Exciting times for EdTech

I deliberated putting a question mark at the end of that title. Education Technology is a topic of contradictions, and has a history of hype, so it is clearly bold of me to be asserting This Time It is Different. But, maybe this time it is different.

The recent State of Australian Startup Funding 2023 report showed that EdTech is currently out of favour with local Venture Capital firms and Angel Investors. By the end of 2023, the EdTech/Training category had fallen out of the top 10 most exciting areas to watch, behind Deep Tech, Legaltech, and Design/Publish/Collab solutions (see page 25). Additionally, EdTech startups raised $108m in 2023, again outside of the top 10, a reduction from 2022, and less than was raised by cryptocurrency startups (page 24). Angel investors were perhaps slightly more optimistic about EdTech, with the sector reaching position 10 of the top 10 most exciting sectors for 2024 when male angel investors were polled, and yet female angel investors didn’t have it in their top 10 (page 96).

Despite this lack of interest, Australian EdTech-related startups have been doing pretty well recently. Brisbane-based Go1 aggregates workforce learning and development content, and was valued at $3b last year. In 2021, online training startup A Cloud Guru achieved a $2b exit. While not dedicated to EdTech, SafetyCulture includes a training component, and was valued at $2.7b last year. Similarly, cybersecurity firm Secure Code Warrior includes training, and raised US$50m last year, and international student recruitment platform Adventus.io raised $22m. Outside of startups, ASX-listed international student placement and English language testing company IDP Education is valued at around $5.5b. And while it deserves more than a postscript, it’s worth mentioning the Australia-born learning management system (LMS) Moodle with its 377m users, 45m courses, and is one of the top 5 LMSs in North America.

Education is Australia’s largest services export industry, and the fourth largest export industry overall, behind the resources industries of Coal, Iron Ore and Natural Gas. The sector brought in $36b in the most recent year, already back to the level it was before the Covid pandemic. Australia also has prominence in global University rankings. On the current Times Higher Education world University rankings, Australia has 6 Universities listed in the global 100, which is 1/6th of what the USA has, while having less than 1/10th of its population. It’s also more than any of Canada, France, Japan, or South Korea, despite having a smaller population. (Although, special call-out to Singapore, with 2 listings in the top 100 with only 6m people.) If you look at the current QS Top Universities rankings, Australia does even better, with 9 in the top 100.

So, on one hand Australia is a success story, with an ecosystem able to produce wins in both international EdTech companies and selling education itself, but on the other hand, there is relatively little investor interest in backing emerging EdTech companies at the moment. What might make this change?

While there are ongoing trends that have underpinned interest in EdTech for a while, e.g. see this article from 2001 from Archangel Ventures, I see two near-term demand-side forces and two supply-side forces that will drive the creation of new technology solutions in Education.

On the demand side, there is an urgent need to reskill people into the tech sector. In May 2023, the Tech Council of Australia forecast that around 295,000 people would need to reskill into tech jobs, to meet expected demand for 1.2m Australian tech workers by 2030. To put it in perspective, this is approximately twice the number of people they expect to come into entry level roles in the tech industry via Universities. A traditional University pathway, taking 3 or more years out of the workforce to obtain a qualification, will not work for many people. What is needed are faster, high volume methods of reskilling that companies can rely on to produce capable tech workers in areas like data science/analysis, software engineering and product management.

Another driver of demand is due to the recent rise of Generative AI. Most forms of training and education include an assessment component, and Generative AI has been shown to pass a range of academic tests as well as people do. In early 2023, one study found 89% of adult students had used ChatGPT on their homework. By this point, I expect it’s higher. Previously solid tech tools for detecting students copying work from elsewhere are no longer reliable, and can penalise people who aren’t native speakers. It’s not feasible to have everyone go back to doing assignments in person without access to the Internet, either. There is a pressing need for a better way, or the benefit of having qualifications will quickly erode.

On the supply side, coming out of the Covid pandemic lockdowns, a generation of students has experienced the delivery of education mediated entirely by technology. While for many years, a portion of students have experienced distance/remote education, this time it was the whole cohort. Australia, and in particular the states of NSW and Victoria, had some of the most lengthly and/or restrictive lockdowns in the world. For instance, Victorian lockdowns over 2020 and 2021 covered 262 days, and while it caused many issues for students, parents and teachers (some that are ongoing), it also trained every student and educator on what works and what does not. Those people who were receiving education at the time have been coming into the workforce for the past 3 years. In addition, there are all the educators who had been there and done that. There’s nothing like first-hand experience with a problem to help design good solutions. This set of talent will be invaluable in producing new EdTech startups.

In addition to talent is a new supply of capital. Dan at Square Peg Capital has written about how startup success breeds startup success. For instance, when an executive or founder at one business has learned the recipe for success, has made some money, then gone on to help form a new startup. One model is that 15% of outstanding shares may be used in compensating top employees, with shares vesting over four years. Atlassian’s IPO made many early employees millionaires, and there have been a bunch of startups formed off the back of this. Similarly, Canva’s secondary share sale, delayed until this year, is expected to make many employees wealthy, and result in new startups being formed in the visual media space. A Cloud Guru’s 2021 exit will have brought wealth to the founders and early employees. While less structured, both Go1 and SafetyCulture appear to support secondary share sales by employees. As capital is put in the hands of people with a passion for EdTech, it will catalyse the EdTech startup ecosystem.

While I didn’t begin with a question, I think I’ve answered it anyway. Australia is being pushed and pulled in the direction of more EdTech startup success, and it’s going to be an exciting ride in the coming years.

Finally, VR has arrived

While we’ve been talking about Virtual Reality for ages, this year it looks to have finally arrived. The term “virtual reality” dates from the 1980s, and the first mainstream VR headset in the form of Google Cardboard arrived in 2014, so it’s hardly a new thing for many people. However, it’s been languishing in a state of unfulfilled expectations. But that may now be about to change.

The above chart shows a Google Trends analysis of global web search interest in the topics: Virtual reality (blue), Augmented reality (yellow), and other related topics that rate as insignificant in comparison (Mixed reality, Extended reality, and Spatial computing). Looking at the period of time since Facebook rebranded as Meta and announced it would double-down on this area, there doesn’t seem to be a greater level of excitement since then, and if anything, it has declined to about half of the peak.

This is despite strong progress in this area that has clarified technology direction as well as the value of particular use cases. Hence the sector is primed for Apple to come in and make a splash with their new Vision Pro headset that will start arriving in customers’ hands in February. Apple has a good track record of entering a consumer electronics category and massively increasing its size, e.g. portable music players (iPod), smart phones (iPhone), tablets (iPhone), smart watches (Apple Watch), Bluetooth headphones (AirPods), and Bluetooth trackers (AirTag). Whether this has been due to clever market timing, market power, or bringing unique innovations to market is not important to this analysis, but suffice to say, they have solid form even despite some examples to the contrary that haven’t been immediate category disruptors, e.g. in set-top-boxes (Apple TV) or smart speakers (HomePod).

While the initial product from Apple is priced at a premium (US$3,500 to preorder the basic model), it is the usual approach by the company to start high and then bring prices down over time with later product releases. This approach hasn’t harmed their earlier successes, so there is reason enough to feel Apple will be able to repeat their previous examples of significantly growing a category that they enter.

This is, of course, assuming that the category offers real value to customers and end users – a point where there is still some scepticism around. I mentioned before that both technology direction and use cases have been clarified, which is why I am optimistic about success.

A key technology question was around “augmented reality” (AR) versus “virtual reality” (VR). While these can both be considered points on a spectrum of what might be called “mixed reality” (MR) or “extended reality” (XR), in practice, the key question was whether the the screen in the device was transparent or not. However, those products based on transparent screens suffered significant user experience issues, e.g. Microsoft Hololens, Magic Leap, and the original Meta (not the Facebook one). It has now become clear that the same cameras that allow a VR headset to perform inside-out tracking can also be used to provide passthrough of the camera feed to the headset screen, and enable the wearer to see something of the outside world. Unless and until there’s an incredible new technology discovery, the VR world has “won” and AR is now just a feature that can be delivered on a VR device.

The applications for the current generation of VR headsets has shown where the valuable use cases are. I have been a user of the Meta Quest 2 (previously Oculus Quest 2) VR headset, and have found it a lot of fun. At an entry level price of about US$300, the Quest 2 has become the market leader. There were 10 million units sold in early 2023 giving it 75% market share, had reached 18 million units by mid 2023, and continues to sell strongly. So, while my experience of current applications is skewed to what this device has enabled, it is highly representative of the general experience.

“Gaming” is sometimes stated as the main application for these headsets, but I find this is too high-level to explain where the value proposition is. I see three key areas where VR headsets have a strong advantage compared to other platforms:

  1. Fitness applications. Just like the Nintendo Wii enabled games to be created that got people off the couch, resulting in a burst of mainstream adoption for fitness purposes, VR headsets like the Quest 2 or the Vision Pro are not tethered to any other devices, support “six degrees of freedom“, and so enable the user to move around while using the device. Given this, exercise games like Beat Saber and Supernatural are very popular, and even exercise brands like LesMills have apps that provide a familiar workout based around their Bodycombat program. This sort of experience can’t easily be achieved with devices like smartphones, laptops or game consoles, and provides a solid reason to use a VR headset.
  2. Virtual office environments. Many people wish they had another monitor connected to their computer, but cost or desk space considerations prevent it. Additional monitors provide screen real-estate that results in better productivity, with less need to flip between windows or scroll around a screen. In a virtual office, the real-world constraints go away, and you can have almost as many additional monitors as you wish. Meta allows this use case in their Horizon Workrooms app, but I recommend the Immersed app which does this very well.
  3. Immersive training. Just as jet pilots train to fly by using immersive flight simulators, VR enables unique training experiences for those situations where emotions and senses might be overwhelmed. This is shown by the success of Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Similarly, I’ve seen how VR is effective at training people to respond to disasters in underground mines, fire-fighters to attend burning buildings, and the like. Perhaps in the future, people will get credit for hours that a car or truck is driven on virtual roads given that VR can ensure exposure to situations like night or bad weather. For now, you can try out a Car Parking Simulator. The ability to take over all of the vision of the wearer enables training experiences that are possible only with VR.

In conclusion, I am convinced that VR has valuable use cases and that the technology to deliver them is feasible. Subsequent generations of technology now will continue to improve on the experience through things like increased resolution and frame-rate, improved comfort (including better support for corrective lenses), accuracy of hand-tracking, headset weight, battery life, and so on. However, the sales numbers for Quest 2 devices have shown that technology that is good enough has already arrived. The introduction of Apple to this device category will lift it to a new level of maturity. Finally.

My main insight from SXSW Sydney

Last week, I attended the inaugural SXSW Sydney, and the first SXSW outside of Texas. It was different to the regular tech conferences that I’ve attended – it was much more diverse, with the games/film/music streams attracting a broader crowd. The sessions that I made it into were stimulating and sparked a range of ideas.

Of course, topics like AI (particularly Generative AI) and the Future of Work featured heavily in many presentations, and this led me to a realisation that I hadn’t had before, and I feel is likely to be the biggest impact from GenAI in the medium term. Rather than keep it to myself, I am sharing it here so that I can hear from others if it makes sense to them also.

Specifically, GenAI will bring about a huge disruption to the professional workforce and education system, not necessarily because humans will be replaced, but because humans who have been excluded from participation will now have fewer barriers to entry. Proficiency in the English language has been used as a justification for keeping certain people out of certain fields, and GenAI allows anyone from a non-English background to be as creative, smart, and persuasive as they are in their native tongues.

Our current GenAI systems are largely based on the Transformer machine learning architecture, which showed up early in online language translation tools like Google Translate. However, the GPT (T stands for Transformer) systems, particularly ChatGPT, have shown us that only a few words in broken English are able to be turned into paragraphs of words in perfect English, or even the reverse where paragraphs are summarised down to a few points in another language. University-level English spelling, grammar, and comprehension are no longer the exclusive domain of the English fluent.

There’s a fun TV series called Kim’s Convenience about a Korean couple who move to Canada to raise their family. The couple were teachers in Korea, but instead of doing that, they open a convenience store in Toronto. Presumably their lack of English or French language fluency would have been a limitation in getting teaching jobs. However, less than two months ago, OpenAI published their guide for teachers around ChatGPT, and it included the use case of “Reducing friction for non-English speakers”. In this guide, it was to help non-English students, but many of the suggestions could help non-English teachers also.

About 6% of the world’s population are native English speakers, and 75% do not speak English at all. And yet, about a third of the world’s GDP comes from countries where English fluency is required for success. If English is no longer a barrier to success in that market, it will be a significant disruption.

The spread of remote working technologies due to the pandemic has changed the ways of working for many jobs. Many white-collar jobs will likely still have an element of face-to-face contact, even if to come together for celebrations or training. However, where workers can be fully remote, the lack of English fluency as a barrier will enable many countries to export their talent without it leaving their shores.

Before the pandemic hit, over a quarter of University revenues in Australia came from international students. This gives international students some influence over University policies, and currently they face English language proficiency tests as part of their enrolment and visa processes. In the near future, GenAI looks set to be considered a generally-available tool in the workplace, like a calculator or laptop. If prospective students could make use of such a tool to address any gaps in their English language skills post-graduation, is it fair to prevent them from using it before graduation?

Traditionally, those people who had limited English in countries like Australia, UK or USA had been resigned to taking a jobs as an “unskilled” worker. There are already concerns that the number of people willing to do this type of work might not be enough to meet future industry demands. What might happen to wages if a good proportion of these people were able to move out of the unskilled workforce? How readily can the creative and information worker industries expand to take on new talent? What new barriers might be created by unions and professional organisations to help limit a flood of new workers into their industries?

GenAI has been making headlines that AI is taking many people’s creative jobs. After hearing from several panels at SXSW on AI, Long-term Forecasting, Work of the Future, and Education, my conclusion is that a plausible and perhaps more relevant headline would be that GenAI will allow many more people to take on creative jobs.

Metric of the Moment

Being on the technology-side of the telco industry, it’s interesting to see how all the complexity of technological advances is packaged up and sold to the end user. An approach that I’ve seen used often is reducing everything to a single number – a metric that promises to explain the extent of technological prowess hidden “under the hood” of a device.

I can understand why this is appealing, as it tackles two problems with the steady march of technology. Firstly, all the underlying complexity should not need to be understood by a customer in order for them to make a buying decision – there should be a simple way to compare different devices across a range. And secondly, the retail staff should not need to spend hours learning about the workings of new technology every time a new device is brought into the range.

However, an issue with reducing everything to a single number is that it tends to encourage the industry to work to produce a better score (in order to help gain more sales), even when increasing the number doesn’t necessarily relate to any perceptible improvement in the utility of the device. Improvements do tend to track with better scores for a time, but eventually they pass a threshold where better scores don’t result in any great improvement. Reality catches up with such a score after a few months, when the industry as a whole abandons it to focus on another metric. The whole effect is that the industry is obsessed with the metric of the moment, and these metrics change from time to time, long after they have stopped being useful.

Here are some examples of the metrics-of-the-moment that I’ve seen appear in the mobile phone industry:

  • Talk-time / standby-time. Battery types like NiCd and NiMH were initially the norm, and there was great competition to demonstrate the best talk-time or standby-time, which eventually led to the uptake of Li-Ion batteries. It became common to need to charge your phone only once per week, which seemed to be enough for most people.
  • Weight. Increasing talk-time or standby-time could be accomplished by putting larger batteries into devices, but at a cost of weight. A new trend emerged to produce very light handsets (and to even provide weight measurements that didn’t include the battery). The Ericsson T28s came out in 1999 weighing less than 85g, but with a ridiculously small screen and keyboard (an external keyboard was available for purchase separately). Ericsson later came out with the T66 with a better design and which weighed less than 60g, but then the market moved on.
  • Thinness. The Motorola RAZR, announced at the end of 2004, kicked off a trend for thin clamshell phones. It was less than 14mm thick (cf. 1mm thinner than the T28s). Other manufacturers came out with models, shaving off fractions of millimeters, but it all became a bit silly. Does it really matter if one phone is 0.3mm thicker than another?
  • Camera megapixels. While initially mobile phone cameras had rather feeble resolutions, they have since ramped up impressively. For example, the new Nokia N8 has a 12 megapixel camera on board. Though, it is hard to believe that the quality of the lens would justify capturing all of those pixels.
  • Number of apps. Apple started quoting the number of apps in the app store of its iPhone soon after it launched in 2008, and it became common to compare mobile phone platforms by the number of apps they had. According to 148Apps, there are currently over 285,000 apps available to Apple devices. One might think that we’ve got enough apps available now, and it might be time to look at a different measure.

In considering what the industry might look to for its next metric, I came up with the following three candidates:

  • Processor speed. This has been a favourite in the PC world for some time, and as mobiles are becoming little PCs, it could be a natural one to focus on. Given that in both the mobile and PC worlds, clock speed is becoming less relevant as more cores appear on CPUs and graphics processing is handled elsewhere, perhaps we will see a measure like DMIPS being communicated to end customers.
  • Resolution. The iPhone 4 Retina 3.5″ display, with 960×640 pixels and a pixel density of 326 pixels / inch, was a main selling point of the device. Recently Orustech announced a 4.8″ display with 1920×1080 pixels, giving a density of 458 pixels / inch, so perhaps this will be another race.
  • Screen size. The main problem with resolution as a metric is that we may have already passed the point where the human eye can detect any improvement in pixel densities, so screens would have to get larger to provide benefit from improved resolutions. On the other hand, human hands and pockets aren’t getting any larger, so hardware innovations will be required to enable a significant increase in screen size, eg. bendable screens.

But, really, who knows? It may be something that relates to a widespread benefit, or it may be a niche, marketing-related property.

The fact that these metrics also drive the industry to innovate and achieve better scores can be a force for good. Moore’s Law, which was an observation about transistor counts present in commodity chips, is essentially a trend relating to such a metric, and has in turn resulted in revolutionary advances in computing power over the last four decades. We haven’t hit the threshold for it yet – fundamental limits in physical properties of chips – so it is still valid while the industry works to maintain it.

However, it is really the market and the end customers that select the next metric. I hope they choose a good one.

Social Media and the Laugh

When I was back in high school, one of my English Lit teachers used to say “A wise man laughs with trepidation”. He said it a lot. He also joked a lot. Perhaps he was warning us that Sex And Violence Fridays weren’t likely to be as funny to parents.

But anyway, he was right that with most humour, someone is the butt of the joke. Someone is being ridiculed, if only the joke-teller. But very often someone is being offended.

And this week, some people were so offended by Catherine Deveny‘s postings on Twitter, that her employer at The Age newspaper decided to give her the sack. Now, I’m not so interested in whether her comments were offensive or not (since, almost by the very definition of humour, someone would find them offensive), but in what this example can tell us about communications in the age of social media.

Last year, Julian Morrow of The Chaser fame gave the Andrew Olle Media Lecture on a related matter. It was (and still is) a very interesting speech, and outlined the concepts of a primary audience, who are the people that a comedian is targeting their humourous content at, and a secondary audience, who are the people that discover the content after the fact. For example, the primary audience may watch your TV show, but the secondary audience may watch the highlights/lowlights of your TV show when they are rebroadcast on the nightly current affairs program.

Since in a world where anything can be discovered later on the Internet, e.g. via clips on YouTube, a specific Google search or even through the Internet Archive, the secondary audience potentially consists of everyone living and who may live in the future. It’s a given that for anything humourous you’ve publicly released, there will eventually be someone who will find it and be offended by it.

I’ve previously tried to characterise communications technologies into those that are public and those that are private. Twitter was classified as a publishing business where primarily it attempts to allow communications to be publicly disseminated.

I don’t know if Deveny’s Twitter followers at the time (her primary audience) were particularly offended, or whether it was in the wider group of social media users who discovered her tweets (the secondary audience) that the most offended people came from. Given that her humour is at the more offensive end of the spectrum, I’d expect her primary audience to be pretty thick-skinned. So, if it was the secondary audience’s reaction that resulted in her sacking, then this is likely to be a template for future problems for comedians.

Is is reasonable for a comedian to take into account the reactions of their secondary audience?

In an ideal world, perhaps not. But pragmatically, if it’s going to affect important things like their ability to pay a mortgage, then probably they will. However, the secondary audience in the world of social media and the Internet can be anyone who will ever live.

Is it even possible for them to foresee the reactions of this group?

Even in an ideal world, probably not.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see comedians move away from publishing platforms like Twitter and towards messaging platforms like Facebook (to use the classification scheme from my previous post). This would seem to be an approach for limiting the risk from the secondary audience.

I’m aware that there is plenty of publicly available, offensive material on Facebook, but here I’m talking about the ability to set up a private channel of communication to a select group of people, i.e. Facebook Groups. Of course, it’s up to Facebook as a business to determine if they want to host groups that non-group-members find offensive, but from the perspective of my argument here, this “messaging” functionality will exist somewhere (e.g. email lists) even if not within Facebook. I’m just using them as a contrasting example to Twitter.

Unfortunately, the clear downside of humour moving away from the public domain into private groups is that we can’t easily or accidentally discover a new comedian. In this brand new, Internet-connected world, we may find ourselves in the old, historical situation of comedians telling their jokes to audiences in (virtual) rooms. And people laughing, even if with trepidation.

Funds and Property

I’ve written about it before (“I am not a nutter” and “That’s not a Housing Affordability Crisis”), and I’m about to write about it again. Today I received a letter from my accountant (who, admittedly, is more savvy than the average accountant when it comes to property) confirming, and even encouraging purchase of geared property in a super fund. I quote:

If you have over $120,000 sitting in Superannuation you can now buy property through your superannuation fund … the SMSF makes the first installment of 20% deposit plus stamp duty/ legal costs plus the first year’s interest repayment.

And I have also come across a company called the Quantum Group that is setting up a similar structure for superannuation funds, calling them property warrants. So, there’s also an option for people whose accountants aren’t quite as savvy.

The residential property market has been performing quite well recently. For example, the average annual growth of median residential property prices in Melbourne over the last ten years has been 10.65% (according to this article, reporting Residex figures). If a property purchased at $450,000 (the current Melbourne median property price) grows at the average figure of 10.65% annually, and is purchased at a gearing level of 80% (as in the example from my accountant), then the growth is considerably higher. Ignoring tax, rents and interest payments, the $90,000 invested would become equity of around $880,000 after ten years – that’s about 25% annual growth. Not bad, and will be hard for super fund investors to ignore.

I would expect that once superannuation funds start investing directly in residential property, the big players in Australian superannuation will want to address the demand by packaging up property so that it is easy to invest in, i.e. indirect investment in residential property, or funds of geared residential property which a SMSF can buy units in. The catch will be that while the SMSF area is regulated by the ATO, the wider superannuation funds industry is regulated by APRA, and they are not going to want to see superannuation funds gearing up and putting people’s pensions at risk. The gearing cat is already out of the bag, so perhaps all they can do is cap it at a more conservative level, of say 60% (this would have produced a return of around 18% in the example above).

It is worth considering what sort of property funds the industry would be looking to set up. Generally they look to the blue-chip end of the market, so in property this would be houses or whole apartment blocks (rather than individual apartments) and in well-established suburbs such as Hawthorn, Toorak and South Yarra in Melbourne, and their equivalents in Sydney and possibly Brisbane. Such property typically goes for multiple millions of dollars, but I would expect that people living in such houses would prefer not to rent it. I don’t really know – I’ve never been in that position myself! Innovation in rental / purchase contracts will probably be required to give residents in such houses the certainty, control, or capital gains that they require. However, where there’s money, there’s incentive to fix such problems.

So, initially, I expect to see the big funds going after apartment blocks, then eventually houses, then when supply is exhausted in the blue-chip areas, moving into neighbouring areas or the other cities in Australia. A side-effect of this staggered buy-up is that these funds may not be particularly diversified. There could be a “Toorak houses” fund, or a “South Yarra apartments” fund. It may not be a bad thing – it doesn’t matter if a particular fund is not diversified as long as someone’s overall portfolio is diversified. And it could enable people buying that type of property in that type of area to invest in something that tracked the investment performance of their dwelling without having to invest in (i.e. renovate) the dwelling itself.

Is this complete speculation, or have similar things happened overseas? Well, to be honest, no. Real-estate Investment Trusts (REITs), as they are often known overseas, tend to invest in hotels, office blocks, shopping centres, and sometimes apartment blocks. Although I’m no expert, I’m not aware of big REITs buying up houses. So, this is all in the realm of speculation. But the fact that it hasn’t happened overseas should not be an indicator that it won’t happen here, as Australia tends to lead the world when it comes to putting real estate into retail funds. According to Wikipedia, the first real-estate trust was launched in Australia in 1971.

Anyway, for the everyday investor, who can’t pony-up a few million to buy a house in Toorak, the impact of competition for real-estate from the major fund managers is likely to be limited. You’re more likely to be bidding against someone running a SMSF. Unfortunately, the number of SMSFs is growing rapidly.

Finally, one thing to watch out for will be unscrupulous operators. There are already dodgey property marketers who prey upon interstate investors, e.g. Perth people buying overpriced property in Melbourne, or Melbourne people buying overpriced property in Brisbane. This will give them one more tool to exploit: that vulnerable people can invest their super into a dodgey scheme, and possibly not realise for many years that the property that they’ve bought was massively overpriced because the whole thing is so hands-off. Hopefully people know not to invest in something they don’t fully understand. It’s a vain hope, I know.