I have always been a big advocate for changing careers and re-inventing yourself.
As a young boy I rode my bike around the streets of Kew on weekdays doing a paper round and on weekends created a regular car washing service to earn some extra pocket money. To pay my way through University I sold flowers in the City with my best friend. We purchased a 3 ton truck and routinely drove down to the wholesale fruit & flower market at 3am in the morning and even picked up stock at regional farms in outer Melbourne. Having received an entry place in a Law/Arts Degree from Melbourne University, I decided to transfer to Monash because they had a busier Friday market where I had a regular stall selling flannelette shirts and windcheaters.
Upon graduating, I articled at a prestige Law firm and practiced as a commercial solicitor for a few years. Having a long held desire to work in my own business an opportunity arose to work with my father to grow a clothing business in Industrial and Corporate workwear. It was wonderful working together and after a number of growth spurts we eventually sold the business, at which point I took some time off.
After an overseas trip with my supportive wife and young family, I explored a transition into financial services and at the age of 43 secured a new role as a trainee investment adviser. Eventually I had a desire to return to running my own business and with two like-minded partners, we commenced our own business as Investment Managers & Advisers. That business commenced 16 years ago and still remains with steady growth to this day.
However, no career has been as rewarding or satisfying as the one I accidentally stumbled across 10 years ago – aged care financial advice.
When my father passed away in 2008 his final wishes to me were to look after my mother and keep her at home as long as possible. Bearing this in mind, and with the constant reminder from my mother that she only wanted to leave her home in a wooden box, I tried my best to honour my father’s wish.
As my mother’s health deteriorated this resulted in the need for in-home carers, initially one, then two, until we finally had three carers working around the clock. Not only was this difficult to manage and unsustainably expensive, but inevitably whichever carer was on the night shift would call me in the middle of the night to come over quickly should my mother move or breath the wrong way.
So, night after night I found myself in the back of an ambulance on the way to the Alfred. This was my lot in life for about 6 months until finally the doctors stepped in and told my mother she couldn’t go home and needed to go into aged care. I asked the doctor “so, what do I do now?” to which he responded “I don’t care, but I need the bed back in the next 3 days”.
The next day was a day I will never forget and in hindsight, a life-changing moment. I took the day off work to visit 7 facilities, each housing residents that looked similar in terms of age, profile and health to my mother. Unbeknown to me however, only 3 of those 7 facilities were aged care with the others being either retirement living, independent living or assisted living, who would have known there was a difference?
As a young lawyer, the first lesson I was taught was that ‘anyone who acts for themselves has a fool for a client’, and I certainly felt like that fool. So, I came into the office and Googled looking for an aged care financial advisor but all I came across were people trying to sell me a product like life cover, death cover or funeral bonds. Fortunately, after asking around our wonderful community I stumbled across a 75-year-old gentlemen who came into my office the next day and within 20 minutes had saved our family over $250,000.
This experience convinced me that there must be 1000’s of residents each year unnecessarily overpaying to enter aged care and continuing to overpay for the monthly care fees and charges.
This was a lightbulb moment.
I immediately went into our open plan office and told my partners I wanted to create an aged care financial advice service that day to see if I was the only schmuck who couldn’t understand the complexities of the process or if there were others equally as perplexed as I was. Well, 10 years later it turns out I’m not the only one!
Day after day we receive phone calls from adult children that are stressed and overwhelmed by this new world they have been suddenly thrown into. A world where a simple word like a ‘bond’ is changed to a RAD that can either be paid by a DAP, RAC or DAC! I mean seriously, what hope does the layman have to understand any of that at the best of times, let alone when they are trying to focus on the health and wellbeing of their loved ones.
Throughout this time we have had clients from all walks of life; justices of the supreme court, tenured professors, specialist doctors, and leaders in their fields across all sectors, coming into our office all equally as confused as I was 10 years ago. In reality, this is understandable as there is no reason for anyone to know about the many complexities of the aged care system until it is thrust upon you.
From RADs to means tested fees to Centrelink forms to aged pensions and everything in between; there are so many variables, nuances and moving parts that need to be considered in order to minimise the costs and maximise entitlements when entering aged care. In the world of Bunnings & DIY, this is certainly not a process one can do optimally themselves. Professional advice can not only save you time and money but alleviate an enormous amount of stress at a highly emotional time.
Our service models a clients financial circumstances in order to obtain the best financial outcome. We provide clients and their families with clear information and a roadmap that illustrates how the RAD (bond) and ongoing fees can be funded over a number of years.
A common refrain we say to our clients is “you worry about your parents wellbeing, let us take care of the financials for you.” It truly is a wonderful feeling to be able to witness and feel the stress dissipate from a client’s voice when we are able to provide clarity, guidance and a sense of calm to someone who is trying to care for their loved one.
Just as I have always been a big advocate for changing careers, so too have I always said I never want to retire. Working keeps me busy and it keeps me young and I am grateful that this world of aged care financial advice that I accidentally stumbled upon will be my final, and most rewarding career.
A Solicitor by training, in early 2000 Rodney set about establishing a new career as a Stockbroker and Financial Adviser. In 2006, together with co-directors Alex Moffatt and Ben Gratzer, Rodney established Joseph Palmer & Sons (Vic) in Melbourne, specialising in wealth management for private and superannuation investors.
Recognising the significant financial pitfalls many clients face when moving their parents into aged care and that facilities are not licenced to provide financial advice, a new arm to the business was established providing specialist aged care advice, often saving clients hundreds of thousands of dollars while guiding them through the overwhelming process. The catalyst for this expansion was Rodney’s personal experience of transitioning his parents into aged care and the many complexities and serious financial pitfalls that are involved.