Wednesday 27 Feb 2019
Please tell us about your background?
I originally started off in debt collection for various creditors, and then after being branded ‘too helpful’, I was moved to the hardship team of a major car finance company. It was during my role there that I had my first terrifying brush with a financial counsellor—a truly heart-pounding affair where I was told in no uncertain terms what me and my company were going to do for a client. It was a moment that stuck with me, and so when I decided to leave the corporate world, I sought out a role in financial counselling so I could be the become the terrifying monster I’d always knew I had in me.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to live my dream of becoming a monster—but I’m very happy that more than a decade later I’m still a financial counsellor!
What are the unique aspects of your role or the area you work in?
I work in a role which is a great mix of generalist and problem gambling financial counselling. I work in Geelong, which is a regional area with a huge diversity of people (in fact, this weekend we had Pako Festa – a big celebration with a parade that showcases all the cultures and peoples in Geelong), and there’s also a really wide gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots".
What has been your proudest achievement to date?
A long-running maladministration case where I assisted an intellectually impaired couple to get a good chunk of their mortgage waived and their interest-rate reduced to less than 1%. The third-tier lender fought the case tooth and nail at every step of the way, including at the beginning of the case when the debt collection clerk would ring my phone multiple times until I picked up, and would say things like, “You know you’re going to lose right? Just give up.” I didn’t, and we got a great result!
Receiving the Jan Pentland Scholarship in 2012 was a really lovely moment as well!
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the financial counselling sector?
Continuity of funding. One of the things I miss about working in corporate Australia was the general expectation you could expect to work for a company for decades unless you had a reason to leave. In financial counselling, it’s sadly not the case yet. You can expect to work for the length of your contract, but who knows what happens during the next funding round? I’m heartened to hear major parties pledging further funding for financial counselling—but we’ve got so far to go. Funding is definitely the major challenge for financial counselling in Australia at the moment.
What has been the most valuable resource or advice you’ve received?
“Your job isn’t to save people, it’s to guide people as they save themselves.”
And now the easy questions...
What book are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading Illidan by William King, and… can I say my favourite books are the books I wrote myself? I write books! If you’re interested in checking them out, I write under the name ‘A. E. Dooland’.
Author: A E Dooland
What TV show are you currently watching?
I’m in the middle of Russian Doll on Netflix at the moment and very much enjoying it. My favourite TV series of all-time has got to be House, MD.