Updated: Jul 24
Growing up, my Dad was an electrician. He was your up-at-sunrise, home-at-sunset kind of blue-collar worker — installing ceiling fans, driving a Hilux all around the region, etc. Both of my parents worked extremely hard. They left a strong impression on me of what hard work looks like.
I think that when you’re growing up, you look to your parents and view how they work as the baseline for what one needs to do to succeed financially in life. So for me, by the time I hit the end of high school, my view of the world was simple: The harder you work, the more money you have. How rich you were when you retired was completely derivative of how many hours you were at work in the years prior. End of story.
Besides buying a house, my parents never did much in the world of investing. As I got older, I started to hear more complex words like “stocks” and “bonds” being thrown around when it came to making money. By this point the words “investing”, “trading” and “stocks” all got mixed up with imagery of the 1987 movie Wall Street coming to mind. It was nothing but images of fat cat American’s moving money around to get rich. Funnily enough, by the time of the 2008 GFC, I was just starting to really understand money at the age of 15. Suddenly I had a wave of people complaining and preaching against putting money into stocks. Early in 2009, I watched a movie by the filmmaker Michael Moore who said “We used to make money off our hard work, now we make money off our money.” Without being able to understand the intricacies of this quote, it started to make me feel that all these forms of trading and investing (non-housing) were just a direct F-you to people like my Dad who worked hard for their money instead of just using money to make more money and helping no one.
When I was 18 I moved to Sydney — a city over 100 times bigger than the town of Ballina, where I was raised. It honestly took me a few years to realise that living in the centre/east of Sydney was a different kind of Australia to the one I grew up in. It was full of more people with intellectual/academic backgrounds and more people who were motivated to succeed. Every year that passed, the average wealth of people in my personal & professional network seemed to go up. Then in my early 20’s something started to click: These people were a lot wealthier than most of the families (including mine) that I grew up around, but their parents didn’t seem to work any harder! In fact, in many cases, they seemed lazier in comparison to my own parents because I saw them only work from 9–5, 5 days a week. After this it didn’t take too long for the pattern to emerge. All of these people had such a strong knowledge on finance and grasp on investing. They all had a strong capability to action and manage the risks of putting money somewhere that wasn’t a term deposit. Frankly, they knew how to use money to make more money. And while my knee-jerk reaction was to jump back to 1987 Wall Street, I realised they were often making long-term investments in the backbone of our economy (e.g. investing in companies on the ASX 200).
In 2017, after years of personally using term deposits, I started talking to my finance friends, encouraging me to branch out into the world of investing. I tried buying some shares on an online broker; investing in small-shares of housing; and throwing cash into peer-to-peer loans. Even after 12 months, I started to notice the differences with this new way of thinking about money. I loved learning how hard work in conjunction with good investing practices could yield results that have a substantial improvement to the quality of our lives as we get older. But this excitable feeling also come with a sad and harrowing feeling. It was always hard to think about the millions of Australians — my dad included — who just find the knowledge or tools inaccessible.
This is why I love what we’re doing at pearler. I wanted to help create a company that is an important stepping stone in making the world of investing more accessible, and making knowledge and education about investing more attainable. The real value of pearler clicked for me during an early founders meeting where we described ourselves as a company aiming to turn successful savers into confident investors. Because at this moment I thought about all of those other Australian families — even ones I continue to meet today — that work as hard as everyone else but don’t have the financial literary background to take advantage of their cash flow.
We can’t make everyone rich, but I can certainly try to make sure any Australian who works hard and puts money aside every week can start to confidently build a wealthier future for themselves — because they sure deserve it.