Observant readers might notice that the initials for Checkpoint Finance Group are GFC in reverse, and backing himself out of the Global Financial Crisis has been a massive learning experience for founder Simon Arraj. How he did it and what he learned in rebuilding his business has presented many valuable lessons shared here for us all.
Imagine being an eligible bachelor and director of your own business, leading a lifestyle to suit; owning one of the most expensive cars on the market and pursuing a passion for driving fast cars on the track.
Sounds ideal doesn’t it? Add a martini – shaken, not stirred – and it could be James Bond in real life, minus the spy factor. Now let’s add the year 2008 to the scenario: still sound great?
Simon recounts, “I tell this story and people laugh about it. I was driving an AMG C63 worth about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars – it was just the second one in the country, and I couldn’t afford to put petrol in it. Three months after I purchased it, the GFC hit Australia. My credit cards were maxed, no money in the bank, no cash reserves and I had to ask my Dad for twenty dollars for petrol!”
It’s the story Simon Arraj, Director of Checkpoint Finance Group, tells today with a wry smile because, with the value of hindsight, he realises it was a major turning point in his life.
At the time he told his father “I needed the money because I had to go to a meeting and wanted to buy a couple of coffees. Little did he know the twenty dollars was to put petrol in the car.”
Given that car was a 6.3 litre V8 Mercedes, twenty dollars wasn’t going to get him too far. Simon is now able to laugh about it; however at the time, “it was horrible, demeaning.”
Simon didn’t only lose the car in 2008, he lost two and a half million dollars of his own money and owed as much again to investors. The GFC turned his idyllic life into a nightmare and he was too proud to tell his parents the full extent of his problems.