Published by Dan Graham on 03 November 2020 in Opinion

Giving back – Why we should consider it as part of our business

About me and my journey

My Dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the age of 55. While dealing with the devastating diagnosis and an uncertain future, Dad discovered he was eligible to receive an income protection payout. That discovery changed the course of his life and mine.

I realised how important it is to educate people about the often-complex world of finance. Because the smallest changes can make the most significant difference. I said goodbye to my nearly 10-year career in law, and I committed to helping people plan for a financially secure future.

 

My Dad’s MS Journey

It took Dad’s medical team years to settle on a diagnosis because Dad didn’t fit into ‘the box’ of those who are commonly diagnosed with MS.

Dad’s symptoms manifested in his inability to use his right arm. Dad, like most of us, is right-handed. Take a moment to think about all the things you do with your dominant hand – the everyday things in life you don’t give much thought to like writing, shaving, getting dressed, doing your shoelaces…the list goes on. All these things became a challenge for him.

As Dad’s MS got worse, he was unable to use a lot of his right side. The positive news is that since that early deterioration, Dad’s MS has remained dormant. Others aren’t so fortunate, with their deterioration concentrated over a short time. The nature of this insidious disease means that no one knows how or when they will be impacted. There is no cure for MS, so all you can do is control the symptoms with an array of drugs.

 

Giving back to the community

My experience with my Dad not only changed my career direction; it inspired me to look at the bigger picture and find other ways to assist the over 25,600 Australians living with MS through both fundraising and advocacy.

I started providing pro bono financial advice to individuals and families going through a tough time first as a member and now a board director of the Pro Bono Financial Advice Network (PFAN). I consider this work a privilege. Not only has it equipped me with a deeper understanding of financial planning, but it has also given me a humbling sense of perspective.

Presenting to the MS community a series of webinars tailored to this cohort has been a career highlight. The webinars’ purpose is to highlight to the MS community the value and benefit of consulting with a financial adviser to ensure adequate current and future financial plans are in place. Using real-life examples of individuals who have come directly from calls to the MS Support Worker team, the webinars explained the role and scope of a financial adviser, outlining how an advisor assisted the individual in the example provided.

 

Some success stories

There have been so many positive experiences through the work I do with the MS community.

I’ve had the privilege to provide pro-bono advice to a 63-year-old lady whose primary concern was the loss of her Centrelink Pension, and what had been her only source of income for many years. The loss was as a result of an inheritance from her late mother. As her MS impacted her attention span, all concepts had to be explained slowly and in basic terms. Fortunately, her son had financial power of attorney and was able to assist in all decision-making processes. I prepared an advice document to invest her funds to receive a higher income and mapped out how to maximise her superannuation contributions over time. Now, this lady is one of my most treasured clients.

Another example is a couple with two teenage children. They were after an understanding of their overall position. The husband had been living with MS for around seven years and had recently reduced his working commitments. His wife, a self-employed bookkeeper, managed the family finances. I prepared a roadmap of their current position, the timeframe around repaying their small outstanding mortgage and provided an overview of their superannuation and insurances for their future understanding (should the need arise). This provided much-needed comfort to them, as they gained security and peace of mind around where they were headed.

These are only two of the countless people I’ve met along my journey so far.

 

Conclusion

I started in financial planning because I want to create a better world, one person at a time. That might sound idealistic, but I firmly believe that we can only achieve fulfilment in our careers and create a successful business if they are closely aligned to who we are, what we want to achieve, and how we want to contribute to the world.

Giving back to the community provides a sense of fulfilment through positively impacting the lives of others and their families. It also helps increase the positive value that obtaining financial advice provides within the community, further expanding an appreciation for the work we all do.

 

Nicola Beswick – Financial Planner

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