Barefoot Investor’s new move to help fire victims
WHEN Scott and Liz Pape's Victorian home was lost in the Black Saturday bushfires, the financial guru struggled to find meaning in the 2009 tragedy.
But as he watched the fire crisis unfold across Australia this summer, the best-selling author of the acclaimed money manual, The Barefoot Investor leapt at the chance to share what he'd learned in his own rebuilding efforts in a new Foxtel documentary special, Road To Recovery.
A volunteer firefighter with the Country Fire Association when his property was razed, Pape made a beeline for the fire-affected communities of Corryong, near the Upper Murray River to meet with local property and business owners reeling from their fresh losses and scarred by the experience - knowing first hand exactly what they'd be going through.
"It's called 'bushfire brain' … you just can't think straight. There are so many people coming at them for this grant or some insurance policy. My job was to and work through everything for them until they can take back control."
His help was welcomed with open arms by victims, gifting him a framed photograph of the ghostly remains of one fire-charred telephone poll.
"When somebody sits down with you, they knew that I had been through it all before."
"It gives meaning to what I went through and was a privilege … the communities we were in were really inspiring," he said.
Preparation for the role began for Pape more than a year ago - well before the Black Summer fires took their devastating toll.
"A year or so ago, I went out for a date night with my wife Liz … I think we'd just sold a million copies of our book and she said, 'what do you want to do next?'"
Approached to put his name to a financial planning business or a fancy hedge fund, Pape's ambitions were a little less grandiose - telling her he wanted to go to TAFE to become a qualified financial counsellor.
Graduating in December last year, Pape said: "I saw the fires unfold and thought 'I want to put my hand up and be deployed to help people as a financial counsellor because obviously we'd lost everything and I believed that I had not only the finance skills but the understanding and the empathy when it came to what people had gone through."
* Road to Recovery with Scott Pape will air March 18 on Foxtel's Lifestyle channel.