Bruce Guan, who fled to Australia as a refugee with his family at age three, grew up in a rough government housing area in Western Sydney in the 1980s where heroin needles were scattered throughout sandpits in local parks.
He lived in a crowded small unit with 12 other family members, as his parents worked odd jobs to make ends meet and build a life for their kids.
“My parents came here with nothing, not a word of English, and they all started off as labourers, and it was a struggle for them just to put food on the table,” Bruce said. “I grew up in the most dangerous part of town, where drug use was very common, and I witnessed a lot of my peers go down the wrong path and make the wrong life choices.”
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Admittedly unacademic, Mr. Guan learned the merit of hard work from his parents. And realized after leaving school with low grades that he needed to do more than climb the career ladder if he wanted to accumulate wealth.
Today, Bruce is head of one of the fastest growing property investment mentoring companies in Australia, turning novices into expert investors. He has a portfolio of eight properties himself and the co-founders of his company have amassed almost 70 properties between them, worth close to $50 million.
But it was not a smooth road to success.
In 2004, the then 22-year-old graphic designer bought his first property in Sydney for $280,000, which is worth over $1 million today.
But he did not do his research and sold the property in 2007— at a loss of $50,000—after horror tenants drove up his maintenance costs and rent losses, making the investment seem unlucrative.
Three years later, when the area's growth boomed, he realized he had made a massive mistake.
“I was like so many naïve investors. I didn't know how to use the tools that were available to me to make the right decisions,” Bruce said.
After this experience, Bruce had to start from scratch, saving between $30,000 and $40,000 for a new deposit on his then $75,000-a-year salary.
This time, he was determined to buy something he could hold onto for the next 10 years to see growth, snapping up a one-bedroom apartment in Sydney's inner west, for $365,000. It is now worth more than $800,000.
In 2012, he renegotiated his loans and took out extra equity after the Stanmore property's value grew, using those funds to lay down deposits on two other properties in Sydney.
Between 2012 to 2018, Bruce spent most of his time researching, reading books, studying the market, and working alongside his own mentors to improve his investing capabilities and, as a result, bought an additional 5 properties. His property portfolio today is worth over A$5 million.
At 30, Bruce decided to make a move into property as a career, using his knowledge to help others build their own property portfolio.
The move felt natural, with his family and friends coming to him for property advice, but he said it was a huge step to quit an industry he had spent 13 years in, and he started off in a consulting role where he wasn’t even being paid a salary.
For Bruce, amassing the huge property portfolio doesn’t feel like “anything special,” but he said he sacrificed a lot to make it happen.
“A lot of people wouldn’t do the things that I did and make decisions I did. Who wants to put themselves into millions and millions of debt? Who wants to quit their job and move into a new industry and be paid commission only?” he said. “When I was first working in property, I wasn’t even getting paid a salary—that was a pretty scary thing to do. I was very determined that I wanted to see a higher level of success than I could possibly achieve in the design industry. I was hungry for that and the decision didn't come lightly.”
In 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, Bruce founded his own company, Investmentor, which helps others build a property portfolio by providing the mentorship, education, research and opportunities that people need to make the right decisions.
Investmentor has rapidly grown from 4 people to just under 30 people in 12 months, with a loyal community of 450+ members and 100+ genuine 5-star reviews.
The core philosophy behind Investmentor is to make wealth accessible to everyone, with Bruce claiming anyone could match his property success—even in a soaring property market.
“It's absolutely possible to do that, because when we look at someone's investment strategy it's not about what is happening today—it's about what's going to happen over the next 10 to 15 years,” he said.
“If you look at my example, had I held onto that first property and not sold it, I would have been almost $1 million richer. People shouldn’t make long term decisions based on short-term thinking. I had to learn that the hard way.”
Although he is confident anyone could become a property investor, Bruce credits his upbringing for giving him the courage to make decisions that others would deem “too risky.”
“I didn't do very well in school and never made it into university. By all measurable accounts, you could have called me a failure, and back then, you probably would have been right.
“[But]I was motivated because I saw that [property investing] could be one of the ways for me to get ahead in life.
“If I couldn't compete with other people with my academics, or privileges, I could certainly compete with determination and grit,” he said.