Sometimes the smallest thing can trigger a profound realisation in you that propels your life in a certain direction or becomes a core truth in the way you live your life. Other times, profound changes are driven by a life-changing event. For me, it was a bit of both. One was an encounter with a client early in my career. The other when I was 13 years old and my father suddenly died.
Both of these events continue to have a profound influence on my life and drive my ambition to share the truth that anyone can use money as an enabler to living the life they want. I have very clear memories of the first few years after my father died. I didn’t really know what was going on in the background, because I was a child, but I did know that our family life changed dramatically. We never had a lot of money up to then, but afterwards we really had nothing.
It’s no surprise to me now that our family experienced financial hardship after my father’s death. I guess we weren’t your typical Aussie family in the first place. My mother was a foster carer, so our home was constantly full of loud, screaming kids who’d experienced an unfortunate set of circumstances leading them to our home. On top of this, my mother had 4 of her own children, me being the baby.
My dad, on the other hand, was a work-a-holic. He worked away from home and whenever he was home for a short periods, he was always exhausted. It was on one of these trips away, he died suddenly aged 49. It was devastating for us all. I was 13 at the time and I can still feel the shock of a loss that can never be accurately expressed, only experienced. Like most Australian families, we had a mortgage and dad was the primary income earner while mum stayed home looking after (all) the children. There was no insurance and no Will and as a result, our family was under the threat of being homeless. Any grand plans for financial security were gone with my father.
Fast forward a number of years. I’m a young, aspiring financial adviser working in a small practice, when a middle-aged women came in for help because her husband died suddenly. I was so moved to see the tension and stress she was holding across her entire body. She was consumed by fear. Throughout her marriage, she had not participated at all in the family finances and now her husband was gone, she had no idea if she would have any money to live off or even if she was in debt.
David and Libby Koch share their advice on how to manage your money. Post continues below.
After working with her and going through her finances, we were able to tell her that her husband had managed their finances well. We put a financial strategy in place that would make sure she had enough money to live off for the rest of her life, albeit without her husband. It was a tough conversation. But as soon as she realised she would be OK, the stress drained out of her body and she looked like a different women. The vision of this metamorphosis happening before my eyes —from fear to peace of mind — is still vivid. While the circumstances were different, this prompted me to also reflect on the loss my mother experienced when my father died and how access to the right financial advice could have helped her. From that moment, I decided this was my calling.