Kerenga Wealth Ecology - who are we?

Why 'Wealth Ecology'

Dawn is often asked why she uses ‘ Wealth Ecology’  as Kerenga’s tag line, and it is not because anything ‘Ecology’ or ‘Ecosystem’  is ‘woke’ (a phrase not in common use in 2013 and frankly, nauseating), but because it best describes her philosophy around financial advice.  Very few Financial advisors today like to be called a ‘Life Insurance Salesman’ or ‘Broker’ – these designations both have a chequered and somewhat tawdy past which doesn’t apply today – but few have the time or patience to explain. Most ‘life insurance salespeople’ now call themselves Financial advisors (or Financial Planners if they have the Certified Financial Planner Designation), often tacking on ‘and Investment Specialist’ to divorce themselves even further from the grubby Life Insurance designation. In reality, Life Insurance (and Medical aid, Short-term insurance) play a crucial role in anyone’s financial plan and Investment and Estate Planning are just one part of the Wealth Ecosystem. 

An ecosystem is composed of community of living organisms (plants, animals, fungi, bacteria etc) that interact with non-living components (air, sun, light, soil) in their environment and form a system. Any changes to one component, will usually impact on the system and its integrity. A drought for example could reduce the ecosystem down to  the non-living components and a mere handful of extremely hardy organisms (a desert).

A Wealth Ecosystem is not much different. There are variables that you have little to no control over (the economy and stock market for example)  but then there are other aspects that are under you control – how much wealth you produce, how much you consume, how much you save, how you save it etc. By looking at each person as the centre of their own Wealth Ecosystem it can be optimised to the conditions they live and work in  so that the System, and person in it, can thrive. 

 

Dawn Ridler, Founder

Dawn was born in Kenya and spent the first 15 years of her life in the Western Highlands of Kenya around Kericho, and most of that time on a Tea Estate called Kerenga (hence the name of her company). Her father, Derek Prophet, was the head engineer for Brooke Bond Tea, and after a political spat between Brooke Bond and a the wife of a senior government official who (allegedly) wanted the transport tender, an number of senior Brooke Bond staff were deported, her farther among them. Dawn was at school in South Africa at the time, but for the next 10 years spent her holidays in a number of African countries where her father continued to build tea factories, but now on aid projects. These estates were in Rwanda, Burundi, and Madagascar – which is where her love of ecology was truly born.  After finishing school, Dawn went on to do a BSc (then Honours) at the University of the Witwatersrand) followed by an MBA at the University’s business school – finishing at age 23. The new tea estates that Derek was building were all in the middle of rain-forests, and large patches of the forest were left untouched. As a teenager in the middle of nowhere with only a few hours of electricity a day, nobody her own age and very little else to do, Dawn spent all of her time either on the building site or in the forests. 

Dawn is often asked why she left behind the world of Science (where she was already a year into her Masters and a Junior Lecturer) to go into business via an MBA. Sadly the decision was entirely mercenary. Academia was and still is appallingly badly paid making simple things like home ownership and financial freedom a distant dream. Despite having no business experience and being considered ‘way too young’ Dawn managed to get on the MBA program, and thrived. Most of her career was spent in Marketing or Retail at a senior or C-Suite level – so why the change in tack to Finance?  Anyone who has spent any time in retail understands how relentless and thankless the industry is, and as much as you try it is almost impossible to ‘make a difference’. When you consider the turmoil that retail is in now with the competition from online and the never-ending labour issues, she probably picked a good time to leave. In 2007, just as the Financial Crisis was looming, Dawn decided to change to Financial Advisory, joining her then financial advisor (who we will not embarrass by naming here). After a brief stint in an ‘Insurance Franchise’ she went on to join Sasfin Bank, and stayed there, as an Independent Financial Advisor, for 5 years. It was during this time shegained her CFP designation (in one year). 

In order to practice as a financial advisor and implement that advice one needs to either have one’s own Financial Services Provider license, or work as a Representative on a license. As a sole-proprietor with a FSP license you are hamstrung by insurance companies that demand a quota before you are given accreditation. This flies in the face of being able to give ‘independent advice’ as there will always be one or two life assurers who have better products than others – but you still have to be able to manage policies on every platform (especially if a client cannot move for medical reasons). Until this archaic (and frankly uncompetitive stance) exists, Dawn has decided to be a Representative on the well-established Oracle Broker Services FSP (license number 28418). Although Dawn’s ‘day job’ is interacting and looking after her clients, her other love is writing – and more specifically educating through her writing. This website was born out of need to be able to house those blogs, articles, columns, newsletters etc. The first website was up and running in 2013, and until it was redesigned and relaunched in 2020, housed over 300 blogs. These blogs are now being consolidated into a book – but you’re not going to have to wait until it is finished to read them. There is a separate category in the blogs (soon to be launched) where you can get the book chapter by chapter, and the podcast or vlogs that go with them. 

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