We all know that life doesn’t always go according to plan but where you find comfort, strength and support can be equally surprising. Christine Hornery, AFA 2013 Female Financial Adviser of the Year, of Financial Management Solutions on the Central Coast of New South Wales shares the story of client, Steve who’s family found comfort, strength and support in a secret he’d kept.

Steve was an old school kind of guy. He believed that a man’s role was to support his family. He loved is wife and worried about her health and the risk the surgery she needed posed.

He loved his children and grand children and wanted to be there for them. Of course he worried about his children’s marriages, their careers, how they’d afford to buy a home – the usual stuff – but he never shared his concerns. He kept his feeling very close to his chest. Family was his highest priority but sharing his fears was to him a sign of weakness.

Steve had been self-employed for much of his life and his greatest investment was the dream home he and his wife had built. It was enormous and represented everything they’d worked so hard for – a place for the family to gather, security, safety and comfort. His plan was to finally finish the house, retire and take off traveling, around Australia and overseas.

About seven years ago, in his mid 50’s Steve decided he needed some help with his finances and contacted Christine. He could see the need to get things in order and to understand what he needed to do to have the golden years he’d dreamed of.

Christine and Steve met regularly. It was journey of education and understanding. Steve opened up to her, discussing his concerns and often his wife’s health. He had no idea about how investments worked, what asset classes were or what risk and diversification was all about. What he did know, was that it paid to be careful of spending money.

Christine and Steve formed a bond and he felt safe. He felt he could confide in her partly because she was removed from the family and their circle of friends. And he made Christine promise to look after the family when he and his wife were gone.

While Christine met his wife a few times, Steve preferred to manage matters alone. So she was surprised when Steve’s wife called to make an appointment.

She’d just learned that Steve had been diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer and had possibly only a few weeks to live. He has asked his wife to contact Christine and see if she’d visit the hospital. He needed to talk to her and know that his affairs were in order so his wife would have what she needed.

When Christine arrived, all the family were there and she found it difficult to reconcile that the frail shell of a man lying on the bed was the Steve she’d known for the last 7 years.

Of course the family wondered who this stranger was and how she knew so much about them. But what surprised them most, was the questions Steve asked her. It seemed that Christine knew a lot more about their father than they did.

He wanted to know that his wife would receive his retirement savings and his assets. He wanted to know if it would be OK for his wife could spend $25,000 to finish off the house, painting and tiles to the kitchen and family room. He asked she could invest his money to provide her with an income to fund a reasonable lifestyle.

The family were surprised that Steve was asking Christine these questions and that he clearly trusted that she had the answers.

Steve then told his family his secret. He told them of their meetings over then past seven years, the conversations and topics that were discussed.  And he gave Christine permission to reveal the contents of the meetings to them, but not now.  It was an emotional time.

After Steve’s passing, the family contacted Christine and went through copious file notes together. They came to see Steve in a different, softer light and to understand what his family had meant to him behind his stoic facade. They also came to understand that Steve’s greatest fear was not having enough to be able to provide for them.

To Steve, having a plan meant he knew what was possible. What he could spend without fear of the consequences. For him it meant he could live and die in peace thanks to, “Dad’s secret meetings”.

According to Steve’s wishes, Christine now looks after the family’s financial affairs.
Christine Hornery is a licensed financial adviser at Financial Management Solutions Pty Limited  ABN 49 104 906 309 trading as FMS Group, an Authorised Representative and Credit Representative of AMP Financial Planning Pty Limited Australian Financial Services Licencee and Australian Credit Licencee.

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General Advice Disclaimer: Information in this article is of general nature only and is not intended as personal advice. It does not take into account your particular objectives or financial situation and needs.