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  • Writer's picturePeter

Financial Independence Retire Early. Good, Bad & Ugly Report 2021

Updated: Jun 4

Well friends, 2021 is now dry cement. Yeah!!!!!!!

However, before we embark on our plans for 2022, I’d like to share the ups and downs, successes and the failures of the 2021 that was.

All the Good Bad & Ugly!

I do this to keep myself accountable and inspired on this journey called life. As a reference point click the 2020 Benchmarking Success link and a link to previous years here.

The past maybe dry cement, but I believe it’s also important to also celebrate how far we’ve come, reflect on where we could have done better and put myself out there publicly as a form of motivation to do the work, I need to do in making my plans a reality.

I hope that you find my wins, stumbles, and insights help you on your own journey to getting the most out of your life.

Each year I ask, and I answer three basic questions.

  1. What went well?

  2. What didn’t go well?

  3. What to do better?

Feel free to apply a similar format and use for your own journal.

Christmas with family
Christmas with family

The Good. What went well in 2021?

As I like to begin on a positive let’s cover the wins of 2021. Here’s what went well in the year that was.

Asset Appreciation

Property prices and shares. Wow! Who would have thought prices were to go up as much as they did?

With our properties in Sydney and Cairns appreciating over 20%, as well as similar returns in our share and superannuation portfolios.

Milsons Point apartment Sydney Australia
Milsons Point apartment Sydney Australia

While the realist in me still believes this recent spike in value is going to end in tears; especially for those with significant borrowings, the optimist in me, is both humble and grateful for the growth windfall, and the possibilities it may bring.     


Business: 2021 was another standout year.

Done, Awards, and Returns.

Awards and Certificates
Awards and Certificates

2021 was always going to continue being difficult for every financial planning business in Australia. Additional regulations, higher education standards, and difficult conversations with clients, due to the increased cost of regulations when providing financial advice being just a few of the challenges that we faced.

Still, we achieved success in 2021. We were acknowledged as the Best Advisory Business in Cairns by Top 3, Finalist by IFA (Independent Financial Advisor) Regional Advisor, Australian Small Business Champion, Financial Services Finalist, and a 5 Star Rating for Professional Standards with Infocus Money management.

Our clients also experienced significant appreciation in their assets. For some this brought forward their early retirement plans, while others achieved debt free home ownership and for our retiree’s it meant they became even more financially secure in their retirement.

We also achieved balance. Meaning, we now invest all our time and resources helping our existing clients. No more marketing, no more non-ideal clients, and more time to deepen our existing relationships. A win-win-win for all.


Significant Personal Milestone

A 50th Birthday celebrated with lifelong friends and family.

Wow!!!! I turned fifty and I’m still pinching myself. By the grace of God, I’m still here and looking back, blessed that the NSW & QLD boarders opened (albeit for a very short window) and we were able to celebrate this significant milestone ‘in person’.

50th B'day School reunion
The boys are back!

This group of handsome lads not only shaped who I am today, they are also the most humble, genuine, uber successful and driven individuals you will ever meet. In this list (but not in the photo) includes my parents, brother, extended family and friends.

They comprise of CEO’s, a Chief Commissioner, a Dato’s, Doctors, Entrepreneurs, teachers and more. All who motivate and inspire me to ‘we’ll simply do my best so I can keep up with them and their success’, better yet, we’re still all the same jokers as we were back in high school and can pop a fat head should any of us start feeling too important about ourselves and our successes.


Cairns: Lifestyle City of Australia.

Corona, Delta and now Omicron has had a significant impact on all our lives for nearly 2 years now. Fortunately living in Cairns (so far) we escaped the severe lockdowns, with only three days of mask wearing throughout the entire time of this pandemic. Just let that sink in. Only 3 days! That’s incredible.

Sailaway, Sunset Cruise Port Douglas Queensland Australia
Sailaway, Sunset Cruise Port Douglas Queensland Australia

While we are still not able to travel overseas and since April unable to travel interstate, life pretty much carried on unchanged for us up here in Cairns.

Added to this were the advances in technology and their boarder acceptance that have helped us to maintain and deepen our existing client relationships as well as free up even more time and even more efficient ways to communicate and assist our clients.

I may change my mind after spending a second full summer here. Today is 35c and 90% humidity and we’ll continue living in air-conditioning for the next few months.

At least we have wild mangos, jack fruit, lychees, coconuts and more to make our tropical delight cocktails and help us through the summer heat.



The biggest positive to come out of the current purgatory of Covid-19 has been the luxury of time we have had to reflect, experience gratitude, peace, and awe of nature in the tropics.

Sunset Magnetic Island
Rosalind Sunset Magnetic Island

Having time to rediscover, what is important and what’s not important, whilst reminded of how fast time passes and how little time we have left, to still do the important things that we value.

Experiencing the travel plans we’d made dashed time and time again, has helped us to simplify our lives, be more present and at least make small steps moving forward with grace and ease, instead of believing we are in control of all things at all times.

We are so grateful we are living here in Cairns, the lifestyle, our clients, our friends, and the abundance of opportunities surrounding us. And the special time we shared with family and friends when back in Sydney wells up within an immense gratitude and love. 


The Bad. What didn’t go so well in 2021?

Where do I start?


  • International Travel = None. Never simple interstate travel if at all.

  • Health = Yo-Yo weight and comfort food.

  • Financial Services Regulation =  Frustration. Additional studies and inefficient business process.

  • Tenants = Ahhhhhh! Don't mention the war!

  • Family = Shock, Anger, Sadness, Grief & Love.

I could write about each point in more detail, however your and my time is more important. We all know why and how it affected each of our lives and how we dealt with our challenges. 

Compliance cost increases
This is why the cost of advice has increased

Sadly, Rosalind's sister sadly passed away earlier this year. You will forever be in our hearts Sis Kiang.

Life is short, and the time we spend with each other is precious. Love one another. Support each other, especially during these challenging times and what feels like during this current purgatory annus horribilis,

Soon Kiang Lee
Sis Soon Kiang. We miss you :(

And because of what we have all experienced in 2021, my hope is that kindness, consideration, and love go ahead of you, and that we all can better appreciate the true joys of life and sharing our moments (good, bad, richer, poorer, sickness and health) with those most important to us.

Looking back, at the events of 2021 and trying to process all that we have had to endure, the challenges we’re dealt and experiencing grief in isolation. With all your being, know that ‘You’ simply getting through the last 24 months ‘You” are a champion, an anchor in the storm, hope to the broken hearted, YOU ARE IMPORTANT and just being ‘You’ makes the world is a better place.


The Ugly. What am I going to do better in 2022?

Working, it ain’t never pretty, hence the ugly! And there’s a lot of work a head in 2022.

We have home renovations to start and complete, additional studies to be finished, on boarding a new staff in the business, travel overseas to reunite with Ros’s family, and several other plans that I’m keeping close to my chest, so not to jinx their success.

While 2021 was more wait and see, 2022 will be one of, no looking back.

There will be time’s I fail, but I know I will be doing so falling forward. The past is dry cement, but the future is not. One step at a time, do the work, and trust the process, will be my mantra.

Deepening my spiritual connection and putting my gratitude for the blessings I have received into action will also be my top priority. As they say ‘An inch of action will take you further than miles of good intentions, every time’.

We have built a great business with wonderful clients. We’re going to keep it that way and continue to deepen our relationship with our existing clients.

My passion helping others achieve and live their own ideal lives has never been stronger. The challenge for me is maintaining the balance when I enjoy giving so much of my life to my clients and staff.

Bring on 2022.

Why do I do this?

The value of sharing my success, failures and intentions is layered.

Firstly, it holds a mirror up to my recent successes and failures. It also reveals to me the repeating patterns of my successes and failures. It also helps me to clarify my wanted future goals, if they are wishes or are they truly important enough to me to become lifelong habits.

Secondly my hope is that sharing with you my past years successes, failures and future goals also helps you on your own journey toward achieving a better future for yourself and those important to you.

Do the work: Success comes from the commitment to do the work i.e., small, regular, repeatable actions, simply doing the work, increases our probability of success. Nothing more, nothing less.

Enjoy the process: In short; enjoy doing the work, trust the process and let go of the outcome.

It also means turning up, and not giving up. Maintaining focus on the task at hand and not being distracted by the noise of others airing their frustrations and fears.

Let go of the past successes and failures and be more present, so that you will be in a better place, state of mind and readiness to face the future.

Cheers: Rum Bar. Airlie Beach
Cheers: Rum Bar. Airlie Beach

Value you more: As the famous John West add says ‘it’s the fish that John West rejects, that makes John West the best”.  Keep what helps you and let go of the things that hold you back.


Be Better not Bigger: Since 2014.

If these experiences and aspirations of mine help you realise a better quality of life and go on to help others, then we’ve both done our part in making the world a better place. This may sound cheesy, however it’s the lens I choose to see life through. 

And so draws the close on 2021. Thank you for reading my posts throughout the past year and I look forward to sharing more of what I have learnt along the way throughout 2022.

Have a fantastic year ahead.

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