Ben Symonds is a young Australian superstar basketballer in the NBA that has the potential to make it onto the list - the first athlete to make it since Greg Norman. However, to be on the Rich List now you need to have at least $380 million so Ben’s business and branding success off the court rather than simply his success on the court are likely to be vital.

John also puts together the Young Rich List, which features many athletes. One of which is former Essendon footballer Andrew Welsh, who has made the majority of his wealth in property development, despite having a successful AFL football career too. You can click here to listen to a previous episode of The Richards Report, when Andrew spoke about how he grew his business to what it is today.

What can you learn from success?

Everything in life isn’t about money, but you can learn plenty from people who have been successful with their business and investments. 

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