Four weeks ago I commenced in the role of FCVic Interim Executive Officer following the resignation on Sandy Ross after 5 years of service to the sector. My working background has predominantly been in the Sports and Entertainment area in senior executive roles in elite sport and event/venue ticketing.
I retired in mid-February with the intention to spend more time with my grandchildren and to play more golf… how wrong that has turned out to be! I was approached by Carly Baker, Chair of the FCVic Board, earlier this year and on behalf of the Board, my business undertook a small piece of work for FCVic where I gained insights into the Financial Counselling Sector. When Sandy resigned the Board asked if I would fill the EO role until a new appointment is made.
My first impressions of FCVic and the sector were gained from listening to our incredibly talented and committed staff as they worked to meet the needs of our members by supporting the work they do. I heard stories of financial counsellors working with clients who were facing mortgage stress, domestic violence, marriage breakdowns, loss of jobs and the spiralling cost of living increases.
As I got to speak to working financial counsellors, I gained a deeper understanding of the emotional strain they are under when dealing with clients who are often in significant distress and are seeking any opportunity to stop the family pain and constant worry. I have become more aware of the pressure on financial counsellors when dealing with extremely emotional clients in times of distress. I often wondering why we do not hear more in the media about the excellent work financial counsellors do and especially the challenges they confront as they go about their everyday jobs!
I was fortunate to join over 800 financial counsellors at the excellent FCA National Conference in Canberra in mid-May. I was overwhelmed not only by the number of attendees but the passion so many have for our sector! Presenter after presenter shared amazing stories of what life was like at the financial counselling frontline. I likened the work of financial counsellors to that of first responders who only arrive when an accident or situation that needs their specialist help and care. Financial counsellors put themselves in ‘difficult’ situation to help others regardless of the physical risk to themselves!
The more I hear about the work our financial counsellors do meeting the needs of their client families, the more determined we should be to ensure we have a voice with government on the caseload issues confronting the sector. I know those at FCVic share your passion and work tirelessly to deliver programs and training sessions to better prepare those delivering to the needy.
In challenging economic times and with forecast cuts in the recent state budget FCVic needs to ensure it is nimbler than ever in working with its members and community groups to advocate to government the urgent need of those who use your services and our members. A collective national voice through FCA is also an important part of building a stronger future.
The FCA Conference showed the size and strength of the financial counselling army and working together with our national and interstate colleagues can only achieve a better result in Victoria.
On a lighter note, the biggest challenge I have encountered in my short time has been the incredible use of acronyms when describing people and organisation. So far, I have over 2 pages and still counting!
Please do not hesitate to reach out for a chat at any time.