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Media Interview with Patrick Anwandter

Top 50 Financial Adviser

15 May 2018, Page 22

Business News feature article 
on Patrick Anwandter.

Australia's Top 50 Financial Adviser

Don't baffle clients with technical mumbo-jumbo

Award-winning planner Patrick Anwandter, of Strategy First, has been a financial adviser for more than 20 years.

The financial advice landscape was different in the 1990s when he started: communicating with clients was all about imparting technical knowledge and showing value through complicated financial plans and commission based fees.

Commissions were a big part of a planner's business and to stop them seemed alien to many of those who had become dependent on them. To stand apart and argue the benefits of fees and no commissions seemed sacrilege to some of the older players but for the new breed, led by the likes of Patrick Anwandter, it was the only way forward.

Today, he is an advocate for open communication with clients, where they fully understand the advice they are receiving and the costs.

 

What's been the biggest change in the industry for you?

For me the greatest challenge is articulating the value of our service to clients, especially with the rise of RoboAdvice or digitalisation of financial products. Building a strong relationship with clients is now more essential than ever - being able to articulate our fee structure and the value behind our advice.

We need to show them why we're worth it. It's OK to be expensive but we have to ensure we work alongside our clients' expectations in helping them achieve what they want financially. Doing so will actually make the real cost of good advice much less.

As an example, a few years ago when markets were underperforming I spoke to a few clients who thought that super was a bad place to invest or continue contributing to. This broad statement may not have actually been the case; it may have been in their best interests to keep contributing as equity markets may have been at their most attractive valuations for years.

Conversely, when markets are at the top, like now with property and equities, decreasing their holding in these areas might not be what they think they should do, but may be in their best interests.

That's what our value is: we tailor advice based specifically on what is in our client's best interests.

What does being a financial adviser mean to you?

Financial advice is a relationships profession: the key part of what we do is helping clients achieve their financial goals. Listening to clients and understanding them is critical to providing client-centric advice. In the past, initial client meetings tended to focus on data gathering. As important as this is, it takes away from the ability to truly listen to a client. Our industry, technology solutions and processes need to continue to adapt to make data-capture more automated and efficient, to free up the time for the people involved - client and advice team - to have a proper conversation about what the client is looking to achieve.

While technical knowledge is critical, it's an assumed knowledge. We first started over 10 years ago and at the time, I thought that clients really wanted the detailed, technical information. But now I understand that being able to take the complex and making it simple and engaging for clients is really what sets us apart. Our true value is not about picking stocks or managing investments. It's about building an ongoing relationship, where clients feel engaged throughout the process.

What does your business offer and to whom?

Our business works with clients to develop structured financial plans. We analyse assets, liabilities, insurance and investment strategies. We can also help with estate planning, self-managed super funds and retirement planning.

Our clients usually have been with us for many years and include a wide range of individuals, family groups and businesses. They understand and are respectful of the advice process we offer.

How do you make your business work for you and your clients?

We always ensure that we remain transparent and open when it comes to our fee model and the way we provide advice. From day one, we have operated as a fee for-service practice with an agreed fee model.

We don't take commissions or percentages of funds under advice. This has not always been an easy journey but it's one that has kept us aligned with our clients and the way we provide advice. We aim to achieve the outcome our clients want, with the lowest risk and at lower cost.

What advice would you give new advisers in building a successful business today?

When I look back to the way I was communicating with clients 10-15 years ago, I don't think I fully understood what they wanted. I would explain in detail issues around reasonable benefit limits, for example, and I can see now my client's confused faces.

My advice to those wanting to run a successful advice business would be that it's all about clientbased outcomes, rather than explaining technicalities. About 18 years ago, I was helped by a business consultant who asked me to show him my best financial plan. It's not about appearing as the most technical adviser, it's about showing the client in simple terms how they can achieve what they want, and how we can help them.

Welcome to Australia's Top 50 Financial Advisers The series is a partnership between The Australian and Barron's, the premier investment weekly in the US. In this third feature we meet Simon Growden of Shadforth WA.

From Barron's, Crystal Kim outlines the change AI could bring to investment, while Patrick Anwandter explains the changing landscape of financial advice.

Australia's Top 50 financial advisers will be published in the June 2018 edition of The Deal magazine.

Read more about Australia's Top 50 Financial Advisers here.