Overcoming pandemics, lockdowns and a cost-of-living crisis, small businesses have seemingly battled it all over the past four years. Founder of Alpine Nature Experience Jean-Francois Rupp is one of the many across the nation who has had to pivot his personal finances to meet evolving needs. 

Savings.com.au spoke to Jean-Francois on his financial goals, the current state of his finances and how he manages these as a small business owner and father in challenging financial times.


What are your financial goals?

My financial goals have shifted dramatically over the past four years after having kids - but in saying that there are two main goals for me.

“Financial stability or wealth is a means to an end. I want to make sure I can provide for my family and have food on the table as well as being able to do the things that we want to do.

“I don’t need to drive the fancy car or have a fancy house; instead I’m using that to be able to cover my basic needs and then any financial leftovers or wealth should be done for the greater good. 

“I very much live by the words of Nigel Marsh, where it’s not a race to see whoever has the most money at the end, because at the end of the day you don’t win anything for dying wealthy. 

“Sure money is one of the many components that make up happiness, but it is not the end goal.”

How are you managing your personal finances?

“As a small business owner, I self-manage both my business and personal finances for a couple of reasons, the first being that there is not enough that requires a team of financial advisors. 

“That being said, always seek advice, but also do the homework. Coming from France, Australia is quite different in their financial systems and processes, so we as a family and as a business manage everything while being exceptionally thorough.

“Personally, I won’t get into something in relation to my finances unless I have an exit strategy that fits a bigger picture, as well as understanding the ‘whys’ behind why I am investing my time, energy and money into something and knowing what the end purpose is.

“We’ve also been lucky enough to purchase a few properties over the years that we use for the business because there is a massive accommodation crisis in the alpine regions. Any additional savings I use towards building that little bit of a safety net, but also making sure I can provide my kids with a head start.”

Have you felt the impacts of rising costs of living, interest rates and inflation?

“Immensely. I operate in the tourism sector which means that essentially your living depends on other people’s disposable income. So it’s a double demerit system where everything starts to cost more, including for yourself, and people have less money to spend on what you have to offer.

“That said, there are pros as well. When people have less to spend and are under more financial pressure than they have been in the past, they look at values, they look to know if there is a greater purpose with where their money is going. 

“Today Australians prefer to spend their money on something that they know is going to support an Australian family, that is ethical or represents their own values.”

AlpineNatureResort.jpg

Alpine Nature Experience. Image by Fabio Olivera. 

Why is ethical investing important to you?

“The core values of my business is to do good for the environment, so it doesn’t make sense for me to invest my money into shares that support everything I am trying to go against. When it's in your DNA, as well as that of the business, the least you can do is put your money where your mouth is. 

“There’s no point in me saying I want to carbon offset all of the transportation arrangements of our guests as well as those of my family, but on the other hand I’m investing in mining and oil extraction offshore because it’s the best return on investment.  

“I’ve also got money invested in a managed fund, again trying to create that little safety net and safety pillar for my kids. But what is the point of creating that with a great return if it is to the detriment of the world they are going to have to live in?

“Avoiding greenwashing can be challenging for many, considering if you start typing green or sustainable super or fund into Google, hundreds of pages of search results pop up. But if you do the homework, you’ll find the best option for you. Importantly what’s ethical for someone may not be ethical for someone else.”

Australian Ethical is the superannuation and managed fund choice of Jean-Francois Rupp. For more information on Australian Ethical, head here

Have you had to alter your financial mindset and investing behaviours throughout the pandemic, rising interest rates and inflation to help achieve your goals? 

“Absolutely. The pandemic has redefined and shuffled the cards a fair bit, which is good because it now means there may be alternate ways to look at things. There used to be people who were all about buying shares in a specific company, while others wanted to go through trust funds. 

“Now I want to know in terms of my investments that it fits a strategy and provides value that aligns with both my own and those of the business. 

“The next step for me is to review the people that I should do my daily banking with. I don’t deal with a lot of daily transactions, but still I think for me it needs to be something that I need to look at. 

“Just like everyone else, I’m looking at that added value, the confidence that I’m doing the right thing beyond just a ‘feel-good’ feeling. I want to know who I’m banking with because we have the same values, not because they are sugar coating products or because it’s going to make me look good in front of my friends.”


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