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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Protect yourself and your family in case it all comes crashing down

Nima Abu Wardeh documents the tragic story of British TV star Ted Rogers who lost his entire fortune

Illustration by Gary Clement
Illustration by Gary Clement

Danny Rogers had lived the full spectrum of what life can offer by the time he was 11. Home was a mansion when younger, then with a foster family after the death of his father.

As improbable as this sounds, I’m here to tell you how this could happen to you and yours.

Danny is now a strapping 28-year-old. He won’t mind me sharing his backstory, because he’s put on a show doing just that. The performance is his way of paying homage, and getting closer to his father Ted Rogers.

Ted Rogers was a British television star. The 1980s saw him at the height of his fame, watched by 17 million viewers in the UK as the host of a weekly game show. He lived the high life - a mansion, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes and five polo ponies were amongst his possessions - and worked alongside huge stars like Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra and Shirley Bassey.

But one day, his empire crumbled. It was an unfortunate convergence of events, including recession, investments gone bad, and a freak accident. It might sound like an awful lot of bad luck – it was – but it’s not as rare as you’d like to believe.

Let’s take a look at these issues – and start with disability.

Danny’s mother fell off her horse and was brain damaged as a result. This is why Danny ended up in care after his father died in 2001 as she was not able to look after herself or her family. Disability: what are the chances that it could happen to you? Higher than you likely presume. These are the numbers in the US:

- Just over one in four of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before they retire.

- Accidents are not usually the culprit. Back injuries, cancer, heart disease and other illnesses are the prime reason for long-term absences from work.

This is what happened to Danny’s father. He had a heart problem. It stopped him from taking on work, and then killed him.

To find out the likelihood of this happening to you, log onto disabilitycanhappen.org and take their personal disability quotient test. As an example, a healthy 35-year-old male, 1.77 metres tall, non smoker, has a 38 per cent chance of disability that lasts five years or more – with an average disability lasting 82 months.

These are pretty sobering stats.

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Knowing my bank balance saved me from becoming a fraud victim

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Now let’s look at the issue of unemployment: You know that you cannot stay in the UAE for long if you’re unemployed and don’t have the means that will provide you with residency – such as buying certain properties. This means that the consequences of unemployment play out differently here than elsewhere.

The thing that I’m interested in isn’t just whether you lose your job, but the prospect of staying unemployed, because of the impact this has on your finances for life. What seems to determine how long you can remain unemployed is not qualifications, or how long you held a job, but timing. If the economy is going through a downturn, you’re much more likely to have an extended period out of work.

In other words, when there’s a crisis, the chances of becoming unemployed increase, and losing your job during a financial crisis significantly increases the probability of you staying unemployed long term. And the longer you’re out of work, the longer you’re likely to stay out of work.In the US, over a third of those out of work have been looking for a job for over six months, with the chance of being offered a job decreasing as time marches on.

A recession and rising interest rates ate away Ted Roger’s money and ran his business into the ground. He was taken to court over outstanding credit card debt and the mansion was repossessed. Broken down, you can see how this family’s misfortune is not such an improbable sequence of events.

The point of all this isn’t to strike fear in your core – but to be aware, and to prepare. Save and take out insurances that give you the right sort of protection and provision. Because yes, it could happen to you. Not exactly what the Rogers family went through, but the statistical probability of loss of income, disability and running out of money – each of which has huge life-long implications.

The man I met, Danny Rogers, is full of life’s promise. But there’s no denying that he has been, and still is, deeply affected by the traumas visited upon him in his childhood. He is fortunate in that the stability and commitment his foster family provided saved him. Don’t count on the same outcome for your loved ones, should the worst happen. Make sure you provide for them.

Nima Abu Wardeh is a broadcast journalist, columnist and blogger. Share her journey on finding-nima.com