The Barefoot Investor’s country life
THE BEST-SELLING AUTHOR TELLS CLAIRE MACTAGGART HOW HE NURTURED AN EARLY INTEREST IN FINANCE WHEN GROWING UP IN OUYEN, VICTORIA.
IN 2014, SCOTT AND LIZ PAPE’S 120-hectare sheep farm near Romsey in the Macedon Ranges was wiped out when a bushfire ravaged the region and they lost all their livestock and possessions, including precious photographs and mementos. Despite their loss, Scott’s resolve to help others deal with their own “financial fire” grew. “It was a really terrible time but out of that I wrote my book, The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You Will Ever Need, and it talks about that first moment of coming back and realising that everything was gone — Liz’s wedding dress and photographs of her father who had passed away when she was 18 years old. “That process of losing everything, then realising we were financially strong enough to rebuild was a pivotal point for us. The analogy is that you may not have your house burn down, but your financial fire could be going to the doctor and being told that things aren’t good, or sitting in a car lot on Friday night after your boss has sacked you or trying to work out your super and how you are going to retire,” the 39-year-old says. His latest guide has since sold more than 500,000 copies and was the bestselling book in Australia in 2017. An investment advisor who has worked for a leading finance firm, Scott’s first book titled, The Barefoot Investor, after his professional persona, was published in 2004. He has since reached thousands of people, providing financial advice across many platforms including Triple M, Channel Seven and is a columnist for two national newspapers. Born in Ouyen in 1978, Scott grew up with his older sister Sue-ellen (now a teacher) and developed an early understanding of finance, with the encouragement of his father Donald, who delivered fuel to the surrounding farming community, while his mother Joan worked for the local law firm in conveyancing. His parents are both now retired and live in Bendigo. Scott and his wife Liz, who was his producer when he worked on television show The 7pm Project, have two children, Louie, four, and two-year-old Edward (they were awaiting their third child at the time of print). The young family have crossbred ewes on their farm, 50 minutes from Melbourne. “The reason I bought the farm is because I’m from the Mallee and I wanted my boys to be able to grow up in a country environment where they could ride around on their bikes, chase rabbits and hang around when we’re shearing,” he says. Scott was involved in the government’s national financial literacy program in schools in 2014 and one of his projects this year is a book called Money School. “It’s one of the life skills that needs to be taught and has always been my passion — every Aussie child should learn the basics of financial education. I’m very fortunate to be in the position I am and try to help people as much as I can.” Visit barefootinvestor.com.au for more information.
“My parents met when they were teenagers in Ouyen and are still together to this day. Ouyen is a typical Mallee town — flat with good cropping country — and it was the best place ever to grow up. It was a very small community and all my family were there. What Ouyen taught me was the power of a community. There was always someone who knew me and it felt very safe; I remember walking around when I was young and feeling like I knew everyone. My grandmother is in her 90s and she still lives there and my extended family were on farms and still are. >
Our home backed onto scrub and we had a billy cart and we went round on that for hours. It was a different time and you could go out and spend time doing stuff with no one really worrying about you. My mother was from a big family and every Sunday would be at my grandmother and grandfather’s place. I look at it like a museum; it’s got so much history. There could be 20 grandkids all around playing cricket — my cousins would come from their own farms and we’d spend the day there. The shops were closed and Sundays were about family all hanging out together. I could get on my bike as a five-year-old and there was always someone around to look out for me. I wasn’t even in primary school and I’d ride down to the newsagent in the main street. The owner wouldn’t be up on a Sunday morning so everyone just put money for their papers under the door, like an honour system. The helicopter parents of today would never let their children ride kilometres down the road. My dad would get me to read the business pages of the newspaper even though I was still trying to work out how to read. He and I would watch Business Sunday together every week. Dad was always fascinated with the stock market and business and that’s how I got into it. I was always hanging out with my dad while he ran the fuel business. I delivered things for him or did chores — I loved working. I think the people who get ahead in life are those who understand that you have to work hard. That’s a country value and it’s a really strong thing. My dad was always around while I was growing up and that’s kind of why I went into business myself because I enjoyed my dad being there. Now my boys think I’m a bum because I’m around all the time. My family later moved to Bendigo and one of my memories from high school is telling my teacher that I had a personal problem and that I needed to talk to the counsellor. The counsellor asked what the problem was and I said, ‘You’re the only guy in the school with a phone and I have to ring my stockbroker because I’m going to buy some shares.’ I was in Year 7 and he thought I was the strangest kid ever, but he let me buy some shares! I was never that interested in school and I didn’t read many books, but since then I’ve become a voracious reader. I was curious about the share market and knew what I wanted to do from a young age. I could have gone down the path of being really interested in money, but I’m less interested in money than I am in people. I like helping people and I would much rather speak to a single mum or a young family than some rich guy about finance. You get older and you read all these books about wellbeing and happiness and I look back in reverse and think I had all that growing up — a sense of community, a sense of belonging and I had people around that cared about me. We weren’t wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but I had a wonderful upbringing. I could live anywhere and the reason I live in Romsey is because I really enjoy the community and I want to give the boys the same sort of upbringing I had.
“My dad would get me to read the business pages of the newspaper even though I was still trying to work out how to read.”
BELOW, FROM LEFT A two-year-old Scott Pape at the gate of the family’s farm in Ouyen, Victoria; Scott, aged five; Scott and his sister Sue-ellen with their parents Joan and Donald.
FROM LEFT Scott (left) with his friend Gavin playing on the family farm; and with his beloved bicycle, aged four.