The value of financial advice when tragedy strikes – a personal story

The story below was written by one of our long-time clients Kelly Exeter who lost her husband Anthony (Ant) in a freak accident two years ago. It is rare but hugely powerful when people are willing to share their personal stories in this way. We are grateful to Kelly for trusting us to share hers here.

It was my rich uncle who first introduced my husband Ant and me to Mark Newman and Mark Rich (‘the Marks’) 12 years ago.

At the time, I was the owner of a two-year-old graphic design business and Ant was teaching full-time while running a small web hosting business on the side. This explains why, whenever we caught up with my uncle, the conversation invariably turned to business, money and life. And us unashamedly mining him for advice.

Maybe my uncle got tired of us always using him as a source of free advice. Or perhaps he could see our questions and needs becoming too complex for him to provide direction confidently. Either way, he told us about his financial advisors – the Marks – and suggested we make an appointment with them. We couldn’t see how we’d be able to afford the same financial advisors as him. But we set up the meeting anyway.

Long story short, we were impressed by the Marks as people and even more impressed by the scope of advice covered by their monthly fee. It was the easiest decision in the world to sign on with them.

The ROI of paying for financial advice

Would the outlay at our end be worth it? At the very least, we figured it would just for the peace of mind of knowing all our affairs were in order regarding:

  • Everyday cash flow and budgeting
  • Insurances
  • Investments
  • Wills
  • Superannuation
  • Future planning (lifestyle and financial)
  • Loan strategies (good vs bad debt)
  • Small business strategies
  • Tax planning strategies

But we also expected we’d see a raw return on investment at the end of every financial year, just by them ensuring that our personal savings, assets and businesses were operating in a tax-effective manner.

All of this proved to be true.

We enjoyed ten years with the Marks guiding us together through financial and life planning decisions big and small:

  • the birth of our two children
  • navigating the GFC
  • growing our businesses
  • Ant leaving teaching to work in his business and mine
  • overseas holidays
  • the building of our dream home

… the list, it goes on.

And then the unthinkable happened.

Driving down south for a family holiday in January 2019, our car was struck by a hatch that flew off a boat being towed in front of us. The hatch crashed through our windscreen and struck Ant in the temple. He would die two days later from the brain injuries he sustained.

When the value of financial advice really comes to the fore

Before Ant died, I was what you might call ‘weirdly passionate’ about the importance of ongoing financial advice. I’d always been someone who needed to feel financially secure in order to relax and enjoy life. The freedom from stress I got from the Marks was so energising, I would tell everyone who would listen about them. I wrote about them on my blog. I talked about them on my podcast. I’ve even gone on to work for a financial advisory firm today.

When Ant died – that’s when all the years of advice and security nets the Marks had set up for us as a family really came to the fore.

If you stop and think for a second what it might feel like to lose your life partner (and for your children to lose their beloved dad), I can tell you that it’s exactly as bad as you think it might be. But we were lucky on two counts.

One, we were incredibly well supported by our amazing family, friends, school and sporting communities (many of whom were also grieving too).

Two, we had the Marks.

What you’ll be glad you have in place should the unthinkable happen

Given how close the Marks are to all their clients, losing Ant was like losing a family member for them. I hope it gives them comfort to know the countless ways they have made my life and the lives of my kids easier over the past two years.

Here’s what I hope you have in place (as a bare minimum) should you ever experience the same:

  • Up to date, properly executed Wills
  • Knowledge of exactly where the originals of those Wills are located
  • Life insurance that is enough to pay off all your debt and allow you to work by choice rather than by necessity for at least one, but preferably two years
  • Superannuation beneficiaries nominated and current
  • Sound knowledge of your own financial affairs and/or access to people who have this knowledge

Thanks to the Marks, we had all of the above when Ant died.

No one tells you about the paperwork, however.

Insurers. Banks. Superannuation companies. Lawyers.

Countless phone calls to be made.

Countless forms to be filled out.

But because all our affairs were in order, everything all those people needed was easily at hand. Plus, every phone call the Marks could make on my behalf, they did. In doing so, they saved me many tearful hours on the phone.

Every minute and every bit of stress and worry they freed up for me, I channelled into being there for the kids – physically and emotionally. People often comment to me that it seems that the kids and I are doing as well as anyone could be given the loss we’ve experienced. The Marks have played a huge role in that.

Not only did they help with paperwork and provide emotional support, the fact we were well set up financially meant:

  • We didn’t have to sell our house.
  • The kids didn’t have to move schools.
  • I had the funds to ensure the kids could continue doing all the things they were doing previously

All of the above is still providing us with emotional stability two years on.

Is your family protected?

So – what’s the moral of the story here? Why am I sharing the above?

I guess I want to illustrate that when things are good, there is enormous value in paying for ongoing financial advice. The peace of mind you get from someone checking in with you twice a year to check you’re on track with regard to your financial and lifestyle goals – it’s hard to put a price on that.

When the unthinkable happens, however, that’s when the above becomes truly priceless.

I hope you never get to find out the true worth of the kind of service the Marks provide. But if you do, rest assured it will make many things significantly easier at a time when everything is unbearably hard.

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