“Take calculated risks and remember the correlation between risk and reward.”
Paul Little walks the talk. He’s a highly credentialed businessman who built up Toll Holdings’ turnover from less than $20 million and left the company with a market capitalisation in the region of $8 billion.
He now boasts personal wealth of $927 million, according to the 2017 Financial Review rich list.
Addressing a YP Gold Coast lunch at Hellenika this week, Little says his company, Little Group, is here “very much with a toe in the water”.
They’re about to start selling a 263-apartment project on Philip Avenue in Broadbeach – a marked move away from Melbourne’s inner-city apartment market that Little says has become tough as buyers find it increasingly difficult to secure funding.
“We’ve reached a point of confidence when we can push the button on the project,” Little said to 120 Gold Coast business leaders and entrepreneurs.
“Things in Sydney and Melbourne have become tough, but we’re very excited about this project. The area is ready for it.
“Broadbeach has such strong infrastructure, wonderful patrolled surf beaches, the light rail and the casino development."
Little was joined by Urbis Gold Coast director Matthew Schneider, who believes the city, while young, is at an important stage of maturation.
“We need to mature not only as a place to live, but as an investment destination,” he said.
“And as we grow we’ll confront big city challenges – investing in infrastructure, tackling traffic congestion – but we should do it without selling our souls. That’s our challenge as a business community.
“The Gold Coast does need to attract investment from abroad. We aren’t a big capital city that has the critical mass to sustain itself.”
Little shares Schneider’s appreciation for the offshore dollar.
“An Australian city that can take large cruise ships has huge income potential for the economy. It’s a large international market,” said Little, referring to controversial plans for a cruise ship terminal in the city.
“Investment in the expansion of Gold Coast Airport is very important for attracting people to the city. People want to fly direct, they don’t want to go via somewhere to get somewhere else.”
But it was some little pearls of wisdom that left an impression on the audience.
“If you’re starting off in your career, try and work out where you want to finish in life. Don’t work out where you want to start. Allow yourself to dream a bit; work out where you want to finish and work backwards from that,” he said.
“From doing so, you’ll have a better idea of how to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
“And remember the risk/reward ratio.”
So perhaps Little’s foray into Gold Coast property is a risk, but history suggests it’s one that will pay dividends.