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A Rich Legacy: An Interview With Dave Roberts



For many of us, the subject of financial planning is extremely daunting. And although we seek answers, finding the right answers is seldom easy. Fortunately for us, there are financial advisers like Dave Roberts who make the matter incredibly simple and approachable.


Dave is one of Oakmont Financial Group’s senior advisers. His varied and rich experience, of over 36 years, gives him a broad working knowledge of the industry as a whole and an intricate knowhow of its various aspects.


In this week’s article, we uncover the person behind the name. We step into his shoes and view life through his perspective. A person whose rich legacy is taking Oakmont’s name to new heights.



A little about life before Oakmont


Dave grew up in Zimbabwe and during the early years of his career, he started working as an aircraft apprentice. But after spending about 18 months on the job he realised that it wasn’t for him and then, in 1983, he switched careers to be in insurance.


This event opened up doors to the world of finance, that would become his calling. “I’ve worked in a variety of roles in my career with insurance companies and as a broker and financial adviser. And now I leverage this extensive knowledge and experience for the benefit of our clients.”


He strives to achieve a sensible work-life balance and his personal philosophy is: “I work to live, I don’t live to work”. A family man with strong ties to people, he says: “My family is the most important thing to me. This is why I identify so strongly with the benefits of sound financial planning. This was also a central reason why I moved to Australia nearly 30 years ago, to provide my family with a secure future.” The move has also made him an ardent Wallabies fan.



The gifts of working in the industry


Dave has a natural ability with numbers and enjoys solving problems. This comes in handy frequently. “While many of our clients’ affairs are reasonably straight forward, I get a great deal of satisfaction resolving the more complex cases,” he says.


It also goes without saying that he enjoys connecting with people and understanding their issues. “Which is a big part of my typical work-day. And, over the years many clients have become close friends, sharing in their personal life journeys and stories.”


Dave is wired to help others and enjoys extending a helping hand without hesitation. The job itself has placed him in a unique position to assist others. “I am a specialist risk insurance adviser. And as such, it is most satisfying when I see clients claim insurance and derive benefits from having the right cover in place for them and their families.”


“Although I have had some very sad experiences with people suffering death and disability, seeing how having a good cover in place always works to reduce financial stress and worry at a difficult time has been fulfilling.” It has strengthened his faith in an industry that is frequently seen as too cold and calculating.



About the importance of financial planning


“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” Dave says astutely, and we absolutely agree.

Oddly enough, the most important aspect of financial planning is in the "planning". Dave is emphatic, “The worst thing that you can do is to bury your head in the sand and hope for the best!” “Even if you don’t have the resources or think you can’t afford to spend another dollar, you should, at the very least, sit down and analyse your situation. Start with a plan.” Here it gets interesting: “It is possible that you can only implement a small part of the plan initially, but knowing what you want to do will help you gain momentum and build further.”


He likens financial planning to sailing a ship and says, “When you are sailing a ship and don’t know your destination, it doesn’t matter whether you are fast or slow. It doesn’t even matter what direction you’re sailing if you don’t plan on getting anywhere,” he shrugs. “But it’s different when you’re aiming for something specific, a destination or goal.” “Now, when a storm comes along to blow you off your course, you can reset and resume your journey. Financial planning works in exactly the same way!”



The road to success


Dave enjoys success today having learnt a great deal from life. One of the lessons he still carries from those early years at the start of his career is a quote from one of the directors of a company he worked for at the time who said: “The secret to management is to make decisions. You hope you make more right decisions than wrong ones. But no matter what, you make a decision. NOT making decisions is NOT an option”.


Sometimes you must make decisions and take risks. Take calculated risks and do everything in your power to ensure they pay off. There is no gain without pain and the pain is usually hard work. “At one stage of my career” he narrates, “I spent a lot of time listening to and learning from motivational speakers and writers and one lesson particularly resonated with me.” He sits forward in his chair as he continues, “The price of success is hard work and there are two conditions attached to this price. One, you have to pay it in full (read: there are no discounts!), and two, you have to pay it in advance.”



Partnerships at Oakmont


Dave believes that relationships are crucial for success with any venture and he nurtures connections. “The people who work with you are your second family,” he says, “as you spend a lot of your time in their company, it is essential that you work with people you can trust, rely on and most of all 'like'.” He smiles, “I have been lucky (and careful) to surround myself with such people.”


Lisa Duthoor deserves a special mention: “Lisa has been with me from the very beginning when I first started Oakmont (as Life & Benefits, back then). Lisa has been loyal, diligent, thorough, reliable and hardworking from day one. She enjoys the ‘perks’ of turning the lights on every morning when she gets into work earlier than anyone else, at 6:00 am! Eventually, I persuaded her to take a day off once a month to compensate her for the long hours she keeps.”


“Over the years, we have built a great team at Oakmont. We recognise all our stakeholders – our clients and shareholders and also our staff. We are invested in ensuring that our work environment is happy, safe and stimulating.” Dave also enjoys the pleasure of working with his son, Steven, who joined the business 8 years ago. “Luckily, we work very well together, which not many families do,” he beams with pride.


The partnership with Cameron is also proving invaluable. “A few years ago, we met Cameron and worked with him on a number of projects. We enjoyed great synergies and soon enough we were entertaining the possibility of a merger.” With the merger recently finalised - Steven, Cameron and Dave are now equal partners in a bigger, better business. “Having two younger partners brings some vitality and fresh ideas to balance, what I hope is, the benefit of my experience.” “But more importantly, we all have similar values. And our relationship is founded on the cornerstone of trust and transparency, without which it simply wouldn’t work.”



A special message


The biggest reason why people don’t do financial planning is because they don’t know where to start or feel they can’t afford it. Dave sends a special message to all those who are wary: “I acknowledge it can be difficult to work on a financial plan especially when you are short on time, with work and family taking up time and when your budget is stretched with mortgages, ever-increasing living costs, raising children and the other financial pressures you may be facing.” We all suffer from similar challenges. Dave urges, “Our clients are surprised when we show them the various options and strategies we have to overcome these problems.”


Oakmont is all about "service, service, service" and the beautiful offices on Hay Street are a testimony to this commitment. “We have built robust systems and processes to ensure reliability and efficiency in everything we do. We regularly review and modify our procedures if necessary to ensure continuous improvement.”


While Oakmont sets a great precedent for financial empowerment among their clients, this is not nearly enough for Dave. “I am excited about the future. I look forward to continuing to build Oakmont, providing excellent service and advice to our clients, and ushering in change for the better in the years to come.”





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