Financial advice in Australia is often seen as an optional extra. Something to get if you have some spare cash and a decision that you’d like someone to crunch some numbers on. It’s also often viewed as a bit of a lottery. Who knows what sort of advice you’ll receive and who knows whose interests the planner will ultimately be looking after.
The financial planning industry has not done any favours for itself with its conduct – the Royal Commission has certainly brought that to light.
The financial planning industry is also fragmented. The divide is very real and very large. On one side is a cottage industry of small, ‘one man band’ planners, operating out of small offices in the suburbs. The licencing details and ownership structures are often opaque. The advice you receive may be good or it may not be – it may be years before the value of the advice reveals itself. The professionalism and strength of the adviser, the company structures that support him or her, the follow up and the care can never be fully determined until after you’ve paid over your money. The only clue you have is the level of enthusiasm with which your friend or colleague recommended them.
On the other side is advice distributed from the institutions. AMP, Westpac, ANZ, NAB and CBA. Salaried advisers, incentivised to sell. Selling only the offerings of their particular brand (or a brand wholly owned by them). The Royal Commission will ensure the behaviour of these institutions is improved, but cultural roots will ensure it will be years before the services these institutions are truly on the side of the client. Restoring trust will take even longer.
Part of the problem is that financial planners lack the sex appeal of others in the ‘wealth growth’ industry. Compared to those holding seminars promising wealth through property, those selling stocks and options, FX or cryptocurrency, a financial planner’s promise of slow, structural wealth and wealth protection is, frankly, boring.
BUT, it is these wealth structures and methods of wealth protection that are CRITICAL to your long term financial health. Those who have long term wealth understand this. Those who don’t believe that money is made and then just hangs around. It doesn’t. It takes system, discipline and professional advice to keep that money and keep it growing.
It is our job to set up the structures and processes that handle your money as it comes in, divert it to the places it will do the most good and the place a protective shell around the whole thing (although – Voyage is one of the few planners who actually does this. Most will just sell you some insurance and an investment and send you on your way). It’s YOUR job to then increase as much as possible the money coming in the front door (with our advice as well – if you want it).
BUT, for all the shortcomings of the financial planning industry, I believe that good advice is crucial to every Australian.
Somewhere in between the cottage industry planners and the institutional ones lies a path for professional, growing, client focused firms to offer great advice in multiple locations, with multiple advisers. All following strict rules for client care, follow-up and advice.
These firms will be well known by their communities, large enough to ensure proper oversight of advice and compliance, but small enough to have each adviser know their clients’ children’s names and favourite holiday destination.
This is where Voyage belongs. We are not owned by the banks. We don’t charge a percentage of your funds. We have a very systematic method of assisting our clients that starts with their financial basics, not with what investments they should be purchasing.
The expertise and value of good financial planners extends far beyond insurances, super etc. The value comes in having someone who can talk you out of making that investment purchase you heard about because they know you and your goals. It comes in knowing multitude other families of similar income and circumstance to yours who are doing things better (or worse). It comes in holding a mirror up to you and asking what is REALLY important for you to achieve over the next 15-20 years of your life.
Many quality planners focus their efforts on the very wealthy – as there is greater opportunity to earn more money for similar work. As a result of this, there is a huge population of middle class Australians who are in need of better advice options than what they have currently.
These are the Australians who live in the suburbs, raise their kids and work hard to put money away for their future. They might run their own business, or have both partners working. They deserve to have quality financial advice available to them on an ongoing basis.
Voyage Financial is the planner for busy families. We know that for most, focussing on economic conditions, superannuation, insurance and stock movements is both not an option and not of huge interest. Most want to focus on their family, their careers and their futures. Our method of planning focuses on creating systems that achieve life objectives, not ones that require constant supervision to achieve a certain rate of return.
You should be able to know that you have a financial adviser in your corner who has shown you how to convert your hard work into a fun and rewarding life now AND into assets and investments that will relentlessly grow your wealth and provide for you and your family over the long term.