Judith Falle (75) is a proud greenie – ‘a bit on the hippy side’ she says. Her appreciation of and passion for the environment inspired Judith to become a science teacher and she’s always loved bushwalking, canoeing and spending time in nature. After the move a few years ago from a property in the New England town of Guyra where she and her husband ran a fine wool property for 20 years, Judith is happily settled in the alpine foothills in Victoria.
In line with her values on sustainability, an ethical approach to investing is important to Judith. Fortunately, her long-term financial planner, Steve Sewell can help Judith identify the best investments when it comes to ESG Certified companies. *
Judith and her husband John first met Steve Sewell in Armidale over a decade ago. By that stage, the Falles had called Armidale home for many years and raised three daughters there. With their trusted local accountant/investment manager set to retire, Steve was suggested as the best person to manage the family finances in his stead.
Judith explains why Steve was a good fit. “John and I both felt that Steve knew where we were coming from. Having moved to Armidale in 1981 and with John and me both being teachers, we were very much part of the local community. Armidale is a biggish small town really. Steve understood that and was a product of that so there was a good connection. Living in the same area meant he understood what people needed financially.
There was authenticity and sharing of values. Steve was open and helpful with willingness to share his expertise. We always found his advice to be sound and reasonable and from the outset, he listened to what we wanted.”
Judith also felt that the company’s values were well aligned with their own.
“Invest Blue may have been much smaller then, but I knew that there was integrity in the business. We didn’t want rapid gains, we wanted a conservative investment and Invest Blue were very happy with that. We got the impression they were in it for the long haul, as were we.”
What the long-term picture once looked like for Judith was altered in 2014 when John became unwell. He was diagnosed with a ‘rare and nasty cancer. It was John’s health battle that prompted discussions on the sale of their 600+ hectare farm. Like any working farm, the Falle’s property required much time and energy and with just John and Judith running it, they realised that a move was in order.
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By that time, the couple’s middle daughter had settled in north-eastern Victoria and so, after some travel and a bit of a look around, the decision was made to move to the area. In 2015, Judith and John bought a home on a large block in a small village about an hour from Albury and moved there in 2017.
John lost his cancer battle in 2018.
Reflecting upon that period, Judith is grateful that the couple’s financial affairs were in order.
“Steve had guided our discussion to make things simple for me when John passed. Steve was very good about taking care of everything. Our finances were well organised, and everything just flowed smoothly.”
The steps Steve had taken to ensure financial security were also valued greatly by Judith.
“This is one reason Invest Blue have been so important. Apart from a little bit of spending money, our funds were invested as an annuity for both of us, although we knew that John was not going to be with us for very long. As teachers we had good super and that now covers my day to day living money.”
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Judith shares with me a little of what her day-to-day looks like.
Home is a comfy, warm house on a large and fairly private block in a ‘gorgeous spot’ about 30 minutes from the Victorian ski fields. And whilst moving from a farm ‘in the middle of nowhere to the ‘burbs was quite the change, it has proven to be a good one. Two daughters now reside nearby as do four of Judith’s six grandkids. She’s always happy to help out and has great relationships with her grandchildren. Judith says they keep her young, and on her toes!
Judith’s love of the outdoors continues to keep her busy and active. Her respect for our natural environment inspires her investment choices, too. Judith says that her interest in the environment has always been the background to what she does and ‘greener investments’ are of the most interest to her. This is where Steve plays a part. He can help choose companies that align with Judith’s views on sustainability.
ESG is when environmental, social and governance factors are used to evaluate companies (and counties) on how far advanced they are with their sustainability. Judith is interested in investing in companies that adhere to this set of standards and that operate with integrity and transparency.
Despite it being a bit of a challenge to catch up in person given her Victorian base, Steve and Judith will continue to work closely together in the same straightforward and collaborative way they’ve long known.
And until their next catch-up, Judith will continue to enjoy the many options she is thankful to have. “I’m healthy, I’ve still got my wits about me and I’m lucky in where I live. Financial security enables me to enjoy the simple things like time with family and friends, local travel and social involvement.” And, as it always has, nature continues to inspire Judith and she’ll often be found in her beautiful garden, too.
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These clients have agreed to share their stories. Everyone’s situation is different, so their choices and outcomes will be different to yours. Consider your circumstances before deciding what’s right for you.