Life After Full-time Work Blog

Learn about preparing for life after full-time work through posts from Don's upcoming book.

#204 On A Personal Note

Thank you, to my Australian friends!


As I write this, I’m in a plane flying home across the Pacific after a week in Sydney that my wife has called “the best trip ever” — and I totally agree with her.

In my career with Russell Investments I visited Australia many times, and my colleagues and their clients were always very generous to me, making me feel at home and always very welcome. They encouraged me to explain any new ideas or approaches I had without (as was the case in the States) running them past an internal committee, so I looked forward enthusiastically to visiting Sydney and Melbourne and engaging with my colleagues and getting their reactions to improve on whatever it was that I was thinking about. In fact my most-read paper (according to SSRN), of the 75 or so that I wrote at Russell, was co-authored with Dr Geoff Warren, now an honorary associate professor at The Australian National University; it was called “When should investors consider an alternative to passive investing?” and was published in the Journal of Portfolio Management in 2010. Here’s a link to a more complete version. And I’m an avid follower of Geoff’s writing, which is now often about retirement-related issues, which of course we chatted about on this visit. But I’m ahead of myself …

I last visited Australia in 2014, four years after I graduated from full-time work, and my wife came with me and we did the Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb along with a group of colleagues — a very special event, as it was my tenth BridgeClimb and that milestone entitles you to assemble your own group and choose any time of day to ascend. In gratitude to my colleagues I invited them as my guests and we did a twilight BridgeClimb, a magnificent occasion. I’m attaching a photo of our group here.



(Correction: Looks like the photo was in 2012 rather than 2014. Never mind, that was the occasion of that BridgeClimb, and it brings back happy memories anyway.)

Well, the years passed, Covid shut things down, and we’re all getting older. I thought I’d really like to see them again — they had been so much more than colleagues over the years, they had become personal friends. So, some months in ago, I got in touch with as many as I could locate (most had retired or left Russell Investments for very successful careers elsewhere) and set up dates to catch up with them, some individually and some together, and we booked our flights and our hotel and set out.

The joy of our trip exceeded all our expectations. As my wife said, it was our best trip ever. Let me give you two examples, the book-ends of our trip.

Our first visit was with Meredith Brooks, with whom I worked in New York for many years; I remember seeing in the new year once at a party she threw. When my career at Russell was going sideways, she was the only person who made me feel worthwhile. Meredith and my wife also share a deep interest in ballet. Our final visit was with Chris and Liz Condon. I worked with Chris in London, and remember a trip we took to visit a client in Milan, one of the highlights being a visit to Milan’s beautiful cathedral and walking along its roof. And in 2000, when I wanted to go to the Sydney Olympics with our daughter and a close friend (who is like an adopted son to us), it was Chris and Liz who put up two of us and arranged accommodation with a friend for the third. No amount of thanks can repay that — it just shows the meaning of friendship.

One other event in the middle of our week was a pub evening which was attended by ten friends. As I mentioned, most had left Russell over the years, and it was wonderful to create the occasion of not only seeing them again, but also of their seeing one another again and giving updates on what they had been up to and were doing now —a happy, joyful evening.

And there were others we also got together with — never mind the details, just (again) pure joy.

We took the opportunity to visit Canberra one day (flights in and out) to see a friend of my wife’s whom I had never met but had spoken to on the phone many times, a sprightly lady aged 97 who hosts tours of the Australian War Memorial. And we did a one-day in-and-out to Melbourne to see my cousin’s son and his family, including a new-born son.

All magical. Words can’t capture how wonderful.

I anticipated that this would be my last trip to Australia. Now I’m hoping we can do it again.

To all: thank you, thank you, thank you. You made it a never-to-be-forgotten week.



I have written about retirement planning before and some of that material also relates to topics or issues that are being discussed here. Where relevant I draw on material from three sources: The Retirement Plan Solution (co-authored with Bob Collie and Matt Smith, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009), my foreword to Someday Rich (by Timothy Noonan and Matt Smith, also published by Wiley, 2012), and my occasional column The Art of Investment in the FT Money supplement of The Financial Times, published in the UK. I am grateful to the other authors and to The Financial Times for permission to use the material here.

2 Responses to “#204 On A Personal Note”

  1. Madi Kinra says:

    Hi Don:
    I loved reading about your trip to Australia.

    Looking forward to chatting with you on 20th


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