Veterans: Follow her advice!

Suzy Kahati re-entered the workforce as a financial adviser and today helps her clients control their expenses more efficiently.

SUZY KAHATI olah 521 (photo credit: GLORIA DEUTSCH)
SUZY KAHATI olah 521
(photo credit: GLORIA DEUTSCH)
“Did you know that Israel is the leading country in the world with the highest population in overdraft?” says Suzy Kahati, who made aliya from London in 1983 and works as a financial adviser. Abroad it’s much harder to get into debt and live beyond one’s means; here, apparently, nothing could be easier.
“I’ve seen people who have accumulated NIS 200,000 in debt and have no idea how to get out of it,” she says. Her job is to help people achieve financial stability and she travels all over the country, lecturing or meeting with clients, usually one-on-one, to help them sort out their money problems.
“There are four kinds of people,” Kahati says. “Those who are not making ends meet, those who can but don’t manage their money efficiently, those who have a dilemma – having to choose between different priorities, and finally, those who change status through divorce, age or other factors.”
In her work, Kahati tries to teach her clients how to plan to make the money they have work more efficiently; helps them choose between the different possibilities; and assists them in adjusting to another reality, if necessary.
“Let’s say you have a family of three children and the oldest son wants to study medicine in Europe. I sit with them and do the calculation of how much will be needed for the whole project. In the end, we come to the conclusion that the son has to take out a loan,” she explains.
If someone has a change in their financial status, they sometimes find it difficult to adjust.
“I try to show them that they can’t carry on as though nothing had happened,” explains Kahati.
For all the different problems she has a similar approach.
“First we check the expenditure against the income,” she says. “Most people have no idea how much they are spending.”
Once that step is done, they try to build a realistic budget together, one that will work for the whole family.
Finally, Kahati teaches her clients how to track expenses, writing everything down on a weekly basis so that progress can be monitored.
“I don’t tell people what to do,” she emphasizes. “It’s their life and they should be able to choose. But I teach them how to prioritize their expenses. At the end, I want them to be financially independent.”
KAHATI WAS born in London, the place to which her father fled in 1938 from Germany. The family name was Sultzbacher ,and her grandfather had a Jewish book shop in London’s East End. Always active in Bnei Akiva, she came on her brother’s bar mitzva trip in the early ’80s and fell in love – with Israel.
“Jewish life in England was pretty dismal and I didn’t want to bring my future children up in that atmosphere.
So after I’d completed a diploma in business management, I came and lived here for a year on Kibbutz Alumim, working and studying,” she says. “I felt that kibbutz life was not really representative of Israeli society, so I left and went to study at Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.”
She worked to support herself in a jewelry factory dealing with exports, and after a time moved to Tel Aviv, where she got a job at the Hed-Arzi record company. It was in Tel Aviv she met her husband and together they had three daughters, Noya, 24; Ella, 22; and Liat, 19. At the moment she is going through a divorce and lives with her daughters, of whom she is immensely proud.
Getting back into the workforce proved harder than she had expected.
“At 50-plus you are considered over the hill,” she says.
She found her niche by becoming a financial adviser, something she had been asked to do on an amateur basis.
“I have some close family who left England on the verge of bankruptcy and after 15 years here, were not doing much better,” she says. “I was asked to go in and sort out the mess. This was the first case I took on, and it proved to be the hardest. But I was successful and even went over the target we had set. Everyone said, ‘You have to do this as a profession.’” Then, quite out of the blue, an advertisement landed in her inbox – to study to become a financial adviser. It was too much of a coincidence to resist. She took the six-month course, did her internship and acquired her certificate.
She is an active member of the Ra’anana Business Network International, a group which meets once a week and consists of business people trying to promote their work. Only one member of every profession can join the group, which helps to generate work and open up opportunities for all its members – as well as being an enjoyable social activity.
“In spite of all the hardships, I’m so happy to be living here,” she says.