Thursday 9 May 2024

'Passed' my PhD 'confirmation of candidature' milestone -- with conditions

Since I have been enrolled as a part-time PhD candidate now for just over 12 months (time flies!) the 'confirmation of candidature' milestone was due. The normal timing is within 6 months for full time PhD students, but as a part-time enrolment mine was due at the end of 12 months. I had to prepare of more detailed 'research proposal', with a decent literature review and outline of the methods and data analysis techniques to be employed, the main research question(s) and hypotheses, and also present a short (20 minute) 'seminar' (powerpoint presentation) summarizing my research project.

The 'mock' presentation I did last month went OK, so I did the actual online seminar presentation today, which went quite well. I then had a meeting with the 'confirmation of candidature panel' (HDR admin and school staff, my princiapl and co-supervisors, and another 'independent' university academic) to go over my research proposal, do some Q&A, and get feedback from me (about my supervisor team) and from the supervisor and co-supervisors (about me).

There were some very helpful questions and suggestions on how to improve my research (some extra questions to include in my survey questionnaire), and some difficult questions (about the theoretical basis for my research, and about obtaining a random sample of survey participants rather than just a self-selected or biased sample). All good questions that I don't have all the answer to just yet.

Ultimately I "passed" the confirmation -- but with a couple of conditions. Mostly to do with including a more substantial (or any!)  theoretical basis/framework for my research in the research proposal, and to address the issue of possible sample bias with the approach I had proposed for obtaining survey participants. At least I have another 6 months to "dot all the i's and cross all the t's".

As I was sort of planning to do a 'thesis by publication' (where the core of the thesis is three or more published peer-reviewed academic papers based on the research) rather than a 'book' style thesis, the confirmation panel also indicated that I need to work out with my supervisor team the gist of what the papers should be about, draft titles and so forth. Shouldn't be an issue, but it seems a bit odd to be planning the title and content of research papers before having any data or results. But I suppose I already know the specific questions I *expect* my research to answer, so expressing that in the form of a series of paper outlines should not be too hard. I think I had the 'thesis by publication' route as my 'plan A' option (with the thought that if I didn't get the required number of papers accepted for publication I could revert back to the traditional 'thesis as a tome' option (with the results subsequently being published in one or more academic papers).

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Decided to switch from being a 'financial planner' to a 'wealth coach'

I finally decided that paying over $20K pa in licence fees to my AFSL, ASIC fees, etc. simply to remain on the FAR (financial advisers register) to be able to provide personal financial advice was not worth the expense. Having a full-time salaried job that was totally unrelated to financial planning, plus doing PhD candidature part-time, made it practically impossible to spend enough time and effort 'prospecting' for clients to even cover the 'running costs' (especially since the AFSL would keep another 20% of any fees charged to clients, plus I would have to pay a few hundred dollars per client to have my SOA documents reviewed by the AFSL (or else pay even more to have the SOAs drawn up by a contract paraplanner service).

Rather than provide personal financial advice (taking into account the client's situation and details to provide a written 'statement of advice' recommending particular financial products), I think I will just offer my services as a 'wealth coach' providing education regarding DIY financial planning techniques, retirement and investment projections, budgeting, information about the tax and superannuation system and common strategies, and all the other things that go into planning ones own financial strategy -- without recommending any particular financial products (or class of products) and making specific recommendations based on the details of the person's situation, or providing personalized taxation advice (otherwise you risk running foul of ASIC requirements to provide 'general' financial advice).

As there will be $0 overheads I should be able to do this 'for fun' and only charge a reasonable hourly rate, rather than the thousands of dollars it costs to provide compliant personal financial advice. I might even do some general topic youtube videos.

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Monday 6 May 2024

End of Week 12 of '90 day transformation challenge'

Week 12 results: Weight Change during week: -2.0 kg

Avg Weight: 102.4 kg

Avg Body fat %: 31.0%

Avg BMI: 33.0

Avg daily cals: 1,569

Avg daily steps: 20,693

Avg caloric deficit/day: -1,219

Avg g protein/day: 164

Avg % cals from carbs: 28%

Avg % cals from fat: 28%

Only one week left in the '90 day transformation challenge'. My morning weight was 101.7 kg yesterday, with a body fat reading of 30.5%, so I should end this week close to 100kg and hopefully get under 30% body fat.

I've adjusted my daily meal plan slightly to be in line with the long term CRON-style food intake, with a bit higher protein content and total calories. Overall macros will be 190-210 g/day protein (~50% of calories), 130-135 g/day carbs (~33% of calories), and 30-35 g/day fats (~17% of calories) for a total of  around 1,650 - 1,800 cals/day. This would be about 20% CR compared to BMR if I continue to do daily walking and 3 sessions of weight training per week ongoing.

I expect my rate of weight loss will slowly diminish during the rest of the year, as reduced weight will decrease maintenance calorie requirement, and my metabolism will likely slow as body fat % reduces. I'm hoping to 'glide path' down to stabilize around 80kg weight with around 15% body fat by the end of the year, and then during 2025 should very gradually reduce body fat while retaining lean muscle mass, so the body fat % might slowly reduce to around 13%. I'm sure I'll need to tweak my diet and exercise regime somewhat in 2025.

From now on I'll just do a quarterly update on how well I've been sticking to my diet and exercise plan, and how things are progressing.

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Wednesday 1 May 2024

Net Worth - APR 2024

Chart updated to end of April in sidebar.

Stocks/cash increased $3,139 (+1.23%) to $258,822. My portfolio was actually down during the past month, but I remembered that I have a small amount invested in an unlisted company and they emailed an updated valuation last month, so I have included that figure in my stock portfolio valuation.

Retirement savings (SMSF etc) decreased by -$51,415 (-2.88%) to $1,731,778 in line with the market trend and our asset allocation.

Est. valuation of our home (my half) increased by $10,624 (+0.93%) to $1,150,713. The 'Other real estate' (my 'lake house' and the investment apartment) increased by $77,656 (+3.67%) to $2,191,735. It appears that one of the '12-month trend' figures for median apartment prices in the suburb where my investment apartment is was recalculated, so this component of my estimate increased suddenly and pushed up the overall price estimate. I've no idea if this is a more or a less accurate estimate of what the market value of my investment apartment is,  but the estimate is what it is.

The outstanding balance of the investment property mortgage remains at $999,993 during the 'interest only' period of the mortgage. Another ~4 years remain of the 'interest only' period. During that time I will accumulate as much cash as possible in the offset account to reduce the effective loan balance.

Other assets (my online depository bullion account at Perth Mint, and the bullion value of my gold and silver proof coin collection) increased by $1,672 (+4.02%) to $43,232.

Overall, NW increased by $41,676 (+0.96%) to $4,384,287 during April.

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