Why assumptions are killing your financial progress

At a recent family dinner, a close relative who had just returned from a lengthy stay in the United States dropped a bombshell.

“Barack Obama is a racist.”

I nearly choked on my lamb ribs (delicious by the way).

I paused for a moment and settled myself before doing my best to respond objectively. I simply asked, ‘I’m intrigued, what makes you say that?’

‘Well…’ they said, starting with their story.

“I met a high ranking security guard in Arizona. He’s very high up, a highly intelligent guy. He was telling me that Barack Obama had attended the funeral of an African-American man who was shot by police. This man was a convicted criminal and Obama went to his funeral!”

“Then, during the same week, a white policeman was shot dead by a protester and Obama didn’t go to his funeral!”

I paused again.

‘Based on this story, you’re telling me that Obama is a racist?’ I asked. 

“Well, I’m not saying that he’s a racist… but he could be!”

Now, let’s step back and analyze the situation.

For starters, they don’t even know the guy that told the story. Do they have an understanding of his own personal political and social preferences? (I’d suggest that this could be important). Did they use the security guard’s story as a prompt to do their own research on the President’s character or policies? Did they even consider that the President is a pretty busy guy? He’s got a pretty heavy schedule that doesn’t necessarily mean he can be everywhere he’d like to at the one time.

The answer to all these questions is no.

This is what we do when we make assumptions.

We get a few pieces of the puzzle and we fill in all the blanks ourselves. We don’t even recognise that we’re making assumptions. We prefer to think of them more like ‘facts’. By definition, an assumption is defined as ‘a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.’

In this case, they’ve simply accepted a short story about the President as being true, based on a staggeringly incomplete set of information and an opinion that’s credibility is highly questionable.

So, what will they do now?

Research? Nope.

Chances are they’ll seek out information that reinforces their assumption. Whether it’s in their interpretation of the news, maybe over-analysing Obama’s future actions or choosing to not question the views of someone with a similar opinion. This will all be done subconsciously; they won’t even know that they’re doing it. They don’t even know that they’ve made an assumption! An assumption that is actually based on someone else’s assumption (so many assumptions, it’s hard to keep up).

They shouldn’t feel too bad though. We all make assumptions. Everyday. 

Why do we make assumptions?

They save us time. We don’t have to do all the research nor do we need to challenge our own thinking. Life seems easier this way.

What do we make assumptions about?

Pretty much everything.

What does this story have to do with your finances?

Assumptions are killing your financial progress. Make no mistake. They are killing your financial progress.

They’re probably costing you the best chance of achieving your goals. This meant mean future travel, early retirement, a holiday home, starting a business or having more time and freedom to do the things you love. At the very least, your assumptions will be robbing you of peace of mind and a sense of confidence and control. Why? They cause you to make uninformed decisions that create roadblocks, slow progress and have you missing valuable opportunities. 

We hear false assumptions all the time. These assumptions are most common in the initial meetings with new clients. Here’s a few:

“I’ve moved my investments to cash because they are safe.” – not if you want to be financially independent in future years, it’s potentially the riskiest investment available to you.

“My accountant would let me know if there were other ways for me to save tax.” – said by a client who was paying an additional $7,500 per annum in unnecessary tax by not seizing available strategies.

“I don’t like superannuation, I think it’s a bad investment.” – superannuation is not an investment; it’s a tax-effective savings environment. The way you choose to invest inside and outside super is almost identical.

“The share market is too risky. I have a friend who lost a lot of money.” – Their friend sold all their shares at the lows of the GFC when they got nervous and emotional. They’ve missed out on the 80% recovery since.  

“I wouldn’t be eligible for an age pension as I have too many assets.” – said by a client who had missed out on more than $200,000 in pension payments since retirement many years earlier.

You get the idea.

If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard that……”I never knew that.” 

Unfortunately, we’re generally incapable of realising the inaccuracies in our assumptions or cost of our decisions that result. How could we? We don’t know what we don’t know.

(Has there ever been a truer statement?)

Instead, we’re so focused on ‘what we know’ yet sadly what we know is very little (as shown below).

what-you-dont-knowMaking great financial decisions ‘based on what we know’ doesn’t work well. 

Consider that you’ve got a long car ride planned but only have twenty percent of the map. Without sourcing the complete map which points out the hidden short cuts, dead ends and preferred routes it’s likely to be a challenging journey – worse still, you may not ever arrive. It’s the exact same when you’re investing. Relying simply on your own set of generally limited experiences, knowledge will mean that your journey is also a challenging one. 

Your financial future is too valuable to leave to a set of assumptions because what you do with your finances matter greatly. The life you want to live, full of the experiences you desire hinges on the financial decisions you make and the assumptions you don’t. 



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Corey Wastle

Co-founder and Financial Adviser

Corey is a Certified Financial Planner and a co-founder of Verse with experience providing advice to people at each stage of life.

Renowned for his authentic and personal approach, he is committed to helping Verse clients get the most out of life.


From learning to save at a young age and borrowing to invest by his teens, Corey was drawn to financial advice to help others achieve the ambitions that are most important to them, without financial constraints. 

Having spent a number of years advising clients at one of Australia’s largest financial institutions and a continuing commitment to profession education, Corey has amassed a diverse range of skills and expertise in financial planning.

During his time in the industry, Corey has developed strong ideals on how advice is best delivered to clients to enable them to recognise and determine its value; these ideals are now foundations of Verse’s unique advice approach.

He now ensures that all Verse clients receive advice in a transparent and genuine manner that is focused on addressing their individual challenges and achieving clearly defined outcomes that are meaningful to them.

Passions and pastimes

Corey is passionate about keeping fit, eating well and a enjoys range of sports. He is a devoted fan of the St Kilda Football club.

His bucket list includes shooting under par in a round of golf, presenting a Ted Talk and skiing the world.

He spends his spare time with his partner Kristy, playing golf, drinking green tea and travelling.


  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Bachelor of Business and Commerce, Monash University
  • Bachelor of Communications, Monash University
  • Graduate Diploma of Financial Planning
  • Graduate Certificate of Applied Finance
  • Self-Managed Super Funds Specialist Course
  • Margin Lending Certification 
  • Member of Financial Planning Association (FPA)
  • Member of Association of Financial Advisers (AFA)

‘Many of the things you can count, don’t count. Many of the things you can’t count, really count’

– Albert Einstein

James O’Reilly

Co-founder and Financial Adviser

James is a co-founder of Verse and holds a Master of Applied Finance having previously held a diverse range of advisory roles

He now partners with clients to provide guidance in all aspects of their financial life and help achieve their individual ambitions.


James began in the advice profession at the tender age of 14, working in the family’s independent financial planning practice.

Since venturing out of the family business, James has worked at both small boutique practices and major financial institutions, winning several prominent awards along the way. These experiences have helped him to establish strong principles on the delivery of financial advice and shape Verse as a trusted and industry-leading advisory firm.

James’ strong leadership skills are coupled with a distinct knowledge of both financial planning and investment management to enable him to deliver a very high quality advice experience to any client.

His passion to improve the lives of those around him flows into his professional life and ensures that Verse clients receive the advice and expertise needed to meet their personal goals and achieve financial freedom.

Passions and pastimes

James leads an ultra-active personal life combining cycling, weight training and basketball on a regular basis.

His bucket list includes meeting Paul McCartney, fluently learning another language and hiking the 3,500km Appalachian Trail that meanders through 13 states of the USA.

In the summer you will find James fly-fishing in the Kosciuszko National Park or enjoying time with his wife Louise and their two Dalmatians, Bella and Millie.


  • Master of Applied Finance (double-major in Financial Planning and Investment Management)
  • Graduate Diploma of Financial Planning
  • Advanced Diploma of Financial Services
  • Self-Managed Super Funds Specialist Course
  • Margin Lending Specialist Course
  • Association of Financial Advisers (AFA)

‘What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as who you become by achieving your goals’

– Henry David Thoreau

Monique Baines

Client Experience Manager


Monique is the Verse Client Experience Manager.

She is committed to ensuring that every Verse client receives a personalised experience and the process remains easy and enjoyable throughout. She holds a Bachelor of Finance with a major in Financial Planning and is in training to become an advisor in the future.  


Monique joined the Verse team in 2015 as the firm’s Client Experience Manager.

A self described ‘saver’ from an early age, Monique has always had a genuine interest in financial strategies and investments. She has previously held roles as a junior analyst in corporate governance and completed a Financial Planning internship with Platinum Asset Management in early 2015. 

Her drive to join the advice profession comes from a willingness to help others, in particular the younger generation. Monique is intent on ensuring young Australian’s get more financial education, not just strategies. Her focus is on providing the teaching, guidance and coaching necessary to help them live out their goals. 

Passions and pastimes

Monqiue has a passion for animal welfrare (dog person) and dedicates her spare time to the RSPCA, helping to re-home animals. She also recently spent three months volunteering at an animal shelter in Heart Tokushima in Japan. She plays competitive netball as well as enjoying DIY craft projects, recently refurbishing a desk as a birthday present for a close friend.

Her bucket list includes travelling to every continent, becoming a board member and building a tiny house in the future. 

Qualifications and achievements

  • Bachelor of Finance (major in Financial Planning)
  • 2015 Platinum Asset Management Financial Planning Scholarship 

Hayley Knight


Hayley is the Verse team’s Paraplanner.

Her focus is on continually finding simpler and more effective ways of providing advice and passing on knowledge to Verse clients, empowering them to make better financial decisions and achieve more. 


Hayley has always been good with numbers and was drawn to financial services shortly after finishing school. After starting out at the local credit union she learned more about financial planning and has pursued it ever since.  After a number of years Paraplanning, Hayley took over an outsourcing company and restructured it to have less input and more time with her family.

During her time in the industry she learned how money is really just a tool in obtaining the life that we want and strategising the most effective way of achieving our goals.

Passions and pastimes

Hayley loves spending quality time with her young son Bryce and husband Chris. 

Her bucket list includes seeing Silverback Gorillas in the wild, celebrating Bastille Day in Paris and writing a book.

In her down time, you will find Hayley reading personal/business development books and enjoying a glass of wine.


  • Advanced Diploma Financial Services
  • Diploma Financial Services
  • Certificate 2 & 3 in Financial Services


‘Many of the things you can count, don’t count. Many of the things you can’t count, really count’

– Albert Einstein