Ten Pound Poms – the story of a British expat in Australia working at bdhSterling

Category: Australia & News & United Kingdom

This article is slightly different to the ones you may be used to reading in our newsletters.

As you know, with offices in both the UK and Australia, we provide financial advice to many clients who make the journey from one country to the other.

This means we know of many people who have made the move, either for a fixed period, or what eventually turns out to be a permanent stay.

The journey to Australia

According to the Canberra Times, over 1 million Europeans migrated to Australia between 1945 and 1981. They were motivated by the challenge of starting a new life on the other side of the world and encouraged by the Australian government, who sought to boost the country’s population and drive economic growth.

Those that moved to Australia from the UK under the scheme were colloquially known as “Ten Pound Poms” – a reference to the original cost of the boat trip they took.

Among the number who made the move were:

  • Julia Gillard, a future Australian prime minister
  • Members of the Bee Gees and AC/DC
  • The parents of Kylie and Dannii Minogue.

The migration was recently the inspiration for Ten Pound Poms – a flagship BBC TV drama.

John Harrower, a Senior Financial Planner in our Perth office made the move from the UK to Australia himself. The difference is however, he made the journey over 50 years ago.

John was good enough to take some time out and note down some of the details of his journey and subsequent life in Australia. It’s a fascinating insight, especially if you’re planning to make the same journey yourself or have already made it.

Burgers and banking – my early working career

I arrived in Perth, Western Australia from Scotland in 1972 as a five-year-old with my parents, sister, uncle, and grandmother, and six suitcases.

By then, inflation had pushed up the cost of passage to well over £10, although my parents have confirmed that we had $200 to our name on arrival.

I received a standard Australian education, once the teachers had got used to my broad Scottish accent!

I started my first job at McDonalds aged 14. After an apprenticeship in flipping burgers and pouring milkshakes, I worked my way up to a full-time management role that eventually spanned 16 years.

Following that, I then had an unplanned career change, as an unexpected opportunity saw me move into banking with the National Australia Bank in a beautiful country town called Esperance, on the south coast of Western Australia.

After three years there, I moved back to Perth changing to Bankwest where I trained as a Lending Officer.

The transition to becoming a Financial Adviser

In 2002, Bankwest offered me a role as a Financial Adviser.

I spent six years in that role with them, learning the ropes and then advising clients myself. I then had the great pleasure to join my uncle’s financial planning company, Oakbridge.

2013 saw me benefit from another unexpected opportunity, as a chance meeting with Simon Harvey and Nick Bond led initially to our first business venture together with UK Pension Transfers. We ultimately merged our companies to form bdhSterling Ltd in 2018.

Five years on, I now have the privilege to be a shareholder in our global company, which aligns with my philosophies and strives to focus on excellent client service.

Moving forward to today, there are plenty of colleagues here at bdhSterling who inspire me every day, from administration to management. I’m excited about the talent we are developing to provide the best client service from a financial planning company that endeavours to set the standard in Australia and the UK.

The satisfaction of being an Adviser

The relationship I build with each client is certainly what gets me out of bed in the morning.

It’s impossible to overstate the personal satisfaction I feel from helping clients achieve goals they thought were impossible.

For example, I worked with a couple who had made the same move as me, from the UK to Australia. When they approached me, they were renting with one income between them and thought they would never be able to own a homeThey also wanted to retire within 10 years.

After gathering the information and researching their finances, we managed to identify strategies that provided them with a 10-year plan. I can confirm they now own their own home, and both have retired with a comfortable income.

I received an email from them last week. They have booked to travel business class to the UK in August for the first time. (I suspect I will receive a photo!)

My family have been, and still are, my rock

Like many people, I’ve faced challenges and problems during my life journey. For me, this has underlined the importance of family and friends to help you on your way.

My wonderful wife, Carolyn, has supported me throughout to help me play my part in building the business we have today.

We have two children. Lachlan is 23 and has followed in my footsteps, now working at Bankwest, while Mikayla is 21 and is working in childcare. She recently provided Carolyn and me with our first grandson, Zayd.

My career has provided plenty of travel expeditions for my family, which is the reward for the sacrifices I make to provide a better lifestyle for the ones I love the most.

My belief is that if you and your family are financially comfortable and you enjoy coming to work and interacting with clients you know well, there isn’t a better job or career.

Looking back on my career to date

There are many areas that I could identify as a success in my working life now.

I am a Senior Adviser, mentoring some of my work colleagues, and hopefully I’m regarded as someone who inspires others.

But ultimately, success is all about how clients regard you, trust you, and communicate with you. That’s why I regard client service to be my highest priority, and why I’m incredibly proud that my feedback rating from clients is nearly always 10/10.

McDonalds clearly did have a big part to play in me being confident, honest, trustworthy, and having a glass half-full attitude.

I just need to stop asking my clients if they want fries with that!

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