• Kurt Walkom

Why I'm Founding Pearler - Kurt

Updated: Jul 24

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in money. From counting my coin jar each week and selling baby rabbits to the local pet store as a five-year-old to studying finance and becoming an Investment Analyst fifteen years later. However, it never was and never will be about hoarding dollars and cents — it’s about what I can do with it, about outcomes and empowerment and the effects on my friends and family — and I owe that attitude to my Dad. He’d say, “Kurt, some people worship money like a religion. They just don’t get it. Money isn’t the goal. It’s the tool that lets you achieve your goals.” And I’ve got to give it to him, that advice has aged better than any wine, cheese or whisky I’ve ever had.

Money is the tool "Money is the tool, not the goal" - Man on the RHS

What started as an interest gradually grew into a passion. I was incredibly fortunate to grow up with parents who started from humble beginnings. I lived the progression as they transitioned our family from living in a small duplex in the heart of our small country town to a house on acreage on the fringes. Then we started taking longer holidays rather than just a weekend away — we even went overseas a couple of times! Honestly, I felt a little undeserving — what had I done to earn these incredible things that my schoolmates hadn’t? As time went by I kept noticing these differences. Then, at the ripe old age of fourteen I read The Barefoot Investor, 2nd Edition, and my eyes were opened. The underlying financial principles my parents lived by turned out to be very different to most families’. Why didn’t people realise the pain credit was causing them, how inflation was eating their savings and how important compound interest was to their financial future? I was baffled.

My OG Barefoot Investor My OG Barefoot Investor

It’s been more than ten years, but I finally have an answer. I believe it comes down to our relationship with and attitudes toward money as a society. As kids, we are taught geography, history, maths, english and science for twelve years in an effective and structured way.

Regardless of whether we pursue careers in these fields, we have a solid foundation of what our physical world is, how it works, how it came to be, and how to communicate with other people within it. But we never learn about how to thrive within our world, and whether we like it or not, in a capitalistic society, this is heavily influenced by our relationship with money.

Without some high-level thinking habits, it’s hard to avoid the instinctual pitfalls of our brain. Most young adults’ first foray into the real world incurs bad financial decisions that linger for decades. Cars we can’t afford, loan-funded holidays and credit-fuelled retail therapy are sick forms of financial torture we opt-in for, often after being coerced by the banks. And I can’t blame us… typically, all we have in our corner are the financial values we inherited from our parents by osmosis, who inherited theirs from their parents… it might as well be a coin flip. In fact, an astonishing 60% of us Aussies do not meet the basic threshold for financial literacy and capability.

This results in poor decision-making, declining levels of happiness, and the stifled intellect of thousands of Australians who are living under financial pressure. Did you know that on average, a person preoccupied with money problems experiences a drop in mental ability similar to a 13-point loss of IQ, or pulling a complete all-nighter? Scary, right. Combine that with a finance industry driven by greed and dishonesty that’s rampant with unsecured personal credit, inappropriate financial advice and conflicted remuneration, and we have nowhere to go. For many of us, it’s still awkward to discuss money with friends and family, and even if we’re able to have the conversation and ask the questions, to actually get specific, actionable starting points is close to impossible.

Big dreams and bad handwriting Big dreams and bad handwriting at 14

Having been the go-to finance friend for over ten years, fielding a variety of financial questions with inadequate, opaque answers, I’ve had enough. I also think it’s about time someone shook up the finance industry so that it stops profiting from the needy to benefit the wealthy. So, together with my partners in crime, Nick and Hayden, we set out to build a wealth platform that genuinely puts people first. A community that not only teaches good financial habits, but also allows us to have conversations about them, and then implement them. A platform that empowers the sound financial principles of niche communities like The Barefoot Investor and Financial Independence Retire Early to be projected into the mainstream. And by taking these principles mainstream, I believe we can create meaningful improvements in financial literacy, decrease the financial stresses of everyday Australians, and ultimately unlock the creative potential of our nation.

My dream is to eradicate the money taboo. I think pearler, or a platform like it, is crucial to Australia prospering in the future. I dream of a day when the people and the country I love stops acting like slaves to money, and instead, we finally start owning it.

Kurt.

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