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Vanessa Stoykov: Re-examining Retirement

Many people look forward to retirement as a time to stop work, relax, and enjoy the fruits of their labour. But it’s a vision that’s only possible if it has been adequately financially planned for.

Vanessa Stoykov, Founder and CEO of Evolution Media Group and No More Practice Education, has a mission to get everyone talking about money and to begin planning for their retirement as early as possible. With the changing nature of the workforce, tax base, technological access, and health, Vanessa believes that all Australians need to re-align their thinking when it comes to retirement.

“People first need to unlearn about money. It’s not about what you don’t know about money, it’s what you do know – how you grew up, how your beliefs shaped you, all the things in your past around money that have become bad habits. Most people need to stop and acknowledge what these are before they can actually move forward and build goals.”

Using her own financial experiences as a platform for change, Vanessa explains how her love for new cars and unchecked desire for beautiful things in her 20s led her to learn the hard way about money. “My Achilles’ heel was desire. I got a David Jones credit card when I left university where I bought designer clothes and shoes, and also leased a brand new car every three years. At the end of the day, I was paying 18-19% interest, and never actually ended up owning any of the cars that I drove.”

Growing up in Gunnedah, NSW, with her Serbian father working in the coal mines and her mum staying at home to raise the family, her parents were sensible with money. But inheriting a strong work ethic of working hard to get ahead, meant that Vanessa’s ambition and success created equally driven consequences of always wanting the next best thing.

Climbing out of debt and reprioritising her monetary values, at 26 Vanessa founded her own media company, making documentaries and educational wealth content about finance that now reaches up to 3-4 million people per week. “I saw a gap in financial services where money was interesting, but finance was relatively boring, and so there was a real opportunity for creativity, storytelling and good communications.”

Through her experiences, financial knowledge, and business acumen, Vanessa has created five pillars around which people should look at their money habits and consider their financial future. Desire, Focus, Time, Belief, and Action have become the foundations with which to start building financial stability. “The first thing that all mums and dads should do is have a conversation about money – about what they want and what they want their future to look like. We have to reinvent our vision of retirement because we are not going to be able to retire like our parents have – we are living longer, there are not enough tax payers, so we are going to have to work longer.”

Commissioning research with Griffith University, Vanessa highlights that 80% of Australians may not reach a comfortable retirement based on the current trajectory. The research show that people may need between $2-4 million to retire, excluding a place to live. “Many people say that that figure can’t be right, but it’s based on basic maths. If you want $60,000 a year to live on, then times that by the 25 years that you will be alive after retiring at 65, and already you have yourself $1.5 million. It’s unlikely we are going to have a pension system like we have now, so it’s time for people to sit up, take note, and start planning.”

Urging everyone to see a financial advisor to best plan for their future, Vanessa has launched her new website,, about the benefits of getting good financial advice. Packed with information, diagnostic tools and guides, including how to pick the right financial advisor, it is supported by her 25 years in the finance industry as both a financial journalist for InvestorWeekly and later at CommBank, Zurich Insurance, and Equitilink, before starting her business. “

Einstein once said that compound interest was the Eighth Wonder of the World – the earlier you start, the more you make with less effort. It’s something that I wish I had known about when I was younger when wasting money on buying shoes, clothes, and cars. It’s often the little things you do with money - the decisions you make along the way can make all the difference on how you spend your time. Time is everyone’s master – you can’t afford to wait until it’s too late.”

With her flagship company, Evolution Media Group, Vanessa and her team have created numerous documentaries, videos, and TV series, bringing financial information to both professionals and the general public in an entertaining and creative way. Her brand is content storytelling; often termed ‘edutainment’. Vanessa says, “The art in my business is finding a story and presenting it in a way that other people will want to join in on the journey. And with our latest TV series, ‘Learn from the Money Masters – The Investment Series’ that has recently aired on Channel 9, it encapsulates the importance of planning for your financial future.”

Spotlighting ex-Neighbour’s star, Blair McDonough, the show attempts to highlight the importance of minimising life’s risks and maximising retirement goals. “Blair is first linked up with a financial advisor who opens his eyes to the reality of his situation, and then subsequently given a Master Class with a professional investor every week – all of whom are high-end, elite, successful, professional investors in Australia, some of whom we’ve flown in from overseas.”

The show, plus all of Evolution’s other media content from the Money Masters series, can also be seen on Vanessa says, “Learning about wealth is not quick; you need to build up accumulated knowledge over time. Take the time to look at the series, because by investing in yourself, you’ll create a financial nest egg that will give you security and peace of mind come retirement.”

Vanessa’s 5 Pillars of Money:

  • Desire: control your love of the nice things. You can have them, but know their value, and don’t get sucked into consumerism.

  • Focus: have 10-20 year goals, rather than just focusing on day-to-day or week-to-week.

  • Time: the earlier you start, the more likely you are to find it easy to reach your end goal.

  • Belief: understand how your money beliefs and behaviours were shaped in the first place by your parents.

  • Action: learn and utilise strategies about how to plan for diversified investment.


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