Please tell us about your background.
Grew up as the eldest of 5 siblings and spent my youth as a ward of the state and shifted in and out of foster care until my late teens.
I finished school, went to Uni, but didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I thought about doing a trade and got an apprenticeship as a sheet metal worker, but working at the base of Mount Dandenong in the middle of winter in a cold shed and cold steel was where I decided it was not me and I wanted to do something different. In 1996, I went back to my studies in Finance, where I secure a position with Westpac bank as a securities officer, preparing the mortgages and guarantees. I then moved across into the team that were responsible for the negotiations and implementation of the merger between Bank of Melbourne & Westpac, and negotiations with the Union for the formulation and implementation of the new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA), after the merger I took up a role in the HR team, assisting with the transition across to the new EBA and then worked in the Olympic Team, where Westpac was a key sponsor and organised for athletes to work in various branches as part of the promotion of the Games. After the Olympic games, the team was disbursed and I secured a role in the Business Banking Team at 360 Collin Street, Melbourne and then into Asset management, dealing with clients who were under hardship.
Late in 2001, I secured a role as Business Development Manager at ANZ, within the superannuation and insurance team based at level 15 of the Stock exchange building, I travelled around Regional Victoria meeting with the branches and Financial Planners and assisting with guidelines, policy and procedures around the various products and promotion of the products. In 2002 I moved back to Bendigo (my home town), to secure a role as a Financial Adviser. I did volunteer work with St Lukes, with the Foster care team, with presentations to potential applications and also sat on the panel for review and selection of applications and continued to do this for many years.
In 2004 I was approached by a friend for a Financial Adviser role at Bendigo Bank, where I stayed till 2013. I was then offered a position in a private practice, where I quickly took on a Director position, thinking I could have more flexibility around how we helped clients, but for me, it still wasn’t ticking all the boxes around what I was wanting to achieve. In September 2016 I discussed with my business partners my desire for a change, but what that change looked like, I didn’t know. So I was jobless with a wife, 3 children and a mortgage and not sure of what I wanted to do…. But I wanted to do something with meaning not just a fancy title.
What motivated you to pursue financial counselling?
I remember this day, I was at the coffee shop, reading the paper after our regular morning cycle (some would call it a race to the coffee shop) and I read the job ad for a Financial Counsellor with St.Lukes and I thought, this is a position where I can make a meaningful difference to clients’ lives with my wealth of knowledge and a role that is more in tune with my moral compass. I applied for the role and hadn’t heard back for a while and thought to myself, well I tried, but again another unsuccessful application, but to my surprise I received a phone call from the program Manager – Tracey Grinter, informing me that I had made it to the interview stage and booked an appt.
Well obviously, I got the job, where I started as Financial Counsellor on the 19th December, 2016 with the commitment of completing my Diploma Studies for Financial Counselling. I feel honoured to work within such a great team, under great leadership and to do such meaningful work with clients, where such minor things can have such a profound impact on a client.
What are the unique aspects of your role or the area you work in?
As Team Leader, I focus on assisting the team to do the best they can with the resources available given the large geographic area, from Kyneton, Maryborough, Echuca, Swan Hill and Mildura and encourage them to be the best they can be.
What has been your proudest achievement to date?
As a team, my proudest achievement how as a team, we come together to establish sound relationships with clients, respectful relationships with creditors and have been able to achieve in excess of $1,000,000 in debt waivers for clients in the 2018-2019 financial year.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the financial counselling sector?
The inconsistent funding mechanism and the multiple funding streams and duration of funding.
What has been the most valuable resource or advice you’ve received?
Self care, if you don’t take the time to care for yourself, you’ll burn out. Treat yourself as you would a client, value your own time and the need to reflect and debrief.
And now the easy questions…
What TV show are you currently watching?
United States of Tara
What is your favourite podcast?
Currently listening to Fast Track Podcast by Margie Hartley – Executive Coach