Author: Expert Visitor

When grieving comes home

Chartered client, Ronelle Baker, reflects on her grieving process at the loss of a very close friend.  She shares her story in the hope of helping others experiencing the same pain of loss.

So when you’re battling through grief, you are told about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. What you’re not told is that once you’re through one of these stages, it’s not yet done … any particular stage can come back and wring your heart all over again!

A story of past and recent loss and grief

29 years ago, I lost my mother to ovarian cancer.  At the time, I was working hard towards becoming a successful businesswoman and felt that “we can get through this”. Of course that did not happen.   

On the death of my mother, the grief “stage” that would not release was anger.  I was mad as a snake that she’d died: diagnosed on Tuesday, died on Sunday but she had battled the disease silently for years. So, while her passing was probably a “happy release” (an unhelpful phrase), that did not ease the pain at the time.

My Mom died in Zimbabwe, so after the gathering of the family and the funeral, lots of tea, cake, crying, reminiscing, clearing out a home and settling my Dad elsewhere, life eventually returned to “normal”.

But, in grief, normal is not normal at all.

My husband, family and friends helped where they could, but were all walking on eggs around me to prevent whatever it was that I was holding onto did not explode and leave a mess everywhere!

Eventually my devoted husband could take no more of this. My family, friends and work colleagues had complained of my unusual behaviour and lack of empathy and I sought help.   It was a revelation – I was taught to throw cups against the wall (they had to smash for it to be effective – it worked!).  I was able to release the anger and start the grieving process in peace.

Fast forward to December 2016

My dear friend, Judy, died. She’d also been battling with ovarian cancer for about 18 months.   I witnessed with admiration her bravery, determination and feistiness.  Although her health deteriorated rapidly from month to month, she managed to undertake a few trips, but they took their toll on her.  Nothing would dissuade her from getting on a plane and flying to busy and crowded destinations – even to the point of arranging her chemo sessions to suit her trips, and managing trips between surgeries – such absolute resolve was impressive.

I was gobsmacked as I watched her fight this terrible disease, and full of awe at her family and friends.  The oncology staff, hospital staff, and surgeons always had Judy’s best interests at heart.

Until we’ve been with a friend or relative on an almost daily basis, watching her fade away, I don’t think any of us understands what a toll cancer takes on a body.  Judy persevered and, at the end of her life, flew to the coast (with tubes and bags discreetly hidden in a plastic shopping bag at the airport) to spend the last five weeks of her life with her family.

For me personally, it was a heart-breaking time but such an honour and privilege to be part of Judy’s journey.

Finding a healed heart

The difference between today’s grieving and that of 1988 is that I now am aware of the five stages of grief, and that they do pop up when you least expect.  It’s sometimes tricky to identify them in the midst of our daily lives, but talking about it often helps … and tearfully if necessary. Having support from my husband, family and friends is healing, and understanding the process this time has definitely helped.

My story is one of understanding and support. I know the five stages of grief are real and yes, they do bite you when you least expect them, but having the ability now to identify them, to go through grief gently, slowly and respectfully, means you will come through and, in the end, know you are blessed for being in the lives of the people that you love.

Solo travel taught me the most valuable lesson of all

The lesson often comes too late for many … but, for me, solo travel, ironically, was the perfect teacher: people are far more important than anything in your life.

It was one of the 10 Life Lessons in the Inflight newsletter in January:  no hobby, interest, work is going to be as significant as the people you
spend time with … especially as you grow older.

I want to add to that: surround yourself with people that stimulate you, that challenge you and that make you laugh and bring out that inner child in you.

Having travelled solo for all those months through India, South East Asia and South America, I learnt first-hand how people can enrich your life beyond all expectations, and I could write a book on the wonderful characters I met along the way.

Right: Cory, Pablo, Indira and Syb at the Monsoon Palace, Udaipur

Faces become friends

Ever drunk beer from a thermos? Circumventing a ban on alcohol in Ladakh led to a friendship between me and Dinesh, a young Nepalese lad who ran a restaurant in the heart of New Delhi. He became my first Facebook friend in India – he calls me mum to this day, and we still message each other regularly.

There was a Peruvian, an Argentinian and a Canadian … no, not the start of a joke, but certainly the memory of wonderful friendships that started exploring forts and temples in colourful Rajasthan, and culminated in my staying with Indira and her family in Lima, Peru, a year later.  Canadian Cory remains my travel mentor, having been to many places on my travel bucket list.

A chance meeting at a rooftop restaurant in Agra (where I was whiling away time before catching a night train to Khajuraho) with Horacio, another young solo traveller from Colombia, was the reason why I put that country on my list of travel destinations.

Left: This “photo shoot” makes me smile every time I look at it. Three days spent with this crazy bunch from all over the world; Vasu from India (now resident in California)my “adopted” son Gregor from Brazil, the gorgeous Tathiane, also from Brazil, yours truly, Nir from Israel and the handsome Aussie Jerry.

After nearly 3 months of constant travel, I was hit with a bout of unexpected travel fatigue in Myanmar.  I was immensely grateful then for Sarah and Nathan from the UK, who lifted my spirits as we enjoyed some of the unforgettable sights together.  Also from the UK, Paul and Debbie, whom I met over a beer in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, are of a similar age as me and are now firm friends. We had all been travelling for the past three years non-stop, and spent hours comparing notes.  They inspired me to visit Borneo and, at my insistence, they put South Africa on

their list of must-see places … I have just waved them farewell after they spent the last three months in our wonderful country.

It is a credit to the people that I met during my travels that I have to reserve the next series of encounters to a subsequent article.  I am overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude for the lives that have touched mine … and have brought light and joy to it that lingers still.

Right: My wonderfully warm AirB&B host family who allowed me to experience Belem, the coastal gateway to the Amazon River like a local. Parents Valter and Dailza and their daughter Julia and her boyfriend Alexandre.

How to hamstring your Financial Planner

And rob yourself in the process!

Retirement Specialist, Lynette Wilkinson, shares how she regrets to accepting a request from a client to create an estate plan – without being able to do a comprehensive review of their assets … and why she has resolved not to take on such an assignment again. She gives tips on how to make the most of your relationship with your planner.

Good intentions pave the way

One of the most satisfying things about my role as a financial planner is to guide clients in achieving their intentions with their money.  One aspect is creating an estate plan that will give effect to their wishes, as their legacy to their family.   This goal is difficult – no, impossible – to achieve when your client is reluctant to share details of his assets.

My clients were well-intentioned.  They shared a vision of wanting to teach their children sensible money management and to leave a  legacy for years to come.  Some of their assets are businesses that could well provide both an income and employment for their children and grandchildren in the future.

Their aim in meeting with me was to devise an estate plan that included reviewing their existing trust.  In the event of their simultaneous deaths, they wished their assets to be transferred into that trust. They brought to our first meeting their wills, their existing trust deed and their marriage certificate, to show whether they had wed in community of property or out of community of property, and whether the latter was with or without the accrual system – of course, this has a huge impact on the estate plan.

Disclosure makes the deal real

Unfortunately, while their goals were certainly noble ones, I was in no position to guarantee that those goals would be achieved. Why not?  My clients simply did not want to disclose detailed and relevant information about their assets and liabilities. I did not know the values of the assets, or whether they were owned or ceded. In the absence of these facts, I was unable to give comprehensive feedback, as I was not able to understand the values of assets, and the cash flow and tax implications of any actions we might recommend.

Why does this matter?

Let’s take the strategy of transferring the couple’s companies into trust on death.  Without knowing the values of the assets, I am unsure how much Capital Gains Tax would be triggered, and if so, how much liquidity (available cash) there is in the estate to pay that tax.  In addition, Estate Duty is likely to be levied against the estate as a result of the transfer of these assets into trust.  Were there to be insufficient funds to pay these taxes, the businesses might have to be sold in order to generate liquidity to satisfy SARS.

Were the business, however, to be sold rather than transferred, the monies could then more easily be placed in the trust, without attracting the same amount of tax.  Alternatively, I could advise that, in the case of one spouse predeceasing the other, the best route would be to bequeath the companies to the surviving spouse, thereby taking advantage of the Section 4(q) deduction, which exempts spouses of any Estate Duty on that asset and defers the Capital Gains Tax to the second dying spouse.

Partner with your planner

Of course, you can go online or to your local bank branch, and obtain an off-the-shelf Will – there you will be asked no questions, and any complications that may later emerge will only then be able to be resolved … often to the detriment of the estate and its beneficiaries.

I am also aware of a local legal company that charged R40,000 to redo a trust deed, and who followed much the same superficial process of not even looking at the wills, but simply creating a trust according to the clients’ stated wishes but without flagging any of the potential pitfalls.

The result of this kind of approach is, ironically, that the intentions of the clients’ are not fulfilled.

Clients approach financial planners because we hold the expertise that they most often do not.  It is therefore my moral responsibility to advise my clients in the best way possible … and that cannot be done with just a slice of the picture.

So, here are some tips on how to make the best of your relationship with your planner, especially regarding creating an estate plan:

  1. Understand that an estate plan cannot be created without your planner understanding your financial plan – the two work in tandem.
  2. Build a relationship of trust with your planner that will allow you to feel free to disclose the necessary information for her to devise your own unique financial and estate plan – she wants your intentions to be fulfilled, so help her to facilitate that.
  3. Share your dreams for your family and the generations that follow with your planner:
  • Is the intention for your businesses to generate income or employment or both for your children?
  • How much of the family’s wealth will the children use?
  • What is the purpose for creating generational wealth? To teach your children money management? To enable your children to be educated? To provide capital for their own businesses?

Knowledge of these intentions will allow your planner to set up your affairs practically to meet your goals; for example, a drafting a ‘family constitution’ will communicate to future generations what grandmother or grandfather’s intentions were in creating the trust.

  1. If you already have a trust, don’t allow anyone to review it unless they also want to understand your finances and to see your will.
  2. Partners must be in agreement regarding both their intentions and understanding the role and value of a financial planner.

A review of either a will or a trust deed is of no value to the client (or the planner, for that matter) when done in isolation.  You will understand then, my reluctance to take on any future requests to do so without an understanding of my clients’ assets and liabilities, and a broader view of their finances.

lynette-wilkinson-chartered-wealth-solutions-retirementLynette holds a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ® status and obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning from the University of the Free State in 2007. She completed an Advanced Post Graduate Diploma in financial planning, specialising in Estate Planning and Risk Management in 2012.

Lynette keeps abreast of the latest industry changes through her membership of the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa (FPI), the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and the Kinder Institute of Life Planning.

Lynette believes in real relationships.

Her professionalism and empathy assist her in the discovery process to define her clients financial and lifestyle goals, allowing her to create a global and strategic financial plan for their unique needs.


Have you learned that secret from the river … that there is no such thing as time? The river is everywhere at the same time, at the source, at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future. Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Alec Hogg of Biznews recently contrasted Tree People with Boat People, applauding the latter for being well- sybille-retire-successfully  travelled, broad-minded globalists. He could have been describing Chartered Wealth’s Sybille Essmann, who has shared some of her travel tales with us over recent times. Here is her account of rivers she has drifted along …

have always had a deep-seated fascination with rivers and waterways and it started long before I had ever actually embarked on any river voyage.

Not for me the luxurious vessels cruising the European river courses like the Rhine or Danube … I visualised myself lounging on the deck of a slow boat chugging up the Mekong in South East Asia, observing the everyday life of river dwellers; or, even more exotic, making an epic trip up the mighty Amazon into the heart of the South American continent. Both of these trips had made it on to my travel bucket list.
My enthusiasm for waterway travel was first sparked by my exploring the Kerala Backwaters, a network of 900 km of lagoons, lakes, rivers and canals along the Southwestern Indian coastline on a kettuvallam, a houseboat. It was further fuelled by my spending the night on a junk on Halong Bay in Vietnam; and finally cemented when I sailed for 24 hours up the Chao Phraya from Bangkok to Ayuthaya in Thailand on a beautifully restored rice barge.
As memorable and pleasurable as these boat trips were, I experienced them as a tourist. During my eight months in the East followed by four months in South America, I aimed to transcend from being a mere tourist to being a traveller (as per the definition in the Oxford Living English Dictionary: “a person who holds New Age values and leads an itinerant and unconventional life style”. Yip, that’s me.)

From a river taxi roof to zip-lining in the deep jungle

Mesmerised by floating shacks and animal cages housing litters of pigs, I have sat for hours on the roof of a river taxi plying the Tonle Sap, a tributary to the Mekong from the Cambodian town of Battambang to Siem Reap.

sybille-retire-successfully2I crossed into Laos on a raging Mekong River in the dark in a leaking boat during the height of a monsoon storm, floated down the Nam Song on a tube with a group of youngsters who made me realise that I am still a kid at heart.
I ticked off a bucket list item by boarding a slow boat for a two day trip that took me on another segment of the Mekong River from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai on the border of Laos and Thailand where I spent two days zip-lining into the deepest jungle in search of the elusive Gibbon ape.

We spent a sleepless night hunkered down under the thickest mosquito nets 150 meters above the jungle floor in a tree house, braving an almighty thunderstorm that left us all breathless.

The jungle alongside the Kinabatangan River, the longest river on Borneo, was also worth a visit, and I was rewarded by an orangutan sighting albeit at quite a distance.

Amazed by the Amazon

Although my travel adventures were filled with highlights, the one that probably makes it onto my top ten list has to sybille-retire-successfully3be my six-day, 1500 km trip up the Amazon on a river ferry from the city of Belém on the mouth at the Atlantic Ocean all the way to Manaus. This was followed by three days in the Amazonian jungle which will forever remain dear to my heart because of the craziest, funniest bunch of youngsters I had the pleasure of experiencing it with.
Getting out of Brazil took me 36 hours seated on a river taxi speeding along the upper reaches of the Amazon all the way from Manaus to the Brazilian/Colombian border.

Thank goodness I had learnt the art of patience while travelling in the East and between watching the passing jungle landscape, reading, listening to music through my ear phones and dozing I managed to while away the time with ease. I yearn for my river days; where there’s a river, I want to be on it.

“Oh, Eeyore, you are wet!” said Piglet, feeling him. Eeyore shook himself, and asked somebody to explain to Piglet what happened when you had been inside a river for quite a long time.” A.A. Milne

AirB&B and TripAdvisor: your personal pillow and guide

Chartered financial planner, Sybille Essmann, gave herself a sixtieth birthday gift of ticking off some travel bucket list items.  In this article, she shares the benefits of AirB&B and TripAdvisor.

I would consider myself an intrepid traveller. Throughout my eight months exploring the East, followed by a further nearly five months in South America, I rarely knew more than a week in advance where my compass was heading; if there was one thing that would take me out of my comfort zone, though, it was not knowing where I was going to put my head down at night.

In the East, I had made extensive use of the TripAdvisor App which I had loaded on my trusted iPad mini. TripAdvisor lists hotels, B&Bs and hostels in nearly all parts of the world. What made it attractive for me was that fellow travellers are invited to review the various establishments which meant I could make an educated decision as to where I wanted to book. The app has links to various booking agencies such as Agoda, and and securing a booking by means of my credit card was child’s play. Because I was so grateful for honest appraisals, I became an enthusiastic reviewer, not only of accommodation but also of listed restaurants I frequented and things I had done in places I visited. I believe, to date, close on 24 000 people have read my reviews.

When I started planning my trip to South America at the beginning of 2015, I needless to say consulted TripAdvisor and I was mortified at the cost of accommodation in São Paulo, Brazil where even a modest hostel room would have set me back a pretty penny.

Intrigued when I perchance came across a link to the AirB&B website, I investigated further and found that the website had been started by a couple of entrepreneurial students that rented out their living room with three air mattresses during a sold-out trade show in 2008. From these humble beginnings, AirB&B now has a footprint in over 191 countries with over 1,5million listings from shared space in family homes to mansions, castles or even luxury yachts.

My first AirB&B experience in São Paulo was so memorable that it became my preferred choice of accommodation throughout my travels through South America. I was amazed that even when I clicked on the remotest village in the far flung Andes, I would find an AirB&B room.

As with TripAdvisor, AirB&B has a very user-friendly iPad app; once I had downloaded it, I created a personal profile with a picture, a short bio and credit card details. When booking, I would enter my parameters such as dates, price range, single room and then choose my accommodation based on favourable pictures, how many stars had been awarded and reviews from other travellers. My booking request would be forwarded to the host and they, in turn, could scrutinise reviews other hosts had posted on me and then agree or not agree to entertain my booking. I use the word “entertain” advisedly, because I can unreservedly say that every host, without exception, made me feel exceedingly welcome, offered invaluable advice and a wealth of information and some even went as far as collecting me from the airport after midnight or taking me to catch my transport before the sun rose. The room might not have always been five-star, but I am forever grateful for the impact these fine people made on my life. If you want to really get to know a country intimately, AirB&B is the way to go.


My wonderful host family in Belem, Brazil that collected me from the airport after midnight when my flight was delayed


My AirB&B in Rio de Janeiro had a beautiful rooftop terrace overlooking the Copacabana (this was not my bed!)

Conquering Mount Kinabalu

Chartered Financial Planner, Sybille Essmann, recalls her own conquering of one of the highest peaks in South East Asia.

Gugu Zulu’s tragic and untimely death while attempting to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro has revived vivid memories of my personal slog and immense sense of achievement when I eventually stood at the top of the imposing Mount Kinabalu. It is one of the highest peaks in South East Asia, on the island of Borneo.     1

Climbing mountains had never been on my Bucket List and before my arrival on Borneo, I had never even heard of Mount Kinabalu. I wanted to dive Sipadan, rated as one of the five top dive sites in the world, located in the Semporna Archipelago off the north eastern coast of Borneo; but as only 120 dive permits are issued per day, I had to wait three weeks for my turn.

 Sybille and Alfred in triumph at the top!

I first consulted the Lonely Planet and then my trusted TripAdvisor app on my iPad and found 944 reviews on climbing Mount Kinabalu in “things to do” while on Borneo. The common thread was that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but by no means a walk in the park. Being a seat-of-my pants kinda gal, I mulled it over for an hour or so and eventually thought: what the heck! If there’s a mountain, why not climb it? I had done no formal exercise during my prior six months’ travelling, four of which I had spent at sea level, so I approached this adventure with a fair share of trepidation. Climbing up to an altitude of 4085 meters was never going to be easy.

Besides Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor, I had learnt that the most valuable advice I could ever get was from like-minded travellers; I was blessed to discover a blog site that gave a step-by-step guide from where to book your climbing permit in the town of Kota Kinabalu, which buses to catch and from where, accommodation, the climb itself and, and, and … Priceless!

My heart sank when I arrived at the Kinabalu Mountain Lodge in persistent rain which did not let up for two days. Thank goodness I had given myself three days to acclimatise at 1500m above sea level. The day before my ascent, the skies finally opened and I got the first peek of my ultimate goal.

The actual climb is done in two stages: day 1 takes you to base camp at 3 300m, where you bunk down for the night; at 2:30 the next morning, you set off for the final 800 meters with the aim of summiting at sunrise. Every three climbers are allocated a guide, but I was lucky enough to have Alfred all to myself, because my young co-climber, Mario, was a machine and from the get-go we did not see him for dust.

I was sorely ill prepared for this endeavour. One of the most significant things I learnt about myself in those two days was that I have the capacity to dig deep when I have to, and I can do it with a smile. The actual distance climbed on day 1 was only 6 km but it was an unrelenting uphill all the way and I huffed and puffed and sweated and swore under my breath every step of the way … I was shattered by the time I dragged myself into our night stop after 6 1/2 hours. What buoyed me on that mountain, though, was the immense camaraderie amongst my fellow climbers. They came from all over the world and from all walks of life and we all felt a sense of kinship at having made it that far.

2I will forever be grateful for Alfred who willed me up to the summit in time for sunrise on day 2. I was quite overwhelmed and in awe by my achievement and literally felt on top of the world.

If the ascent was hard, the descent was sheer agony! If Alfred had not strapped my backpack on to his and held my hand all the way down, I might have surrendered. I kissed him when we finally reached headquarters.

It is amazing how a hot shower and a good night’s sleep can revive one’s spirit. Now, two years later, I look back and rate this climb as one of the most valuable experiences of my life.

Would I do it again? I don’t think so, but, boy, was I proud of myself.

Gugu Zulu, I commend you. Your resilience and perseverance against all odds should have carried you to the top. It was not to be … R.I.P.


A fun way to build new bridges

Chartered Certified Financial Planner and Intrepid Explorer, Sybille Essmann, shares how a simple idea to challenge her colleagues and share her travel experiences has become a relationship-building and educational exercise.

I play a game with my colleagues every Friday morning.

I send to all of them, via email, a photograph that I have taken somewhere, sometime on my Bucket Wheel travels.  My colleagues read the caption: “Where in the World …” and they know the race is on!  The first to come up with the correct answer gets rewarded with a steaming cappuccino from our local coffee shop. It is gratifying to observe the lengths to which some go to identify the location correctly.

Recently, the mystery image was of the historical Bridge over the River Kwai in the Thai town with the magical name of Kanchanaburi, close to the Myanmar border.  A new young colleague, Lebogang Moseamedi, cleverly followed a previous clue I had given: all answers can be found in my extensive travel blogs. Guess who won the weekly prize!

This bridge is testimony to a heart-wrenching World War II history in which over 100 000 souls (16 000 British, Australian and Dutch POWs, and 90 000 Asians) perished in attempting to build the Death Railway for the Japanese, which would have connected Thailand’s capital Bangkok to Rangoon in Burma. It symbolises the futility of war, because these young lives were lost in vain as the railway line, although completed, was ultimately never used.

But the bridge also represents the resilience of the human capability to forgive and absolve. Eric Lomax, a survivor and author of the autobiographical The Railway Man which was made into a film, was such a man. He had to face his demons and eventually made peace with his jailer and they became lifelong friends.

Since that photo was taken, a lot of water has passed under that bridge (metaphorically speaking). I have seen and encountered some of the most remarkable and fascinating places on Earth and I consider it to have been part of my rite of passage.

Today it gives me untold pleasure building my personal bridge and planting a seed of inquisitiveness in the minds of my young co-workers.


The Bridge over the River Kwai

What can you do with wood?

Clive Stacey has loved woodworking since the age of 13, when he received his first woodworking tool.  This life-long hobby finds its expression in Clive being chairman of the Witwatersrand Woodworking Association and in his sharing his passion with 40 Chartered guests at a winter Lifestyle Lunch at Chartered House.


Clive said that woodworking starts with wanting to create something: “You need a driver,” said Clive. For some, it is restoration of furniture; for others, it is carving, or cabinet-making, or model-making.  “The possibilities are numerous,” Clive commented, “extending even to making doll’s houses and miniaturisation, a very active hobby in South Africa at the moment.”

Choosing your wood

Woods are divided into manufactured wood, such as plywood, and natural timber, like yellowwood or stinkwood.  2Imported woods are cherry, walnut, beech and maple. In addition, woods are categorised as hard woods and soft woods.  According to Clive, “the crucial point is that you need to choose the wood that serves the purpose for which you want it.  If you like the wood, and it works for you, use it.”

Clive himself prefers to use recovered wood for his projects, being convinced that it is a sin to cut down trees.

Clive cautioned his audience to be aware of noxious woods – wearing gloves and a mask when working with such woods is essential.

As far as the woodworking environment is concerned, it is noisy and dusty, with an abundance of splinters, cuts and abrasions.  It is a solitary hobby: “It is you and the wood,” smiles Clive. “You don’t want interruptions, especially when you have power tools running! And I never work when I am tired or when I have had any alcohol whatsoever to drink.”

Tools to use

Tools are categorised as sharp and dangerous, or blunt and dangerous! Hammers, chisels, saws, drills are all able to cause damage.

Learning more

“There are so many ways to spend your money,” laughs Clive.  Books, magazines, catalogues and YouTube are all so useful, “The Flying Woodworker” being both intellectual and practical. “You also have other woodworkers and teachers,” says Clive.  “The Club does not give lessons but does help people learn more about their hobby.”

Life lessons

Woodworking is like any hobby, Clive says.  “It is challenging and you want to grow your skill. It’s a learning process: only in recent years have I had the courage to use more expensive woods like teak.”

Woodworking teaches us a lesson for a well-planned life:  Measure twice, cut once. And finally, while designing and constructing are essential, it is finishing well that gives the work glamour … like a life well-lived. Clive Stacey is certainly testimony to life-long learning and being continuing to live out his passion.

We and the Chartered guests so enjoyed his presentation.


Through a son’s eyes

Chartered articled planner, Tom Brukman, would like his parents to know how he views them in anticipation of tomtheir retirement. Here is what he says … it may lend perspective regarding how your children are feeling about your life transition.

 I want my parents to relinquish the gnawing concern that many parents of adult dependents share:  do my children have enough money?

Freeing parents from this potentially debilitating worry can only happen through honest and open conversations about their money and mine.  The opening of dialogue allows parents to understand, not only the financial position their children are in, but also and more importantly, their own financial position as adults as they move ever closer to retirement.

How so?  Parents need to know what financial commitments are to be included in their planning. My parents have a financial plan, and supporting me and my brothers is not viable (or expected!) in that plan. There is a marked difference between the following two scenarios:

  1. My parents being financially stable, but having to support their sons when they are called on to do so; and
  2. My parents being financially stable because they follow the provisos of their financial plan, free of shifting obligations to dependants.

The substantial gap between these two outcomes, and the peace of mind that accompanies the second situation, motivates me to plan for myself.  I can thereby free my parents to enjoy their retirement after they have sacrificed so much to get me to a place where I can be independent.

The most effective way we found to create this positive outcome was having that crucial conversation – the lifting of any guilt or animosity has been a welcome and unifying result. It is a matter of overcoming any perceived awkwardness around the topic of money, and simply being honest.

Autumn in the garden

“Now is the time to get some plants and seedlings into the garden,” says Nick Stodel, MD of Stodels Nurseries.

“During the winter months your plants will have time to settle and develop root systems in order to flourish when spring and summer arrive.”

 Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower – Albert Camus

What to do in your garden in April 

Plant and sow:

  • Try indigenous varieties like tritonia, lachenalia, ixias, sparaxis, babianas, watsonias, chincherinchee and exotics like ranunculus, anemone, hyacinths, daffodils and narcissus for some wonderful spring flowers.
  • Sow or plant winter- and spring-flowering seedlings like African daisies, sweet peas, Virginian stocks, cinerarias, snapdragons, lobelias, delphiniums, dianthus, nemesia, pansies, salvia, violas, scabiosa and Flanders poppies.
  • Don’t forget winter veggies like broccoli, broad beans, peas, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, onions and turnips – ideal for potjies, stews and soups.


  • Make sure you mow your lawn a little shorter and feed it with a potassium-rich fertiliser to strengthen it before the winter months.
  • Feed azaleas, camellias and tea bushes with a handful of Colour Burst. Mulch with a super acidic mix and keep well-watered.
  • Container plants should be fed with Nitrosol to give them a boost before winter.
  • Citrus trees need a handful of magnesium sulphate round about now; and remember to inspect the leaves carefully for signs of citrus psylla or scale.


  • Prune evergreen hedges, summer-flowering shrubs and overgrown climbers
  • Deadhead roses to encourage a last autumn flush of blooms.

(Source: All for Women)