E11 - It's about developing people - Dave Rae, DPR Accountants and Advisers

Dave Rae and his colleagues at DPR Accountants and Advisers are 'people' people. They believe in supporting the community through charities that develop people. This is why they support Soldier On, Global Sisters (micro-lending), East lake Football Club, and Canberra Hospital Foundation. In this interview, Dave shares what drives him to support others, and how it's the little things that can make such a huge difference.

Dave will be a Table Host at the upcoming Un-Conference, the Edge of Leadership. Join us here!

Mentioned in the Podcast:

Elon Musk: Tesla, Space X, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future - by Ashlee Vance

Sir Richard Branson's The B Team - Plan B for Business


Zoe Routh:    Hi, this is Zoe Routh and I'm here with Dave Rae from DPR accountants and advisors. Very excited to have Dave here with us. He's going to be a table host at our upcoming event, the Edge of Leadership, here in Canberra on the 28th of March 2017. You can check out all the details of that event at zoerouth.com and click on events and it's all there, including Dave's bio as one of the great table hawk, table hosts, there we go. Get it out. So, Welcome Dave.

Dave Rae:    Thanks, Zoe. Great to be part of the podcast. Can't wait for the event. It's going to be great.

Zoe Routh:    It is going to be great. I'm getting more and more excited and we're still several months out so, I'll have to contain myself before we get there. In the meantime, you can tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do at DPR, and what's your background.

Dave Rae:    Sure. I am the head of financial planning at DPR so, we're an accounting and financial services business and predominately our focus is on servicing professionals and small and medium business owners, and taking them on their life journey I guess you'd say. From building a career, or building a business, through to when they ultimately exit that and into their retirement or golden years or whatever you want to call it. So, my background was in accounting first of all and came through the world of audit which I've quickly found it just didn't suit me and didn't interest me. So, I diverted into funds management for a few years and investing world but had a second sort of change of direction when I found that staring at spreadsheets all day long didn't get me particularly excited. 

Zoe Routh:    I can relate to that.

Dave Rae:    Obviously I had an interest in numbers and financials and really wanted to move into something where I sort of felt like I was making a bit of a difference and spending more time with people and getting to know people and actually making a contribution, and helping have a benefit to where they're headed so that took me to financial planning and that's what I've been doing for the last 13 years now.

Zoe Routh:    Oh wow. That's cool. So, with regards to social contribution and social agenda, what does DPR do in terms of contributions to the community?

Dave Rae:    We take a broad approach I think. We feel it's pretty important that we're not just here to make money as a business, there's other aspects to what we do. Canberra being a small place in particular, the business community and the broader community is so small and tight knit that we think it's important to be part of that community as a business and not just as individuals. There's sort of three main areas where we sort of made our community contribution and mine is through sponsorship and support. Mainly through the AFL community so, Peter Beames has had a long association with East Lake football club. We've been a long term sponsor there and contributed to seminars and things where communication and financial education to players over the years, through their junior programs and also through their seniors as well. Peter's spent many years on the board of East Lake and more recently in a sponsorship capacity with JWS who are obviously making Canberra, the Canberra community an important part of what they do as well.

    Second aspect of what we do is pro bono support so, Ross Beames in particular does a lot of work in that area. He's a board member of Soldier On and provides accounting services to Soldier On too so he's been there since their early days and has been pretty heavily involved in the financial aspects of what they do as an organization. He's also been a board member of an organization called Global Sisters which is a micro lending type business or charity to women around the world. So, for Ross the pro bono sort of thing is important. Where I've done more of my side of things is around I guess utilizing my social media connections and the work I do in that space to build a bit of awareness and a contribution to different causes. The last few years I've done Dry July there -

Zoe Routh:    Oh, how fun. 

Dave Rae:    Yeah, it's not the most exciting month but I guess it's something that's a bit of a challenge so it does ... It's a challenge for me and challenge for most people but it does from that point of view it does mean that people can appreciate what you're doing and what you're going through to raise a bit of money for that. What I like about Dry July you can specifically nominate where the funds go, so in my case it goes to the Canberra Hospital Foundation, then goes to cancer support services there. The Canberra hospital, so this year they asked me to be part of their video campaign, so got to tell a little of the story on Win news and through their weekly video stories they do just to check in to see how it was going, how the fundraising was going, all that sort of thing and got to go down to the hospital and see where the money goes to. Those are the three areas in the community we're involved.

Zoe Routh:    Those are really quite different areas, so, AFL and Soldier On and Global Sisters, then the Canberra Hospital Foundation. What's the story behind that? I'm always curious about how you end up picking a particular charity. What was it that called, well, I guess each of you have your own little niche of the three directors. What was it, for example, for Peter Beams who I'm assuming he's through AFL. What was he about that?

Dave Rae:    If you know Peter and Ross, they're pretty passionate AFL supporters and both been Melbourne born and bred. It's in their blood, but the club in particular, at East Lake Peter's association came about when his son Daniel was playing football there as a junior and Peter coached the junior teams and so it really led from there. So, he's always been a person who wants to give back and so I think there's always with East Lake as well, we felt there's been an alignment with I guess what we do as a business with our people here and what they do as a club with their players too, so it's not about just results. 

    In our case, it's not about just making money and their case just about getting wins, it's about developing young people and hopefully giving them ... Building their skills both professionally and personally and making better people I guess. That's part of what we think is important as a business and they do as a club so it just sort of built from there and Peter had an opportunity to sit on the board there and make a bigger contribution. He did that I think for about five or six years.

Zoe Routh:    It is a fantastic avenue to develop people. So, I've been to the East Lake footy final awards night if you like, where you get to meet a lot of the young players who have gone through the seasons, both the men and the women, and hearing their stories about what they've actually gotten out of the experience is extraordinary. It's not just about playing football. It's about camaraderie, it's about leadership, it's about overcoming tough times. Especially they got smashed that season and so building that personal resilience. So, I think it's a lovely community support where you do help to build better people. I love that. I think that's great.

Dave Rae:    Yeah. The skills are much broader thanYeah. That's right. If it's in our office it's not just making an accountant. You're doing a lot more than that and same in the footy club. It's not just getting out there and kicking a footy around. If that's all you're doing I think you're probably failing in the potential for the role that you've got in developing people.

Zoe Routh:    Yeah. That's great. So, how did Ross pick Soldier On? What was it about that particular charity that he gravitated towards?

Dave Rae:    Well, he had a connection there. I guess these things come about through a connection in something and in Ross's case it was with a client who was another board member there who'd been quite senior in the army and was involved in helping getting Soldier On up and running. So, he had an opportunity to come in there. He's been involved in various different charities over the years but that's just his most recent one. SIDS and kids was another one in the past as well, but it was about a personal connection to start with and then I guess being able to have the duel role of board member and be able to provide accounting services for the group too so, I think for Ross he looks for a personal connection will bring him into something like that.

    He's always in the constraints of time and availability. Always wants to give back in that way and when an opportunity comes up for him, it's typically around that personal connection. 

Zoe Routh:    And Soldier On, just for our listeners, Soldier On supports returning service people from military integrating back into the community or?

Dave Rae:    Yeah. Exactly right. So, it's in the main ... It's the guys and girls who have come out of the military, in many cases, dealing ... Having difficulty reintegrating into day to day life. Being through pretty, in some cases, pretty terrible situations and dealing with post traumatic stress. Trying to come back and live a normal life with their families again or back to just to get a normal job, and so they do a range of things for helping people build skills or work programs, even just social events, bike rides, and support services for all of them. I think it's a pretty amazing thing those guys do when you think about the contribution and the service they give to our country and to all of us, but the mental burden they have to deal with in many cases which can be for a lifetime in some cases. It's I think what Soldier On is doing, is sort of filling a void ... There's obviously a void there. The government is not always able to fulfil that role so they're providing a pretty amazing service I think.

Zoe Routh:    Yeah. Our service men and women who come back from those war torn areas, they do need as much support as they can get it. I mean, what they give up, what they sacrifice to do for our national cause is extraordinary and they've got to come back and reintegrate into completely different universe. That's fabulous. So, how did you end up picking Canberra Hospital, Canberra Hospital Foundation and cancer support? What was it about that that you gravitated towards?

Dave Rae:    I think, as similar to Peter and Ross, there's a personal connection there. I guess when it comes to cancer probably everybody has had some sort of personal connection with somebody whose suffered from cancer. So, I've had over the years, a number of clients who have gone through dealing with cancer. One of the things I do is make sure people have got personal insurance in place so that they can financially deal with going through that but there's obviously a huge personal burden and strain as well when you're going through those things. I had a sister in law who went through that as well and saw the difficulty of dealing with young kids and all of that, so for me cancer is something that I felt like I could just do something a bit more.

    I think, I always think having been brought up in a stable loving family and getting a good education and having a good job, you're in a fortunate position and there's lots of people who are far less fortunate and in many or most cases, it's not by choice, it's sometimes bad luck and cancer no doubt is bad luck. What comes around from that. So, for me there were those reasons that meant that I chose cancer and when I thought about Dry July, it's a bit of a self assurance as well. You get a personal health benefit. You feel a lot better from doing it, but there was a bit of a challenge to go through a whole month without having any alcohol but at the same time I sort of reminded myself during it, the month that I do it, that it's nothing compared to what you think about and what you have to go through if you're dealing with cancer. You know just thinking you can't have a drink on a Friday night is nothing so ...

    And it was good to go down to Canberra Hospital and have a look at where the money actually goes that you're raising. Some of it is really simple stuff. It's buying some nice coffee cups or a lady that comes in and plays harp for the patients who are in there which is really relaxing for the patients who are in there or new blankets. Things that you don't even think they would need or you would just think the hospital would be supplying this kind of stuff and obviously there's not money for everything so, they're able to do a lot of things that do make a difference to the people who do have to spend a lot of time in the hospital there. Particularly the kids. PlayStations are nice things for them that put a smile on their face -

Zoe Routh:    It helps, because cancer sucks. You know I had cancer in 2005 and it was four months of not very pleasant experience so, when you talk about not drinking, it felt like, after my chemo rounds, it felt like ten days of a hang over. So, it didn't make me want to drink anything during that phase. That's for sure. So, when we went through that, my husband and I, we were very grateful for all the generous people who showed up in our world. Through places like the ACT cancer council etc. Just giving a support in a number of different ways. Anything from just checking in to doing home visits and in the hospital I had similar experiences. There was a lovely man who came around and did hand massages. I was in the hospital all day on a drip getting my treatment and it's a long bloody time. So, those little things do make a huge difference in terms of helping you just deal with what you're dealing with. Also, for the families that come in as well. 

    Cancer is pervasive and insidious and we've had a lot in our family. My sister, my dad, my mother in law. More recently my father in law. He spent a good two weeks in the hospital this year and then with chemo and stuff. There's no shortage of people who need this kind of service and that little touch of humanity makes such a big difference, doesn't it? 

Dave Rae:    Absolutely. As you say, it's just things that when you haven't seen someone go through it you think it's little and you don't think it makes much difference but when you hear the stories like yours, the stories about how much easier or it makes for someone's day just to get a little thing, it's just -

Zoe Routh:    I'm getting emotional. It is. Just that little, that little gesture of kindness from somebody you don't even know, reaching out to you is really lovely. I think that's why business people get involved in charities and community programs because of that sense of how good it feels to do something nice for somebody else and you're right. I'm in business, you're in business, and we're not in business just to make a buck. We're here to make a difference and whatever avenue, you through your financial planning, me through leadership development and so on, and if we can use our businesses for even better good by helping other businesses, like other social services community agencies do good for the community, that ripple effect is awesome.

Dave Rae:    Yeah. I think if you're doing good things for the community and other people whether it's individually or as a business, that comes back. You know? I think it eventually comes around and I think more and more these days I think people appreciate and like businesses that do good I guess. It's not -

Zoe Routh:    Absolutely, but there is definitely a karma effect. We think about ... If I think about, if I had a choice between two business providers and one I can see does a big contribution to the community, I'd want to go to them because it shows the spirit of giving. So, I think there is a karma, a positive karma effect in that. If you demonstrate that you're a giving person, other people want to be part of that and it inspires other people to be more giving as well.

Dave Rae:    Yeah. I think even the ... In one space where I work is the investment space and more and more listed businesses or potential investments, the companies that are taking an approach that is broader than just making as much profit as they can. The ones that are taking into considerations environmental, or social, or ethical concerns, are getting rewarded by shareholders. So, it's the ones that aren't just disregarding all of those aspects of the world. It's the ones that are making a positive contribution that are getting rewarded.

Zoe Routh:    They call it ... Well, one of the things they call it is conscious capitalism. So that in doing business you can also do good in the world and I know that Sir Richard Branson set up the B plan or plan B. I always get it wrong. Do you know this organization?

Dave Rae:    B corp? 

Zoe Routh:    Is it B corp or B plan? Plan B? It's about businesses around the globe committing to make a difference to the triple bottom lines and it's about as business make a big difference in all the big social planetary environmental issues that we've got. So, it's got galvanizing the power of business to make a powerful difference. So, even on the international scale it's happening, let alone local businesses.

Dave Rae:    Yeah. I think and more and more big big companies are feeling the effect of that is well. It might be from something as extreme as making sure that the company doesn't use any child labor anywhere or underpaid or overseas work forces. Those kind of things to just in some cases it might be environmental around, you know? Not doing things that damage the earth. Those kind of things. It's a trend that's only continuing in businesses big and small I think. 

Zoe Routh:    Absolutely. I had a conversation with a friend last week who said that she wasn't going to buy anymore particular brand of chocolate because it had palm oil in it. And I said, "What's the deal with palm oil?" And she goes, "Well, palm oil, they knocked down the Amazon forest and therefore if you're eating that chocolate you're destroying the Amazon forest," and I'm like, "Okay then." So, people are making very deliberate conscious choices about the products and services that they use and are they having a positive effect or negative effect on the globe.

Dave Rae:    Yeah. I think it's an area that's growing in the investment world and some people don't want to invest in things that don't align with their values. So, it might be tobacco, it might be gambling or ... So, they'll exclude things that don't align with their values or the other way to invest is focusing purely on those companies that do make a positive contribution to the world. The ones that are out there to have an environmental benefit or they're in the education space or those kinds of things. Or their mission is to alleviate poverty or have community benefits. Those kinds of things. Not just the profit motive.

Zoe Routh:    So, the new conversations with your clients about what investments they should make, is that coming up more and more about they want to invest only in ethical companies or one that have a fore purpose aspect to them?

Dave Rae:    It's definitely growing. I was recently at a conference, a responsible investment conference, which was around this very topic and traditionally I think most financial advisors or investment advisors and brokers haven't really discussed it with their clients but more and more it's starting to go in that direction and I'm starting to have those conversations. When you don't ask, people just invest their portfolio, their super, it goes into direct stocks or into funds and most people don't really know where they've been invested and often there's many big companies without naming them that are involved in gambling, or tobacco, or alcohol, and those kind of things, but when you sit down and ask people if they'd have a preference to avoid those ... 

    I actually put a survey out, speaking of this conference, I just wanted to gauge from my connections what it was like and 70 percent of people actually said they prefer not to invest in tobacco and 50 percent said they'd prefer not to invest in gambling. Whereas the majority of broad based investment funds have both of those in them. International share funds invest, typically, in the big tobacco companies or in Australia, you've got poker machines and casinos. Our big stock. Big listed stocks in Australia. So, most people do actually have those.

Zoe Routh:    And you're not aware of it even.

Dave Rae:    No. So, I was interested to see that 50 percent who prefer not to invest in gambling yet probably most of those people do already so I think it's ... That's definitely a growing trend where people haven't had that awareness of where their money's invested. It's a growing thing to say, "Well, if I've got particular values or live a particular way and support particular causes, maybe I start to care where my money's invested to make sure that that's aligned with all of that."

Zoe Routh:    Absolutely. Makes me want to go home and review what is happening in my super. So, when it comes to leadership ... So, we've talked about leadership in the community. What's your perspective on leadership?

Dave Rae:    Look, I think there's a few key areas that I sort of really like to look for in leadership and mine is a leader who inspires other people, and that from a personal point of view, that's what I always look for. Whether it's someone in our organization or wherever I've worked in the past and in the broader community and business world, for me I get motivation if I'm inspired so somebody who's out there and is innovating or taking risks to tread a path that's a bit different and not afraid to go in a direction where they run the risk of criticism. I think in probably one of the most inspiring stories I've read in recent times was Elon Musk's autobiography. 

Zoe Routh:    That's an awesome book.

Dave Rae:    Yeah. I mean, today he's considered just a visionary and an incredible businessman with Tesla and what he's doing in solar space and the roof tiles that are coming and all that sort of thing but when you read about his story and the number ... When he was first going down the paths that he did, the people that said he was crazy and the risks that he had to take to do that. I mean, he's a guy who had a vision for what he believed in and he's been shown, to date, shown to be correct on that but a lot of people back in those times thought he was crazy. It's easy to look now and go, "Wow, he's doing a great thing," but when he was starting out and investing money in electric cars or space x and flying to Mars. Yeah, I think that's somebody who's inspirational, taking risks, and not, which is a really really difficult thing to do, not getting knocked down when you get criticized. 

    Those are the kind of things that I look for.

Zoe Routh:    I think that's a lovely example to highlight also about a fore purpose business and Tesla has not hidden at all its agenda of eliminating fossil fuels as a source of power, particularly with motor vehicles and integrating its solar power system into powering its vehicles. It's extraordinary. So, if he can leverage that out across the globe it will transform one of our key problems we've got as a planet. So, yeah. Talk about inspiration. That's in spades for sure.

Dave Rae:    Spot on. A business that's worth plenty but you're right. His mission was environmental. It was about changing the world. It was about not having the reliance on fossil fuels is pretty amazing.

Zoe Routh:    So, whether we're Elon Musk or doing our own thing in our own business we can still make a positive effect. Dave, thank you so much for sharing your story today. I really appreciate it. I've enjoyed the conversation. You'll get a chance to meet Dave if you come along to the Edge of Leadership next year on the 28th of March and you can have a look at the show notes where I've got the transcript of the podcast. You can go to Zoe Routh dot com slash podcast slash Dave and the transcript will be there. I'll also put a link to the Elon Musk's book and also the wake up why site which has got a nice series of article on Elon if you want some mega inspiration. So, Dave thank you so much.

Dave Rae:    Thanks, Zoe. It's been great and I'm really looking forward to your conference. I think it's something that's been missing in Canberra. We haven't had anything in the broad range of topics you'll be covering and I think you've got an amazing special guest as well in Dr. Fox.

Zoe Routh:    Oh yeah. Dr. Fox. The fox is coming. It's going to be a great day. So, thanks very much. I look forward to seeing you then.

Dave Rae:    Thanks, Zoe.


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