Meet Canna: She's her own SugarMamma

Ally Selby

Livewire Markets

Earlier this year, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) cracked down on financial influencers, warning of serious repercussions (including prison time and million-dollar fines) for those that continued to promote financial products without an AFSL.

At the time, ASIC Commissioner Cathie Armour argued that the way investors access information is changing, and thus, it was paramount that financial influencers, or "Finfluencers", comply with financial services laws. If not, they could "put investors at risk," she said.

Since then, several influencers have removed their content and changed direction, while others have closed accounts and given up completely.

But Canna Campbell, known under the pseudonym SugarMamma, isn't giving up. As a licensed financial adviser, she has been vocal about the dangers of Finfluencers spreading misinformation. However, she firmly believes they have a place when their content is balanced, educational and factual.

"Finfluencers can help inspire and motivate everyday people to take their financial future more seriously," she says.
"Their content can help people realise that taking care of their personal finances isn't something that only wealthy people do, but is something that we all need to be doing on a regular basis. Most importantly, people can access a lot of this general (and at times valuable) advice for free, which is important as the cost of personal advice is high and often unaffordable for those who need it most." 

Over the past seven years, Canna has built an audience of 127,000 subscribers on YouTube, with videos racking up thousands of views (and often, significantly more). She also has 57,600 followers on Instagram, is the author of two books (The $1000 Project and Mindful Money), and hosts a weekly podcast, Fireplay, which has been downloaded a whopping 745,585 times.

In this Meet the Investor profile, Canna shares some of the highs and lows of her investing journey so far, as well as the number one question she is receiving from clients and followers right now, and her personal ambitions for her future.  

Canna with her daughter and dogs. (Source: supplied)

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Livewire investor profile

  • Name: Canna Campbel
  • Age: 42
  • Years investing: 20+
  • Employment status: Self-employed/Digital content creator and financial adviser
  • Investing goals: Long-term growing passive income

1. How old are you and how long have you been investing?

My first investment was in a real estate investment trust and I was about 19 at the time. I saved up all my money from tips from working behind a bar while studying at university and I've never stopped investing since. Whenever someone asks if a saver or a spender, my response is always neither… I am an investor.

Initially, my father took me to the bank to deposit the money and encouraged me to invest. But when I received my first dividend check, that was my huge "aha" moment. 

I realised this was my money working for me and the more I invested the more passive income and the more financial freedom I would have in my life. 

I love the idea that I didn't have to physically do anything to earn that money. So that was a huge awakening for me, and I realised all the emotional benefits that come with being responsible with your money.

While I was studying at university, I worked two jobs (for a software business called Maus Business Systems and at North Sydney's Greenwood Hotel). And while I was studying for my Bachelor of Commerce, I started an Advanced Diploma in financial planning. I worked for various financial planning companies and eventually went out on my own in 2006 to start my own financial planning practice, which was a Fee For Service Practice. 

At the time, only a few Financial Planning businesses were running this business model, but for me, it seemed the most ethical manner for me to conduct my business and help people. And my clients really valued that transparency. 

2. What is your investment objective?

I'm very much a long-term investor. My portfolio is long-term passive income-driven, but being mindful of the balance between growth and income. I'm a huge fan of Peter Thornhill who wrote the book Motivated Money. A large percentage of my portfolio is in direct equities, in particular industrial stocks, as well as various ETFs and listed investment companies.

I would say my tolerance for risk would depend on your point of comparison. Everyone's interpretation of risk really does vary. It's so subjective. I would say I'm quite conservative because so much of my portfolio sits in LICs and ETFs. However, some people would say I have a high-risk portfolio because those LICs and ETFs are predominantly invested in equities. 

However, I really value the importance of diversification across different industries and companies, but I am attracted to businesses that pay consistent dividends and have historically always done so. 

3. How would you describe your strategy?

Long-term, buy and hold. I reinvest all my dividends. My strategy hasn't really changed over time. Once I found a strategy I liked, one that resonated and worked for me and my financial goals in the short to medium term, the only area that I slightly altered is my level of gearing. 

Gearing is borrowing to invest. I do include gearing in my strategy (general advice only!). However, it is something that I have decided to do after significant research and a detailed understanding of my objectives, time frames, risk profiles and specific financial goals based on passive income needs. And I also manage my gearing in an extremely conservative manner, with lots of safety nets in place. This is something people should be discussing with a Financial Planner and getting personal advice on as it is a higher-risk strategy and not for everyone.

4. Could you tell me about your worst investment? What did you learn from this?

I would never normally follow a hot tip and I decided why not give it a go with a little-known mining stock. I got great advice to get into the stock at the right time, but that person forgot to tell me when to get out. So the timing of my exit I got wrong. All the money I had potentially made was wiped out. Hot tips need to work both ways, entry and exit!

My key point is that with those hot tips, it may work out for a while, but you need to keep on top of it and know when to get out of the stock as well, but also understand the liquidity risk.

(Source: supplied)

5. How does Livewire help with your investing process and what tips can you share with other investors about using Livewire?

Obviously, I recommend that my audience subscribes to Livewire. I love how you have a multifunctional way of sharing information - so you can watch, read or listen to content. I find the information incredibly digestible and straight to the point. And it's always very relevant to what's going on in the world.

6. Do you have a favourite contributor you recommend other investors follow? What can we do better?

I can't think of one contributor to call out, but I do enjoy Buy Hold Sell. I am interested in hearing fund managers' thoughts on different stocks. I don't necessarily follow the advice, but I do enjoy learning where they see strengths and weaknesses in certain businesses.

Buy Hold Sell
Livewire Markets

There's nothing I don't like about it. I think more people should be aware of it, to be honest. 

7. Is there a lesson you’ve learned as an investor that could potentially help others?

The importance of education. I remember I made an investment early on in my investing journey and had a knee-jerk reaction and pulled my money out of it. It was an emotional reaction to a market pullback, and I didn't need to sell, but I didn't know at the time because I was uneducated. 

I think it's easy for us to get caught up in the headlines and news - the doom and gloom, the clickbait and so on, and it can really impact our rational thinking and wealth creation journey. Sometimes, we just need to turn down the noise and focus on what we want to create for ourselves financially. 

So I think it's really important to stay educated, turn down the noise, and stay rational. 

8. What's the main question you are hearing from your clients and followers right now? 

The question I come across a lot is obviously around interest rates, how high do I think that they're going to go? My advice to everyone is that no one has a crystal ball. We live in a very dynamic world. The wind can change direction at any time. So trying to predict the future can be a waste of time and energy. I prefer to act in a manner that is safe but savvy – allowing a good night's sleep but always keeping things flexible so that you can tweak or adjust your wealth creation strategy if and when opportunities present themselves.

The best you can do right now is to make sure you're on the best rate possible. It's competitive. You have a budget, you're sticking to it. You build short-term financial goals to manage that mortgage and make sure that it's coming down if that's one of your goals. You are looking to improve your income by investing in yourself, starting side hustles or following new opportunities. 

Make sure that you check your budget so that there are no wasteful expenses. Understand the impact of any interest rate rise and get advice from your mortgage broker about other options such as fixing your rate if that is appropriate to you and your goals.

(Source: supplied)

9. You've built a following online, can you tell us about some of the highs and lows?

YouTube is my biggest platform. The name SugarMamma was always a spin-off of the term Sugar Daddy, and while my objective was never to target purely women, I've ended up creating this community of predominantly women. Since launching YouTube, I have my Instagram community and then my podcast, SugarMamma’s Fireplay – which shares everyday people’s financial awakening. I hear the most inspiring and motivating stories and it is an honour to share them. 

I have always been passionate about helping people, and about the importance of understanding a few key basic things in your life when it comes to money - which can make a huge difference in people's lives, beyond the numbers, which includes mental health benefits that come with financial wellbeing.

It's not something that is provided in school - financial education - let alone in university, so I guess my passion has always been to educate and empower everyday people about money. 

10. Do you think Finfluencers have a role to play in society? 

I definitely do. However, the problem is the rules are very grey for the average person to understand and even me to a certain extent. I've had phone calls with other financial planners in the same space as me, and they're equally as confused and overwhelmed by the rules and regulations but they want to help people by being able to provide free educational content.

I do think that financial influencers have a very special and valuable place. However, the danger is that they don't know what they don't know. Often, I see other influencers talk about their investing experience or a financial product but they don't understand, for example, that their portfolio has no diversification, or they don't understand that the investments they've picked are actually for a long-term investor or a high-growth investor. Or they don’t understand that what they are talking about is only appropriate for certain people in certain situations. Also, they often fail to mention the impact of taxes, inflation, fees etc and their projections can occasionally be unrealistic.

Nonetheless, they definitely have space to inspire and motivate people to take their financial education and journey seriously. But there is a huge danger in them talking about investments and financial strategies that they don't fully understand and the consequences of something going wrong. 

11. Can you share a personal passion or ambition you have for your future?

I am very excited to continue my work with The $1,000 Project and support World Vision with this. The $1,000 Project is a challenge that I started about seven or eight years ago, and I decided to hustle, you could say, or save $1,000 at a time - and when I had $1,000 I promised myself I would invest it and did.

Basically, it's about taking one big goal and breaking it down into parcels of $1,000 at a time. Now, even with the market pullback, that portfolio is worth over $230,000 (however a conservative margin loan is included in this figure). The passive income it generated over the past 12 months was around $16,000 and whilst that dividend income is reinvested, I donate through my business the equivalent net figure to World Vision’s The 1,000 Girl Project, which provides young girls with a home, food, clothing, and most importantly, an education.

I started The $1,000 Project to inspire people to think outside of the box when it comes to building wealth (this project started eight years ago with $0), but also to highlight the power of one simple short-term goal and the value of proactively transferring any new found savings or side hustle money. The $230,000 portfolio proves that “it all adds up” and that compounding is really powerful. 

Canna with her daughters (Source: supplied)
Canna with her daughters (Source: supplied)

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Ally Selby
Content Editor
Livewire Markets

Ally Selby is a content editor at Livewire Markets, joining the team at the end of 2020. She loves all things investing, financial literacy and content creation, having previously worked for the likes of Financial Standard, Pedestrian Group, Your...

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