You won’t find him on any rich lists – not because he doesn’t belong there, but because Tim Forrester, Aria Property Group’s CEO & Founder, prefers to travel under the radar.
In addition to being one of the (quietly) wealthiest individuals in Australia, Tim Forrester runs a billion-dollar property development company which has single-handedly transformed South Brisbane / Fish Lane into a vibrant destination precinct.
The company’s last three developments have won the national award for best high-density development at the UDIA industry awards. It can well be argued, that Tim numbers amongst the best developers in Australia – no mean feat for someone still in their 30s.
Earlier this year, Oxley + Stirling by Aria Property Group took out top national honours at the UDIA industry awards
Aria and Ironfish have been working together for several years, and many of our investors would already be familiar with Aria’s dedication to quality in design and build, along with its signature rooftop clubs and exclusive resort-style facilities available for residents.
Tim was kind enough to come in to Ironfish North Sydney offices, for an intimate Q&A session with Ironfish CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou as part of our new ‘CEO Talks’ series of events. These events are designed to inspire as well as educate – enabling attendees to gain valuable insights into the life and mindset of highly successful people in business.
As the evening unfolded it was easy to see not only why Tim has become one of the most successful in his industry, but also why he’s so well-liked and respected.
Anyone can head to Aria’s website to see their company mission – ‘creating iconic projects that we’re proud to walk our families past in 20 years’ time’. But what does this really mean? Tim said his dad taught him from an early age, that while money will come and go, the only thing left behind will be your reputation.
“Money is important in business, of course. But it’s not the driving force in Aria, for us it’s about leaving a legacy. Whether we’re making a decision about tapware, or the restaurant we put underneath a building – we ask ourselves, is this something we’re going to be proud of in 20 years?”
$2 for tuckshop
Tim is the son of Rod and Jan Forrester, his father well-known for founding prominent property development company FKP Limited. Despite growing up in a successful family, Tim’s parents ingrained in him a strong work ethic.
“Mum and Dad started out living in a caravan park in Mooloolaba. They always expected us to work hard. When I was a kid, I remember coming home one day and I asked dad for $2 to buy my lunch at the tuckshop, like some of my friends. My dad said: ‘Sure, I’ll give you $2 for tuckshop, but you’re going to have work for it. You’ll need to wash the car first!”
The power of entrepreneurship
Tim started his first business at the age of 17. He bought a mobile coffee cart for $6,500 and got himself a spot at the Woodford Folk Festival. He made $21,000 in a week.
“That was my first experience of having my own business, but we worked hard – 15/16 hours a day. Everyone I know who has been successful in business, always worked harder, always worked longer, particularly in their 20s, like me, before kids. The harder you work, the luckier you will be.”
The luck of timing
Tim’s first ‘pot of gold’ came from property; he bought two properties in Brisbane off-the-plan, both of which doubled in value by the time they came to settle.
“I just thought, wow – how good is this? This is the best thing ever, why wasn’t I doing this before? But little did I know, that growth had been building for the past 10-15 years. I just happened to get lucky with timing. I realised soon after that property investment is a long-term investment. Sydney took 14 years to double, not two years. It’s easy to forget that. I expect Brisbane will be flat for another 12 months, and then we’ll start seeing some growth.”
With three kids under five, how does Tim balance a billion-dollar company with raising a young family?
“I never want to be one of those parents who looks back and thinks I should’ve done this or that. I look at my son and feel like I blinked and he went from being a baby to 5 years old. I don’t want to miss out on this time with them. So basically, my alarm goes off at 4:30am and all I want to do is roll over and go back to bed. But I get up, train, and then I aim to get into work by 6/6:30am so I can get home by 5pm to spend time with the kids. (I also tend to be in bed by 9:30pm!). At the end of the week, I often analyse how I could have freed up time – several minutes here or there, so as not to make those mistakes again. Getting up earlier really does help you buy yourself more time.”
As a final question, Joseph asked Tim, what does it feel like to be financially free – given that many of our investors are working towards this goal.
“Financial freedom doesn’t solve all your problems, but it does give you more freedom to choose your dreams, and spend more time with family and friends. Also, the ability to give. We have recently established the Forrester Foundation which aims to assist disadvantaged young children and address the impact of social media, particularly on teenagers. It’s good to be able to support something that’s important to you.”
With thanks to Aria Property Group CEO, Tim Forrester.
CEO Talks run quarterly at our North Sydney office. Our next guest CEO is Will Deague, CEO of Deague Group.
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