a decade of direction

January 13th 2017

White bougainvillea

Erik and Margaret Dekkers of Manilla were struggling with a clear plan towards retirement. They had met with a few different advisers; but had not found one who seemed to understand their vision or provide a clear plan they felt comfortable with. Fortunately, over a decade ago, the Dekkers became clients of Steve Sewell and 17 years on from Erik’s retirement, their money continues to grow. This financial peace of mind enables Erik and Marg to enjoy the things that bring them fulfilment – visiting family, helping others, gardening and for Erik, painting beautiful watercolours…

Mt Baldwin Manilla by Erik Dekkers
Mt Baldwin Manilla by Erik Dekkers

Erik and Margaret lead a simple life and that’s the way they like it. Their Christian (Presbyterian) faith guides their principles and beliefs and also colours where they’re interested in investing their money. They support projects, both close to home and abroad, that help children in need and have been involved in programs in Ethiopia, India and North Korea.

From the outset, the couple were grateful that Steve understood their guiding principles. As Erik says,

“Right from the start he recognised our aims and took that on board in the planning stage and with our first steps. Ten years on, it’s still a real partnership. Throughout our years with Steve, he has been the source of our confidence in our financial situation.”

Marg agrees that Steve eases their worries when it comes to money matters, “I think he’s great. And when my eyes glaze over because I don’t understand what he’s referring to, he draws helpful little diagrams for me!”

Erik finds it puzzling that others don’t seek the counsel of wonderful individuals like Steve and instead, manage their own finances – sometimes poorly. It is the expertise and experience of Invest Blue staff that has led Erik to refer others to the business.  

Erik says, “I have been particularly impressed with Steve’s integrity and honesty. If he felt my friends or family members were getting sound financial advice from their existing financial representative, he advised them to change nothing and stay where they were which I really respect.”

With their finances in great hands, Erik and Marg can enjoy retirement. It keeps them very busy, so much so that Erik doesn’t have the time he would like to indulge in his love of painting. The Dekkers visit their three children and six grandchildren regularly (they reside in Inverell and Orange). They’re also very community minded and assist the elderly and volunteer at Meals on Wheels. After 30 years of teaching Scripture at the local school, Margaret will be retiring this year. She says she’s been there so long she’s now teaching the children of past students.

Dekkers-family-in-Jakarta- Invest Blue
Dekkers Family in Jakarta

Both aged in their 70’s, Erik and Margaret believe they have the best of both worlds. They can go about living and enjoying the simple life without having to worry about money but can still afford to great things like travel. Last year, the couple took their three adult children overseas for a month. The 2015 trip was one of great significance, with the close-knit family tracing the footsteps of Erik’s fascinating childhood.

Born in Indonesia during the Second World War (Erik came along during an air raid), Erik’s Dutch father was imprisoned in a Japanese concentration camp in Indonesia before being sent with allied POWs to Burma for the building of the Burma Railway. Erik’s father was later transported to Japan to work in the coal mines. In all, he would be separated from his wife and young son for four years. During this time, Erik and his mother were interned in Java’s Tjideng Concentration Camp and exposed to very harsh conditions. Many of the woman and children interned at the camp did not survive.  Erik documented his childhood experiences in a book and his story inspired his three children to visit the places of his childhood with their parents last year.

The Dekker clan


After such a topsy turvy existence in his younger years, Erik has found contentment in the small town of Manilla, New South Wales where he has lived with Marg for the past forty years or so. When not away from home visiting family, the couple love time in their garden and studio. Margaret says one of the loveliest things to come from the trip to Indonesia last year was that the whole family came to understand why Erik has always grown bougainvillea in the garden – the scent is reminiscent of his childhood. And with their studio and garden open to the public, visitors to Manilla can stop by to take in the creativity for themselves.


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