Here’s a moving story about my client Peter. Peter is a client very close to my heart and I am delighted to say that I’ve managed to make a huge difference to Peter’s life. His own story is an emotional one, a real rollercoaster and he’s had many challenges to overcome. Yet, despite those challenges, three years after our first meeting and his life is completely transformed!
So without further ado – here is his story, I warn you, it’s a heart-wrencher (but there’s a happy ending)!
When Peter first visited me, he was a successful headteacher aged 47. He was married to a lady 8 years his junior. Unfortunately, his wife had a serious drink and drugs addiction – and she lost her life because of her habit. I’m sure you can imagine what Peter unearthed.
To fund her drink and drugs habit, his wife had squeezed money from anywhere she could – indeed everywhere! She’d taken out loans in her name, had mounting debt and she’d also taken out loans surreptitiously in her parents’ names. To boot, she had court orders and judgements. How she managed to hide this I just don’t know but she did and none of this came to light until after her death. Consequently, Peter was left with a mountain of debt and incredible stress and anxiety – as well as losing his wife, he had financial problems and two boys to bring up. Let me tell you, Peter cried when he came to see me, he was so frightened. He was also in a lot of emotional pain too – it made me emotional myself!
I Had to Help!
The truth is, most Financial Planners would have run a mile – but that’s not my style. I really felt I had to help Peter and I was determined to move heaven and earth to do so. In fact, I should mention (if you don’t already know!) that I make it a rule to never walk away from a client’s problem if I believe that I can genuinely help. I knew I could.
Peter is an honest man. He felt obliged to also clear his in-laws’ debt as well as his own, but he had no idea where to start. Not only was he working hard, leading his school (which has a lot of demands and needs specialist skills) but he had his sons to think of and they’d already suffered emotional turmoil and like him had yet to come to terms with the loss of their mother.
With a lot on Peter’s plate, I set about doing what I could. It took a while, but we cleared Peter’s debts. There was five thousand pounds here, ten thousand there – all sorts of different debts (and they kept on coming!). Some materialised nine or ten months after his wife’s death, he simply had no idea they ever existed, but we did it and cleared the lot!
Debt-Free and an Investor!
It’s three years since we cleared the last debt and Peter has just turned 50. He has the rest of his life to look forward to. Not only is he entirely debt-free but with my help, he’s now a net investor, a regular investor into his ISA and pension plus he has cash in the bank. It’s a great feeling and something he’s not used to. He’s in a far better position than he’s ever been before because even prior to his wife’s passing, he was so busy working, he ignored his cashflow.
As well as having financial freedom, I’m also thrilled to say that his two sons have flourished. One is at university, the other is already in employment.
Over the years and our many meetings, I encouraged Peter to have an honest conversation with his boys to discuss the situation. That’s because I believe we don’t often give our children credit for their intelligence. As a parent myself, I know that you can’t keep things from children. They often know when something’s going on. By Peter being open and honest with his sons, his boys are very anti-drugs which is a real positive.
How I Helped Peter Move Forwards with His Life
The most important thing I did for Peter was to listen. So many people can’t listen – it’s an art! It’s about holding the moment. Once people understand that you’re prepared to listen to them, more information comes out.
Listening Unearths So Much!
I am always interested to hear my clients’ stories, and everyone has their own unique story. I’m told my ability to listen is a gift, but to me it’s because I am genuinely interested in people, I care about them. I believe when people feel comfortable and confident, they’re more likely to open up. It’s part of the practicalities that make up being a good Financial Planner. Part of that is to work out the client’s end goal, to examine income, debts, liabilities and put in place a structure to best work out how to eliminate debt before moving onto the savings side. As for Peter, my team continue to work with him and his wider family. We’ve done LPAs for his mother, and we also advise his brother (who works in the education sector too, just like Peter). Working with Peter took a lot of time and emotional energy, but I am glad I was able to help him to get where he is today. Peter is more than a client; he is a friend for life.