The Bare­foot In­vestor’s coun­try life



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 bare­foot­in­ 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.

MARCH 2018

FROM LEFT Scott (left) with his friend Gavin play­ing on the fam­ily farm; and with his beloved bi­cy­cle, aged four.

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