When Gold Coast man Russell Lenehan chose to spend his gap year working as a public servant, little did he know it would lead to a career spanning five decades – and the title of financial Yoda from his colleagues!
Russell has retired after 40 years with the Department of Human Services on the Gold Coast. He spent most of his career as a Financial Information Service Officer helping thousands of locals with their financial futures.
It was a job Russell loved, working with people one on one and really making a difference.
“You are of most value when you hear people’s stories,” Russell said.
“People would come to see me if they needed to understand something and I was able to give them information to help them make decisions.
“As I talked to people and worked through their issues I could see their understanding grow. It was extremely rewarding work.”
Russell said one of the cases he’ll always remember was a couple who lost their home after a failed investment with a financial planner. He was able to help them through the Centrelink process, and refer them to legal advice to make a complaint.
“I couldn’t fix what went wrong but I could show them a pathway forward and talk to them about the next steps to take,” he said.
“It was a simple thing really, but what they really needed at the time.”
Financial Information Service Officers are specialists who have an expert understanding of Centrelink payments and financial concepts. They work around Australia, helping people of all ages understand their options and make educated decisions to achieve their financial goals.
During his career Russell has helped people by providing independent information about a number of matters, including superannuation and retirement planning, investing principles and handling redundancy.
He said when people came to see him they were often overwhelmed and confused about where to find help.
“Once you clarify a situation for someone they can take a course of action,” Russell said.
“We don’t provide answers, we provide the questions, what they need to follow up.
“Information is power. The majority of people, if given the right information, will make good decisions.”
Russell said it’s now time to pass on the Yoda nickname and focus on enjoying his retirement with his grandchildren, family and friends.