Broker cheats death, changes life

Planning for exit: Do you know what's around the corner?

Broker cheats death, changes life


By Ryan Johnson

On a clear and chilly winter night in 2022, Chris Carlin cheated death.

“I kissed my 16-month-old daughter and heavily pregnant wife goodnight,” said the financial planner and mortgage broker. “I got into my car to go to a networking event. I drove down a familiar suburban street less than one kilometer from my house.”

At this point, Carlin was calm and alert. However, he was “blissfully unaware” of what was around the corner.

A split second later, Carlin saw a white ute in the corner of his eye.

“I realised instantly it wasn’t going to obey the stop sign, so I hit the break hard and braced for impact,” he said. I felt the car jolt as the ute ripped off the front of my car.”

In a “dreamlike” state, Carlin managed to pull the car over and walk out from the wreckage. Neighbours rushed past after hearing the sound.

“My hands were shaking. Why would someone do this to me? Shock hit me hard.”

Then came the phone calls: the police (who never came), his wife, his parents, a close friend, and a colleague.

“I vividly remember holding my daughter at the scene of the accident as we both stared at the wreckage of my car,” Carlin said.

“I am grateful to still be here. Grateful to still be able to hold her. Grateful to still be able to meet my second daughter. Grateful to be alive.

“If I was at this scene half a second later, I wouldn’t be here.”

The watershed moment in Chris Carlin’s life

Carlin ran mortgage broking and financial planning firm Master Your Money Now, founded in 2018, which specialised in helping millennial nurses and teachers.

“We were helping everyday millennials with what was really important to them – buying their first home, protecting their loved ones, getting started investing, and investing so they can retire earlier,” Carlin told Ensolmbl: Knowledge host James Wrigley during a recent podcast.

That was until the night of the crash.

“It’s something that really messes with you and makes you think of your own mortality and what’s important to you,” he said. “I guess it brought on a mid-life crisis… I’m only 34 so it came a bit early, but it made me reassess.”

While the business was in a good position with a healthy list of 130 clients, Carlin said he was caught between being a sole operator and being able to expand.

And with the challenges that come with helping raise a young and growing family, the pressure began to mount.

“I realised that I needed to keep growing the business or get out. If I kept moving sideways for a few years, there was no benefit to my family, my clients, or myself,” Carlin said.

“I didn’t want to be an absent dad and work 60 hours. I didn’t want to put that burden on my family.”

By December 2022, Carlin had reached a decision.

“I said to my wife, I’m done. I think it’s time to pass this onto someone else.”

Planning for exit

Having made his decision, Carlin began to plan for his exit. And after contacting a broker and putting his business up for sale through online channels, he landed an active buyer, Vista Financial Group.

“We had about 40 enquiries and six interviews, and many people wanted different things, so it was quite an eye-opener,” he said.

Given he had built Master Your Money Now from scratch, Carlin ensured it was going to be left in safe hands.

“I wanted to make sure It was the best fit for myself and the right cultural fit with the business.”

After agreeing to terms with Tyson Roberts, managing director of Vista Financial Group, Carlin stayed on as a senior financial planner and head of education.

“I get to keep looking after my existing clients and I do a bit of marketing and education… I’m in such a privileged position,” said Carlin. “It’s allowed me to clear my headspace and focus on the things I enjoy and what’s important.

“I’ve also given my mortgage books over to a fantastic broker called Shane Moloney so I can just get back into advising.”

Another change in Carlin’s life is the added flexibility that comes with not being a sole operator.

“I can clock off at five or six and not open the computer until the next day. I also get to take my daughter to Little Kickers – soccer training for kids – on Thursday mornings, which is something that is important to me,” said Carlin. “So far, it’s all positives.”

3 questions to ask yourself every day

Two years on from the crash, Chris Carlin reflected on his journey.

He recalled the wisdom from his friend, Brendon Burchard, a three-time New York Times best-selling author, who had a similar near-death experience.

“He asks himself three questions daily, which I have started asking myself too.”

1. Did I live?

  • Did I embrace life to the full?
  • Did I experience everything in the world?
  • Did I cast away fear?

2. Did I love?

  • Did I spend enough quality time with my loved ones?
  • Did I tell my close friends how much they mean to me?
  • Did I demonstrate to my clients how much I cared for them?

3. Did I matter?

  • Did I fulfil my purpose and potential?
  • Did I achieve everything I could achieve?
  • Did I positively change the lives of those around me?

While there have been a lot of ups and downs for Carlin over the last two years, he said there are moments in life that “irrevocably change your perspective”.

“They make you grateful for the small moments. They make you reprioritise your objectives and realise you are not indestructible,” he said. “They make you appreciate the fragility of life and to not take anything for granted.

“Please tell those close to you how much you love them. Every single day. You do not know what is around the corner.”

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