Pro Finance

Diversifying more than your portfolio

As many readers will know, as well as being a Hawkes Bay based financial adviser who has been servicing Bay clients for over 10 years, I also have a national role with AdviceFirst. Today, AdviceFirst includes the now rebranded Spicers business and has a strong presence with 15 offices throughout New Zealand.

As part of that amalgamation between Spicers and AdviceFirst, I was appointed into my role as Head of Wealth Management. I am privileged that a national organisation like AdviceFirst allows me to fulfil these responsibilities based from Hawkes Bay. Indeed it seems more and more that Bay based professionals are enjoying roles at a national level and working remotely, even at a senior level.

I have a strong duty of care and managerial responsibility for 35 Wealth Management Advisers across the country. The Profit therefore offers a great platform to discuss another regional and national aspect of duty of care to our respective industries that I feel should be top of mind for all professional disciplines: diversity.

So, I ask, what do you picture when I say financial adviser? You’re probably imagining a male of a particular age – which is often how financial advice has been commercially represented. That’s why securing and nurturing a diverse next generation of financial advisers is a top priority for our industry as we see our ranks of veteran financial advisers naturally decrease.

A knowledge gap is appearing, a gap which we need to fill with the transference of skills and expertise between peers to maintain the high standards for which our vocation is held. It’s our legacy.

AdviceFirst has been working hard to influence and promote diversity within our own organisation, setting a precedent for the next generation of Financial Advisers. Between 2016 and 2018 our percentage of advisers under forty years of age has increased by 13 %.

Along with benchmarking ourselves, building up the ranks of younger advisers, whose development is supported and mentored by our more seasoned financial advisers, is key to ensuring our clients’ needs for quality advice continues to be met competently and practically for years to come.

We’re not just closing the gap on bringing a fresh approach into the industry. Over the past three years we have been working to increase the percentage of female advisers in our business from 18% three years ago, and we have now reached 31% with over 150 years combined industry experience between them. Of course there is more to do, it is important to keep lifting our own standards in this way, nevertheless AdviceFirst is proud to be making good progress to ensure we have more diverse representation.

It’s also important to us that we represent positive change in financial advice and that our efforts mean we are well positioned to advise younger generation x and generation y investors, who are globally set to inherit assets in the trillions from their baby boomer parents (not to mention their own earnings) – and encourage the securing of those assets with accessible and smart financial advice.

We can do this while remaining true to our traditional values and an advice model that is very much relevant to our post war clients. Our clients don’t all have the same needs or background which is why it’s beneficial to work with an Adviser who can understand you and your goals while offering a flexible approach and choice.

As we evolve with social and cultural expectations, we’re building on the foundations that have been expertly set for us by our predecessors. Every time a new and younger generation grows, they bring with them a fresh approach that reflects their era, goals and preferences while remaining stabilised by the experience that helped raise them up.

One example of why we’re pushing for a more diverse offering relates to elderly clients. In this situation there can be a diminished capacity, often due to a passing of a loved one or pressing health concerns. In times of crisis or dealing with difficult decisions about a personal estate or investments, we need to be there for clients. In planning we can offer a level of experience and empathy that is more easily realised and provide our clients with an open and responsive relationship, improving the advice process. Trust is at the core of our value proposition and principles and that trust is better realised with the option for prudential stewardship.

Succession planning isn’t just for investors looking to the future. Succession planning is for all of us, AdviceFirst included. Our journey will continue…