Roger had a really happy childhood. His grandfather had built a very successful and well-known paint business in Hong Kong, and it was assumed, for as long as he could remember, that when he grew up, Roger would manage the family paint business.
He never worried about money or his future back then, because everything he needed was already laid out for him. “Everything was all set,” he says. But when he was 13, some family members who owned more shares in the paint business than his father staged a hostile takeover, and a third-party businessman took over the company. After a year-long battle, his father lost the company and had to tender all of his shares.
The family left Hong Kong and immigrated to Vancouver. “I still remember crying at the old Hong Kong airport, unwillingly leaving, not on my own terms … a bit like on exile,” he says. “Suddenly, I lost my birthright. I lost the household brand that my granddad had started. I lost a worry-free life.”
Roger began to experience severe anxiety over financial provision. So he studied hard, believing the only way out for him was to get into a really good college, succeed there, and make a lot of money.
After graduation, Roger entered the finance industry, trading convertible bonds and equity derivatives. In 1996, Roger went to work for a Swiss bank. A year later, he was promoted to director … at the age of 25.
“Back then, working in investment banking and hedge funds, you could get a lot of money,” he says, but he recognized that his sense of security was coming from his bank account. “The bank account had to have a lot of money in it for me to feel secure.”
He bought expensive cars and expensive wine, and it never occurred to him to use his money to help another person … until a colleague began to invite him, repeatedly, to go to her Bible study.